KEEP LOOKING UP! AN AMBASSADOR "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST Here is the first mention of an ambassador in the New Testament. Paul tells us that as Christians "we are ambassadors…" We are not "training to be“ ambassadors (though we all need training.) We are not "waiting on a call" to be ambassadors. We are not waiting on someone to "choose" or "appoint" us to be ambassadors. As God's children, "we are ambassadors for Christ." WHAT IS AN AMBASSADOR? Webster says that an ambassador means a servant or messenger. The first definition lists an ambassador as "a diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government to represent it in another." An ambassador's responsibility is not to enact new laws, lead in the over-throw of their country nor to force his home country's culture on the country in which he or she is an ambassador. An ambassador's duty is to show the foreign country how great and how good their home country is. Being an ambassador is a very posh position UNLESS the country where the ambassador is stationed goes to war with his home country. Often we read of an American ambassador being attacked, under siege or held hostage. In the real Lord's prayer, Christ prayed: “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."        John 17:14-16 The Christian is an ambassador to a hostile world. He is in a world that hates him because of his King: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:18-19 As ambassadors for Christ, we have the ministry of reconciliation (2  Corinthians 5:18.) We do not have the ministry of reorganization, nor of retribution, nor of rehabilitation, nor of reconstruction, nor of refinement, nor of reformation, nor even of revelation. As ambassadors for Christ, our ministry is inviting, pleading and urging people to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20.)
AN AMBASSADOR IN BONDS Just because an ambassador may be put in dire circumstances does not remove or relieve him of his responsibility as an ambassador. The only other time "ambassador" is mentioned in the New Testament is when Paul said he was "an ambassador in bonds" (Ephesians 6:20.) What an ambassador he was!  By instructing Timothy, Titus, Mark,  Luke, Trophimus and others, he evangelized the entire Gentile world (Colossians 1:6, 23; 2 Timothy 4:17!) WHAT IS THE POINT? The greatest mission fields in America today are being found behind bars and razor wire fences. What is more interesting, is that one of the greatest missionary sources is found in the same place! Some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable Christians are those who are coming out of jails, prisons and addiction. Some of the best Bible students I have met are those who came out of "state and federal" Bible schools. The denominational and religious schools are ill-equipped to meet the needs of today. First, because they are denominational and teach with a denominational slant. Secondly, because they are taught by upper middle class "wanna be" scholars instead of "hands on" doers. We are not going to the reach the average American with some new perverted translation, but with those who have "put on the new man" (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.) These are the "ambassadors in bonds." Recently a guard commented to me, "I have always thought you guys were wasting your time until I saw the change in ____________.  He used to be our biggest problem, now he is a pleasure to be around." Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean! Keep Looking Up! In loving memory of Leland Maples
REFLECTIONS
FROM THE HEART There is no easy way to tell any of you that my sweet, loving husband, Leland, has gone on to be with the Lord. “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:5-7 LELAND VERNON MAPLES October 8, 1934 – June 14, 2017  Leland Maples, age 82, passed away June 14, 2017. Leland was born in Coleman, Texas, October 8, 1934 to Moses and Viola Maples. He graduated with a BS degree from Howard Payne University, where he was a four year letterman in football. He was selected to the All Texas Conference teams his junior and senior year. He was elected by his teammates to be captain his senior year. Leland was also chosen as Who's Who in colleges and universities. Some friends talked Leland into going into the Big Spring Federal Prison to do a Bible class in 1985. In 1988, Leland married Linda Mahan of Odessa, and, together they formed LOOPS (Loved Ones of Prisoners.) They and numerous volunteers did Bible-based seminars in most prisons in West Texas. They conducted Marriage Seminars, Discipleship Seminars and A Day with Mom (or Dad,) where they took the children (1st through 6th grade) in to see the incarcerated parent This program received the Exemplary Program Award given by the Texas Corrections Association and the Governor's Award of outstanding children's program. Leland and Linda pioneered that program and it became very successful. Another program they pioneered was getting local churches involved in Angel Tree (a program started by Prison Fellowship to give Christmas gifts to prisoners' children.) Instead of delivering the presents, the children were invited to the church for a party, pizza, Christmas program and gifts from their mom or dad. They began a support group for the families of prisoners in Midland and Odessa, to meet the needs of the families socially and spiritually. During this time, Leland served two unprecedented three year terms as lay director for the Texas Baptist Men's Criminal Justice Division. Leland was also very involved in his community. He was very active in the High Noon Optimist, Odessa Chamber of Commerce's Sports Committee and served as their president where he received the President's Award. He was also involved in the Odessa Track Club which hosted the National Track Meet for 13 years in Odessa. In 2002, Leland was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was operated on and had a long rehab, since they took out 2/3 of his left lung. During that time he started the REC-Room (Re- Entry Chapel), a weekly meeting for people in treatment at all three Clover Houses, parolees and troubled people in general. He also started teaching in these facilities as a volunteer. His program "From Garbage to Gems" (13 weeks) was accepted by the Parole Board and is taught twice a week at the parole board office and all three Clover Houses. His book, "Keep Looking Up!" was published in October, 2015. It is a collection of all of his articles from the early 90's to the present time from the LOOPS newsletter, "Reflections". He is preceded in death by both his parents and one brother, Dwain; a son, Michael, and two daughters, Martha Moore and Mary Davis. He is survived by his wife, Linda, one sister and her husband, Cicci and Mike Butler of Collinsville, Texas; two sons, Mark and Rosemary Maples of Brazoria, Texas, and Matt and Mary Maples of Alvin, son-in-law, James Moore of La Marque, Texas; two step-daughters, Tracy and Jed Street and Kelly Cottingham, both of Odessa, Texas. Leland is also survived by ten grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren. When Leland found out that he had cancer again, he always told everyone, “I’m in a win-win situation. I either get to stay here and be with my family and friends or I get to go home and be with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” He is home. Keep Looking Up! til next time, Linda Maples
REFLECTIONS
KEEP LOOKING UP! AN AMBASSADOR "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 WE ARE AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST Here is the first mention of an ambassador in the New Testament. Paul tells us that as Christians "we are ambassadors…" We are not "training to be“ ambassadors (though we all need training.) We are not "waiting on a call" to be ambassadors. We are not waiting on someone to "choose" or "appoint" us to be ambassadors. As God's children, "we are ambassadors for Christ." WHAT IS AN AMBASSADOR? Webster says that an ambassador means a servant or messenger. The first definition lists an ambassador as "a diplomatic representative appointed by one country or government to represent it in another." An ambassador's responsibility is not to enact new laws, lead in the over- throw of their country nor to force his home country's culture on the country in which he or she is an ambassador. An ambassador's duty is to show the foreign country how great and how good their home country is. Being an ambassador is a very posh position UNLESS the country where the ambassador is stationed goes to war with his home country. Often we read of an American ambassador being attacked, under siege or held hostage. In the real Lord's prayer, Christ prayed: “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."        John 17:14-16 The Christian is an ambassador to a hostile world. He is in a world that hates him because of his King: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:18-19 As ambassadors for Christ, we have the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18.) We do not have the ministry of reorganization, nor of retribution, nor of rehabilitation, nor of reconstruction, nor of refinement, nor of reformation, nor even of revelation. As ambassadors for Christ, our ministry is inviting, pleading and urging people to be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20.) AN AMBASSADOR IN BONDS Just because an ambassador may be put in dire circumstances does not remove or relieve him of his responsibility as an ambassador. The only other time "ambassador" is mentioned in the New Testament is when Paul said he was "an ambassador in bonds" (Ephesians 6:20.) What an ambassador he was!  By instructing Timothy, Titus, Mark, Luke, Trophimus and others, he evangelized the entire Gentile world (Colossians 1:6, 23; 2 Timothy 4:17!) WHAT IS THE POINT? The greatest mission fields in America today are being found behind bars and razor wire fences. What is more interesting, is that one of the greatest missionary sources is found in the same place! Some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable Christians are those who are coming out of jails, prisons and addiction. Some of the best Bible students I have met are those who came out of "state and federal" Bible schools. The denominational and religious schools are ill-equipped to meet the needs of today. First, because they are denominational and teach with a denominational slant. Secondly, because they are taught by upper middle class "wanna be" scholars instead of "hands on" doers. We are not going to the reach the average American with some new perverted translation, but with those who have "put on the new man" (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.) These are the "ambassadors in bonds." Recently a guard commented to me, "I have always thought you guys were wasting your time until I saw the change in ____________.  He used to be our biggest problem, now he is a pleasure to be around." Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean! Keep Looking Up! In loving memory of Leland Maples
REFLECTIONS