Wise Words from Dad – Chaplain Lil

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

These were wise words both my sister and I heard from our father countless times growing up. This is a life principle that was birthed from Scripture. It can heal a hurting relationship, especially in the prison setting.

Jesus gave us an example of how to resolve conflicts between people. In Matthew 18:15-17 (message Bible)

“If a fellow believer hurts you go and tell him, work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend, if he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If this does not work, start from scratch.”  We are always to work towards a resolution.

I have had my own personal experiences serving as the women’s chaplain, helping to resolve conflicts between women.  It is a challenge to help people to resolve conflicts in a helpful and productive manner.

In Proverbs 19:11b tells us “It is His glory to overlook an offense.”   That makes offense a choice. That is a life lesson. Forgiveness goes a long way.

The world needs a Savior and His name is Jesus. As the women’s chaplain, I pray His light shines through me to the ladies of CCP.

In His service,

Chaplain Lil Anthony

 

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Dysfunction – Phil Taylor

Chaplains Peter and Lil Have a Difficult Task To Do.

In their quest to minister to the men and women in Chester County Prison and to bring them the Good News of Jesus Christ, Peter Roomet and Lil Anthony are in reality battling “strongholds” erected decades earlier in an inmate’s life, and oftentimes generations before he or she was even born. Sadly the behaviors & attitudes that led to their incarceration were likely perpetuated to them as children.  So their chance of escaping this family legacy of dysfunction is almost impossible.  The statistics that support this claim are sobering to say the least:

  • 70% to 87% of prisoners grew up in homes without both parents,
  • Boys who witness domestic violence in their own home are 3 times more likely to become batterers.
  • Children of alcoholics have a 4-fold increased risk of becoming alcoholics as adults compared with the general population.
  • Up to 90% of prisoners have had a parent or close relative that was in jail.

Such dysfunction in a family impacts the children so negatively that psychotherapists have labeled him or her a “wounded inner child” which will carry that label and the resultant emotional disorders and destructive behaviors for the rest of their lives.  Worst of all their own children are all but doomed to inherit the same grim fate.  No wonder the godly patriarch of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, wrote a great little book entitled It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men.  Yet that’s exactly what Peter and Lil are trying to do at CCP…mend broken men and women.

Like any rebuilding project though, the effort is doomed unless it’s being rebuilt on a firm foundation.  Here the advice of the Apostle Paul, a man who became the quintessential example of rebuilding a destructive life, should be followed explicitly: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11 (NIV))  Thankfully Peter & Lil have heeded that wisdom exactly.

We can assist them in their noble cause by praying for not only the families of inmates in CCP, but for wounded inner children throughout the world.  Our prayer must be that they will commit their lives to Christ, and become the courageous ones in their own families – so firmly anchored on that firm foundation, so they will determinedly break the ongoing cycle of dysfunction in their home once & for all.  Interceding must be for not just their salvation, but for them to role-model fidelity to the Word with such steadfastness. that they’re sure to weather the inevitable storms that will follow. As Jesus challenged: “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?  I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.  It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.  But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation.  When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”  Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)

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Sand and Stone – Chaplain Peter

A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert.  During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.  The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand:

Today my best friend slapped me in the face.

They kept walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.  The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him.  After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:

Today my best friend saved my life.

The friend, who slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.

Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in stone.

–Unknown

 

All too often the carving in the stone is the message of shame and pain that many men and women carry on their backs throughout their lives.

So many people harbor bitterness and un-forgiveness from past hurts in life and are imprisoned by their feelings.  Not only imprisoned by their feelings but incarcerated for the inappropriate behavior that too often follows those feelings.  A major portion of my time in Chester County Prison is invested in Biblically counseling the inmates. I strive to have them become aware of the healing touch of Jesus Christ that can reach the inner most pain in their heart which usually stems from not forgiving or not being forgiven.  The forgiveness of Jesus is able to then break down the carved stone that bears the message of despair into tiny grains of sand that can be blown away by the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit. [1John 1:9] The past identity of the inmate also gets removed from the carved stone by realizing that they are new creatures in Christ. [2Cor. 5:17] How willing are we the people to write the past crimes and discretions in the sand of those whom had paid their debt to society and to carve, we forgive you in the stone?

In the service of Jesus, Chaplain Peter

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Treasurer Update, November 2016 – Roy Fite

Greetings! I want to thank the many faithful who have graciously supported Onesimus over the last Thirty-Seven years.  I ask for you to pray that more individuals and congregations are made aware of our mission to ensure that the men and women of Chester County Prison have access to counseling and encouragement through the Gospel.  Meeting our financial commitment to Chaplains Peter & Lil continues to be a challenge this year.  Please consider sharing this issue of Jottings with someone as well as making plans to attend our Annual Spring Banquet on April 7th, 2017 at Mt. Vernon Christian Fellowship.  The Spring Banquet is a great opportunity to hear powerful and moving testimonies of those who have been served by this ministry.  Heb. 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, your gifts and prayers provide just such encouragement through our Chaplains at CCP!

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Monday Night Fellowship – Jim Kreider

During the week of Thanksgiving this year we will celebrate 38 years of Prison Fellowship in Chester Co Prison.  We are grateful for the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus on Monday nights during two services in the Prison Chapel.  We have been blessed in having enough volunteers to continue this ministry over the past years.  We thank the prison administration for the privilege of keeping Monday nights for Prison Fellowship.

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From the Treasurer, March 2016 – Roy Fite

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ! Financially, 2015 was an improvement over the previous year when contributions were $6,000 less than our budget. Contributions were $2,000 short of budget this past year. Praise be to God, we were able to fulfill our commitment of support to Chaplains Peter & Lil both years.   The items in our budget that we have had to forgo are Bible purchases and continuing education for our chaplains. Once again for 2016 Chaplain Support represents 97% of our total budget. We ask for your prayers that our efforts to find Church partners to help ensure that we meet our financial commitments to Peter & Lil, as well as, the ministry to the men and women of CCP is fruitful. We thank you for your continued generosity towards this ministry striving to shine a Light into a dark place. 2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

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Prison Fellowship Update – Jim Kreider

We continue to hold a separate Chapel Service each Monday night for Medium Security and Minimum Security.  I am very grateful for volunteers who share God’s life, light and love in these services. We take turns giving the Gospel message to the inmates.

It was unusual to have our service canceled January 25, the Monday night after the blizzard.

We are very grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord in this way at CCP.

 

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The Opera Ain’t Over ’til the Fat Lady Sings – Dan Turley

The title is a quip often heard when one wants to deliver the message that there is still more to come.  For us in prison ministry, the fat lady never sings.  We will rarely see the end result of our efforts to share the light of the gospel in the darkness of Chester County Prison, nor should we expect to.  We are not in charge of the results.  That is God’s domain.  We are only in charge of effort.  Over the last 21 years, I have bumped into men on the “outside” who attended our Monday night ministry while they were inmates at the prison and a few of them have told me how much the ministry meant to them at such a low point in their lives.  That’s good to hear, but the blessing for us comes from the belief that we are somehow being used in God’s plan of salvation.

Dan Turley, Volunteer

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Whiter Than Snow, Yes, Whiter Than Snow – Vernon Myers

Enough of the white stuff.” Really!? I always like “one big snow” but also realize I don’t “have to” get out in the snow as some must do. A big snow is not a lot of extra work for me compared to the dairymen who need to plow open driveways for the milk trucks. Emergency and medical personnel need to be on the job. Business places need parking areas for their customers and employees. Road crews work long hours to keep the roads open and safe as possible in bad weather. Nevertheless, I am a “helpless romantic” who likes at least “one big snow.”

Maybe 24-30 inches of the “white stuff” at the beginning of February was enough for one winter. I shoveled our driveway out the “old fashioned way”—one shovel-full at a time. Sunday morning after the storm, we could not go anywhere; no option but to dig out. My heart turned to worship as I looked across the beauty of the snow-covered landscape. But now that “the big one” is over, we can move on to spring. Know what? I like spring even better than snow!

The Bible talks quite a bit about snow. I did a Gateway Bible search using “snow” as the reference word. I found some very instructive references to snow—references which should cause us to look carefully at the “attitude of our hearts” and the “content of our character.”   For example—Proverbs 26:1-2: “Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” Or Proverbs 25:13—this verse reminds us of “the blessing” a good, reliable employee is to his/her employer. “Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.”

Of even more significance are the references to “the white stuff” as it compares to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. King David, when in repentance from his tragic sins of adultery and murder, cried out with a broken heart in Psalm 57:1–“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” The good news of the gospel of Christ is that God does cleanse a broken, wounded, sinful heart. My friend, Doug Burnette who began Onesimus Ministries in 1978, experienced “a clean heart.” He had a difficult childhood and found himself in deep trouble, sitting in a cell at CCP. Doug regularly attended the chapel services comparing what “one preacher” said on Tuesday with what “another preacher” said on Saturday. Thank God the two agreed with each other and said the same thing, thus offering him hope. One of the preachers said, “Doug, you don’t have to live like that.” God offers you forgiveness and grace to begin anew with a clean heart. Sounds like the Scripture in Isaiah 1:18 — “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” From childhood on up, Doug said he was plagued by nightmares and had difficulty sleeping. But the night after he finally gave up his own willful rebellion and surrendered his heart to the cleansing grace of Jesus, he awoke the next morning realizing he slept like a newborn baby. In a spiritual sense, Doug was just that—a newborn baby in Christ. The Scripture says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.   II Corinthians 5:17-21.

Thank God the “word of the Lord” took root in Doug’s repentant heart and is bearing fruit even now. How I thank God for Doug and his wife, Pat!

One more reference to snow in Isaiah 55:10, 11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Good things are yet to come!

There is a wonderful gospel song I enjoy, “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole; I want thee forever to live in my soul. Break down every idol, cast out every foe. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Lord, make our hearts whiter than snow!

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Let It Go!!! It’s Not Your Department – Chaplain Lil

Let It Go!!! It’s not your department.”

This is the lesson the Lord has been teaching me…again.  You see, I’m a natural worrier and perfectionist. I want everything done ahead of time. I want everyone to be happy. I want things done right.  In other words, I want things done my way and in my time.

But my worrying and perfectionism brings me stress and hurt because seldom is it going to happen.  Whether I try to ensure things are right in my kids’ lives, or with my job, I strive and get frustrated when things do not turn out that way.  But God is teaching me many things and I am learning that my attitude could be selfish by taking responsibilities that don’t belong to me, and I do not trust the Lord.
When the virgin Mary engaged to be married to Joseph, was told by the angel she was pregnant, she was afraid at first. After questioning the angel’s message, she said she would trust God, even though she knew this would likely be seen as a scandal and possibly bring shame to her, her family and her beloved, Joseph. Instead of wondering about the “what ifs,” she trusted God and said, I’m okay with however this turns out.  Help me Lord, to let it go. I can’t control how others feel about me or what they think; I don’t need everything to go my way.  I need to go Your Way.  I do not need to fix everybody else’s problems, because doing so does nothing to help that person learn, grow and trust you.

On the other hand, trusting God that “everything will work out” does not release me from helping others as the Lord leads.  No, I still want to be very sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. But Lord, help me to remember, I am not take on things that do not belong to me.

“Let It Go!!! It’s not my department.

I wish to thank everyone for your continued support along with your prayers.

May God Bless You
Chaplain Lillian Anthony

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