Dashawn

This a shortened letter sent to an inmate in Georgia.

Dear Dashawn,

How great is our God! I rejoice with great joy in our salvation even though, earthbound for a while, we do not experience the fullness of heaven yet. I look forward to standing side by side with you before our Lord.

I am proud of your persistence to live out the gospel and to serve right where you are. Oh how I wish more followers of Jesus focused their life as you have and are. Though this new place is a different and a difficult place of service, God has prepared you for it and is using it to prepare you (and others) for the future. I encourage you to continue to “walk in a manner worthy” of the gospel. Even ministry to or with 1 or 2 men is Kingdom service in response to Jesus’ love and sacrifice for you. Yes, as you said, others are watching. That too is a precious honor.

Have you found a new “secret place” (Matthew 6) for your prayer ministry? That was a sacred hallway where you paced and prayed before.

It comes to mind that your separation from loved ones, the challenges of your mission field, and the aloneness are very similar to the Apostle Paul in his missionary journeys and imprisonments. Paul said he was willing to “fellowship with His sufferings.” You are in good company.

I just preached from James yesterday. We and they are strangers and exiles on earth, looking for a better country and city, longing for the presence and promises of God to be our daily reality (Hebrews 11:13-16). We are “last day” followers of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). James fusses in 1:2-5:6. His warnings are many: reaction to suffering, relating to the church family, partiality, materialism, etc.

I especially love 5:7-12. “Therefore” (v. 7) is a crossroad moment. It says in light of what I’ve taught already, now live by it. In Greek here there is an unusual use of actual imperatives. James pours it on. His strategy for last day travelers is precise: be patient v.7, strengthen your hearts v.8, don’t complain v.9, follow good examples v.10-11, and don’t be rash in your commitments and promises v.12. I think it works for both of us.

I found a compelling quote by Matt Chandler. Rather than merely focusing on what someone else called “a gospel of sin management” (an unending, unobtainable list to check off), we are more successful and joyful [when]“Christ would become more beautiful and desirable than the allure of sin.”

I closed with the question: What is your strategy?

Well, I miss the physical joy of your face and presence, Brother. I look forward to seeing you soon, “here, there, or in the air.”

-john

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