“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (New International Version, 1984, Matthew 25:23).
Sometimes it is hard for Christians to accept praise and recognition.
The passage in Matthew 6:1 comes to mind that clearly points to the displeasure God has with pride. Jesus Himself was speaking when Matthew wrote, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Yet we are encouraged as Christians to share appreciation and thankfulness.
Paul expressed his appreciation to specific individuals who helped him when he wrote, “I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition” (1 Corinthians 16:17–18).
Which is it to be? To give recognition or not?
The answer is, it depends. It depends on the heart and motivation of the one giving and the one receiving. As it is with all things of God, the heart is the key to the matter. Two people can approach God in prayer and one will be heard and one will not (Luke 18:9-14). The attitude of the heart is the focus as Jesus stated in verse 14, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Our Spring Luncheon is approaching on Tuesday, May 14th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Petroleum Club, 100 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City (See box on back for details). OJPM has two awards that it gives out at this luncheon. The Spirit Award for a faithful supporter and the Sower Award for a faithful volunteer.
Jason Trice, CEO of Jasco Products, will received our Spirit Award and George Rennix, president of our OJPM Board of Directors and a long-time OJPM volunteer, will receive our Sower Award. These men have given and served with no desire for recognition and with humble hearts. We honor them to show our appreciation to them for putting their faith into action by serving our wonderful Savior.
This luncheon will be an application of what Paul wrote when he directed the early church to “therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
At this year’s luncheon the Joe Williams Endowment Fund will be launched with a seed gift of $25,000 already planted. Over the last few years OJPM has moved from reinforcing its financial foundation to expanding ministry across the state.
With the average cost of $6,000 per state-wide county, each $120,000 goal reached will endow a county. In addition to the state-wide county goals, reaching $4,000,000 in the endowment will fund our base ministry in Oklahoma County.
Join with me in regularly checking your own heart and motivation by spending time with God in His Word and making a list of all that you have to be thankful for.
Even today, wherever you are, if your heart is humble toward God, your ear can hear a soft and still voice say, “Well done!” When you hear appreciation from the Lord or anyone else just say, ‘thank you.”
Unleashing the captives,
God controls your world
“But Joseph said to [his brothers], ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’” (New International Version, 1984, Genesis 50:19–20).
The Old Testament Joseph learned to face victory and defeat because he knew that God was in control.
This is not a lesson you learn once and then have it down for the rest of your life. Trusting that God is in control of your world is a truth that one has to revisit regularly and wrestle with continuously.
You know it so well one day and then the next you begin to wonder. You experience its reality in one area of your life and then struggle to live it out in another area of your life.
This truth applies to individuals like you and me and it applies to ministries like OJPM. A door opens in one county and a door shuts in another county. It is easy to say that God is on His throne when the door opens. It is hard to say that God is on His throne when the door shuts.
OJPM has seen ministry opportunities open in various counties and it has seen opportunities close. During the first months of 2019 we have seen ministry open in McIntosh and Mayes Counties. During 2018 we opened new work in Bryan, Lincoln and Logan Counties. Yet we have had to pause our ministries in Canadian and Logan Counties. Thankfully, Canadian County has just opened back up.
God is control but He has chosen to involve us in the spiritual battle. Paul tells us that “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).
On any day we can receive a phone call or email telling us that our ministry is no longer allowed in a county. Those are sad days, but God is still on His throne. God’s ways are not our ways and Satan is a powerful adversary. Thankfully, God is more powerful!
Joe Williams, long-time leader of OJPM, used to say regularly, “The Lord willing.” I have to admit that this would irritate me from time to time. Of course, the Lord is willing! Yet it is in this complete surrender to God’s will and timing that we find true strength and peace.
I read a lot of retirement blogs and Bogleheads is a common term for people that follow John Bogle’s investment philosophy of avoiding fees and using indexes. Bogle founded Vanguard in 1974 and passed away in January. He was famous for saying, “Stay the course.”
OJPM needs Williamsheads, people who follow Williams’ spiritual philosophy of obeying God no matter what. People who trust that God is in control of each day and of each situation and that the “it” will happen “if He wills.”
God controls your world! Does God control you?
Unleashing the captives,
He was rich toward God
“And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”’ ‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God’” (New International Version, 1984, Luke 12:16–21).
As I enter the later stages of ministry, God has spoken to me in two passages about how He will provide for my family’s financial needs. The first passage is from Genesis 41where Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream of seven fat cows and seven scrawny cows.
God reminds me here that even though we are to trust in His provision, He still teaches us to save and invest. There are cycles to God’s design (six days of creation and then a Sabbath, seasons of the year) and sometimes you save and store and sometimes you spend and deplete. This is also true with any ministry.
The second passage is seen above from Luke 12:16-21. I hope at the end of my life there will be many people that can give testimony that, “he was rich toward God.” God has challenged me with these verses personally and also for our OJPM ministry.
Our vision statement mentioned in last month’s newsletter describes expanding OJPM ministry to “every county jail in Oklahoma.” For this vision to become a reality we are going to have to save and store and we are also going to have to be rich toward God.
To take a giant step forward in realizing our vision, we will be introducing the Joe Williams’ Endowment Fund at our spring luncheon on Tuesday, May 14th at The Petroleum Club, 100 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City (see box for details). This fund will be used to open new work in counties across Oklahoma. It is fitting that the fund is named after Joe because of his many years of leadership with OJPM and because he too was rich toward God.
The average expense for OJPM ministry in most of our counties is $6,000. Endowments use a rule of thumb of five percent of the principle to produce income that can be available for use each year. Each county endowment will need to be funded at $120,000 to produce income of $6,000 at five percent.
There will be more details shared in the lead up to the luncheon. Please pray that we will be able to answer the interest that is building among county sheriffs and jail administrators across our state. There is room for everyone to participate in funding a partial year’s expense, a full year’s expense, a partial endowment or even a full endowment.
We will be honoring Jason Trice, president and CEO of Jasco Products Company with our Spirit Award and George Rennix, OJPM board president and long-time volunteer chaplain with our Sower Award. I hope that if you are able, you will choose to attend this special time of recognition for two men who have been so “rich toward God.”
Unleashing the captives,
It’s a new year and it is worth repeating
“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (New International Version, 1984, Philippians 3:1,13–14).
January is the time for New Year’s resolutions. According to Inc.com the most common resolutions involve losing weight, becoming more disciplined and focusing on the true meaning of life.
I can tell you that our OJPM chaplains and volunteers already do this. Our people are some of the most resolute people I have ever met. They love the Lord and by His grace walk a disciplined life of service with love and joy.
Since it is a new year, I believe our vision statement is worth repeating. Part of my responsibility is to cast vision for OJPM. As you probably have noticed from the repetition found in the Bible, vision needs regular recasting. The following contains our OJPM vision statement published in the January 2018 newsletter.
Our vision is built upon our mission statement and is carried out with strategic initiatives.
- Mission statement – Transforming people on both sides of the bars.
- Vision statement – We envision a ministry providing passionate, trained chaplains and volunteers to every county jail in Oklahoma.
We envision chaplains and volunteers sharing the gospel with inmates and challenging them to turn from their self-destructive ways and to follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
We envision chaplains and volunteers praying with, encouraging and giving Bibles and Bible study materials to inmates.
We envision chaplains and volunteers being the answer to the prayers of countless mothers, fathers, children and grandparents that are asking God to send someone to intervene in their loved one’s life.
We envision transformed inmates who are reconciled with the Lord, their loved ones, their victims and their community.
We envision transformed volunteers who no longer just sit in a pew at their local church, but have discovered how God can use them as they step out of their comfort zone.
- Enlist and train site chaplains and volunteers with introductory, maturing and advanced training in prayer, personal soul-winning, spiritual discernment, personal growth, jail security, fundraising and record keeping
- Contact and enlist sheriffs and jail administrators in every county in Oklahoma to partner with OJPM to provide a site chaplain and volunteer in their county jail
- Develop OJPM website as key resource for promotion, training and fundraising
- Strengthen fundraising efforts to sustain ministry operations
This is where God is going with His transformative power. This is where OJPM is going along with the Lord. Please join us for we “press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus” in 2019 with your prayers, personal involvement and financial support.
Unleashing the captives,