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NEWSLETTER VOL. 1 No 2.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God: not of works, least any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
When a person who works an eight-hour day gets paid for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with his opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person recieve appropriate recognition for his long service or high acheivements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award - yet receives such a gift anyway - that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what it means when we talk about the grace of God.
THIS NEWSLETTER was designed to let prisoners, who have accepted the Lord into their hearts, share with the world and other Christians their testimonies of how the Lord has worked His miracles in their lives.
I find it truly amazing that the Lord can turn a hardened criminal, who at one point in their lives terrorized the streets and made a living off the hardships of others, into a caring and compassionate Christian. Put your faith in the Lord... He can change your life around too.
Freedom Within would not be successful if I had not had the guidance given to me by the Lord. He has made it possible for me to work around all the obstacles here in prison ...and there are many! I have been blessed to have family and friends who work so hard to help me distribute this newsletter.
My thanks to my mother and father and to my grandparents, who have taken their time and helped me in bringing the Lord's work, through Freedom Within to you.
If you have any comment or ideas that may help me with this newsletter, or if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing from you.
"When I ws young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me."
Many parent and children swear that music, movies, violence on T.V. and video games, have no impact on the lives of children or adults. Why then do children tend to "act out" the violence they are subjected to on T.V. and through other forms of violent "entertainment"? Unless you keep your child locked in a room, he or she witnesses hundreds of suggestive thoughts and messages daily. Of course I'm not suggesting anyone lock their kids away to hide them from the various perils inherent to media and entertainment, but depending on how your child registers those thoughts and messages, as fantasy or reality, will determine whether or not he or she may one day bring a gun to their school and destroy the lives of classmates, teachers and families.
Today, your son's and daughter's friends and classmates may bring literature to school that describes hate and violence as the "in thing to do". These books and newsletters, of which there are many thousands in circulation, give messages to kids implying that being isolated and hating everyone is the only way to survive in today's world. Each page is packed with information concerning guns and music that sometimes blatently tell kids to kill. These publications also can include information on drugs, sex, and numerous additional items that seem designed to drive an undeveloped mind to the point of murder and/or suicide.
Here is an innocent example showing how T.V. can affect decisions children make as to "acting out" what they've just seen on screen: While growing up watcing "kid's" shows such as "Power Rangers" or cartoons like "He-man", I would often simulate the punches and kicks from the programs with my brothers and sisters. I remember jumping on our sofa with a broom in my hand, then bonking my siblings on the head with it in my excitement. As harmless and innocent as this may seem, the point is this - as is the case for millions of children today - if I saw some activity on T.V. that appealed to me, I would act it out. Where this can go from being innocent, as in the example given above, to being possibly dangerous, is when kids watch movies and T.V. shows depicting band robberies, drug dealers and lone gunmen walking calmly down a school hallway or street. Sure, when I was growing up I was forbidden to watch violent television or movies containing foul language or nudity. If my parents found out that us kids were doing so, it made sitting down a painful experience indeed. There was one way to escape the wrath of my parents and grandparents - don't let them find out we'd watched them! How did I manage this you ask? Well, my best friend David's parents had a huge collection of movies I wasn't allowed to see, most of them comtaining scenes of graphic violence, language that would put a sailor to shame, and nudity. How did my parents veiw David? As a smart and bright childhood friend. Boy were they fooled, huh? They would never find out I watched those movies - not until I wound up in prison anyway.
It's been said that. "a child does not go out and rob a bank based on events in a movie, just out of the blue". Hmm, I wonder. I went out of my way to watch those movies, to listen to that type of music and to play those video games.
Don't get me wrong your children's friends are not necessarily bad influences. Heck, 99% of my friends were good, high spirited kids living under the same restrictions that I was. I'm also not saying tht your child is doing the things that I've explained. What I am trying to point out is that the huge amount of violent and illicit acts witnessed by children through movies, T.V. and video games is no doubt desensitizing them to it's horrors, causing them to lead more destructive lives. In the end they can either become a victim of the violence or a purveyor of it. Not a lot to choose from for today's youth after all.
A youngster who is determined to hear the new song, see the new show or movie, and play the new video game that all his or her friends are talking about, violent and risque or not, will get a hold of it one way or another unless you board up the windows and bolt all the doors. So, for the sake of safety for yours and everyone's children, take the time to explain to them "why" you don't want them to watch that movie or listen to that music. It would surely have a far greater impact than just telling them, "No".
The reason I'm dwelling so much on the violence kids see in movies and video games and hear in so much of today's music is simple. I see it's results everyday. I ask inmates here in prison, "What gave you the idea for your crime?" A large number of them answer, "I saw it on television." It seems as though the ones who didn't get the idea from T.V. found ways to perfect their criminal activity by studying crime depicted on - you guessed it - their beloved television.
THE LONELY CROWD
One of the major characteristics of our time is lonliness. It seems ironic that in the age of the greatest population explosion our world has ever known, we find more and more people who are desperately lonely.
Even though someone may have an abundance of material things, they may be cut off from the society that surrounds them. They try to fill the void in their hearts with things that temporarily satisfy them but nothing seems to work on the empty abyss in their hearts.
There is an answer to the problem of loneliness; his name is Jesus Christ. He promises us that He won't leave or faorsake us. (Heb 13:5) He knows everything about us. We may often wonder how God can be concerned with us and our piddley problems. The answer to this question is easy; He loves us so much that He even knows how many hairs are upon our heads! We read; the the very hairs of our head are numbered; that two sparrows don't fall to the ground without our heavenly Father knowing of it. (Matthew 10:29-20)
You may have come to a point in your life where you feel you can't trust anyone, but there is a promise from one that loves you and can meet the problem of loneliness head-on. If you just open your heart to him He will wipe away the hurt and pain forever. His name is Jesus Christ, the doctor of all broken and lonely hearts; the Wonderful Counselor; the Prince of Peace; the Everlasting Father. (Isaiah 9:6)
A true friend knows the worst about us but still remains our friend. This is consummately true of our Lord. He knows we are not prize packages but He still loves us. He knows us better than we know ourselvess. when we come to the Saviour, not only does Jesus come into our lives promising to be our constant companion and closest friend, but He also ushers us into the most wonderful fellowship in the world; The Church of Jesus Christ.
No matter what you've done, Jesus Christ paid for all of your sins at Calvary. Why be lonely anymore? He's waiting for you just to give Him a chance. If you have lost the key to your heart... dont worry, He's the best locksmith I've ever met! All you need to do is make the call!
and loved ones, or they describe how they are feeling inside.
(F)orbear from talking about the one who hurt you. Gossiping adds fuel to the fire.
Smile God Loves You
A smile is something nice to see,
A smile is welcome anywhere,
Time is here, time is there,
JUSTIN L. MARTIN
The following letters were sent to Justin regarding the first issue of his newsletter.
I just want to thank all of the Christain brothers in prison. My son just came home last week from Corcoran State Prison in Calif. He was very involved with the brothers inside and I truly believe it's what brought him home alive and full of hope. He knows we serve a God of "new beginnings" and he is greatful for the time out God gave him to really look at his life and where it was going. Thank you Jesus for each of the brothers both young and old. Justin thank you for your news letter. I will make a copy of it from the internet and take it home so my son can share it at our church and with others. We will pray for you and hopefully you will pray for us. By the way my son's name is Tony.
....I just got finish reading Justin's newsletter. It really touched my heart especially those poems. I have two nephews who are messing with drugs and It tears my heart apart. They both have been raised in church. It seems as though they think getting high is the life and one of them thinks selling is the only way. I once was headed down that road but thank the Lord, he saved me... I just wanted to let him know how it touched my heart. I would like to get into prision ministries myself and hope one day I will be able to. Please tell them to never give up on the Lord.
I just saw your newsletter. I enjoyed it very much and would be happy to add your name to the prayers that I say with my children every night. When we add a name to our night prayers we are sure to pray because the children never forget to pray for people.
I hope that you will do more newsletters. Why don't you put the names of the authors on the pieces?
I was particularly moved by the man who wrote about seeing the baby from his maximum security exercise yard. I have a pro-life site on the net and I am in agreement that babies are a gift from God. What a powerful statement, though, that one who is incarcerated would see in a baby, not what so many mother's see: a child who is being brought into a broken world and who should be aborted-- but a child of hope. A child who has not yet succumbed to the temptations that we all face.
....My name is Doug. I am a prison volunteer Chaplain. I go into the prison once a month and take people from church with me to minister. I enjoyed the freedom within newsletter. I especially enjoyed the poem starting with the line "I asked God for strength..." I will use it in correspondance with other prisoners if that is ok. Tell Justin to hold on because "in due time he will reap" Galations 6:9. God has a purpose even in restraints.
Dear Doug and Patty
The following were extracted from personal emails.
...Justin has done a great job in his newsletter and we will be praying for him that the Lord would lead Him on in this ministry, I got a real blessing out of reading 'Freedom Within"...
...great poems that touched my heart...
...prayerfully those Chrisitans like ourselves who are on the 'outside' will uphold those dear brothers in Christ such as Justin who are on the 'inside' in prayer as they give the gospel in all forms...
...tell Justin there are many praying for him and his fellow Chrisitan brother's inside...
..."Freedom Within" is a great testimony to God and His unfailing love to the sometimes lost and lonely, to the misunderstood and the depraved to the sinner wether in or out His love and forgiveness is for us all...
...praise God for touching Justin's heart to contribute in "Freedom Within" to the glory of God....
...thankyou for posting Justin's newsletter, "Freedom Within" it is a blessing and we will be in constant prayer for Gods continued will for His life...
...what a wonderful job Justin has done with 'Freedom Within' I found it to be very helpfull and it leads me to look at my own life...
...God be praised and blessed for a work He is doing through Justin and 'Freedom Within'...
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