Gateway to Glory - May 2019.jpg

James 5:11; Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.  Only by Job’s suffering could he intimately experience and comprehend the Lord as compassionate and merciful.  

Charles Spurgeon said, “In shunning a trial, we are seeking to avoid a blessing.”  Patience and perseverance is a rare commodity in this technologically advanced world and microwave society.  Travel, communication, and basic daily chores are incredibly time efficient, if not instantaneous.  

The result is, we are not being trained in perseverance.  We are not used to pains that can’t be relieved quickly.  We are not accustomed to problems that can’t be corrected in short order.  When the problems of life come, you and I send up prayers with the same expectations as when we press the buttons on our microwaves.  We say to ourselves, “Within a few seconds or so, this omnipotent God that we serve will be all over this and have it straightened out in no time.”

But God doesn’t usually work that way.  He is thorough and precise, and He will not be rushed.  The time cannot be shortened and our growth cannot come more quickly.  We must learn perseverance!

There is no way to become a mature Christian without trials.  We may pray for Christlike character and hope it will come by spiritual osmosis, but, most often, it will not!  God’s plan for all His people is trial by fire. Matthew 3:11; “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” It is the only way to burn away the flesh and reveal the spirit.  It is the only way to grow and mature in Christ. No one has ever become a true disciple without perseverance and no one has ever persevered without pain and suffering.

One of the greatest – if not the greatest – trial I experienced, and had to experience, was incarceration.  If you don’t learn perseverance, and learn it quick in prison, you will soon be headed for the “bam bam room” wearing the “bam bam suit” (prison-speak for insanity).  As the Holy Spirit gave me supernatural strength to endure, I began to experience God’s love, forgiveness, and His amazing grace and mercy like I never knew before.

What is our reaction to trials?  Do we expect instantaneous answers to our prayers? If so, more often than not, we will be disappointed.  We have to change our perspective.  Rather than looking for an escape, look for the benefit of the trial and let patience and endurance have its perfect result.  Ask God what He’s accomplishing in you and then participate in it willingly. If you allow God to teach perseverance in you, you will be a rarity in this world, but well fit for the Kingdom of God.  Psalm 66:12 says “we went through the fire”, and for this we are being prepared every day

Several years ago, I read something in the Daily Bread that I would like to share with you, regarding this business of persevering through the fire:  

The refining process may be very painful, but it will not destroy us, for the Refiner sits by the furnace, tending the flame.  He will not allow us to be tried beyond our endurance; it is for our own good.  We may not understand why we have to endure such misery year after year. The ordeal seems endless and pointless.  Our days are wasted, or so it appears.  We feel as though we are doing nothing of lasting significance.  But God is doing what matters.  We are being refined.  He is placing us into a crucible in which we acquire patience, meekness, humility, compassion, perseverance, and the other quiet virtues our souls naturally lack. So, don’t be afraid and don’t fret.  Your present trial, as painful as it may be, has been screened through God’s wisdom and love.  The Refiner sits by the crucible tempering the flames, monitoring the process, and waiting patiently until He sees His face mirrored on the surface.

May His face be mirrored in you today!

Persevering to the end,

Steve Malek

The Father's Embrace

Gateway to Glory - MAY 2018.jpg

If you could solve one problem on the planet, what would it be?  I’m sure, if you asked a room full of people that question, you would get a myriad of answers:  “I would do away with terrorism,”  “Reverse Roe vs. Wade,” “Do away with racism, homelessness, hunger”, “I would want world peace,” the list goes on and on.  But the thing I see plaguing this planet is fatherlessness.  Not only is the father figure weakened and disparaged in the media and Hollywood, which makes the mom in most homes play both roles (father and mother), but also the addition of same sex “marriage”…the first thing that comes to mind is “Come quickly Lord Jesus”!
At the Macomb County Jail, 85% of all inmates (male and female) had no father figure growing up.  There are, also, a large percentage that we talk to that have never even met their father.  I believe if we could address the fatherlessness issue, we would see many of the world’s social issues eradicated.  Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
So, what do we do?  It’s too late for Ephesians 6:4 to be put into play.  The men and women at the Macomb County Jail are adults and well set in their ways.  Is it too late?  Of course not!  Our Heavenly Father has already made a provision.  He doesn’t redeem in days, months, or years, He redeems in lifetimes!  The provision our Heavenly Father has made, knowing there would be a fatherlessness crisis, is found in Romans 8:14-17;   “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together”.
This bondage of fear is a real issue for these inmates.  The fear of abandonment, the fear of not being loved, the fear of failure – and, for drug addicts and alcoholics is the fear of their lives becoming unmanageable.  That’s why these men and women must embrace this business of adoption instituted by our Heavenly Father Himself.  This adoption process takes place when a person responds to the invitation to make Jesus Savior and Lord of their lives.  We not only have to accept it in our heart, but we need to profess it with our mouths.
John 6:44; “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” When you sense that tug on your heart don’t shrink away.  Respond to the Father’s embrace.  Allow Him to adopt you into His family, He will remove all fear.  We become legitimate children of God, living and dwelling with our Abba Father who loves us with an unconditional, everlasting love!
At the beginning of April, Easter was celebrated around the world.  Many folks celebrate with Easter bunnies, chocolates and Peeps, but Christians know the real celebration of Easter is about the promise of new life through the shed blood of Jesus.  We celebrate our risen Lord on that day, and it was our pleasure to gather a group of Bible Study teachers to share that good news at the Macomb County Jail with a service on every floor.  We heard, from the volunteers, what a move of God was sensed throughout the jail due to the inmates attendance and attentiveness!
At the end of the month, the men and women of the aftercare ministry were treated to a Michael W. Smith worship concert at Bethesda Christian Church.  Though some had never heard him sing before, they all responded positively to his music and style of Christian music. 
Being able to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the jail and then discipling those in the aftercare, allows us to advance our mission to “restore lives and families”.  By restoring lives through creating an atmosphere where men and women can become Godly men and women, we pray the local families of our counties will be touched and restored to their rightful place of adoption in the Father’s house.
Orphans no longer,
Chaplains Steve and Robin Malek