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,
Celebrate your best Christmas ever
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (New International Version, 1984, Luke 2:13-20).
Each day since well before Thanksgiving I receive multiple emails urging me to celebrate Christmas by taking advantage of some special discount being presented.
There is a better way to celebrate Christmas. Have you thought of the daily witnessing specials you have each day until Christmas? Even stronger than Easter, Christmas is the best time of the year to celebrate Immanuel, God with us, through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Yes, Christmastime can be stressful. Buying presents, visiting relatives, running up expenses and dealing with unrealistic expectations. Have you ever said at the end of a Christmas season, “I am going to do things different next year”?
Please accept my challenge to make this your best Christmas ever by celebrating Christ’s birth through the following actions:
- Develop or review your spiritual story to make sure you really understand and have personally experienced the Messiah
- Become familiar with a gospel tract so that you can quickly and easily present the gift of salvation that Christ’s birth offers (and be able to leave the message behind for further consideration)
- Write down a list of friends and family that you are not sure have a personal relationship with the Savior and bathe them in prayer during this season
- Plan activities with family and friends that highlight the reason for the season
- Serve others in the name of Jesus
- Invite family and friends to Christmas services
- Arrange for your family to give gifts to others instead of each other
- Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before presents are opened
- Use Christian Christmas Cards with a clear gospel message
Celebrate Immanuel this Christmas by making Him central in all that you say and do. Show God’s grace to others with kindness and patience during this stressful season.