STEEL AND CONCRETE, January 2000
THE STEEL AND CONCRETE
MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
My agenda for this newsletter in 2000 is to focus on and talk about Jesus. One might say, "Is that all?" If they did, then they wouldn't understand just how much that truly is. A newsletter done by a Christian, either a citizen or an inmate, isn't "anointed" or a "blessing" just because it focuses on a lot of Godly words, Spiritual phrases, Themes of morality, Christians, or Christian organizations. A newsletter is only correct in God's eyes when it focuses on him, serves mankind in love, and does what the Spirit leads it to do. In society, I broke the laws of God and man. In prison, God broke me. He mended my broken, shattered heart, and rebuilt my life in Christ Jesus. For all the saved and unsaved, the key focus should still be God (Christ). The Bible says "God is Love." Therefore, Christ is Love. It's that love, that Agape love, I hope and pray will be the overshadowing force in all our lives in 2000 and beyond.
I have come to learn the hard way that nothing I do in the flesh will please God. One sure way to be a major thorn in Satan's side is to die to self and make the connection with my true identity (Spirit), Christ himself. Then, and only then can the Lord live in and through me showing His love through my obedience to Him. May we all be more interested in building tabernacles for Him in our hearts instead of just physical buildings for Him to dwell in. In thinking of this Christ, I'm reminded of a little dream I had. I was released from prison and went out into the world looking for a place to live. I was devastated to find out that every place was full. There was no room for me. I had been crowded out. Upon awakening I thought of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who also once had no place to live, and no room in the inn. He was crowded out!
Today as I reflect on the past and present, it wasn't just the inn that crowded him out. To this very day he is still crowded out. The Bible tells us that, "all things were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16b). Our hearts are His rightful dwelling place. It's there where the greatest crowding out occurs. With Christmas just recently over and some decorations still not down, already I see people's lives sliding back into the same old bondage and ruts that Christ died to free them from. I think not of myself today, but of all those in need, those that were just in the front of our thoughts just a few weeks ago, who are often also crowded out just like our Savior was and, by some, still is. Need doesn't begin or end in a season. Already the world is too busy filling their lives and hearts with concerns of self, issues, worries, finances, and other un-Godly, hedonistic things. Where is love in that? How can Jesus Christ find room in the inn of our hearts, when stuff just like that has crowded Him out?
Often, people refuse to trust in God. The Israelites, after being led by Moses out of bondage and coming to the Red Sea, felt as though they were between a rock and a hard place with the Red Sea on one side of them and the chariots of Pharaoh on the other. God didn't tell them, "I grought you this far, now swim for it!" Instead, He parted the Sea and He'll do the same today for you and me. In my little cell, I can't just pick up a phone and dial God, or click Him up on the Internet, but I can drop to my knees! We can call on God in prayer. He is always there and not just because it's Hi shift. He has promised never to drowd us out. From the belly of the great fish, God heard Jonah, and from the belly of my great whale (C.O.C.) God hears me.
This new year has begun, with all its uncertainty. Satan's "if" machine of doubt is already working overtime. He will use that doubt (one of his greatest tools) to disrupt us from our lives and from our walk for Christ if we let him. He used that word "if" against Christ after the Lord had fasted for 40 days. Satan tried to put the "if" of doubt in Christ's life and he'll try to put it in ours too! It's a fact that the two-lettered word "if" is the center of the four-lettered word "life," but it doesn't have to be the center of our lives! Why is it we allow Satan to convince us that we cannot reach God's highest, that we can't "walk on the water" of our problems with Christ? After all, Peter was the only one to walk out on the water, but then he was the only one to step out in faith, wasn't he? This year, may we, like Peter, step out in faith: suiting up, showing up, and standing up for the cause of Christ like never before.
Recently, we were blessed in this institution to get a visit from Brothers Jeff and Mark from Gateway Ministries under Pastor Greijack. I was blessed by their report from India of 145,000 Hindus and Muslims that became born again. Christians, praise God! I think of the tens and hundreds of thousands of oppressed people that are hungry for the Word of God. These people can't get enough of God's word or Bibles.
In the U.S.A. we have a Bible in every room in every hotel, a church in every city, and, still often, no room in the inn of our hearts for Christ, not to mention the needy. America, for the most part, seems to be truly "Religion Rich" with their Bibles and scriptures, but "Salvation Poor" when it comes to truly knowing Jesus. Our society has not failed the church, our church has failed society. Some may say, "Hey, wait a minute! We've come a long way." I'd say, "Maybe so, but was it towards the cross?" If we have our own personal "Jericho walls" that have been built in our hearts to crowd Christ out, they need to come down! Can we and will we live every day in 2000 like it was December 25th all over again?
In 1954, Congress added the words, "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Even today, this, too, seems to have been crowded out by society. I pledge allegiance to a greater source than the flag. I pledge allegiance to the Lamb (Jesus). When one receives salvation, they get 100% of Christ's forgiveness in himself. I wonder how much a percentage of obedience and dedication he gets from them?
Martha, in the Bible, was dedicated and preoccupied with details that crowded out Christ as we find in Luke 10:39-42. Martha was too busy preparing food and bread for Jesus to listen to his words, while Mary was more interested in the "Bread of Life" ~ Christ himself. Jesus tried to show Martha that all whose responsibilities consumed her life; that they became obstacles which crowded out more important things and came between her and Christ himself.
When we crowd Christ out of our hearts, there will be no love for him and no love for anyone else, either. We cannot become friendly with all the obstacles of this world and still have time to be the "salt and light" we are called to be. The other day, as it began to snow here, workers were throwing salt on the sidewalk to correct the hazardous problem. We are to be the salt God uses to correct the hazardous Spiritual problems of this world. When snow and ice melt, the salt is diluted. Without Christ's help, we, too, will become diluted by the cares of this world. Then we won't be good for anything or anyone and we'll be left by the wayside to be trampled by this world. With God's help, we truly can be salt, light, and love, and not just go along to get along.
Something is truly wrong in this world when we pay sports stars hundreds of thousands more than we pay preachers and teachers. Love is the key. Power, pleasure and profits won't get it for you. God sent us his "love gift," Christ, his only son, because we needed him, not because he needed to send it to us for his own benefit. A few weeks ago, there was a big focus on the nativity scene and what was in the manger. Like the tomb of Christ, the manger is empty today, but the throne seat at the right hand of the Father isn't. Christ sits there and intercedes for us, allowing us to glory in tribulations. For a long time, the closest I came to "glorifying in tribulations" was to complain and then to state, "Well, praise the Lord anyway." My complaining was not and never will be justified. Complaining hinders God's work of Spiritual maturity in my life. I have come to realize that even if my current circumstances don't change that doesn't mean that God can't use those circumstances to change me. Doesn't every mountain have a valley? Why curse the valley? Without the valley we'd never know what a mountain was like. :-)
I can think of no better way to end this article on love than by turning tho the Word of God and the last words of the love chapter:
"And now abideth faith, hope, and charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1st Corinthians 13:13)
If you are unsaved, then I beg you to do the following four things in prayer to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ:
1. Admit you are a sinner,
2. Be willing to repent (turn away) from all sin,
3. Believe that Jesus died to save you, and
4. Accept him into your life as Savior and Lord.
God is not into long fancy prayers. Just pray and speak to him from your heart.
OUR FATHER'S GARDEN
by Brother Jerry Morsell
As I look out the window, I witness our Heavenly Father's
moist nourishment kissing the earth,
and what may be buried beneath
comes sprouting to birth.
Then the rays of sun
peer from behind the clouds,
and the brightness of our Heavenly Father
comes through, shining and proud.
For he knows what we need,
for us to be nurtured, for us to grow;
From his greatness he gives us his love
at an endless flow.
At times it may seem
like we are withering and dry,
but with our Heavenly Father's gardening
we shall soon bloom and let our colors of love fly.
written for Brother James Jackson
I, Brother James, was attending church service that Sunday morning of Christmas weekend; naturally expecting a blessing as usual, but had no idea what. In another housing unit, Brother Gregory picked up his little pocket Bible instead of his big study Bible, not even thinking about why or knowing why. But someone upon a throne on high knew why.
At the service, a scripture was called out from a book in the Old Testament. My little New Testament doesn't have an Old Testament. From the corner of my eye I saw this unknown brother, who I later learned was Brother Gregory, I saw him look into his pocket Bible for the verse. I said, "You don't have it either, huh?" He said, "Yes, I do." I was amazed to find out that his pocket Bible was the whole Bible, but the same size of my New Testament. Brother Gregory went on to explain how he knew of an address that I could contact to purchase one.
What I did not know was what I was told later. Brother Gregory said the Spirit stated, "You should give that one to him." He said to the Spirit, "But my name is written on the inside cover and my initials stamped on the cover. Do you think he's still want it?" He told me that the Spirit said, "Well, my name is in and all through it, so give it to him." Well, he did, and I gave him mine. That incident is a reality that God continues to bless me over and over. My God is truly and "Awesome God!"
MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB
by Marv & Marbeth Rosenthal
found on Zion Hope, Inc.
Mary had the little Lamb,
who lived before His birth;
Self-existent Son of God,
from Heaven He came to Earth.
Mary had the little Lamb;
see Him in yonder stall –
Virgin-born Son of God,
to save man from the Fall.
Mary had the little Lamb,
obedient Son of God;
Everywhere the Father led,
His feet were sure to tread.
Mary had the little Lamb,
crucified on the tree
The rejected Son of God,
He died to set men free.
(1 Peter 1:18)
Mary had the little Lamb –
men placed Him in the grave,
Thinking they were done with Him;
to death He was no slave! (Mat. 28:6)
Mary had the little Lamb,
ascended now is He;
All work on Earth is ended,
our Advocate to be.
Mary had the little Lamb –
mystery to behold!
From the Lamb of Calvary,
a Lion will unfold.
(Revelation 5: 5,6)
When the Day Star comes again,
of this be very sure:
It won't be Lamb-like silence,
but with the Lion's roar.
(Ps. 2:12; Rev. 19:11-16)
(Copies of this poem may be used without written permission from the authors.)
compiled by Brother Gregory Wamsley
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35)
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you . . . ." (Matthew 5:44)
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not brag and is not arrogant
Love does not act unbecomingly;
Love does not seek its own
Love is not provoked
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love but rejoices with the truth
Love bears all things
Love believes all things
Love hopes all things
Love endures all things.
Love never fails.
(1st Corinthians 13:4-8)
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1st John 4:8)
God is love. If we are to be Christians (Christ-like), then we are to be God-like (Love-like), or LIKE LOVE.
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1st Corinthians 13:13)
2000 "CHARITY" (LOVE) WORD SEARCH
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LIVING FOR JESUS
Words by Thomas O. Chisholm
Music by Carl H. Lowden
Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live,
O Christ, for Thee alone.
Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calvary my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.
Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.
Living for Jesus through earth's little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
Graphics by Acacia Victorian