Blog Archive

We all have a need to feel connected to another human being. Good marriages thrive on communication. Without daily sharing, one partner feels disconnected and alone. Suicides occur when people lose all loving contact with another human being. In our daily friendships, we require connection to each other. The people with whom we eat lunch or work out with, offer us a sense of community that’s vital to mental health and happiness.

But sometimes spouses or friends abuse that connection by using us for their own selfish, personal advantage. Some of us have been ripped off by a “friend” who stole from us to feed her habit. Perhaps we’ve done it to someone else. Any betrayal damages trust, but it also makes it less likely that we’ll offer that gift of connection again. Think about how we treat God and the connection He offers us through the intimacy of prayer. Don’t we often bring our own selfish wish list to our prayers? Don’t we often consider God a sort of Santa Claus and try to make deals with Him? And then we wonder why our prayers never seem to get an answer! Consider what James said about that, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:3 Prayer is not a way to get our wish list completed. Jesus is not our gofer who is just about giving us what we want!

Rather, and more important, prayer is a direct link to the Creator of the universe. He has a plan for our lives, but like most plans, He needs to share them with us. Without our willingness to put aside our selfish concerns and really be quiet and listen to God speaking to us, we’ll never learn what He wants to say to us.

When we pray, let’s connect to God by using our ears first and our mouths second. Let’s keep our motives pure and ask God for the things we need so that we can serve Him.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Thanksgiving Day is a time set aside for us to acknowledge our gratitude and thanks to God and those around us for the bounty and blessings we have received. If over the last year our bosses gave us a bonus, we give thanks. If our children or spouses have been healthy and successful, we give thanks. Thanksgiving Day is almost 100% about expressing heartfelt gratitude for things we have received.

And, this is exactly the right thing to do. However, the Apostle Paul offers a new perspective on giving thanks that leads to banishment of fear and anxiety. In addition, the fear and anxiety is replaced with a peace that defies understanding…and the key to it is…giving thanks!

When we read the above listed passage from Philippians, we notice that we are instructed to not be anxious about anything…that would include, but not be limited to…our finances, our health, our jobs, our marriages or relationships…or absence of the same. It means giving up our fears about our children, grandchildren, and sons in prison or the drugs that assault our schools every day.

Paul teaches us to do three things: pray…petition (request, implore, plead) and give THANKS! Now, we certainly GET the first two…but most of us feel Paul has got the third thing wrong. How can we give thanks for something we have yet to receive? Are we supposed to thank God for an outcome that we are not sure is correct? Paul must have this one out of place…surely we should wait until we know what God’s answer is BEFORE we offer up Thanksgiving to God for His answer?

But Paul has not got it wrong. To receive the blessings of peace and rest, we need to trust God and do all three things. This means that we give THANKS to God for His answer to our prayers BEFORE we know the answer! This faith and trust in His provision signals to God that we are willing to acknowledge that His answers to prayer are better than our expectations…that HE WILL GET IT RIGHT! Faith that delivers freedom from anxiety and fear begins with the faith and trust that prays this prayer: “God hear the prayer that I would have prayed, if I had all your information.”

Let this Thanksgiving Day be one where we offer up praise and thanks for answers yet unknown…and live with adequacy knowing God has our back!

 

dht-uk_silv-cover_100716-1

Last week (November 7-11, 2016) 5,000 copies of the UK Edition of our prison devotional were being distributed into every one of the 126 prisons in England and Wales!

How the Holy Spirit made this happen is exciting. I was having lunch in the Virgin Atlantic Airline Lounge at London’s Heathrow airport in early December 2015. While there, an article in The Daily Mail newspaper mentioned Justice Minister, Andres Selous, MP. I knew when I read his name that something was brewing. It was as if the Holy Spirit shoved me to get my attention that this man would be the person to contact about getting the prison devotional printed and distributed into the prisons of the US.

So I dropped everything and went online and found his phone number in Parliament. After speaking with his personal assistant, an email was sent to Mr. Selous, outlining our proposal for placing 5,000 copies, at DHT expense, into the prisons of the UK. More research encouraged me when I found out that Justice Minister Selous led the Bible study for MP’s in Parliament.

A few days later a reply waited for me that indicated his interest. Five copies were sent to him with an understanding that we would speak again in eight weeks after he and others digested the devotional. After eight weeks we spoke and the devotional was enthusiastically endorsed.

We then set out to edit the book into a UK Editions with British slang and references to UK prisons. In October 2016 the final, UK Edition was ready for print. Today, it is ready, printed, and being distributed to the 126 male and female facilities around England.

This might sound routine, but it is not! During the past 6 years we have tried repeatedly to interest the Justice Ministry in the UK in this devotional, without success. So we have been praying for an inroad, and God provided. Interestingly enough, Justice Minister Selous was replaced in his post in July after the new Prime Minister took over. We can only praise God for His timing and for our Holy Spirit led obedience that allowed the devotional to slip through this window of opportunity.

No we await to learn how the Word of God, as presented in this devotional will change the hearts and minds of prisoners and their families in England.

LoveMany of us believe that because of the sinful we have done, God could never love us. The devil whispers to us, “God could never love YOU. You’ve had an abortion!” Or, he spits, “You’re a drug user, c’mon, get real, dude, you’ve blown it…God has thrown you aside” As usual, the devil’s got it wrong!

One of the amazing things about God’s love is that He loves us despite who we are, not because of who we are. That is radical grace. We all have spent too many years trying to be someone who was worthy of another’s love. We’ve tried to earn love from our parents, our pimps, the people we were sleeping with, drug dealers, and our bosses. We’ve worked hard to be rich enough, pretty enough, or tough enough to deserve their attention and love.

God’s love works differently. God sent His own Son to die for us while we were still sinners. Even when we were hooking up, using dope, or drinking like fish, God loved us. He doesn’t say to us, “Straighten yourself up and clean yourself off and then I’ll take a look at you.” No. He loves us as we are—period.

Another amazing thing about God’s love is that it’s extravagant, over-the-top. God doesn’t skimp on love. He shows His love by sending His own Son—not some low-level flunky—to die for us. He sent His own Son—His only Son—to die for us. Most of us have never experienced that kind of unconditional love.

That unconditional love is life-changing. It offers forgiveness and gives us value, hope, and peace. When it seems dark in the corners of our minds at 4:00 AM, we can hear His voice calling our name, saying, “I love you just the way you are. Come to Me. Accept My love. My Son has covered your sin.” Who wouldn’t want to say yes to that kind of love?

Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) is the only Nazi buried on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. This honor was bestowed on him because he saved thousands of Jewish lives during WW II when the Nazi’s were exterminating them. Many of you remember Steven Spielberg’s movie, Schindler’s List which tells the story in brutal, but eloquent terms. In that movie, as in his real life, Oskar Schindler traded his own fortune to bribe and buy gifts for the SS Nazi officials so that his Jewish Factory workers would not be sent away to be killed. In the end, Oskar knew that everything he owned, even down to his own gold pinky ring was the equivalent of a living human being. Oskar Schindler discovered that it takes very little in terms of our possessions and personal finances to change and save a life!

DHT-Preview-frontRead the authentic inmate testimony from a woman who had her life changed by the power of the Word encased in DHT’s prison devotional Doing HIS Time. It costs only $1.20 (about the cost of a double cheese burger off the value menu at McDonald’s) to send an inmate a copy of this Jesus filled work. Please read the testimony and consider becoming a part of a movement to save lives!

“Hello, Mr. Vogelzang, My name is Debbie (real name changed) and I am in prison in CT. I want to thank you for writing your book. My Mom used drugs while carrying me, so I was born with withdrawal. I was raised in foster care and residential homes until I was 18. Now I am in prison for drugs and auto theft. I was so angry with God for taking my Mom away from me. I have tried to commit suicide three times since I have been in prison. My cellie left today and she left her books. I came across one named “Doing HIS Time”. Something compelled me to open it, which confused me because I had given up on God when my Mom passed. As I opened your book and read the first part about “God’s Love” I found myself crying because I felt as if you are talking directly to me. I was honestly, again, thinking of killing myself, but now I feel better and realize this was His plan for me. I had felt so dirty and not worthy because I was raped so many times. I actually prayed for the first time in many, many years…almost 10 to be exact. I feel so much better, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. And, it’s all thanks to you and your wonderful book. Thank you for saving my life with your inspiring words, Mr. Vogelzang. I am very grateful ‘cause of you and the Word of the Lord.” — Debbie R.

Friends of DHT, the challenge is clear. Find and inmate who needs a book and write us at DHT, PO Box 91509, Santa Barbara, CA 93190 or visit us at www.doinghistime.org and send a case of 52 to a prison or prison ministry you know. Consider sending these “Gospel Missiles” into your neighbor jails or state prisons. Most of us know someone inside the walls. Change their lives and yours, today!

Just as a cigarette is the delivery system for nicotine, the DHT book is a delivery system for the powerful, life-changing Word of God.

Many inmates and chaplains write or tell me in person, that they love the devotional book we distribute for free inside prisons around the world. We have given away over 325,000 copies in 37 countries and in 8 languages since the original edition of Doing HIS Time; Meditations and Prayers for Men and Women in Prison was published in 2008. The newly revised edition, completed in 2014 with Study Guides and added meditations is flying out of our warehouse and into prisons and jails.

DHT-Preview-frontThis is flattering and humbling at the same time. It is flattering for obvious reasons, and humbling for more subtle ones. The subtle reasons have to do with why the book is popular. It is written using inmate slang, cultural references and situations, as if I were in the cell next to each person reading a copy. It relates to the inmate in a way that other devotionals do not, if the letters from readers are any indicator. Inmate letters and letters from Chaplains tell us that the devotional is powerful and that many lives are being positively moved by the contents. But read the quote below from C. S. Lewis that is included in the preface of every book we print to understand why this is happening:

“An author should never conceive himself (or herself) as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom which did not exist before, but simply and solely as trying to embody in terms of his (her) own art some reflection of eternal Beauty and Wisdom.”

 The power of the DHT devotional is not in the style in which it was written. That was simply our attempt to embody our art form onto the message of grace. Inmates may pick up the book because it relates to their situation, but their lives are changed because the message of forgiveness and grace are true, authentic and resonate as such with the men and women inside the walls. We are humbled that God would choose a small prison ministry to assist Him in a small way to ring the Good News to those behind bars…

2014 proved to be our best year ever in terms of providing a “cup of cold water” to what Jesus describes in Matthew 25 as “the least of these.” Please examine the ministry statistics, listed below and then read on further for some dialogue on what these numbers mean in terms of changed lives…

DHT/72 Hour Fund

DHT Operations Manager Chris Mays, right, and a recently released inmate "go shopping" in our donated clothing racks.

DHT Operations Manager Chris Mays, right, and a recently released inmate “go shopping” in our donated clothing racks.

1,650+ ex-offenders, male and female, came through DHT/72 Hour Fund doors seeking hope, acceptance and the tangible grace of God in their lives.

DHT/72 Hour Fund dispensed over 15,000 bus rides in the form of bus passes, 10 pack coupon books and individual bus tokens.

1,035 men and women received a full complement of hygiene items; including soap, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, feminine hygiene products and other items necessary to restore hope and human dignity.

975 recipients found clothing; including winter coats, hats, gloves interview suits and shoes.

276 backpacks were supplied; 29 pairs of steel-toed work boots were provided; 13 birth certificates issued; 26 I.D. Cards issued.

72 Hour Fund Ministry Impact

We track each ex-offender who comes through the ministry. Since 2011, thenumber of inmates who have returned to prison (18%) after getting a “cup of cold water” from DHT is 64% less than the Colorado average Recidivism rate of 49.8% Those statistics represent about 450 men and women over five years. At an annual cost of $31,000 per year to house a man/women in prison, DHT’s 72 Hour Fund has conservatively saved the State of Colorado in excess of $20,000,000.00

Barn-A-Bus

Our fleet of four (4), 14-passenger vans logged over 106,000 miles transporting 2050 souls to almost every prison facility in Colorado on weekends. These trips allowed the Holy Spirit to keep families together through their visiting day get-togethers. We cannot calculate, short of heaven, exactly how this ministry is assisting the Holy Spirit in keeping families together…but we are confident that it is significant!


Change a Life Today

A visit from a loved one while in prison through our Barn-A-Bus program is like giving a cup of cold water to a person dying of thirst. It will change the life trajectory of an incarcerated woman or man to see their children, mother or spouses. Finding acceptance and tangible clothing assistance through DHT’s 72 Hour Fund has changed the life of more than 80% of inmates who come to DHT. Change a life today by supporting these two programs that are changing lives.

Donate Today »

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
    Hebrews 13:3

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
     1 John 3:18

Copyright © 2017 Doing HIS Time Prison Ministry, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.