Happy Thanksgiving! Sometimes it is hard to give thanks, especially after a lengthy parole denial, but the apostle Paul reminds us “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 2
A Gracious Response…
It was wonderful to hear from Jim in Arizona, who wrote:
“I only recently heard that you have completely turned your life around, became a Christian, and have been a model prisoner. I too am a Christian and have always believed Jesus can forgive all sins of everybody, no matter how big or small. The key is for the individual to repent, and to ask Jesus to forgive all the sins in one’s life. If Hitler on his deathbed asked Jesus to forgive him for what he did, I think Jesus would have forgiven him of what he did, and allowed him into heaven.
“I was so impressed when I read more of your story of how you became an ordained minister and earned a college degree. You were also an excellent student and athlete in high school. You even set a record in high school for hurdles. You also got married and have children. Those are some accomplishments you should always be proud of.
“I’m sure you receive a lot of mail, both positive and negative, I just wanted to let you know how delighted I was to hear that you gave your life to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, and all your sins are forgiven. He even holds a place for you Charles Watson. I’m sure you are saving souls in prison, and the Lord is well pleased. I really wish all the best and may God continue to use you in prison to save souls. Sincerely, Jim, AZ.”
Parole Board Denial…
Jim’s letter expresses things the parole board heard last month, but the crimes are so heinous that it is difficult to understand how an All-American boy from Texas could commit such horrific crimes. I did my best to explain as you can see from the materials on the site, but never good enough. Of course, I was discouraged, but the Lord woke me up this morning to write this view, “…rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” 3
On the site, you’ll notice that my book “Manson’s Right Hand Man Speaks Out!” is now renamed “Charles Watson Speaks Out!”, because the board felt the name was offensive to victims’ families. I’ve only seen the title as a hook for sharing the salvation message, but viewing it through their eyes caused me to rethink the title, seeing their point. The Word says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” 4
God’s Sufficient Grace…
That was only one reason for the denial, so I left the hearing somewhat depressed until I was asked to push a man in his wheelchair to his building. He couldn’t walk or talk, because he was suffering from throat cancer. I was reminded that things could be worse for me than life in prison. Like myself, you too probably see people who are less fortunate than yourself, causing thankfulness.
Also, this reminded me to look around this month for those less fortunate than myself, and be a blessing to them. I find as I take my eyes off myself and put them on God, He enables me with empathy to be a blessing to others. I wouldn’t be able to write this view without the sufficiency of God’s grace, which is His ability to work through us to do what we cannot do in our flesh. Like the apostle Paul, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” 5
We’ve Obtained Mercy…
The apostle Paul went on to say, “…even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” 6
The apostle Paul is “a prime example” for us all. I hope to be an example myself, and since God saved Paul and me, He can save you, too, making you an example. In this letter to me, Jim wrote: “If Hitler on his death bead asked Jesus to him to forgive of what he did, I think Jesus would have forgiven him of what he did, and allowed him into heaven.” “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 7 Won’t you receive Him today?
“May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” 8
A Prayer for You…
Jesus, I confess You are my Lord, Savior and Righteousness. I believe in my heart that God raised You from the dead. By faith in Your word of reconciliation, I receive salvation now. Thank You for saving my soul! Father, I recognize my need for Your power to live this new life. Please fill me to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit. By faith, I receive Your power right now. Thank You for baptizing me. Holy Spirit, You are welcome in my life. Show me my identity, meaning and purpose in life. Amen!
Scripture References (NKJV):
1) 1 Thess. 5:18
2) Rom. 8:28
3) Col. 2:7
4) Rom. 13:1
5) 1 Tim. 1:12
6) 1 Tim. 1:13-16 NLT
7) Eph. 2:8,9
8) Col. 1:11b-14 NLT