The Christian Public Servant – “the body of Christ”

September 30, 2016 – Friday

Reading
1 Samuel 25:16(b) [MSG] They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night

1 Corinthians 12:27 [MSG] You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are!

Reflection
Walls surround and limit all of us. Some walls are stressful jobs. Other walls keep single parents from finding day care for their children. Still other walls keep families from finding daily care for older parents. Walls can stop lines of communication in many aspects of our lives – in a marriage or with coworkers.

And then there is me. I have physical walls around me – day and night – walls that limit me in countless ways.

Funny thing about walls; people tend to think of them as prison walls – restricting possibilities, but walls can also be like forts – protecting those on the inside.

We need to focus on walls that protect us, and this requires teamwork through the body of Christ. The stressful job is lightened with the help of coworkers. Day care might require friends from Sunday school or your church. The support of family can help keep a marriage healthy despite walls that divide a relationship.

As for me, the body of Christ is found in those who visit or write me, is found in brothers in the other cells, and is found in those wearing a uniform – all enable me to serve Christ in this world.

Yes, it takes the body of Christ to change prisons into forts – and that fort will protect you. It will nourish and nurture you. It will permit you to tend to the work given to you by Christ.

Today at work, start using the body of Christ to change your prisons into forts. Be part of that fort for coworkers. Be a part of that fort after work when you go home to loved-ones.

Part of God’s fort – that’s who you are!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for being mindful of me to bless me with a wall that really is my fort. A wall that helps me carry out Your will daily. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

A friendly reminder from The Christian Public Servant – October 6

Many are blessed by the Friday devotionals by Jimmy Davis, Jr. His birthday is October 6, and if you are led to bless him with a birthday card, below find the DOC instructions for corresponding with Jimmy.

And God bless you for all you do in His name.

The Editors

Sending to Jimmy Davis, Jr.

Keep in mind, your letter is opened, inspected, read – and only then approved — by a correctional officer in the prison mailroom. Approval (and forwarding to Jimmy) is subject to interpretation by the particular correctional officer on duty. If your letter/card is not approved, it will be destroyed without you or Jimmy knowing about it. The same is true if you send him a gift.

Below are conservative instructions for writing to Jimmy Davis, Jr. Please follow them completely with an eye to each detail.

(1) In the upper-left hand corner of the envelope: place your FULL NAME and COMPLETE ADDRESS. (You may use any address — your home, your work, or your church — which ever makes you feel comfortable. But it must be a street address — not a P.O box number.) He will not get your letter/card if this information is not included.

(2) Make sure you write precisely Jimmy’s name, z-number, unit-number and address on the envelope. He will not get your letter/card if any information is incorrect or omitted. Below is what should be on your envelope:

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Holman Correctional Facility
Holman 3700
Atmore, AL 36503-3700
USA ß if you are writing from another country, naturally include “USA

(3) No gifts can be included in the envelope. (Not that Jimmy would, but inmates can reshape items into weapons. Hence, AL DOC does not permit objects made of plastic or wood or metal.) A cardboard bible marker is OK. But anything made of plastic, wood or metal will result in the letter being rejected and destroyed – without you or Jimmy ever knowing it. Another possible gift, if you are looking for a gift, would be a book of stamps included in your card.

(4) Sending a gift is always difficult – for reasons that the gift may be rejected as a “potential weapon” through the interpretation of the DOC official opening the gift. (Knowing Jimmy is a Miami Hurricane fan, I tried to send him a Miami pennant for his birthday, and it was rejected.) The best bet is a book – but the PAPERBACK book and it must be sent directly from the publisher or a third entity (like amazon.) Jimmy does like to read!

(4) STAMPS. This is not a DOC requirement. But Alabama inmates must purchase stamps, and most cannot afford it. So Alabama prison culture encourages the writer to include 2 stamps – one possibly to respond to you and the other possibly for the inmate to write to his family. AGAIN, THIS IS NOT A REQUIREMENT and JIMMY CERTAINLY WILL NOT BE BLESSED ANY LESS BY CARDS/LETTERS THAT DO NOT CONTAIN TWO STAMPS. (And, if you write from outside the USA, do not even bother with enclosing stamps because Jimmy will not be able to use other-country stamps to write back.) And, fyi, each Friday when I send Jimmy the week’s devotionals, I usually include a book of stamps – with permission from the chaplain. I am reasonably sure that, if you are led, a book of stamps included in your letter will be accepted – and that would also be a nice Birthday or Christmas gift.

That’s about it. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at jslack0229@live.com. Thank you for all that you do in His name! Pax Christi, Jim Slack.

And btw, if Jimmy writes back, you will probably note that his writing ability must mean his devotionals are edited. You are right, but rest assured, he is the author. Also know that Jimmy has an amazing learning curve. Considering his standardized IQ results and level of formal education, we are now editing his devotionals much less than the devotionals of some much more learned authors! J God certainly is working in Jimmy’s heart and in Jimmy’s mind for His glory!!

The Christian Public Servant – “willing to lay down their lives”

September 29, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
John 15:13 [NIV] Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Reflection
I work with some of the finest public safety officers. These men and women come to work each day to make their communities safe. As public servants, they are willing to lay down their lives for one’s friends, neighbors, and complete strangers. And I consider myself lucky that I have not had to meet with a family because of a line-of-duty loss of a public safety officer. Some of my colleagues in other cities have not been so lucky.

Yes, these women and men go into harm’s way without blinking an eye; knowing they may not come home to their families at the end of the workday. For me, well, call me chicken, but you couldn’t pay me enough to do what they do each day. And I am so grateful that they chose this public service career path.

Yet I know, our world is so very imperfect. Injustice seems to fill each day. There are bad people out there, and a few are public servants. Better understanding and communication – more love in and for each member of every neighborhood and community – all these things are desperately required in all of us if Christ is to end injustice.

But as you go to work today, remember this: your freedom is not free – it comes at the highest cost. You are able to go to work, actually work, and return from work because a very special line of public servants is willing to lay down their lives.

So today at work, realize there is no greater love. You are served by those willing to lay down their lives.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for men and women who choose to follow You in public safety careers. Women and men willing every day to lay down their lives for me. Watch over them, Lord. Keep their hearts ever so pure with only Your Good News. Keep them safe while they protect me and my neighbors in all corners of my community. Protect them as they serve all of Your flock. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Wendy Standorf, PHR; IPMA-CP
Human Resources Director
City of West University Place
West University Place, Texas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “no matter what the task”

September 28, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Luke 16:10 [ESV] Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

Reflection
Our workplaces have a lot in common. Each consists of many different responsibilities and roles where all duties must be fulfilled so everything can run smoothly. And if your workplace is like mine, some tasks are invisible and some are simply unappreciated.

So it can be very frustrating if some of your tasks don’t necessarily get acknowledged as much as they should. And it’s easy to lose hope or even to cut some corners – just to get those unappreciated tasks out of the way.

Yet you and I are examples of Christ in our workplaces. We are held by Him to a higher standard of work. So it is essential that we view and do those unappreciated tasks in a different spirit.

As a Christian public servant, remember this: When you work, work for the Lord – no matter what the task. And especially glorify Him with how you handle those unappreciated tasks.

Yes, today at work, be the type of person who works for the Lord – no matter what the task – regardless of the significance or visibility. Be someone who can be trusted by coworkers not only to get the job done but to get it done in a humble and honest manner.

At work today, work for Him – no matter what the task!

Prayer 
Lord, as I go about my work day, help me stay honest and humble. Let my work glorify You and set a godly example for those around me. Give me patience and strength in all my tasks no matter what they are. Be present in all that I do, Lord. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Morgan Best
Elementary School Teacher
Wake County Public Schools
Raleigh, North Carolina USA

The Christian Public Servant – “not with defeat, but with thankfulness”

September 27, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
I Timothy 1:12 [NIV] I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

Matthew 25:23(b) [NIV] Well done, good and faithful servant!

Reflection
What a workday! It started off with a pre-school meeting to help a student get caught up. Within minutes he looked at me and said, “you should know my mom is dead, and I watched her die.” Over the summer, she died of a heroin overdose. Later in the morning, as I reminded my students for the umpteenth time that reading is a life skill, one of them tearfully whispered that her mother left last night, and she may never come home.

I felt overwhelmed. Did I comfort those two students? Say the right things? I didn’t think so.

Then the bell rang for lunch, and I ducked into the faculty bathroom for a quick prayer. But the Enemy started whispering, “This job is too big, and you are not making a difference!”

Yet when I returned to my desk, I saw a note from a former student. She thanked me for not giving up on her even when she had given up on herself. And later another student gave me a large pumpkin cookie and a big hug – for helping her discover that reading is a life skill!

What a workday! There were moments when I thought I failed. So many children needing something, and a few needing beyond what I thought I could give. Yet our Lord kept strengthening me. Giving me reminders of what I can do. And I left work overwhelmed not with defeat, but with thankfulness for my Lord and Savior!

So as this workday begins, realize there will be moments when you feel worthless in servicing others. But join me right now in giving thanks for His renewing strength while we diligently pray for each and every soul who crosses our work-paths.

Yes, you are needed at work. Be overwhelmed not with defeat, but with thankfulness!

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the renewed strength to serve where You have placed me. I ask for continued energy today so when I finally see Your face, You will say, “well done, good and faithful servant!” In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen!

Debra Neal
6th Grade Teacher
South Amherst Middle School
Firelands School District
South Amherst, Ohio USA

The Christian Public Servant – “His Kingdom’s within”

September 26, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Luke 17:20(b)-21 [NKJV] the kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

Reflection
We live in fearful and anxious times.

You see it in the news. Challenges. Accusations. Debate blurring fact and fiction. You feel it in your everyday transactions. In the what and way of increasingly tense looks and verbal exchanges – everywhere – in the workplace, on the streets, at the gym, and even in church. You read the madness on social media. Think this way or that way if you know what’s good for you and society. Are you with us or against us? There are no other choices.

Many – many – are fearful and anxious. And some see the end of days quickly approaching.

Yet as a Christian public servant, you know better. God, not this way or that way, is in control. And so you have to demonstrate the Gospel at all times – never betraying any fear because you know He really is in control. In exchanges with citizens and coworkers, or when interacting with friend and stranger on social media – your eyes must not be focused skyward looking for the Kingdom of God. Rather, you must acknowledge Jesus’ admonition that His Kingdom’s within – within you, within me, and within all those who follow Christ. And there lies the end of fear and anxiousness. His answers lie within you!

So as this workweek begins, seize the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone who is fearful about the events of the day. It could be in the elevator. In the break room. At lunch or after work. On social media. There are so many opportunities to remind others of His Gospel.

At work today, and before and after, let all who fear see that His Kingdom’s within them – as It is within you! No need to put up with the madness. No need to follow this way or that way. No need to act according to anyone or anything but Him.

Yes, His Kingdom’s within. And so there is no reason to fear on this day!

Prayer
Father, thank You for the opportunity to serve Your purposes. Help me emulate Your Son, Jesus, who teaches His Kingdom’s within me – as It is within others who follow Him. Give me courage to share Your Son’s Good News today with someone who is fearful. In the mighty name of your Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

David Boisselle, D.S.L.
President & CEO
Agape Leadership Consulting, LLC
Chesapeake, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “even if no other warriors are there”

September 23, 2016 – Friday

Reading
1 Samuel 14:6 [NLT] “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

Reflection
Some say that on death row and in foxholes, no man is an atheist. But regrettably that’s not always true – at least for the men where I live. There are many times when I am confronted by nonbelievers, and a lot of times I am outnumbered. And they battle to test my faith.

Ever happen to you? I bet your workplace is a foxhole not filled solely with Believers huddling together. And in that foxhole, nonbelievers will test your faith in many ways. You know what I’m talking about. Ask you questions, tempt you with ideas – all to trip you up. And sometimes you feel pretty much alone. And I bet sometimes you feel you just can’t win the battle.

Our faith is not based on the numbers supporting us. It is the Lord, not numbers, that we need to count on. You and I need to have faith that the Lord can win the battle – even if no other warriors are there to help.

So today, fear not when your faith is tested by pagans in your foxhole. And I’ll do the same on death row. Yes, in your workplace and mine, know that nothing can hinder our Lord.

And even if no other warriors are there, you are there. You are in that foxhole. And you are all He needs to plant seeds and change situations. Yes, you are all He needs to win the battle.

At work today, have faith in Him – even if no other warriors are there!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for increasing my faith everyday so I can be Your warrior and carry out Your will. And I know You will win the battle. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “a stand for God”

September 22, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Psalm 51:10-11 [KJV] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Reflection
A friend called last night. She’s one of five department heads in a state-level agency. Notice came some time ago that the current budget crisis requires draconian cuts – up to 20 percent in this agency. And so my friend began to organize an ambush with three of the other department heads. The four of them were going to protect their departments, come-what-may, by proposing to virtually eliminate the fifth department.

Well, her scheme worked – and last week, it was implemented.

Not everyone in the fifth department lost their jobs, but enough did. And that fifth department head lost his job. So there was a lot of packing, tearful goodbyes, and anxiety over the future.

And now my friend feels guilty and ashamed at what she instigated. She knows conspiracy was not needed to save her department. Though tough, a 20 percent cut would have been survivable. But now she must live with the consequences of what she helped happen.

The consequences of sin are difficult to deal with. In David’s case, God’s mercy and grace prevailed when David got honest with God about his sin and resolved to do whatever it took to have his relationship restored with God.

Sin must be overcome. But it doesn’t happen by our strength alone. In circumstances like my friend’s, what is tested is whether our desire for God is greater than our desire to do sin. At some point, a stand for God is required to make things right. And my friend knows this.

What about you? Is there a meeting today? Will there be winners and losers? Remember, budgets represent people – their lives and families. So do programs and policies. And there is a line between protecting your department and taking a stand for God to make things right.

Before that meeting today, ask God for a clean heart. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Go into that meeting and do what it takes to maintain a relationship with Him.

Today at work, come-what-may, take a stand for God!

Prayer
Lord, I ask You to clean my heart before I get to work today. Renew a right spirit within me throughout the workday. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Chaplain Chris Summers
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “serving Him through the people you serve”

September 21, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Luke 21:1-4 [NKJV] And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Romans 12:2 [NKJV] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Reflection
Yesterday I stopped by the local market on my way home from work. Outside my car, a man asked me for some change for food. Now I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have enough. So I reached in my pocket and handed him some loose change. He smiled and said, “God bless you.”

When I got into the store, a lady stopped me. She said the man outside was always begging for change, and he probably had more money than me. She claimed it was just a scam, going on to say she never gives to beggars because they are just trying to play on sympathy.

Her comment gave me pause because no one ever really wants to be taken advantage of. But I also never want to harden my heart toward those in need. I thought of the widow in the temple, and I thought about conforming to this world. So I said to her, “Don’t worry, I didn’t give it to him, I gave it to God, so God is in charge of what happens to His money.”

As a Christian public servant, you face people who are trying to take advantage – of the system or you as a servant. Or perhaps it’s a coworker. When that happens, do not harden your heart.

Today at work, think about Who you are really giving service to. Make sure you are giving an offering to God by serving Him through the people you serve.

Take a moment and search your heart. Prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And surely you will be serving Him through the people you serve.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, please help me remember how merciful and patient You are to me – especially when my coworkers and the ones I serve press on my patience. Help me remember it is You, my Lord, that I am ultimately serving. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Crystal Featherston, MPA
Budget Office
City of Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “neither life nor work”

September 20, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
Proverbs 3:5-6 [NIV]Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Reflection
I admit it. I’ve drifted away from my relationship with God. Part of my drifting is because of life. When it comes to social and family things, there’s just so much requiring my attention. But much of my drifting – a significant amount – takes place at work. My job requires concentration, and it consumes most of the time I’m awake. It leaves little room for Christ.

So I’ve allowed my own agenda to interfere in God’s plan – for my life, for my work, and for me. I have not trusted in the Lord because the further I drift the more I exert my own will.

But I’m going to change. Starting today, I’m letting neither life nor work get in the way of my relationship with God. I know that every single day I need to reach out to Him and engage Him. And just like plants, without nurturing, my relationship with God does not grow.

So today I am going to nurture my relationship with Him. I know it’s a workday, but now is the time to start!

How about you? Have you drifted from God? Do you seek Him only on Sundays? Or is it only special Holy Days, like Christmas and Easter? Or is it only when you need Him?

And how about work? Do you not seek Him during your tasks? Do you not carry Him in your heart when you are in meetings, talking with coworkers, or serving citizens?

Today at work, ask yourself: What are the ways that I can nurture my relationship with God? And then nurture that relationship today – don’t wait for tomorrow.

Let neither life nor work get in the way!

Prayer
Dear God, thank You so much for not giving up on me. For loving me even when I drift far from You. Help me to crave You and Your word, especially at work today. Help me renew our relationship even when I am weak and tired — when it is so easy to brush it off until tomorrow. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Jessica Kay
ECCS 911 Operations Supervisor
City of Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach, Virginia USA