Saturday, March 31, 2012

His Word that's sent is sent to "do"

After yesterday's post... it slapped me back into an old yesterday... a moment that I've lived many times with my Lord. I've written about something similar before... like I said, after yesterday's post, I had to re-post this particular old post again....

Wow! I cried all the way home from church (not that its very far, but nevertheless, I cried the whole way of it). Then, I let my dog outside in my backyard (as soon as I walked through the front door I walked out the back) and cried more with my LORD out there under those stars... in total awe of Him....

....because just as He spoke, just as "the word came" to man all those years ago... it STILL COMES. He STILL speaks(!) Just as He did then, He still does so now..... He still sends forth His Word (to accomplish the purpose for which He sent it!), and it still does (exactly what it was sent forth to do!).

I am awed at His voice! I'm amazed at the wonder of Him. He blows my mind. I want to know Him, and hear the words that He has sent forth to me to say. My heart feels just as Samuel answered Him when Samuel finally realized and knew that it was the LORD Himself that was calling his name,... I want to say to the LORD as he said to Him: "Speak, for Your servant is listening."

I want His Word that He has sent forth and spoke so specifically to me, as He this time called my name, to accomplish the work that it was sent forth to do. God told Samuel when He called his name: "And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something...."" And that's it, that's why He called..... and that's the very reason He always calls... He calls to "do something!".... Every time! Every time(!), every time(!), every time(!), every time(!), every time(!) that He calls, He calls, because He's "about to do something!"

That's what it's all about! His Word "doing!" His Word doing something! His Word sent forth to accomplish it's purpose! His Word sent forth to do His will. His Word is alive and active.... and His Word "does!"

Wow!!! ... He's just so wow!!!

Today I was tired-er than tired! I don't know that I've ever felt so bad from being so tired. I felt dizzy, I felt drunk, I felt horrible. I went to bed sometime after 6 this morning, and Boo got me up @ 10. I fully intended to lay back down, because I felt so wretched, sick even... but I started studying and never did lay back down again. I studied one chapter, but had plans on teaching another. I don't know what in the world I was thinking... I was just so into what I was studying. The time went faster than I would have liked, it was soon time to pick the kids up, but before I left I went ahead and printed out the chapter, but still had yet to put the first thing down on paper for our handout. I felt so bad between the hours of picking up kids and the hour for church to start that I seriously thought the whole time that I would not be able to make it for lack of being able to function for it. I was just feeling so sick. Anyway, after the kid pick-up I sat at my computer with my chapter in hand and begin to type questions that we would use for our night. I wasn't thrilled at all with our lesson. I was even less thrilled with what I put on paper.......

............. but after all, it's HIS Word. His Breath. His fire. His Son! - for "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God!".... He's fully able to make it breathe and feed... for it's "alive and active." And whoa, was His message full of Splendor and Glory tonight!!!! I'm so amazed at Him!!!! Spoke to me He did; and I needed speaking to! I saw a class, too, of little ears turned to hear, and eyes seeking to see, I saw hearts being moved... His lesson (what first did not thrill me) thrilled!!!!

I didn't know tonight's message until He spoke it to me there. I had no idea. You would think I had nothing to do with the planning of it (and I grin as I say that, because I didN'T!).

I got in the car to come home. I told you that I cried with Him there. Usually I have someone riding with me. Tonight I did not. I didn't need to, I needed to speak with Him Alone. And as I talked with Him the verse that talks about "a hope for which we are called" came into my mind. I thought: We're called to a hope! We're called to a hope! We are called.... to a hope! What's the "hope" that I've been called for? What's the "hope" to which I've been "called to"? "The Word" in my care that was sent to me, to "which I was called" as it came forth to accomplish its purpose?

1 Samuel 3 tells us that, "The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of His words fall to the ground."

Do I hold onto each word spoken to me, sent forth directly to me, and keep them from falling to the ground? As the Word is compared to the Sower and His Seed, how am I doing with His Seed? Do I shush the birds away as Satan tries to steal it? Do I feel the thrill of it's joy when I first hear what He's spoken to me, but then let it die in a short while because it had no root to grow? When "trouble or persecution" comes, am I guilty of doing opposite of what Samuel did and let His Words fall to the ground? Do I ignore the things that are put there to distract me (worries, desires, worldly stuff) or do I fall for their distraction? Can I say that I really: "hear the Word"... and "accept it"(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) while it produces its crop (30, 60, or even a 100 fold)?

How am I doing with His Word?? How am I doing with the Seed that He's given me? How am I doing with the "hope" to which I was called.

I had to look up that verse when I got home, the one about the "hope to which you were called." I didn't have it quoted just right for the versions that I usually use, so I'm not sure if I've got it mis-quoted some or couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. But it's meaning to me sent me on a treasure hunt. For I felt (after Him saying some of the things that He said in class tonight), that we've each been "called" for a specific thing; we each have our "word" that He's called us "for" and "to" to accomplish the thing that He's about to "do." ["And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something...."" - 1 Sam 3:11]. After finding the verses in Ephesians 4, I saw them differently than I've ever seen them before. It was so huge, and too huge to attempt and to try to write here. I'm just blown away with God & His whole everything!!! I'm just 'wowed' beyond words...... And I guess I just wanted to sing to someone and give Him praise tonight, for all the wonderful things that He does do!

Again I shall quote what He said, He said: " Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out....." [1 Sam. 3:11,12]. I absolutely LOVE those words!!! "See, I am about to do something!!!!!", He said! "See".... I'm about "to do something!".... I'm about to do something that "will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle! At that time I will carry out (dot, dot, dot).................." He sends forth His Word... He tells what His Word will do, His Word tells of it's accomplishment, He sends it forth as He speaks it to the one that will hear... it's sent "to do" His "something" that He's sent it to do. He sends forth His Word... then, when the time comes for His Word to accomplish its Work. then, "at that time [He] will carry [it] out!" He's just so HUGE!

I don't know if all this makes sense, but if able I could write volumes more... but on top of it just being too big of a God-thing to write, I'm incredibly tired... and morning comes early!

night!... i just felt the need to tell of His Glory,
His Light doth Shine!

Friday, March 30, 2012

He's prepared in advance the work He's called me to do.

Wow, glancing back over my blog, I realize that there's so much that I have not posted about. The last couple of weeks have held one whoa-ing wonder after another. I hate that I didn't make myself stop long enough to record it. It's way too much to attempt to gather into a cup to serve now. But wow, I so wish I had.. I so wish I could!

I feel like I've been around the world and back. But that's a great exaggeration. I've stayed within the limits of my own state, yet let me say, we've put some miles on some wheels in the last 14 days. We've been in lots of prisons. And oh at the people that I've had the opportunity to be touched by! I LOVE my "job"... even if I don't get paid. :) The rewards I'm blessed with far exceed what silver and gold have to offer me.

Back in Tutwiler for another Wednesday night service was such fun! Who knew that prison would feel so much like "home"? I've said it a thousand times and will say it thousands of times more, I love those girls that God has graced me the opportunity to serve!

I took a young girl (22 yrs old) with me on Wednesday. It was her first visit. Her first experience. She got in the vehicle afterward wildly ecstatic! She said, "Oh my goodness, you were all over the place in the lesson, but I can't believe how every next thing, every next verse, every next example, every next story so perfectly intertwined and fit and tied together!" She said, "They loved you!" She said, "My heart was burning!!! I mean, it was burning!! It literally hurt!! My heart has never burned like that before!!"

I reminded her of the two men that Luke 24 tells us of on their walk to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified. I reminded her of how at first they didn't recognize Jesus when He appeared and walked with them. I reminded her of how we're told that Jesus started with Moses and all the Prophets and explained to them all of what was said concerning Him in all the Scriptures. And then I reminded her of when their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He disappeared from their sight what they said to each other: "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"! That's the kind of burning in our hearts that only Jesus can give! That's the kind of burning inside that I long for, and constantly long for more of!

She loved it! She loved the ladies! She could so relate. Her mom had spent some time in prison. So had other members of her family. So when she had the opportunity to pray with any of those girls that asked her to, she was all over it! She was beckoning the power of Heaven to come down on them. Let me tell you something, that girl can pray!

It was awesome! We had a tremendous time together! She was like me, when it was time to go, neither one of us was ready to leave.

One particular girl came up to me afterward. Her name was Sabrina, the same name as my youngest child. She said to me, "I want to do what you do!! I know that it's what God is calling me to!"

Wow! Powerful! I told her then to take advantage of every minute of time that she was given here! To keep her face in God's Word, to stay seated (like Mary) at the feet of Jesus! To not only serve her time here until her sentence was done, but to serve her Savior in the place that He's got her! I prayed that God would mold her unto a mighty warrior and that He would use her in ways her mind cannot even begin to fathom.

I left there thanking God a zillion times. I've said it ["Thank YOU"] over and over and over again to Him since Wednesday night's service. I go to bed thanking Him. I wake up thanking Him. And thanked Him thousands of times all throughout my day... even when I wake throughout the night. I can't tell you how awed I am of Him and all that He does! I get so scared beforehand every time! Although I have all the want-to in the world to do it, when it comes time to, I always hope that someone else will step in and take over. Fear swallowed me again so fiercely on Wednesday afternoon. I was so afraid that I could hardly stand the thickness of the fear. I was a basket case. I texted and beckoned prayers from my best-ever-out-of-state friend. On top of all else that she prayed for, she prayed for my peace. And literally within minutes I felt peace wash over me. So much so, that I put all of my notes away and refused to look at the lesson or study or prepare anymore. My trust was in God to do HIS thang... and not for me to do what I hoped He would! And wildly, HE DID!!! He DID! HE did it again!! Just like all the other times!!!!!!! And yesterday, I figured it out. I figured out why I get so afraid. It's always SO GOOD! So incredibly GOOD! So beyond me GOOD! That I think that it surely it can't be that GOOD again! And yet, of course it is! It's HIS WORD! It's ALL GOOD! Why in the world would I think any less??? I'm blown away by it still! And thrilled that my God would let me be a part!!!!

I again say what I so often do, God is raising an army within the prisons! He's lighting a fire! He's growing a passion! He's teaching them, equipping them, empowering them, and sending them out! Oh, that they are still faithful when they get beyond those barred gates that right now keep them fenced in! I am more exposed to the women prisons than the men's... And yet, I realized last week that He is perhaps doing even greater things in the men's. I grin as I type this because of the memory, but woe, last week I saw the multitudes praising and hailing our Savior... awed by the wonder of His love, amazed at His grace, and loving the Son that God has sent them! I watched the captives that are truly set free worship Him freely in prison this week!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

If the two "me"s could talk!

I got an email from a friend. She wrote: 

 "Never in my life have i been more excited about what I "do." ....... If you were to take May 20, 2004 and compare it to May 20, 2010, I would say that a huge change has taken place. When I look at myself in the mirror now, I still haven't acomplished many of the same things that I wanted to then. Yet, my whole life is different. Even what I want and why I want it is different. That is ecouraging." 

Isn't it amazing how different we can become because of Jesus!!! If the two "me"s (the one that I "Was" and the one that I'm "Becoming") could stand facing each other today to talk I cannot even image what we would have to say to one another. Could they even relate enough to carry on a conversation? What would the Becoming say to the Was? Would Was even stand there to listen to Becoming? Would Is barge in? Could Becoming convince Was that Was didn't have to stay there where Was was? Would Was shake her head in sorrow to dare to even dream to become Become? Could Become see past the place where Was was, or would she be too repulsed at where Was was to hear her? Would Was even find an appealing interest in Becoming at all?.... ONLY God can take a Was to become the Becoming He'd hoped and planned for her!!!!!!!! Oh my, there would be NO hope without Him! 

I don't have to think hard for my Is to remember my Was once standing and staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and asking the face that stared back at her: "Who are you? I don't even know who you are! And I don't like you at all!"

I remember getting an invitation to my 25th year high school reunion. I wrote to a friend then, "Twenty five years??????????? Can you even imagine the life that's gone on in between all those years on that time-line??? Who was that girl anyway 25 years ago? I don't know if I would recognize her? Well, maybe her laugh, but she would have never guessed who she'd be, who she'd become, what she'd do, where she'd go. You never could have told her then."

I also remember crying buckets after reading the invitation. I cried over the where-I-had-been years since I'd left there... and the I-would-never things that I had done and places I had never thought I'd go...... all in an effort of looking for life and love in all the wrong places. 

Man, at how far Christ has brought me! I do hate all the wasted time, the time I lived in vain, all the time that I chose to focus my eyes on another attraction, yet all the while sacrificing so much for a miraged attraction that never would produce what it so falsely offered. I've a long way to go..... but I'm further than I used to be! I like my Is better than my Was... and I have even greater hopes for my Becoming because of the improvement between my Is compared to what I once Was! 

It's as the song sings: He's still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars..... 

Thankfully we have a God Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is To Come! And thankfully, He can handle me in all of my times! Just as long as He's working.... Oh Lord, thank You for taking Was-es and Is-es and transforming them to Is-Becoming-s and making them each day to look more like Your image!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Follow Jesus on Twitter - what it might have been like

My daughter introduced me to this video. I've watched it a thousand times since. I love the imagination (and some of the KNOWING) of what the twittering feed might have read like by the different whos that tweeted them in Jesus' day had they had Twitter like we do. I love seeing what Peter might have said. Or John. Or the Pharisees. Or the woman at the well. Etc. What would we have said if we had seen Him and tweeted our thinking? Tweeted our feelings? Or Facebooked them? Would we have clicked to "follow" Him or not? Do we say we'll follow Him... then don't? Do we only "follow" what we don't mind what He's told us to do, but un-follow Him when we're offended by (or don't like or agree with) what He's telling us? Do we "follow" one minute... then un-follow the next? Is that really following at all? Pilate said, "What shall I do with Jesus?".... What DO WE do with Him? What "shall" we do with Him? Do I mind Him on one thing, but don't mind Him on another? He was crucfified... He died... He rose... so that I could! So that I can die to self, too, and let Him live again in me! So that with His Spirit I can have the power to... even when at first when I don't want to. I want to FOLLOW FULLY! In all things! In everything! I don't want to just tweet it.... I want to feet it in my actions!

Here is a typed copy of the video's wording....

What's happening [on Twitter]: Prepare the way for the Lord. [Click Post]

Andrew: Could this be the Messiah? (1:33pm)

Peter: We have found the Christ! (1:34pm)

Andrew: @Peter Goodbye fishing! (1:34pm)

Peter: I will follow @Jesus anywhere! (9:13am)

Peter clicks @Jesus and then Follow. It now shows he's "Following."

Philip: He's the one Moses talked about (2:00pm)

Nathanael: But can anything good come from Nazareth? (2:03pm)

Philip: @Nathanael Come and see!

Nathanael (like Peter) clicks @Jesus and then Follow and is now Following Him.

James: Large crowds gather around Him.

John: Everyone is amazed!

Peter: He's healing diseases!

James: A paralyzed man just walked. #unbelievable

Pharisee#1: Hmmm... interesting.

Jesus' Followers are growing... it clicks from 100, to 101, 102, 103......109

Fisherman#1: His words ring so true.

Fisherman#2: Love our enemies too?! Wow.

Fisherman#1: Adultery, Divorce, Giving, Prayer... He's teaching on everything.

YoungScholar: @Fisherman#1 And with real authority. #amazing

SamaritanWoman: Unbelievable! A Jew spoke to me today. He knew everything about me.

SamaritanWoman: Could this be the Christ?

Jesus' Followers: 4,995, 4,996, 4,997, 4,998......5,003

Peter: He just fed thousands with only a handful of fish and bread!

Andrew: @Peter And there were leftovers!

Pharisee#1: He claims to be God himself! #blasphemy

Pharisee#2: He's been healing on the Sabbath.

Pharisee#1: He thinks he can forgive sins! #unfollowJesus

17,563, 17,564, 17,565, 17,564,17,563, 17,562 [going down]

James: Many followers are starting to turn away. #sad

John: I guess his teaching is starting to offend people.

Scripture of the Day: He was despised and rejected by mankind.

Jesus' Followers: 15,208, 15,207, 15,206, 15,205, 15,203, 15,202

Caiaphas Direct Message to Chief Priests and Elders:

   Caiaphas: We must arrest this man.

Caiaphas: Talk to his disciples, Judas.

Andrew: Gathered with disciples for supper. #Passover

Peter: Something feels strange tonight.

Philip: Jesus just said one of us will betray him.

John: Surely not me!

Philip: And he said we'll all abandon him tonight.

Peter: NEVER! Even if I have to die, I will never stop following Jesus.

Jesus' Followers: 13,001, 13,000, 12,999, 12,998

James: Jesus is distraught and overwhelmed with grief.

John: It's very late... pray we can stay awake.

Jesus' Followers: 10,313, 10,312, 10,311, 10,310, 10309

Peter: A large crowd is coming!

Guard#1: We have Jesus! Let's take him to the high priest.

Guard#2: Look at his disciples flee!

Scripture of the Day: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered."

7,604 7,603, 7,602, 7,601, 7,600, 7,599, 7,598, 7,597, 7,596, 7,595

ChiefPriest: @Council He has spoken blasphemy!

Council Member#1: He says he'll destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.

Council Member#2: He's worthy of death!

5,007, 5,006, 5,005, 5,004, 5,003, 5,002........4,990,

Servant Girl#1: I thought I saw a disciple, but he denied following Jesus.

Servant Girl#2: H denied it to me too!

Peter: I SWEAR I do not know the man! [Peter clicks: Following... to Unfollowed

Pilate: @Crowd What should I do with Jesus?


Pilate: My hands are clean.

2,155, 2,154, 2,153...........................................2,141

Soldier#1: Ordered to beat and torture Jesus.

Soldier#2: Who would ever FOLLOW this man?

Soldier#3: Let's get him to Golgotha.

Soldier#1: @Soldier#3 Make him carry his own cross!

1,005, 1,004, 1,003, 1,002, 1,001, 1,000, 999, 998, 997, 996, 995, 994, 993, 992, 991, 990, 989,

Soldier#2: Apparently he can save others but he can't save himself.

Local#1: He's speaking! Something to his Father.

Scripture of the Day: "Into Your hands I commit My spirit."

Local#2: It just got really dark.

Priest: AERT! The curtain in the temple just tore in two!

Centurion: Surely this was an innocent man.

Scripture of the Day: "He was pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities."

TombGuard: @ChiefPriest Sir, the tomb is secure.

Scripture of the Day: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day."

MaryMagdalene: Walking to the tomb.

MaryMagdalene: Speechless. [picture.. the stone is rolled away!]

Jesus' Followers: 100, 102,.........................................12,707,...........................17, Follow


Sunday, March 25, 2012

"I have seizures"

I was talking to a friend. She was telling me of her experience at a Homeless Shelter where she thought that she'd be ladling soup for their lunches. Instead, upon arrival she was whisked away on a whole different assignment before she realized what in the world they were doing. Bottom line is, they quickly pushed her into a room with the "homeless" and told her to go talk to them. In answer to her horrified wide-eyed woe that took control of her face, the guy told her, "Don't worry, they'll talk. They'll tell you everything."

Regardless of what he said. She worried! She went. But she was scared!

She saw a young woman working on a word puzzle. As my friend sat next to her she said, "Oh, I love puzzles! Could you use some company? Do you mind if I sit next to you and help?"

The woman nodded she could.

And then, the man was right... the woman just started talking. It was like he said, she told her everything. And then, right in the middle, like it was nothing, she said, "I have seizures."

"Oh!" my friend replied. And then to me she said, "What do you say to that?"

I was laughing hysterically! I felt that girl's feeling! I told my friend, "Oh my goodness, I have seizures too!" Maybe not the medical kind.... but like the story told of the boy in Matthew 17, I feel like sometimes when something's said or something hits, I'm like him. It throws me into the fire! Or sometimes into the water and tries to drown me. I need attention! I need help! I start seizing and lose control of myself!

I love that story! The one I just mentioned found in Matthew 17. Starting at verse 14, it's told like this:

"When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before Him. "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him." "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to Me." Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment."

"Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water."

NLT, "Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly..."

NASB, "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill...."

KJV (and my most favorite!), "Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."

Jesus' reply was: "Bring the boy to Me."!!! I LOVE it!

To parallel with this boy's sickness, we too sometimes suffer a similar spiritual illness. If not us, then our "son" or our daughter or our friend or our spouse or our mother or our father or our sister or our brother or someone we know or someone we've met. We become a "lunatic" (or they do) and "sore vexed"... and we lose control! We have a fit of rage or of bitterness or of madness or meanness or jealousy or envy or     (you fill in the blank)     and it throws us into the fire. Or it tries to drown us in the pit of deepest waters of despair and anguish. And no one around us can heal us. Yet, Jesus watches and Jesus sees, and still I'm sure He still beacons with those same very words said in Matthew 17, "Bring the boy to Me." Or, if it's us: "Come hither to Me!" And with His touch and His word, He does the same as He did then, and we are "healed from that moment."

You know "that moment"....? One of those kinds of moments? Might you need to be healed from "that moment" that makes you go crazy and act as a lunatic in all kinds of madness when you remember it? Man can't fix that! But Jesus can heal you from "that moment"! We simply have to go to Him to let Him. Or, when it's not us, but it's someone else, we have to take them... not to somebody else, but take them only to Jesus Himself!

May we remember this! And next time we see someone acting out and making an idiot of themselves by the way that they're acting... we're NOT to take them (by talking about them) to another! No! Instead, we can simply mutter a quick prayer beneath our breath and tell Jesus, "She needs You! She's having a seizure!" And Lord have mercy, next time when it's us that's seizing, may somebody be near enough to us and to Him to return us the favor! For we have great need to be rescued from all sorts of seizing in all kind of "moments" that throw us into fires and deep waters!

Back to the girl who said, "I have seizures." I think I'd wrap my arm with compassion around the girl if she had told me and I'd tell her, "Yeah, I know what you're talking about. Sometimes I have seizures too." And then I hope I'd have the guts to hold her hand and say, "Come on, let's go tell Jesus"......

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't kill anybody!

My kids are out there somewhere...... on Spring Break with friends.... while their mom is left here, home without them. I'm busy. Very much so. But I'm missing them greatly. I texted one just now (the youngest) that I've not heard from since last night. Just to touch base. Just to know that she's still breathing. Just to make sure that she's still able to text. Just to make sure that she's still sounding her normal.

After she replied, I wanted to text back: 

  • No drinking
  • No snorting anything
  • No popping pills
  • No smoking weed
  • Don't show too much skin
  • Remember the lady you were raised to be
  • Don't hang around people you shouldn't
  • Be so very careful
  • And don't kill anybody!

The last one may not be the norm for most parent's lists. But after my today.... I resisted from it, but I seriously wanted to say it.

I was at a parole hearing for one of our inmates this morning. M has been in our class for almost four years. She completed the two-year program, and then stayed on for extra classes that we added on for those that wanted to continue. She's already served 20 years of a 25 year sentence. She went in at the age of 21. Tomorrow's her birthday, she'll be 41. She's in for murder. Her mama and her daddy miss her!

I've got a 21 year old daughter. I cannot imagine her going into prison at this age... and 20 years slowly passing by with her still in there. I cannot imagine what all wouldn't have happened in my life had I been incarcerated at 21. I wouldn't have married. I wouldn't have had children. They'd be no Prissy. No Tabor. No Sabrina. I wouldn't have been there when my grandmother died, or my granddaddy, or my mamaw, or my papaw, or my uncles, or my aunts, or my daddy! My siblings lives would have continued on without me.... while I couldn't help but think of all that I was missing because of something in a crazed moment that I had done. Every single second of everyday, I'm sure, I'd regret that I did it. I'd hate that I couldn't take back what I couldn't! I'd mourn the life I'd taken. I'd mourn the lives of those I'd hurt. I'd mourn the wrong committed. I'd mourn the wasted time. I'd mourn... I'd mourn.... I'd mourn........ a lot!

Today I watched sorrow on two families' faces! I watched hurt emerge and lash out. I watched meanness snarl because of a still piercing pain. I watched heads shake. I watched heads bow. I watched eyes squint closed. I watched jaws clinch teeth. As I wrote in an earlier post: Nobody wins in a murder. The blood still cries out seeking its justice... and in some, still seeking its revenge. All the while, the murderer begs for forgiveness, for compassion, for a second chance, for mercy. Because of the pleas made by the victim's family, the parole board denied M parole. She'll EOS in five years, in 2017.

I wonder what all will happen in my life in the next 5 years? I wonder what'll all happen in M's as she still sadly sits behind bars while the clock slowly ticks one tick-and-tock at a time as she begins to count down the 2,628,000 minutes she now has left til time to go home?

Her dad told me, "We had no idea at 11:30 that night, that at 12:01 our lives would be radically unhinged and changed forever." They hadn't a clue that murder was in the forecast. They hadn't been forewarned that they would one day face such horror. 

I love M's mom and dad. They remind me so much of mine. I cannot fathom the pain that penetrates to the very depths inside them tonight. I cannot fathom the torrid of tears that they'll weep on their pillows. Because of something horrible, their little girl (even at 21) was locked up.... and 20 years later they're still hurting and sitting by their window, looking, waiting, praying, anticipating, wanting, wishing, wailing, longing for her to come home.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

The promised land mourned for her people!

How pricelessly worded! 

I've been reading through the NET Bible that I have recently purchased. Every now and then, when I don't have my Bible before me, I will pull it up on the Internet and read from there. When you do this, between the Old and New Testaments, you will find the Deutero-Canonicals / Apocrypha books (these are books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate, but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament). And in this thus far incomplete list of books, you'll find the Book of Baruch.

The book of Baruch are words that Baruch wrote in Babylon, written at the time that the Chaldeans overthrew Jerusalem and set it on fire. It was read to God's chosen people that had been carried off by their enemies to Babylon because they had sinned against the Lord by rebelling to do what He had commanded them to. Chapter 4 writes what is called "A Poem of Comfort"... and it is written as if the land of Jerusalem herself were writing it to her people that had left her. And reading it while thinking of all those that I work with in prison, its words impacted with a whole greater meaning. I cannot tell you how precious these words were in the very vivid picture they painted. I thought I'd share it here.. thinking that you'd read them and hear them and feel them as precious too! Read them as they were meant for you to, hear the words from the Promised Land to her Chosen People, God's prized possessions, that had been taken from her. Hear her grief and the wisdom she gives her children and her encouragement to them. Her reminder of what they'd done, why they were taken... and more importantly, her reminder that they were God's(!) and, that being His, God would bring them back!

"4:5 Be courageous, my people!
You are the ones who preserve the name of Israel!

4:6 It was not for your destruction that you were sold to the nations.
You were delivered over to your adversaries because you had stirred God to anger.

4:7 For you provoked your Creator by offering sacrifices to demons rather than to God.

4:8 You forgot the Eternal God who nourished you;
you grieved Jerusalem which reared you.

4:9 For when she saw the wrath of God that was about to befall you, she said,
"Listen, neighbors of Zion,
God has brought great mourning upon me.

4:10 For I witnessed the captivity of my sons and daughters,
which the Eternal One has brought upon them.

4:11 For I nourished them with gladness, 
and I sent them out with tears and mourning.

4:12 Let no one malignantly rejoice over me,
the widow who is bereft of so many.
I was left desolate because of the sins of my children,
for they have turned away from God's law.

4:13 They have not acknowledged His ordinances,
nor have they gone in the ways of God's commandments,
nor have they walked in the correct paths determined by His righteousness.

4:14 Let the neighbors of Zion come and remember the captivity 
of my sons and daughters,
which the Eternal One has brought upon them.

4:15 For He has brought against them a nation from afar,
a shameless nation speaking a foreign language,
who shows no respect for old age nor mercy for childhood.

4:16 They have led away those beloved by this widow;
they have left me bereft of my daughters.

4:17 But for my part, how can I help you?

4:18 For it is the One who has brought these misfortunes 
who must rescue you out of the hand of your enemies.

4:19 Go on, my children, go your way!
For I am left desolate.

4:20 I have taken off the robe of peace,
and I have put on sackcloth for my petition.
I will cry out to the Eternal One for the rest of my days.

4:21 Be courageous, my children.
Cry out to God, 
and He will rescue you from domination at the hand of your enemies.

4:22 For I have placed my hope in the Eternal One for your salvation.
Joy has come to me from the Holy One 
for the mercy that will quickly come to you from your Eternal Savior.

4:23 For I sent you out with mourning and weeping,
and God will return you to me with delight and gladness forever.

4:24 For just as at the present time the neighbors of Zion have seen your captivity, 
so they will soon see your deliverance from God,
which will come to you with great glory 
and with the splendor of the Eternal One.

4:25 My children, patiently endure the wrath that has come upon you from God.
Your enemy has persecuted you,
but you will soon see their destruction,
and you will place your foot on their necks.

4:26 My spoiled children have traveled rough roads.
They have been carried away like sheep snatched by enemies.

4:27 Be courageous, children, and call out to God.
For the One who brought this upon you will remember you.

4:28 For just as your minds were given to wandering away from God,
turn now with tenfold sincerity to seek Him.

4:29 For the One who has brought these misfortunes upon you 
will bring you everlasting gladness along with your deliverance.

4:30 Be courageous, O Jerusalem.
The One who named you will comfort you.

4:31 Those who have treated you badly and rejoiced at your downfall are fearful.

4:32 The cities that enslaved your children are fearful;
she who took your sons is fearful.

4:33 For just as she rejoiced over your downfall and was glad over your disaster,
so she will be grieved over her own desolation.

4:34 I will remove from her the rejoicing of the crowds,
and her insolence will be reduced to mourning.

4:35 For fire will come upon her from the Eternal One,
lasting for a long time;
she will be inhabited by demons for a long time.

4:36 Look to the east, O Jerusalem!
See the gladness coming to you from God.

4:37 Look! Your sons whom you sent away are coming back,
being gathered from east to west by the Word of the Holy One,
rejoicing in the glory of God."

Wow! Like I said! Priceless!!! I love the faithfulness of our Father! Though He disciplines, He will never unlove His children! Though He allows the enemies that pursue to take them captive because of their rebellion... that is NOT the end of His fight! He, too, pursues! And He fights (when we've gone astray) to bring us back!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Glod bless you

I walked into the midst of a worship service of teenagers singing to tell of their hearts to Jesus. It was moving to watch. And then, across the big-screen which held the words that they were singing were these: "Glod bless you."

Glod bless you. A misprint for certain. A typo for sure. But. Glod bless you? I couldn't quit thinking about it.

How often do we seek a blessing in something other than our Savior? People seek sex outside of marriage in order to earn the blessing of love. It doesn't work. Some seek a blessing in drugs to take us to the heights of some ultimate feeling. Or, they seek the drug to bless them as it masks their inner feeling that doesn't feel good, that hurts, that begs to be medicated in order not to be felt. It might disguise temporarily, but it doesn't work either. Those drinking alcohol also seek alcohol's blessing, hoping it'll help them to fit in or to be respected; or like a drug, drown some unwanted feeling to feel good. Some seek a blessing in their next purchase, or if not done honestly, taking something that's not theirs. And yet, stuff, things, items can't satiate and satisfy. It won't fill what's lacking and empty and longing for fulfillment inside.

In my mind it seems to all boil down to this: Glod can't bless you! You'll never find your blessing in Glod! Glod won't ever fulfill you! Glod will never satisfy you! Glod can never do it for you! Glod will always fail! Glod will never work! Don't seek your blessing from "Glods"!

May God bless you!... because He will (for all eternity) be blessing enough!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's just play money.

September 2004

David Evans came by our house on Monday, this past Labor Day. My kids were sitting at the bar playing Monopoly. Sabrina was teary-eyed and frowny-faced... She had no money! She had landed on Tabor's property and she owed him rent. She had no money to pay him. I said, "Sabrina, that happens in life all the time, baby. People spend their money elsewhere and when the rent's due, there's not enough money to pay it. He can't kill you for it or anything."This did NOT make her feel any better! Her face still frowned. She still wanted to cry. Her countenance was downcast and her head was hanging.David Evans then puts his two cents in and tells her, "Sabrina, it's just a game. It's just play money. In a little while you'll both put the game up, and put all the play money back in its box, and you'll be no worse off, you'll have no less than what you started with...."

And I thought....

God must look at us sometimes and think the same thing. It's just play money!... It'll all go back in the box when the game's over!... You won't go out with any less than you came in with..... Except[!] maybe riches in Glory that are greater than any riches we can see and fight for on this earth. Or not! Are we living and playing for the earthly game... with all its fake stuff? Or, for our Eternal One that's real? Do we get frown-faced and cry over the temporary things and temporary problems? Or is our minds set on Kingdom business? Do we not need to be reminded sometimes that most of this stuff here is not real, or less real anyway? And that the invisible is more real than the visible here ever will be?

It's just play money. One day the game will be over..............................

Friday, March 9, 2012

Faith... believing in something not yet seen!

Ooo! I started a new very old book. One I'd forgotten, but I guess I have read it before. And might I say (as I'm sure I said the first time), it has me at Hello! I'm enthralled by the wondering insight... mostly because I simply love its subject!

I've only begun the preface, I've not even gotten to the first chapter yet, and already my mind marvels at this author's words. He writes:

"In sending out from the Press these Studies in the Life of Abraham, I am very sensible of the inadequacy of my attempt to conceive, or portray, one of the greatest characters of History. And yet there is one thought pervading the entire narrative, which brings it near to the poorest limner of its noble outlines. Abraham was great through his faith. And that faith was at first but a silver thread, a tiny streak, an insignificant sinew -- not stronger than that which trembles in the humblest and weakest reader of these lines.

"But wherever faith is, it is the link with Omnipotence; the channel for the Divine communications; the wire along which the Fire of Heaven may travel. And it is used according to the promptings of the Divine Spirit, and in obedience to His commands, it will grow. It grew in Abraham. It will grow in us.

"To trace the laws of that growth, and its gradual increase, for the encouragement of those who by faith are the children of Abraham, and who long with intense desire to emulate their great progenitor, until they can remove mountains of difficulty and achieve apparent impossibilities, has been the great principle on which these pages have been prepared."
F. B. Meyer
The Life of Abraham

Has your interest been piqued, as well, and as much as mine?

I tell you what, I LOVE the study of Abraham!!! I have visited with that patriarch, that father of our faith that I've been grafted to in order to be a descendant from, I have sat with him on the pages of those Scriptures that tell of him often! Oh, how I love to read of his life! Oh, how I love the things he has to teach! Faith - being the ultimate lesson to be learned! Faith - it is the "link with Omnipotence." Faith - it is "the channel for the Divine communications." Faith - it is "the wire along which the Fire of Heaven may travel" Faith - it is that thing put inside us that is then prompted by the Divine Spirit and compels us to walk in obedience to His commandments in order that it will grow. (All as Mr. Meyer has said of it!) 

Faith...! Oh, that God would grow mine! Oh, how much I thank Him already for the growth that He's already grown! And oh, how I thank Him so much more, for the growth that still He has yet (in me!) to grow!

What Lizzy said!

"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!" ~ Luke 1:42-45

Need I say more? I don't think so.

Nuff said!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I'm tired of the obsession!

I picked her up for church on Sunday. I didn't actually know that she was coming until I got there. I'd never met her before. She just decided to come with another girl that I had picked up.

Both had been incarcerated and were now out and housed in a drug rehab program at a transitional home. Both had little, so now wore what they had been given. And while one girl felt good strutting her new garb, the other was conscious of the garb she was wearing.

I didn't know this at first. It was later when I heard Ellen ask Amber a question, and my nosey-ness was piqued to ask what they were talking about. Ellen told me that Amber was conscious about what she had on, but mostly conscious about how much she weighed.

I was driving. But my head immediately shook to and fro, my hand went out to pat her, and a grimace took control of my face. I told her, "We're all too obsessed and conscious over our boxes! These boxes that we're stuffed in. Our box is very rarely the size that we'd like it to be. We always think them too big or too little or too short or too tall... and they don't stick out right in the places they do. We all want to rearrange not only the size, but the shapes of our boxes. We wrap it and paint it and stuff it. But I'll tell you what, nobody cares so much about your box, because they're obsessed and thinking about theirs!"

Those girls laughed hilariously as we drove. I was serious! I told them, "I'm serious! I don't like my box either! I'm always thinking about it! It never stays sized the size that I want it. If I've gained weight, I hate it. If I loose too much, it definitely doesn't look right either. But I have yet to find and be stayed in that "perfectly" sized container! Is there a size that works for me?! I'm tired of all of the attention, aggravation, and disappointment I give toward my box! It's a box, for heaven's sake! Let's all get over it!"

By this time the new girl didn't have a clue what to make of me. She was grinning from ear to ear though, and nodding her head in agreement. I told her as we were walking in, "Don't you dare worry about it. Your box is beautiful!! Though really, nobody cares about your box. They're only interested and thinking about theirs! And not only that, they're hoping that you'll compliment them on it!"

I hope I lightened the mood. I tried to anyway! But mostly, I'm serious in my hate of the obsession that robs us of such joy and that steals so much of our focus!

After church, of course, our tummies were growling. After being incarcerated "free world food" (as they call it) never tasted so good! We dreamed a few minutes of what we'd be eating before deciding on the where to go eat it. We chose a buffet where you can load up with all that you want on about anything you can think of. They have everything! I told them as we walked in, "Let's go fill up our boxes!!!! And let's thoroughly enjoy filling it, feeling it, and feeding it!"  

I wonder though what our God would say? Would He tell us that He made that box that He's put us in, and He likes it a lot?! Would it hurt His feelings that we don't, and that we're constantly criticizing the container He's made?

It's just a box!

It's just a box! 


Is it?

In truth rather, it's really a jar of clay. It's made from mud. It's made from dirt. And it was made and formed this way (the way that it is) by the Creator's Hands Himself! 

And too, if you're a child of God, this clay jar holds a "treasure"! It's a temple! His Temple! A place where God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit dwells! 

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is IN you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body." ~ I  Corinthians 6:19-20

I suppose that'd make our boxes a very important box! One that cost a LOT! We are to honor God with them! It looks like, when you re-think it, that it does matter! He does care. These boxes have been entrusted (for our short span on this earth) to us. Let's take care of them! Mostly, let's let Jesus show beautifully in and through our boxes! Bottom line though, let's not forget that our focus is not the OUTsides of our boxes, but on our INs and what's inside them! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

She won't listen to me!

I got a phone call today from a young friend in frustration. She told me that her and her roommate were in the throes of a fight. She then continued to paint the scene with its full fledged dramatic scenario. The episode of their saga ended with her roommate leaving in a huff, shunning her to say no more, and going to work.

"The problem is," this young girl told me, "is that she won't listen to me. I've got her best interest at heart. I love her! She's too close. She can't see. I don't want to hurt her, but I don't want her to be hurt."

To sum it all up, it was all over boy stuff.

That's when I told her that her roommate's defenses are up. It's what we all do. It's normal. We need to give people room for that. She heard what you said, I told her. Perhaps she'll be able to hear it when she's off alone and can weigh all that you've said?

She told me, "I just wished she'd hear me out. I wish she'd let me say all that I needed to say, and then I'd leave her alone to her own decisions and I wouldn't have to say anything else about it."

I told her that's often all of our problem. That we all want to say all that we want to say, and we want the other person to hear us. We think, "They won't listen to me!" All the while they're thinking the same thing about us, that we won't listen to them!

I told her. If only both parties (in their throes of wanting to be heard) would both sit calmly at a table. And then, both parties simply and peaceably dumped out all of the pieces in their boxes (saying all at that they want to say). Both pouring it all out until finished. And then, in union, they both could sit and examine each piece and put together the pieces until the puzzle's picture can clearly be seen as the situation really is. That, my dear, if we could only do that... without taking offence, without being defensive... would sure make most things a whole lot easier!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nobody wins in a murder.


The ripples from one person's actions can be endless! It can filter through minutes, days, weeks, months, seasons, years, decades... and then some. On and on and on it goes. Festering, boiling, spreading its cancerous poison like a gaseous vapor. It can be so wide spread as to affect a massive amount of people at one time... and then, the rumblings, the quaking, the consequences, the repercussions, from that one thing can seep into multiple generations following it. OH! that we would weigh the cost before we did something!

Being in the prison ministry I am often torn between justice and mercy. I understand both sides of the fence. We all need mercy for the things that we've done. But, also, the knowing inside us when things are done wrong, it begs for justice to be serve upon the one that's done it.

I went to a parole hearing for one of my girls today. I quickly fell in love with her family. They had an impressive look about them. They wore the look of love of their faces. You could see Jesus in their skins. I liked them immediately! Even before I knew that they belonged to the girl that I was there for. I watched them for the two and a half hours before our inmate's name was called, and when they stood up, I wasn't the least bit surprised that they were who I had assumed that they would be.

It was a somber meeting. Their hope for release for their loved one had them suddenly serious and trembling. That kind of cold shaking was instantaneously upon them. That widened-eyed scare smacked over them before they could disguise it and told of their fear. Surely, they were uttering guttural prayers beneath their breathing, begging fervently (one last time) for the favor of our Father upon their loved one. Begging Him for mercy upon their daughter, their niece, their cousin, their friend, their mother. Pleading with God to fill the parole panel with mercy to give her. Pleading for her release...

The defendant's family always goes first. Her lawyer pled for her. Her cousin (who's also a preacher) pled for her. And then, so did her son. Oh my, it was him that turned the attention! Even the parole board was touched by this teenaged child's voice crying out for his mother.

But then, the victim's family, even after almost 17 years, was still ravaged by the murder's violence and its robbery. Two grown daughters of the deceased cried out for vengeance and for justice to be served for their mother. They shared details... still vivid to them as the day that it happened... and it was raw, and real, and ugly, and ravishing.

Murder is mean to everybody!

Murder affects the multitudes.

Murder sours and turns nastily bitter. It changes the look, the attitude, the demeanor, the ongoing mood of the whole person.

Murder hardens the hearts of those left behind and still left breathing.

Murder brings death to so many.

Death to joy. Death to hope. Death to dreams. Death to the direction one's life was going in before it was knocked wrong. Death to security. Death to kindness. Death to the way one once looked at everything. Death.......... to a myriad of so many things.

For both families, I am so sorry for everybody! I'm sorry for the senselessness in it. I'm sorry for the wrong. I'm so sorry to all that was hurt!

Again, it was the children (those on both sides) that haunt me! It brought a whole new meaning to Genesis 4:10 after Cain had killed Abel (""What have you done?" The LORD said, "Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground.")... Listen! The blood cries out! This time, "the blood" that was still being cried out was the victim's blood still running through the veins of the children.

The blood cries out! It still cries out.................................. The blood still demands answers. The blood is still seeking its justice......................

[See also: Listen! His blood still cries.]