Matters of New Life in Troubles, Jail, and Beyond

  Behold! I make all things new! Revelations 21:5.Today I write with tears–mixed with joy and sadness. Warm tears of joy because the Lord makes all things new–something so necessaryfor each of us and wonderful to see.But also with tears of sadness for the hurting hearts in our midst. There are so many. The following letter is an example of the aches and struggles in life. How and when do we help? I think part of the answer lies in encouraging one another to walk in newness of life in Christ.  This means we study His ways  so our counsel is true, we shoulder some burdens, and serve one another gladly–a very basic principle in good manners. And, what a perfect season to do these things.Some hurting souls,especially new believers, have not learned basic Christian criteria for living and they desire to do so.  When we practice hospitality, when we share the gospel, when we invite a new brother or sister to bible study or church, when we act with respect & kindness towards others, when we pray for one another, when we practice & teach our children Godly manners, we are imparting correct pictures (and examples) of righteousness. Such encouragements point in a true direction  and eliminate much confusion for those who desire to live rightly.These new believers, like unschooled children, often never learned or experienced what righteousness looks like in ordinary living. Their souls are devoid of right ways and they know it. Those who didn’t have examples in “rightness and propriety” realize that major pieces in life’s puzzle are missing. Exasperation and discouragement result. But, exasperated hearts are like wheat in fields ready for harvest and ripe to receive good instruction.

 For the “wheat in fields” without encouraging laborers who are caring Christians to help gather them in, and–well, you’ll see if you read the following letter, written by a young man in jail in my community to the chaplain. Then I’ll share a couple thoughts that tie in with Easter, the season of new life -and, of course, a thought on how this relates to the importance of acquiring and practicing kind manners-including proper etiquette. Here’s his letter:


February 9, 2008-“I am 32yrs. Old. I’ve had a long struggle with my drug addiction. I always wanted to do better things with my life and myself. But it always seems that the problems that occur in my life tend to lead me back into drugs. I have no blood relatives here and all my so called friends are drug addicts. And the closest thing I had to a family turned their backs on me as well. And I love them all so much that it’s killing me inside. I’m in jail right now for a probation violation. I’ll be out on March 26 and I plan on attending your church.

Don was the speaker for the Lord on the day I went to church. On that day he was talking about changing ways. He said I need to get out of my old neighborhood and the old friends that are bad influence. And, that’s my problem, not having family or friends that don’t use as well as no where to go, makes it hard for me to focus on what’s good in life. It s hard to see the good when everything and everyone around you Satan has his hand in. My Fiancée of 2 yrs just walked out of my life, and took my 7 month old son with her. I’m devastated and feel like without them I don’t want to live. I just want to be the hardworking, good man that the Lord made me to be. But I know I can’t do it alone and that’s where your church comes in. I need to have good Christian people in my life that want me to do better and support me in my recovery and my road to finding the Lord. I’ve never in my life felt so alone, as I do now without my finance and son. They were everything good about my life. I actually thought that the only way to take the pain was to end my life. I’ve never thought of that before, not in my whole life. And it scares me because I think f it now everyday.  Until I met Don, he made it possible for me to get through this last week. I would like to thank Don, he gives me hope. And I pray this letter reaches your pulpit and is read for your congregation. And, if God willing, I will get a letter of support or visits from good Christian people, who want to let me know they care. The world is a lonely place, and without love, caring and nurturing the human spirit, what is there left? I’m asking for friends and prayer for I am broken. But by the grace of God and prayers of the church I can be saved. Pray for my strength, and I will keep praying to not be alone anymore and part of your church. Thank you and May God bless all of you and your church. M Y”

His need, like so many today, is for encouragement and relationship in his new life. He must acquire new ways according to Christ’s principles. These he will gain as he studies, obeys God’s word and has fellowship with supportive believers.

Protocol instruction is character training. If Biblical protocol training had been part of this young man’s early life, he would have been less prone to the temptations and mistakes that followed. This type of instruction develops self-control, discernment, and wisdom in social skills with results  that protect agains temptations, bad behaviors, and wrong influences. His soul would have more strongly resisted the whims of the times.

Don knows we live in a world with hurting people thus he gladly labors in the harvest. He shares life’s only answer: Christ- not a far off ethereal Christ out of touch with earth and without power-but Christ in us here, and we in Him, here on earth.The resurrection shattered the old holds on men and for those He redeems-our hope of glory and newness of life. The reason for our existence-life in Him.

So here’s my plea for your consideration: For the sake of your soul, for your children, and the hurting hearts in your midst–in your field–make this Easter holiday special! Then continue celebration of your new life every day that follows. Proclaim the Good News by your glad celebration,  joyful actions, proper manners, and cheerful obedience to God’s word. In doing these things, you’ll be an encouragement to others. Joy is contagious.

This ties in with last Sunday’s church message calling for believers to make Easter more special.  It’s not a run-of-the-mill time and we should not treat it as such. The Resurrection was an unequaled monumental event–life changing in its cosmic ramifications. Christ displaced and put away the old world order. In its place is a new way of  “being human” (as my pastor says. But, there are those who know it not. Thus Christians need to share and joyfully “shout” its importance. Assembling together for worship is part of the new way. Encouragement, right relationships, and care for other believers are also apart of this new life.

Let’s fill our holy-day with simple “shouting” actions that mark a happy celebration. Express thanks. (Gratitude is a foundation stone in good etiquette–no complaining, no whining, no fussing and fretting. No nagging!-give thanks in everything). If this is hard for you to do, then tell God and ask for His help to change. Its a process, but new life results.

Practice hospitality. Perhaps there’s a new acquaintance, like this young man, who needs sincere examples of righteousness along with loving family involvment, encouragement, and fellowship. If so, let’s reach out with wisdom and share the day.

Gather together with our church family! Invite a friend. Worship with joy (this means that you lay burdens and disappointments in His lap and receive His new life and trust in His Good Will ). Sing loudly! Hopefully, on key–but if not, sing loudly and joyfully anyway.

Dresss Up! (It’s the right way to show honor). Avoid drab! Enjoy color! If Easter Lilies give you sniffles, buy daffodils. Put them on your table. Give more thanks! Eat big!  Have seconds!  Nature walk! Look for pussy willows. Cloud gaze!– Give them names! Breathe deeply! Give more thanks! Take a nap–or a pleasant drive–praise the Lord, (but keep both hands on the wheel). Tell your loved ones that you love them! Hug your parents. Call a far away relative. Pray for a hurting friend. Count your blessings and give more thanks!

Profoundly simple actions. What better manners are there than these? Happy Resurrection Day. He is risen. Protocol matters and so does our new life in Him.

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