Lord at Thy Birth

Christmas is a time of year to rejoice. In addition to spending lengthened time with family and friends and eating our favorite desserts, Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. This past week I re-read the birth accounts in Matthew and Luke and took note of how many people and angels bowed down to worship that little boy. Even before He did a single thing He was worshipped as God and honored as King of the Jews.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). God incarnated Himself as a man to save men from their sins. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18). This is the message we are sharing in over sixty lock-up facilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is an honor to bring such a wonderful message to such needy youth.

At Christmastime many local churches buy gifts and donate them to Straight Ahead for distribution in lock-up facilities. One of our volunteers writes of his Christmas party last night…

“Last night was our sixth annual Bible study  Christmas party at the
Westfield Youth Detention Center. I’ve sent a picture of a
gift bag that I handed out. Included in the bag is a copy of “Dear SAM” [Straight Ahead’s newest publication]. In total, forty gift bags were handed out. Although the contents of the bag may not mean much to people like us, it means an enormous amount to these
young men in lock-up. Many of do not have family nor do they
comprehend the true meaning of Christmas. Straight Ahead is such a blessing to this ministry.

Thank you & God Bless.

December 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Good tidings

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,”  Luke 2:10.

From heaven above to earth I come,

To bear good news to every home,
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will gladly sing.

To you this night is born a Child
Of Mary, chosen mother mild;
This little Child, of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto us His Son hath given!
While angels sing with pious mirth,
A glad New Year to all the earth.

— Martin Luther
This past Sunday our music director encouraged the congregation to use Christmas carols to enhance our time with God during the Christmas season.  It gave me the idea to do that in my devotionals as well.  The song I chose this week is one I am not familiar with but the words really spoke to my heart.  We can become very busy with activities during this season but I know taking time to really listen to the words of the Christmas carols we hear everywhere can lift our spirits and encourage us.  In thinking about Luke 2 I am reminded of the quote from Linus in Charlie Brown Christmas.  He said; “Lights please.” then proceeded to read Luke chapter 2.   After he finished, he said: “So there you have it, Charlie Brown. That’s the true meaning of Christmas.

I pray that we will all keep our focus on the one who came to give us life and to be the joy of all the earth.

Deb Erickson, Prayer Coordinator



December 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm Leave a comment

Giving Thanks

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18

The meal, the memories, the music Thanksgiving brings have a way of blocking out the gaunt giant of selfishness and ushering in the sincere spirit of gratitude, love, and genuine joy. — Chuck Swindoll

I am so thankful for each of you and the role you play in the lives of incarcerated kids.

I pray that you each enjoy a wonderful time of Thanksgiving this week.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the good gifts God has given us.  Hopefully we are learning to have a grateful heart on a daily basis; but to have a day set aside for counting our blessings is a tradition well worth observing.    Being thankful is not something we do naturally, God instructs us to be thankful in all things because He is fully aware of that.  We are told repeatedly in scripture to give thanks.  I once read about a man who was at a function where the pastor who led the group in saying grace before the meal thanked God not only for the food but for the water.  It is all too easy to take such things for granted and we need to recognize just how many things we overlook that are gifts from our God.

Father, increase our awareness of all you have done for us and continually do on our behalf.  Give us grateful hearts that see your wonderful gifts of life.  Amen.

Straight Ahead Ministries – Debbie Erickson Prayer Coordinator

 

 

November 22, 2010 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

John Gunden Band

Yesterday I accompanied the John Gunden Band to two juvenile lock-up facilities, for Christian rock music and a message about God’s Word. The first show was at Goss Secure Treatment, located in an old, run-down brick building that would make a perfect setting for a horror flick. (I am not kidding!) Once inside we were led to the courtyard to set-up the instruments. Sixteen boys perched themselves on picnic tables while staff members listened to the music from behind the boys.

The neat thing about this concert was that the numbers of those who heard the Gospel don’t tell the whole story. Not only does Goss house juvenile offenders in the brick building, but the State Hospital also houses mental health residents.  It was clear from the beginning that the Goss boys were not the only audience the band had. Looking up at the windows we could see many faces pressed against the panes. And many windows were opened, presumably to hear the music below.

The band’s second show was at a girls’ facility in Lakeville. Nine girls plus a couple of staff were present. Afterwards the facility invited the band to stick around and enjoy hot chocolate and brownies while talking some more with the girls. As the band was mingling after the show one of the girls remarked incredulously, “You came all the way from Michigan to play for us?”

It was a great day and I’m very thankful for the band’s ministry to our population of youth.

November 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm 1 comment

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

“Have you ever felt the drain of a negative pessimistic attitude on your energies? You don’t feel like doing anything. When you are excited and happy about doing what needs to be done you are exhausted before you realize you are tired. It is the joy that makes the difference. There is a great strength in joy . . . especially God’s joy.”   Jim Davis

God shows that He is a God of joy by wanting those in the passage of Nehemiah 8 that they need to forget the past and celebrate.  The words were spoken to people whose hearts were grieved after hearing God’s word.  Charles Spurgeon said, “They felt the edge of the law of God like a sword opening up their hearts, tearing, cutting, and killing.”  Once they became aware of their sin and repented God wanted them to celebrate what He had done for them.  In Matthew it is said in another way:  “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

It is a remarkable truth to know that God allows us to enter into His joy.  When we do, despite how difficult life may be or what we may have just come through, God strengthens us with His joy.  Father, grant each of us the joy of your presence that we might be strengthened.

Debbie Erickson ~ Prayer Coordinator

November 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

“Let” is a Word of Faith

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

“Let” is a word of tremendous faith with volumes of meaning poured into it.  It assumes the total love and good will of the Father. It assumes that heaven is crammed with good gifts that the Father desires to give His children.” (Harold Hill)

Reading the above quote caused me to think about the word “Let” for a while.  It is a great word to use in prayer when we have the sense that what we are asking is in line with what God wants.  How easy it is to miss the true meaning behind a word as we rush past it to look for other things.  I pray that God will show you many treasures from His word beginning with the word LET and that He really will allow those things to take place!  In the verse I have given it says let us not, but it flows to the purpose, let us reap a harvest.

The “Message” puts Galatians 6:9 this way… So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.   Verse 10 has another LET…Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.  I pray that will become a reality for each of us.

Deb Erickson, Prayer Coordinator

(more…)

November 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

SAM Lynn

Eugene Schneeberg has been selected as the new Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.  Eugene has had a tremendous impact on the lives of the youth we are called to serve in Boston and Lynn.  We are grateful for his years of service as Director of Operations for Straight Ahead Lynn and thrilled to see God expanding his impact and influence in a significant way through the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Also in the Lynn news…

Straight Ahead was recently awarded a grant from the US Department of Justice for our partnership in the “Second Chance Re-Entry Project” in Lynn, MA.  Working in collaboration with the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and AdCare Criminal Justice Services, our Lynn staff will become the first point of contact in the re-entry process for youth incarcerated at the Middleton House of Correction and Lawrence Correctional Alternative Center. This award is a direct answer to our prayers for provision as we begin expanding our ministry into Lawrence, MA and to provide funding for us to work with 17-24 year olds coming out of prison and back into Lynn.  Please pray for our Lynn staff as they assume new responsibilities when the program begins later this fall.

November 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm Leave a comment

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