"We were reading Psalm 18 in Bible study and there were so many beautiful and helpful verses. The women were especially encouraged by God's power and deliverance. With problems like addiction, legal issues, relationships and parenting problems (just to name a few), not to mention the spiritual battle being waged, there seems to be a great wall between the women and God and sanity, health and functional relationships and living. Yet as David says, with God, we can "scale a wall" (Ps. 18:29). What a wonderful image and promise. Whatever barriers seem to be in our way to God's holiness, forgiveness and a full life, God has overcome through Jesus and we can therefore be conquerors and overcomers as well. Deaconess Guenther "
"I took one of my cars to a salvage yard and as I was signing the title over, I realized I forgot to take off the front license plate. I went out in the cold and kneeled down in the snow with a cheap adjustable wrench and worked on getting the plate off. The bolts weren’t budging, and the wrench kept slipping, and my knuckles were getting bloody, and my knees were getting cold and wet, and I started saying a few very bad words. And then a voice from behind me said, “Pastor Phil, is that you?” And there stood a couple of guys I’d worked with while they were in drug rehab a few weeks before. Oops. They didn’t seem too upset about my vulgar hissy fit; maybe they just recognized that the treasure came in a “jar of clay”, one that said bad words sometimes. Chaplain Merten "
"After Bible class today, one of my guys privately shared with me his concern about losing his faith. "What if I harden my heart like Pharaoh, or I cause God's Spirit to depart from me like King Saul." I encouraged him to stop focusing on what he might do, and stay focused on what God has already done for him in Christ. "Focus on that 'inseparable' love that God has for you in Christ," I encouraged, "and remember the Good Shepherd's promise to you: 'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand/'" What a privilege it is to share the hope of Jesus Christ when people need it the most! Chaplain Radsek "
"It was a rather large group at the jail for Bible study today and the ladies were quite talkative and willing to share. At the end of the study the women were all talking about never coming back to jail, and one of the women (who was much more reserved in offering comments) said, "You won't see me back here...well except to do ministry." Pray that the message does bear fruit and go full circle so that those who are now hearing can be those who share. Deaconess Guenther "
"I met a young man in jail who was sure that he had committed “the unforgivable sin” and was therefore eternally lost before God. He told me about his sins and was surprised to find out that Jesus had atoned for them all. We reviewed 1 John 1:7 “The Blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin,” and I pointed out that in Jesus, there is free and complete forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and friendship. “Wow”, he said, “I now feel at peace.” He went away at peace with God and with himself. Chaplain K. Wenzel "
"So it was rather cold for my visit to the prison today. It was minus 4 when I got up and by the time I walked through the gates of the prison, the temp had only climbed to 0. I wondered how many of my guys would brave the cold and make the walk across campus to the chapel (quite a distance for some). Turns out, they all did (never underestimate the drawing power of God's Word). After the lesson, I talked with the guys for a bit while we all bundled up to go back outside. As one of the men recounted the rather frigid night he spent in his room, I found myself feeling quite appreciative of the nice warm house I would soon be returning to. Apparently, the heat went out in his unit last night. "I put on nearly every thing I had" he told the group, "two pair of pants, a sweatshirt, my winter coat, gloves and stocking hat, and then I crawled under the covers". To this, I say, "Lord, please help the maintenance men sort out the heating issues at the prison. Keep everyone safe, and grant them patience as they wait. And oh yeah, Lord, thank you for my nice warm house." Chaplain Radsek "
"Recently a couple of people showed up at Grace Oasis after months of absence. From their past track record I’d figured they were out relapsing into drinking and drugging. It was great to find out I was wrong: they’d checked into residential treatment facilities, and they were back at Grace Oasis because they’d earned the privilege of leaving the facility for a period. Great to see our prayers getting answered. Chaplain Merten "
"There were new faces in our Bible study today, and the "regulars" greeted them kindly, welcoming them into our midst. Since today was the beginning of December, I decided to suspend our current Bible study series, so that we could observe once again, the fulfillment of God's promises to send a Savior. New faces, but the same precious story -- God's Son coming to this earth to be our brother, our Savior, our King. Chaplain Radsek "
"Today in Spiritual Foundations for Healthy Relationships class we were discussing our learned attitudes towards women. There was lively engagement by a segment of the class, while a couple of groups of three in the back of the room seemed intent on having their own conversations. After a number of failed attempts to rein them in, the class came to a screeching stop. After some very passionate pleas from class members, the class resumed. When class ended, one of those who had spent most of the class in private conversation came up to me and pointed to a couple of sentences in the materials. As he read those lines to me, his eyes welled up in tears. As he read it again, the tears flowed freely down his face. Despite his efforts earlier to stay disengaged, the Spirit drew him in and opened the eyes of his heart. Chaplain M. Wenzel "
"During prayer time, two different ladies, from two different institutions, recently asked for the same thing: “Pray for the lost people.” They went on to briefly describe family, friends and others in the institution. They even included themselves for the times that they too felt lost. So we did. We prayed for all the “lost”, even the “lost” parts of us — for all the situations in which we could get lost. It took humility, honesty and vulnerability to make that request. Let's all keep praying for the lost. Deaconess Owens "