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Ministry at Corcoran State Prison!

Corcoran State Prison

The Carnies, accompanied by the Spectrum Band were invited to the Corcoran State Prison (CSP) over the Veteran’s Day weekend to participate on a program which was an experiment by the prison officials attempting to bring inmates of different ethCORnic backgrounds together for the purpose of worship. It is common practice for inmates to separate into groups according to race, religion, nonreligious, or gang affiliations. The warden of CSP agreed to allow our group, along with several pastors from the Los Angeles area to provide worship services for the inmates who wanted to participate. In order for an inmate to receive approval to attend this event, they must have participated regularly in Bible studies or worship services at the prison. This requirement was an attempt to ensure that only those serious about having a relationship with God would be attending our services; this was also a way to prevent any disturbances.The event started on Friday, a pastor spoke that afternoon, our group presented the music and speaking on Saturday,on Sunday our group lead worship, and one of the pastors delivered the message.

From the moment I was contacted regarding this event, I was clear that our group should be part of this evangelistic effort. The Carnies were recommended to the organizers of this event as a suitable group to assist the prison in achieving its objective; they were specifically looking for a diverse group which they felt could have success in influencing the inmates to interact with each other. In the prison community it’s not acceptable for inmates of different races to associate with one another; to do so could mean harm to the individuals. A great deal was riding on the success of this event’s ability to encourage inmates to intermingle and socialize together, this would determine if there would be future programs like this one scheduled. Thus the reason this event was considered an experiment! The prison officials were hopeful that by creating a situation which encourages the inmates to associate with those different from themselves, it would eventually cut down on the amount of crime occurring between the varying groups.

Because the contact information for the Carnies was obsolete, some research had to be done to reach me; I was finally located through my website. After having a conversation about the purpose and objective for this event, I was certain our group was the perfect selection. It had been literally years since I was involved in prison ministry, however I knew God was nudging me in this direction. After speaking with the coordinator of this event at length, she made it clear that she hoped our group would agree to join her team with this effort; she expressed she sensed our group was much more than optics when it came to diversity, she felt our passion, love, and commitment to bridging this divide. Just as she was able to sense our sincerity, she said the inmates can tell immediately whether you’re sincere or not.

The next step was to get our group cleared by the State of California for prison ministry. Since we had started the process for clearance more than eight weeks before the scheduled program, we were confident we would have ample time to compete the process. In one week’s time the necessary paper work had been received by the proper authorities at the prison. We were told it would take about three to four weeks for clearance. My contact followed up weekly to see where we were in the process. Things looked great, then we ran into a snag, the warden who initially approved the program quit, a new warden was appointed. It went downhill rapidly after that. Paper work was sent back because the date was on the wrong line, then other paper work was not approved because a signature was signed in the wrong spot. To make matters worse, the mistakes were not sent back at the same time, thus affecting our time line for getting the paper work completed and approved in time for the event. It was clear Satan was busy attempting to keep our group from taking part in this event. As this is occurring, I received news that the event may be cancelled because there had been trouble at the prison and the entire facility was on lock down. The officials were not certain that they could keep our group safe.

We finally were given the green light that the program could go on as planned, however with some significant changes. Originally, it was planned that we could present the concert in the yard where the inmates are housed. Because the inmates had been recently off lockdown, it was determined that for our safety, we were not allowed to present the services in the yard with the inmates, but we had to set up behind a barbed wire fence.

Before I go any further, I’d like to share a few of the feelings from some of our group regarding our ministering at CSP; also how we prepared ourselves for this mission. Because Carole, Deb, and I had done prison ministry previously at both San Quinten, and Soledad Prisons, I knew their positions and passion for this kind of ministry. Because I’m aware that prison ministry is not for everyone, I felt it important to know what the other members of the group were feeling about this opportunity. I thank God that I work with a group that are comfortable enough with one another to share their truest feelings and not follow the majority. With that being said, two individuals expressed that they were uncomfortable about going into one of the most violent prisons in California, they felt stress and fear. We talked about it, validated their emotions, and we prayed. At no time did they express not wanting to minister, they were just expressing how they were feeling. After we ministered on Saturday, we went out to dinner as a group and talked about the experience of that day. The question was asked
of those two individuals specifically, how they felt now that they had successfully ministered to the inmates? This is God transforming hearts, lives, and perceptions “at its best!” One of the individuals said that they saw the humanity in those men, and did not focus on the fact that they had committed a crime. They felt blessed themselves while being a blessing. The other said that although their crimes where horrific, they were still human and children of God. Prison ministry, in order to be effective must be done with no judgment or bias, there must be only one focus, to be an instrument for saving souls for Christ. Without sounding too simplistic, my desire to be used in saving souls for Christ is greater than my fears.

Needless to say, Sunday was the better day for our group because we were free of any inhibitions regarding our mission to uplift those inmates to Christ. Recap of Saturday, from the beginning it was a challenge just getting into the prison, as well as getting out. Because we were allowed to take in equipment, which I understand is unheard of, every piece of equipment from an extension cord to piano had to be itemized. When I say every piece, I mean every piece. It didn’t help that the individual responsible for checking our inventory didn’t know anything about musical equipment, which made for a long and tedious check. When it was all said and done, it took about two hours to be finally checked in. Then there was the issue with what one of the members of the group was wearing, fatigues! We were given a list of what we could and could not wear, fatigues were not on the list. The individual was cleared at the first check point but held up at the next. The higher ranking guard said it would be acceptable, so we were
cleared. However, the officer who didn’t think that the pants were acceptable was the same officer who checked us out, and as a result, it took us a very long time to be checked out. Saturday’s program was great. The music was a hit with the inmates, they praised God and seemed to enjoy themselves, and Carole also spoke.

Sunday was an entirely different experience, it was as if we were at a totally different institution. For starters, when we were offloading our equipment on Saturday we were on our own, not one guard lifted a finger to assist us. However on Sunday, we had about six guards assisting us. Saturday we were told that we could not have any of our vehicles left in the area while we offloaded our equipment. On Sunday, we were told we could literally drive the vehicle with the equipment into the prison area where we were singing. The guards were jokingphoto (4) and assisting our group with whatever would make our experience pleasant. That was a far cry from the previous day. And remember the fence we were instructed to stay behind, the guards allowed those of us who wanted, to go inside the yard and share time with the inmates. Sunday morning, there were 23 baptisms and about 15 personal professions of faith by some of the inmates. In case you are wondering as we were, how were they going to accomplish baptisms? A troth was filled with water and the candidates were baptized in it, all 23. Praise God! That was an awe striking moment. These men were putting themselves at risk for the decision they had just made for Christ. They were men from different backgrounds and gangs coming together for one common cause, Jesus! For just that moment in time, for those men to be free in Christ brought many in our group to tears, including us guys. One of the inmates brought everyone back to reality by posing the question to those who had just been baptized, “what are you going to do when you are challenged about who you are going to serve?” If you are threatened to be harmed or they threaten to harm your brother, are you going to still choose Jesus? And all those who were baptized shouted “yes!” For us, we knew we had done what was easy, shared our faith; but we instinctively knew that they had the most difficult challenge, to live for Jesus in a place of evil. Our group covered them with our love and prayers! May God protect, guide, and cover you with His unfailing love and grace.

What an intense, at times overwhelming experience. Now it was time to leave, and what mixed emotions. One of my memorable take away moments was when the guard in charge came to me and said “it was a pleasure having your group here this weekend.” If you only knew how you made our jobs easier this weekend. Normally we have so many incidents of violence, but there was not one. Your music calmed the inmates, men (groups) who never associate together were getting along. We witnessed Black, White, and Latinos singing, praying, reading their Bibles together. What I must say, is that although it was extremely hot with no trees to shade those guys, it should have been cause for short tempers however, they all got along. Many of the guys expressed their gratitude for us coming, they were genuinely grateful. One inmate told us that he had been there for 17 years and that they had never had a group come in with instruments.

It was apparent that God had not only worked on the hearts of the inmates, but He had also worked on the hearts of many of the guards. On Sunday, our time in checking out was significantly shorter. As I have had time to reflect on the entire experience, I’m thankful for the service of the guards at all prisons. It can’t be easy, we come in for a short time, with one objective to share the love of Jesus. They are there daily and see what most of us can’t even imagine. As I attempt to put into perspective what getting involved with prison ministry means to me and our group, I do not want to forget those who were harmed by any of these inmates, our love and prayers are with you and your families. I pray you understand I am following our commission from God, “when I was in prison you visited me;” and for the inmates, man can incarcerate you, but God is your liberation, your freedom!

Jeff Carnie

9:30 Worship Pastor

First Baptist Church of Elk Grove

8939 East Stockton Blvd.

Elk Grove, Ca. 95624





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He Will Carry You

There is no problem too big God cannot solve it.
There is no mountain too tall He cannot move it.
And there is no storm too dark God cannot calm it.
There is no sorrow too deep He cannot soothe it.JesusCarryingyou

And if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders,
I know my brother that He will carry you.
And if He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders,
I know my sister that He will carry you.

Lynda Randle

Some years ago in an attempt to get healthier, I joined a local gym. I would routinely get up at 4:00 a.m. each morning to do my work out before commuting one hour each way to the bay area for work. This particular morning was no different from the previous mornings, when I arrived at the gym, I felt especially good so I decided to do what is called a “drop set.” A drop set is when you progressively lessen the weight you are lifting.  I placed six 45 pound plates on the bar which is a total of 270 pounds. I cleared the bench, locked my arms and was able to complete five reps with ease. I was feeling really confident and pumped up so I decide against my better judgment to add weight instead of lowering the weight. I added two 25 plates to the bar, do the math I have just increased the weight to 320 pounds. I sat on the edge of the bench staring into the mirror attempting to psych myself out; I laid down on the bench, lifted the weight and quickly realized that this was different! Although I cleared the weight off the rack, and was able to bring it down to my chest, I was not able to push the weight all the way up to
re-rack it. In other words, I wasn’t able to complete the rep. There I was, all by myself with no spotter to assist me and not enough strength to clear the bar. I only had one option available to me, and that was to lay the weight across my chest and roll it down my body; so that’s what I did and man DID IT HURT!

I learned some valuable lessons that day, never lift heavy weights alone, always have a spotter; don’t attempt to lift more than you physically able. This is a life’s lesson, how often do we try to handle our problems by ourselves,
lifting/carrying the load of sin and despair alone. However we don’t have to go it alone, God is always there to do the power lifting for us. And when you fall or stumble He will be there to catch and even carry you!

Pastor Jeff Carnie

9:30 Worship Pastor

First Baptist Church

8939 East Stockton, Blvd.

Elk Grove, CA. 95624

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Who is Going to Win in the End?

Copy of san-diego-dog-bite-attorney

An old American Indian tale recounts the story of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle within. “It is like two dogs fighting inside of us,”the chief told them.

“There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always wants to do the wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and wrong is winning the fight.”

“Who is going to win in the end?” a young brave asks.

The chief answered “The one you feed.”

Don’t give into sin by feeding it! Be Blessed

Pastor Jeff Carnie

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Watchman Nee tells the story of his stay in China with twenty other Christians. The bathing accommodations were inadequate in the home where they were lodging, so they went for a daily dip in the river.

On one occasion, one of the men got a cramp in his leg and began sinking fast. Mr. Nee motioned to one of the other men, who was an excellent swimmer, about the drowning man. To his astonishment, however, the man did not move. He just stood there and watched the drowning man.

Mr. Nee was agitated, but the swimmer was calm and collected. Meanwhile, the voice of the drowning man grew fainter and more desperate. Mr. Nee hated the swimmer who just stood and watched on the shore when he could have jumped into the river and rescued the drowning man. As the drowning man went under for what looked like the last time, the swimmer was there in a moment, and both were soon safely on shore.

After the rescue, Mr. Nee chewed out the swimmer, accusing him of loving his life too much and being selfish. The response of the swimmer revealed, however, he knew what he was doing. He told Watchman that if he had gone too soon, the drowning man would have put a death grip on him and they would have both drowned in the river, and he was right. He told Mr. Nee that a drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.

Such is the case with our salvation. When we stop trying to save ourselves, then the Lord can step in and save us when we yield to Him. When you see the struggle that is a sign that you’re sensitive to sin and that is where God can help you.

(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, The Monster Inside – Saying No To Yourself, 2/1/2011)



Pastor Jeff Carnie

8:00 and 9:30 Worship Pastor

First Baptist Church

8939 East Stockton, Blvd.

Elk Grove, CA. 95624

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THE SCARAB BEETLES! By Jeff Carnie (También en español)

Many people find beetles and bugs somewhat creepy, but if here’s one beetle in the world that could turn you into a beetle lover – the jewel scarab.

Jewel scarabs live in the jungles of Honduras and have the shape of your regular Christmas beetle. But their colours are so dazzling and beautiful that they can sell for up to $500 a beetle.

Beautiful flaming reds, bright golds, silvers that resemble bright, shiny chrome. Even the beetle hater finds jewel scarabs dazzling and beautiful!

But the jewel scarab’s beauty doesn’t come automatically. Every scarab has modest, even ugly beginnings.

The scarab starts life as a soft, mushy, grey-white grub growing inside a rotting tree stump.

They spend their life like this for around a year, until finally, when the rainy season arrives, the adult scarabs emerge soft bodied and pale.

Then within hours, their bodies harden and their splendid colours show.

They only live for another three months, but what a glorious existence it is.

People are just like scarabs. We may not feel terribly beautiful and attractive. In fact there may be parts of you that feel distinctly ugly – and I’m not talking just about your body, but about your spirit, your mind, your thought life, your character, your home.

But it’s the work of the Spirit of God to make us beautiful.

It may seem to take a lifetime, but as the Spirit works on us, we will emerge as beautiful, dazzling, shining creatures gloriously bearing the image of our Creator.

Be blessed

Pastor Jeff Carnie

9:30 Worship Pastor

First Baptist Church

8939 East Stockton, Blvd.

Elk Grove, CA. 95624

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 Los escarabajos! Por Jeff Carnie   en español

Muchas personas encuentran escarabajos e insectos poco espeluznante, pero si esto es un escarabajo en el mundo que podría convertirse en un amante de escarabajo – el escarabajo joya.

Escarabajos joya viven en las selvas de Honduras y tienen la forma de su habitual escarabajo Navidad. Sin embargo, sus colores son tan deslumbrante y hermoso que se puede vender por hasta $ 500 al escarabajo.

Hermosas rojos llameantes, dorados brillantes y plateados que recuerdan cromo brillante, brillante. Incluso el enemigo escarabajo encuentra escarabajos joya deslumbrante y hermoso!

Pero la belleza del escarabajo joya no viene automáticamente. Cada escarabajo tiene orígenes modestos, incluso feos.

El escarabajo comienza su vida como un suave, blanda, de color blanco grisáceo gusano que crece dentro de un tronco podrido.

Pasan su vida de esta manera alrededor de un año, hasta que finalmente, cuando llega la temporada de lluvias, los escarabajos adultos emergen de cuerpo blando y pálido.

A continuación, en cuestión de horas, su cuerpo se endurecen y sus espléndidos colores muestran.

Sólo viven por otros tres meses, pero lo que una existencia gloriosa que es.

Las personas son como los escarabajos. Es posible que no se sienten terriblemente hermoso y atractivo. De hecho, puede haber partes de ustedes que se sienten claramente feo – y no estoy hablando sólo de su cuerpo, sino su espíritu, su mente, tus pensamientos, tu carácter, tu casa.

Pero es la obra del Espíritu de Dios que nos haga hermoso.

Puede parecer que tomar toda la vida, pero a medida que el Espíritu obra en nosotros, vamos a salir como criaturas hermosas y deslumbrantes, brillantes gloriosamente con la imagen de nuestro Creador.

Sean bendecidos

Pastor Jeff Carnie

9:30 Adoración Pastor

First Baptist Church

8939 East Stockton, Blvd..

Elk Grove, CA. 95624

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