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Memories and the Word

We moved our offices after the first of the year, which turned out to be a far greater chore than we had anticipated. It is amazing how much paper and things one can accumulate. When you start sorting through papers, pictures and memorabilia, you really get a chance to tread down memory lane.

We were reminded of those ex-inmates who have gone on to meet the Lord; Stanley Lee, Dr. Bob Earl, Jerry Sanders, Guy Tatum.

Those men who’s memory still encourage us to continue on: Dr. C.E. McLain, Charley Jones, Joe Russell, Chuck Palmer, Coach Jack Brewer…

What is such a blessing is the many friends we still have from 23 years of going into prisons, jails and rehabs. There are guys that still stay in touch after all these years. People who were in the first Bible Class that I taught in Big Spring Federal Prison in 1985 are still friends. For six (6) years we did this class every Friday night. Some of the finest friends Linda and I have were in this group. It was there, after visitation on Saturday, that we started the first LOOPS group. We didn’t have a name for it, but we met in support of each other, with drinks and day-old doughnuts, supplied by an ex-inmate.

What a joy it has been to see men turned around by the power of the gospel. We have been able to witness the entire family changed because of Jesus Christ. I am amazed how God does this.

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:21

I am amazed that God uses the foolishness of preaching! It is astounding that some sinful human being can relate God’s salvation plan in one’s words and then God will take those words and use them to make a 180 degree turn in one’s life. Just words! Wow! You would think it would take something far more exquisite than just words!

Man is the only creature that God chose to communicate with in words. As children, humans begin to use words. Dogs can’t do that, birds can’t do that and goldfish can’t do that! Wars have been waged and peace settled with words. Hearts have been broken and souls have been soothed because of words. Above all, God left us His words and they have been put into a book where we can refer to them, research them and depend on them.

It is from God’s words that we receive faith (Romans 10:17.) It is with God’s words that we can withstand temptation (Psalms 119:11.) It is the holy scriptures that makes us wise unto salvation (2 Timothy 3:15.) We could go on and on, but let me just wrap it up by saying:

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

It seems almost trite to read a few simple verses about salvation, pray the sinner’s prayer with someone and witness a life being changed forever.

This past Father’s Day I received a card from an inmate. He inserted the word “spiritual” between “Happy” and “Father’s Day.” Then he added, “Can you believe it has been 10 years since I got saved?” I will never forget that day. We knelt on the concrete floor in Ector County jail, talked through the “bean hole” and he asked Jesus Christ to come into his heart. What a change! What a transformation! James became one of the happiest people that I have ever known. In fact, I quit visiting James to encourage him…I went to see him to help me!

He has been incarcerated for a long time. He is serving a long sentence. He has been touching lives ever since that “bean hole” experience. No bells, no whistles, no thundering, no fanfare.

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

The modernist says we never had God’s words. The fundamentalist says we used to have God’s words. Jesus said,

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” Luke 21:33

This is just a guess, but I don’t think they were lost or destroyed either.

The move sparked a new flame in me to keep getting the gospel to jails, prisons, drug rehabs, the streets…anyplace where it is usually overlooked. I have too many great friends; I have met too many great people that have come from cells or crack houses. They encourage me to keep telling that gospel story because…their lives prove it works!

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples

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