Thursday, 01 September 2016 07:46

Convicted Both Ways

Written by  Sam Whatley
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When we accept Christ, our lives change. For some, this change is in stages over time. For others it is literally overnight. So, some folks can pinpoint the date they were saved and others cannot.


I have a friend who can remember the big change in his life very well. It was the day the judge slammed the gavel down and pronounced that he would spend the next fourteen years behind bars. Let’s call my friend Jack.


Up until that fateful day Jack thought he had his act together. And I do mean his act. Part of the time he acted like a successful businessman, going to church, and doting on his wife and two children. But when those folks were not around he was known as “The Weed Man,” a distributor of street drugs, smooth when he wanted to be, violent when he thought he had to keep his dealers in line.


 His two acts could not go on forever, any more than a man can ride two horses at the same time. After years of making lots of money, he was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced in a three-month whirlwind. Suddenly, everyone he had been deceiving (his family, his friends, and his church) knew who he really was. The shame of his sin and the fear of his future were unbearable. He was facing many years in prison and he knew he could not survive it. Not without the mercy and grace of God. That’s when Jack gave his life to Christ.


Jack says he felt like the thief on the cross, the one who knew he was guilty and said,  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43, NIV).


 All his life Jack had heard stories about Jesus, but never known Him. He needed the Lord now more than he had ever needed anything. And he knew to turn to the Bible to find Him. So that’s what he did. In county jail he began reading the Scriptures. When moved to a medium security prison, he started going to chapel and talking with inmates about the Bible. Not knowing how God would use him, he was willing to learn.


About six months later a chapel speaker pointed Jack out and prophesied three things. He said, “You will go home. You will preach. And one day you will have a ministry.” Jack doubted that any of that could happen. But it did.


Less than three weeks later, without his request, Jack was transferred to a minimum security prison only a short drive from his home. Now he could see his wife and children more frequently. A few days after he arrived three men approached him and said that they had been praying for a new inmate chaplain and God had revealed to them that he was that man. Days later he was elected inmate chaplain by all of the inmates, even though he had never met any of them before.


Life really changed for Jack then. As the inmate chaplain, he could study books to help him understand the Bible. He pondered the works of John Wesley, John Piper, and other men of God. In time he learned to preach, teach, and share his witness with others. At the end of three years he was released on probation. Unlike the thief on the cross, he was given a second chance to live life with God’s guidance.


Today, ten years later, Jack works with inner city children and adults. Some are in housing projects; some are learning to buy and take care of their first home. He teaches sports, life skills, family skills, and most of all the love and grace of Christ.


I heard Jack preach not long ago and was reminded of Paul’s words to the people in Thessalonica:


For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction(I Thessalonians 1:4, NIV).


Has God convicted you? Have you given Him your life?

Last modified on Thursday, 01 September 2016 08:04
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