This is the first episode of “Inside the Mind of Gibby”, which is going to be a re-occurring column in The Saints Prison Ministry’s quarterly newsletter, The Insider. I hope to offer a (lighter) look inside of what it is like to be on the road with the Saints Prison Ministry during the season and during our Crusades! Please enjoy!
Remove the Sharp Objects from the Room!
One of my least favorite things in life is when a good idea does not turn out as planned. As I sat looking at my notes for the Saints team Bible study that I was attempting to lead that evening, I realized that the discussion amongst my Saints teammates had nothing to do with what I originally planned to talk about!
One of the best aspects of going on a Saints Crusade is the daily team devotions. After we visit a prison we will usually eat dinner and return to the hotel. We will typically meet in the breakfast area of the hotel and have a Bible study before we get some rest. These are great times to learn and study God’s Word as a team.
The topic for this particular evening was the beatitudes in Matthew 5. I had heard an excellent sermon from one of my favorite authors, Kyle Idleman, and decided that I would use some of his material for the devotions on this particular Saints Crusade. I did my research and prepared not only the devotions but handouts so that each of my teammates could follow along and perhaps appreciate my hard work even more!
The thought process and terminology that flowed so well from Kyle Idleman’s sermon fell flat as I presented it. I would bring up what I thought was a life changing discussion question only to hear the sound of crickets amongst the awkward silence. As we moved along in the devotion, I had a clear definition of Matthew 5:3 on my nice professional looking handout, but it seemed like most in the room had a different way of interpreting “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. The rest of the room was fighting sleep after a long day of softball and prison ministry and had trouble staying engaged. We soldiered through the devotions during that week but each topic I had brought up had taken a turn into another topic, which turned into another topic, none of which I knew how to tie back together into a beatitudes devotion!
By the fourth night I was planning to lop off a few points so we could get done in around twenty minutes and enjoy the Sunday Night Football game together. An hour later, the room was still hung up on Matthew 5:10 and what being “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” really meant. At this point my devotion was now officially hijacked and I was trying to figure out if I could slip out of the room and make it to and from the Taco Bell down the street without anyone noticing!
This particular time that I led devotions was a humbling experience but I am thankful for all of the Godly wisdom that was in that room those four nights. Depending on the text and the topic, crusade devotion conversations will on occasion spill over into parenting and marriage application. Many topics lead to discussions on how we can serve in our local churches better. At other times the conversation will turn into some lively discussions on politics or some minor denominational differences. While these conversations are hard to get back on track and may take us more into the evening than we plan, each devotion time on a Crusade is edifying. I really enjoy spending time with guys from around the country and hearing their insight on God’s Word. I am especially thankful when I get to lead a Crusade devotion, even if they don’t turn out the way I plan!
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. “ Proverbs 27:17