Notes from the war…

The war is on, the fighting rages

will I or won’t I?

I have to choose to obey You

pressure, ridicule, condemnation, guilt

I still can’t seem to choose You, “strengthen me, Lord! ”

no help for the flesh to win

“Lord, I need you!”

get up, fail, get up, fail… weary and tired from trying

From my foxhole I cry:  “Grace me, Jesus, to do what I can’t.”

a hush falls on the battlefield, something just happened

all eyes shift to see

He’s now fighting, not me

 

(This is not a quote or an excerpt from the book. It is truth I came away with and truth of Jesus to share. Book reference: The Nature of Freedom, by Graham Cooke)

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Prison Diaries – Let’s Get Real

Prison

It takes God’s heart, strength, and eyes to be a prison ministry volunteer. These men and women standing before you are people in need of the same love and forgiveness God showed us. But let’s get real, these men and women have also done things most of us wouldn’t even want to dream about and would consider a nightmare if we did.

I hadn’t struggled with this in over 2 yrs. of ministry until in one of my classes was a man who was in there for beating his wife, but he wasn’t at all repentant about it. The idea completely escaped him that it would be wrong and was convinced God would never allow his marriage to be over. He actually looked at it like he was the one being wrongly persecuted by an enemy.

“Show me how to love the unlovable Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible Forgiveness”

This is where the rubber meets the road in our walk with God. It’s not just fancy words at this point, they will fall flat. It was the first time I’d struggled in how I saw a prisoner. What he did to his wife and how completely convinced he was right in his behavior and how he thought God was behind him in it was all I could see.

“Help me now to do the impossible I want to finally set it free

So show me how to see what Your mercy sees

Help me now to give what You gave to me Forgiveness”

So, thinking it through, let’s also get real with ourselves, how different am I than him? In the eyes of God, my sin is no different. My blindness at times, and maybe even still, is still blindness like his. We can’t see unless God gives us the ability. God reaches us in the places of our blindness and sin by using other people.

Is that man less valuable to God than me or you? No. God goes after the lost. I’m saved…He didn’t come to heal the well, He didn’t come to save the religiously puffed up, He came to set free the captive and break their chains. He said that what we do for one of these we do for Him.

“It’ll clear the bitterness away It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what its power can do

So, let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you”

All that we learn in the Lord Jesus, all that we say about Him and think about Him are put to the test in the hard times and when confronted with situations that require action to be added to our faith. It’s at that point our actions show us what we actually believed and learned.

“It’s the hardest thing to give away And the last thing on your mind today

It always goes to those that don’t deserve”

Forgiveness is something we each have to work out one-on-one with God. “Help me” is how we start. Then God will bring us to a point where we “want to finally set it free” and to a realization of our own condition before God, because unforgiveness is a place where we aren’t seeing the Mercy and Love Jesus gave to us while we were yet sinners. In that place of realization of our conditions we all become equal before God.

“It flies in the face of all your pride It moves away the mad inside

Its always angers own worst enemy

Even when the jury and the judge Say you gotta right to hold a grudge

Its the whisper in your ear saying Set It Free”

(Song: Forgiveness by Matthew West) (Picture used found in google “free to use or share” search)

Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform

“The United States Criminal Justice System is flawed, broken, yet fixable; Prison Reform and Sentencing Reform should be major agenda’s for each state- we need to stop warehousing prisoners and ready those who are going to parole.Inmate rehabilitation improves public safety and lowers prison costs.“We have to care because we can’t afford not to”.via Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform.”

This is a repost from: Prisonmovement.wordpress.com.

The issue of Prison Reform is close to my heart. I would love to be involved to the point where I’d actually have a voice that would make a difference….but since I only have this blog…it is here I must vent…

I can speak to Georgia (Hays State Prison): one example of private companies being a huge mistake is in the cafeteria! Private companies bid for the job….while trying to win the contract, the company provides an abundance of great quality food for the men. However, once the company wins the contract there is suddenly not enough food for all the men to eat. They must stand in line for over an hour to even arrive at the cafeteria, only then to be told there is not enough food. The food that is served has become either no longer identifiable or will make men ill.

Only if you are blessed to have family, which most do not, do you have money for highly marked-up junk food from the store. (Imagine living off of gas station snacks for over 10 years) The others without family, either just go hungry or steel what other men bought at the store. This is not reform, or any sort of rehabilitation in my book.

I know not all states operate this way. Here in West Virginia, it is not like that. The men at the State Facility I volunteer at receive great meals and enough to eat.

This does not even delve into the issue of Phone Companies who charge over $20 dollars per 16 minute call to the family members of inmates. Further Private company involvement that is wrong.

Private company involvement within the prison system should be outlawed.

Day 18 – Go Thru the Door

Hi all,

There’s been a lot of time and a few posts between, but let’s get back to our scriptures on Jesus.

In my reading I landed on John 10 and something new popped out and should be shared – especially for those of us involved in ministry.

1“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

Once a week I present a short message at the prison during their Sunday church service. In order to have a message to give I seek the Lord in prayer, but this particular section of scripture has transformed the way I seek Jesus for a message. It’s changed my view of giving a message, and increased my reverence level. My thoughts on this section of scripture:

  • The men at the prison/the people we preach to belong to Jesus – they are His “sheep” – they are God’s children – that He loves more than I do. He knows them better than I do and knows what they need to hear the most. Preaching is about speaking God’s Word to the people – not just God’s Word the Bible, but God’s Word specific (Rhema word) to their needs in that particular day as only God knows they need to receive.
  • There must be reverence to seek Jesus in order to enter in to minister to them, entering in to His flock thru Jesus is the only way to minister.
  • As I read this I believe “going in” (giving a message) on our own without seeking Jesus, with our own agenda’s, our own thinking is going in as a “thief and a robber”.
  • In this verse, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who were all about religion, the law, condemnation, self and self-image. They were teachers of the Law, but didn’t know the Author of it to represent the truth of Him or His Heart. The Pharisees represent dead works, religious spirits, and the flesh at its prideful worst – Jesus called them Sons of Hell.
  • Preaching and Teaching God’s Word is a call we receive from God – not by our merits do we deserve to stand up front at a podium. Standing up front isn’t representative of being best – it’s a position of service to the King of Kings. We are there to speak His Words, to deliver the message He wants delivered… it’s all about His Children (sheep)…it’s not about us.
  • It’s a trusted position – God puts people in authority (Romans 13) – many times in scripture a person being called to serve God was called Faithful by God.

We are called to serve God by serving His children. The only way to minister is thru Jesus – leading and guidance from Him, which we only receive through intimacy with Him. We can only approach the sheep through the gate.

Guest Post: Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty. by Prisonmovement’s Weblog

I hadn’t thought of it this way before.

Yet, even in Prison, there is still a glimmer of goodness.

My Matthew rallied some of the guys in his dorm together one Christmas for a Saint Nicholas type mission. Each man chipped in some small food item they bought at the store that week and then proceeded to wrap each Little Debbie, or Snack Cracker pack up, naming each for each person in the dorm, and put them on a table for Christmas morning.  When the men woke up that Christmas morning, they had a gift to open. 

Taking the opportunity to minister wherever you are is powerful.

 

Day 16 – Prison Diaries – Foolish Things

1 Corinthians 1:27 (AMP)

27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. (Foolish = G3474, an act or appointment by God deemed foolish by men, without learning”

I’d like to think out loud on this verse and what’s been going on, if you don’t mind hearing me ramble.

Recently, within prison ministry, a couple of instances happened which made me feel and see my own inadequacy to be in this position for the Lord. “Do I turn back?” “Do I give up?” were questions popping up in my thinking.

But God, as part of the Christmas play, reminded me and confirmed yet again His call for me to be at the prison. So I stopped asking the questions and listened and looked toward the Lord…

The Lord has kept me quiet at the prison for the month of December. I have not given a message there all month. I’ve only been attending the services, but not participating other than the play, which I even wanted to get out doing, but God let that one activity remain – so I’d get the message from Him I’m sure.

I woke up this morning with all this swirling in my thoughts and needed to talk it out in writing so here we are.

I woke to thinking about how working for the Lord is more about His ability, not mine.  He also reminded me that throughout scripture God used people who were unqualified by human standards, because He wants people to see His greatness not the person’s. And really what good does it do others to show myself off? Only God has what they need.

So, I think I’m just a “foolish” person set out there to confound the wise by God’s abilities coming through me rather than my own. And isn’t that better, to allow God to be seen through us?

I think it must be an onion layer to come off my stinky flesh – the willingness to step back and allow God to be seen in me instead of wanting whatever I thought I’d gain for myself. Seeing my own inadequacy and to be willing to be a “foolish thing” in the worlds eyes.

I know I’m not qualified, and I never will be qualified, because God’s plans (for me and for all of us) are God sized plans – He calls us to things only He can accomplish.

Thank you Lord for using me, thank you that I have no claim to fame, and thank you for forgiving me my selfish ways. Let Your Light Shine through me. In Jesus Name, amen.

 

 

 

A New Piece of Armor

For a while, I have been in a horrible situation in my work place. In my desperation to overcome victoriously I clung with all my strength to the Word of God.  Specifically, Ps.63 was given to me to soak in. In this chapter there is a reference to the right hand of God. I was nudged to dig deeper, so I looked up on my cell phone bible app. all verses having to do with “Right Hand”.  He not only helped me through that situation, but He also blew my mind with a fresh new revelation.
There are multiple parts: His right hand, Jesus as Servant, the armor, and a new piece of armor all roll together to make up this new revelation.
His Right Hand:
In looking up the verses on “right hand”, it is made clear that our victories are by His Right Hand – not ours. In the search results:
• There are verses which speak of the Lord holding our right hand
• There are verses which speak of us clinging to His right hand
• There are verses referring to the Lord sitting at God’s right hand
• The verses had to do with victory only when His right hand was with them.

It brought to my mind being called into Prison Ministry. I remember standing up front in my church, praying for help and strength to settle my nerves so I could do what He called me to do. That particular Sunday would be my first night going to the prison and I was nervous. I had signed the papers, and agreed to things like: there are no guarantees you won’t be held hostage, and if you are there are no promises from the administration of help or aid. I wasn’t worried about this as much as the public speaking factor, but it was all going through my mind, especially since it is a men’s prison. But, as I stood there, I felt someone moving around me to stand beside me, to stand by my right side. I looked, but no one was there. I closed my eyes again to pray and then heard them and felt them again; they were right by my right side. It took me a couple of minutes to recognize it was the Lord, but when I did my nerves were replaced with a confidence and readiness.

At the time I didn’t understand the significance of Him being at my right side. I just felt confident and assured by the significance of His presence being with me.
In the Greek (G), right hand refers to Might, assurance of success, and victory.
With Him holding our right hand – with us clinging to His right arm – and with Him seated at the Right Hand of God – and us seated with Him – we are armed with everything we need to win in all situations. Do you feel wrapped up in the flow of those statements? I do.

Jesus – Servant to all
Some background:
We remember in Genesis, when the Lord (serving them) sewed clothes together for Adam and Eve after they had sinned and recognized their nakedness. At this point, what was intimate internal spiritual life with God now became external. Sacrifices, forgiveness, and relationship with God would all be external activities mostly handled by a designated Levite priest. Except for the occasional “burning bush” type moments when God spoke directly to man. 🙂
But now, within the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, we are united with Him once again to walk with Him and talk with Him personally. A relationship of intimacy and direct one-on-one communication is now available to us, thanks to Jesus’ finished work at Calvary, as well as a new set of clothes, yet again, hand-made but also Blood Bought for us to wear under this new covenant.
Jesus came to this world to serve God by serving us. He exhibited this and instructed his disciples (us) in the same way, as He washed their feet and He is still serving us. Jesus said to be the greatest in the kingdom of God is to be the least – He didn’t exclude Himself from this rule. He is still actively being the least because He is still actively the Greatest – and forever will be.

The Armor = Cloth yourself in Christ
The phrase: “You are my shield” pop out on the page of scripture in front of me. It was a light bulb moment, where all the pieces suddenly fit together.
For years I’ve known about the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. I’ve heard, read, and known the verse “Cloth yourself with Christ”, and I know I have heard all the pieces below, but somewhere along the way I missed the Sunday when they were all put together! LOL

Christ Jesus himself is, and is in, each and every piece of the Armor of God.
(Actually, there is an element of all three: God, Jesus and Holy Spirit in the Armor.)
Jesus is still serving us through each piece of the armor. He not only made it, and made the way for us to have it, but He himself is the armor and is in the armor.
The Helmet = Christ – my Salvation, put on the Mind of Christ, He has not given us a spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind, the knowledge of who we are in Christ
The Breastplate of Righteousness = I am the righteousness of Christ, He is my righteousness, He clothes me with righteousness
The Belt of Truth = “I am the Truth, the Life, and the Way”, He is the Truth, there is no falsehood found in Him, “He is not man that He should lie”.
The Shoes of Peace = He is the Prince of Peace, “My peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you”, Blessed are the peacemakers, feet biblically are also linked to authority – walking in Kingdom Authority.
The Sword of the Spirit = Jesus is the Word; Jesus went to the Father so that another would come, a Counselor, who would bring to our remembrance every word spoken from the mouth of God.
The Shield = “You are my Shield”, You surround me with songs of deliverance,
Well, from that point to this, I see Him now – my Lord, my Savior, my all…as a Servant to all. And I am humbled He would use me as His servant, as He serves me to serve Him. I am amazed at how the Kingdom of God works.

The New Piece of Armor
Back at church again, I was worshiping the Lord with my flag – a blue flag with a white Crown on it. As the song ended, I lowered the flag to hold it to me and it draped over my right arm. As I felt the fabric cover my arm I saw a vision of my arm (from shoulder to elbow) covered in armor with the crown on the armor like a tattoo. I could even feel the weight of it and still do.

What is this new piece of armor? I prayed and kept asking God to understand, and I couldn’t escape the continual mentioning through a variety of Godly sources about His Presence and can’t help but associate the two.
In an e-mail article I received written by Francis Frangipane, called: “Embracing the Fight of Faith” – he speaks about the Church in the last days. How darkness is growing, but we – His Church – will also be growing. We are becoming mature in Christ-likeness, made in His image. We will shine with His Presence. In Ps. 18:12 brightness is with the Presence of God.

Could it be, this new piece of armor – His Presence – is the final piece we need for these last days?

I do know His Presence is what will change things here on earth. And His Presence is what needs to return to the Church – the Body of Christ, so she will be all she is supposed to be in the last days.

Ex.33:13-16  KJV

“If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.  For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us?”

NIV – “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”  The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”