(Presented at the Protestant All-Faith Worship Service at STF in October 2016)
I’ll be going home on Tuesday, so I wanted to take one last opportunity before I leave to encourage you my Brothers in Christ.
God is faithful, He “will never leave you or forsake you” (James 1:5). I have learned this lesson well during the last 8 years. I have been in some tough spots and have been roughed up a couple of times, but I was protected from any lasting harm. From these experiences I have also learned that “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). In every case I have grown closer to God, stronger both spiritually and emotionally, so I can say that “I consider it pure joy when I face trials of different kinds, because I know that the testing of my faith has developed perseverance” (James 1:3). And God will do the same for you.
In order to succeed, I have learned to make spending time alone with God my number one priority. I read and study the Word every day. Through it God has revealed to me my purpose and how I can live a victorious Christian life (Psalms 119:105; James 1:25), so that I can testify that “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Meditate on God’s Word, allow it to marinate your heart and you will be “like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalms 1:3). Through meditation on Scripture I have seen myself in God’s mirror.
“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is like breathing, when you stop you die. Pray about everything (Philipians 4:6): your meals, your cubemates, your family and friends, your enemies, your future and yourself. Make prayer the first thing you do and not your last resort (James 5:13). And if you aren’t sure how to get started, start with “Help!” and end with “Thank you Jesus.” And know that the Holy Spirit that dwells inside you will be praying on your behalf (Romans 8:26-27). Prayer has been my lifeline, a way to speak with the one who knows me better than I know myself.
As I leave here I am taking my Bible and my beliefs with me. I know that these are the only true source of rehabilitation. No MDOC program can transform you the way God can when you allow Him to renew your mind (Romans 12:2). In closing I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul from II Corinthians 3:11, “Finally Brothers, goodbye. Aim for perfection, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.“