Sunday, March 10, 2019 -
In every circumstance, there are good things in addition to any negatives that might come our way. One of the blessings I have found of this time in prison is the time to contemplate, to read, study, pray, and learn. Our human existence, especially here in the West, seems to be so filled to the brim with busyness, often to the devil’s advantage. Satan loves nothing more than for us to be too tired to study God’s word, to learn what God wants us to learn, or to use our time for God’s purposes in a way that would be useful to God’s kingdom. That’s why I believe it is best that we give God the first part of our day, just as He demands the first fruits of the blessings from our labor. But have we ever thought of giving Him the first fruits of our leisure time? Leisure is something we in North America and Europe greatly value – our vacations, sporting, and recreational activities, entertainment (including television, movies, video games, etc.) and hobbies.
I read a statistic the other day that over three out of four prisoners when released end up right back in prison. I can definitely understand this, now that I’ve observed the prison population from the “inside” for the past three months. There is much talk about prison reform, but so far I have seen no attempts at reforming these men. Yes, there are some programs designed to educate them and teach them trades and skills, which is good. Many of these men have little or no high school education, and even though they may be in programs helping them acquire their GED, I see little learning going on – or enthusiasm to learn. The desire, with some exceptions, is to make the time go as quickly as possible, so they can get out and continue doing the same things that they did before! Remorse, unless one’s heart is truly repentant, is difficult to come by – at least to my observation. Granted, there are around a thousand men in this prison, and I’ve only spoken to a couple dozen at the most. A few have told me, “I’m never going to touch another illegal drug in my life,” yet they are sent right back to their same environment and expect to conjure up the inner strength to resist the allure and temptations that sent them to prison in the first place!
Therefore, I have become absolutely convinced, and my observations confirm my belief, that only a change of heart and the strength received once a person truly repents with the power of the Holy Spirit transforming their hearts, truly becomes new. Otherwise, that person is likely going to fall into the same sinful pattern once again! I hear it from many here!
In other words, the only solution when it comes to effective prison reform is the transforming and saving power of Jesus Christ! There is no other way. Even secular programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous acknowledge this fact, yet shroud the real solution in something all-encompassing, like a “higher power” that seeks to not offend. So if the state truly wants prison reform and a reduction in crime, it must do everything it can to encourage the church to fulfill its responsibility in helping men to truly find inner peace and freedom from sin through the saving power of Jesus Christ. This should be encouraged not only in prison but “on the street,” as they say in here. Instead, we have a society and a government that seeks to stifle such influence, yet let crime such as rampant pornography become completely ubiquitous. It need not be ubiquitous though if laws against indecency were enforced. And if they want to enforce it, they need to go after the internet providers who bring it into the homes, schools, and phones of nearly every American. It is time the authorities recognized the root problem of society’s travails, and it is sin.
Jesus Christ is the only answer. The church needs to step up to the plate, and our representative authorities need to do everything it can to support a spiritual revival in this nation that calls sin, sin. And that indeed is the only answer to crime and deplorable behavior overtaking our nation, repentance and new life through that “higher power” – Jesus Christ. What we need both in prison and without is a spiritual revival.
Instead of remorse and trying to improve, most men in prison spend endless hours watching TV or reading/looking at books that may be less than edifying. I went to the prison library once and looked around. Aside from a handful of biographies, there was little I could call edifying!
But, I do praise God for the time I can study His word, pray, and read many edifying books sent to me from the outside. There indeed is a blessing to every travail. Not to mention the fact that this is truly a refining process. Praise be to His Holy name!