Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The tale of two Prison Guards

I've had the strange, but interesting, life experience of meeting two professional federal prison guards, and hearing their worldviews, up close and personal. Both men worked the tough job of watching some of the most wretched men behind bars, but their takes couldn't be more opposite.

One saw the men with contempt. Him versus them. His job, at the local Federal prison in Frackville, was to treat them like the animals, for he saw them as--subhuman. If they served their time, and stayed out of his way, they could count on decent treatment, but they probably wouldn't because they were, of course, scum--low life losers. To him, that's why they got there in the first place. Thinking he was upstanding, he saw himself as an agent of God's wrath. (This mentality is secular obviously. The God of his mind was a false god, a manmade idol, of course, but that's for another post.) He mentioned some stories of the inmates who wouldn't appreciate the privileges given to them, the ones' who would act like perverts and children. They would do the obscene. They would trash their cells. As punishment, he and the other guards would fill the cells with water and plug their cell doors with towels, to teach them a lesson. They would continue filling the cell until the prisoners would have to climb up to the top bunks together to escape the water. They would leave the cells full for a while, because to him it was important to give them what they deserved. They should know who was in charge.

Recently, I met another former Federal prison guard from Camp Hill. His work and life was redemptive enough that later when he ran across a former inmate, the man said, "Do you remember me? I was your inmate." He had been changed by this guard and the love of God flowing through him. Soon they began a ministry together for the purpose of changing lives and discipling others, in the way of Jesus. The redemption could continue, and pour into others. Healing, growth and change could flourish. Ego wasn't part of the equation. God could be glorified instead.

What are you doing with your life? Are you trying to prove a point, and letting ego drive your decisions? Do you think you are better than "low life types"? Or are you making difference by leading a redemptive life like Jesus did? People are not temporary, but almost everything else is. What a joy to impact the the world for eternity. I implore you to please make your life a sweet fragrance that draws others into the way of Jesus.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Joy to be With

Tony Snow died at age 53 a few days ago. One of the things I read that was both inspiring and memorable was that his colleagues said he was a joy to work with, even when his was ill.

It made me wonder if Christians you know are like this? Do people in general think of Christians this way? According to Dan Kimball, in general, no. There are a bunch of adjectives--most of them are really negative--and "joy" doesn't make the list.

If I went to interview the colleagues of first fifty people to read this, would they say you were a "joy to work with". Would someone say of me? (I hope so. Yikes.)

Joy can be the endangered specie character quality in our day and in our culture, and with the luxuries we've come to have as ordinary, it is a bit odd. I can begin to figure out, and elaborate on all the reasons why this is so, but if we can access more joy and express more joy, and be more of a joy to be with, like Tony Snow was in his short life, then how nice!