Wednesday, July 1, 2015

INGREDIENTS FOR A PRISON BREAK


The room we find ourselves imprisoned does not have to be made of cinder-blocks and steel-bars. The construction of some prison rooms are even greater than these. Prisons such as strongholds, bad habits, fears and destructive behavior are but a few that the Warden of Darkness, Satan, attempts to keep people bound.

The Keys or Ingredients For A Prison Break are three-fold - 
  1. Salvation
  2. Hope
  3. Worship
To help me explain my message I will enlist the characters of Red and Andy from the movie "Shawshank Redemption" to assist me.

Red (Morgan Freeman) is in a place physically, mentally and spiritually where he is not ready to receive hope. After the introduction of the topic of hope Red says,
  • "Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
Many of us can get used to our prison. Red calls it "institutionalized" in the movie. But God, through us, especially Christians, are their introduction to and realization of hope through Salvation. Scripture admonishes us to be like Jesus as He proclaimed in Luke 4:18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free," Other verses that speak to believers ministering to those in prison are - 
  • Matthew 25:36 - I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
  • Romans 7:23 - but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
  • Hebrews 13:3 - 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.
So, Salvation or the message of Salvation comes to the imprisoned through the Christian who visits or encounters the enclosed. We see the next two, hope and worship, played out hand-in-hand in the movie.

Andy Dufresne: That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you... Haven't you ever felt that way about music?

Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn't make much sense in here.

Andy Dufresne: Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.

Red: Forget?

Andy Dufresne: Forget that... there are places in this world that aren't made out of stone. That there's something inside... that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours.

Red: What're you talking about?

Andy Dufresne: Hope.


Flip through the pages of Scripture to the book of Acts, Chapter 16, starting with verse 16 and you will see Paul and Silas knew exactly what Andy was talking about. Flogged and locked in the inner cell of prison for their faith clashing with city business, Paul and Silas were also placed in stocks with a guard. It seems a bit over-kill for the supposed crime they committed. However, I believe the Prince of Darkness knew the effectiveness of Paul in Christ and worked behind the scenes to hinder this turncoat of darkness (Saul). 

The common threads here are hope and worship. In the movie hope is derived out of the music that comes from the opera-women that nobody can understand with the mind, but seems to fully grasp with the heart. The Christian music artist Carman in his song about and entitled Jericho - says it this way - 

Now God was putting in operation, a principal of war
Setting at our disposal weaponry that drops demons to the floor
Something with tremendous power that assassinates fear and doubt
It's the high praises of victory, unleashed by a shout

When David played his songs of praise, demons fled from Saul
As Paul and Silas worshiped God, the chains began to fall
It lifts us above the circumstance and lets God's power flow
The shout of victory binds the Devil with chains that won't let go


Just because Christians are saved, have a future filled with hope and life filled with worship - does not mean temptations will not come to attempt a backslide into the old lifestyle. If anything it means the enemy of our souls will be playing hard ball harder. But, like Red had the promises of Andy motivating him, believers in Christ have the Lord's promises to rely on.

Red: [narrating] There's a harsh truth to face. No way I'm gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they'd send me back. Terrible thing, to live in fear. Brooks Hatlen knew it. Knew it all too well. All I want is to be back where things make sense. Where I won't have to be afraid all the time. Only one thing stops me. A promise I made to Andy.

In the movie, Red is finally set free. However, it takes some time but he arrives at that point where he can receive and experience freedom from his prison. It started with a salvation message laced with hope and drenched in music (daily worship). Here is what Red said -

"I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."

Christ is our Salvation. Jesus is our only Hope. Christ Jesus is why we worship. If you are experiencing the confines of a prison in any form today, I encourage you to begin experiencing your freedom by singing with me - 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.


On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.