Not Rock Bottom, but Almost

So I have been in protective custody for a week now.  A lot has changed in a week.  The first 2 days, I spent a lot of time thinking, sorting through my emotions, crying and praying.  After that I said I need to get focused on the here and now and getting back on the path.  I realized those first 2 days that I strayed so far away from God that I didn’t even realize it.

It is like a young child with their Mom at a big department store that gets “lost” or separated from their parents.  I did this a lot when I was younger.  Trust me, ask my Mom.  Haha!  Anyway, back to the kid.  So the kid is like on his own, exploring, smiling, taking in this huge store.  This goes on for 10 minutes.  Then the kid stops and he/she senses something isn’t right.  They look around then and notice their Mom or Dad isn’t there.  They get all frantic and worried and start bawling their eyes out.

Finally, someone helps the child reunite with their parent.  Of course, the parent is furious, worried, nervous, mad, sad, and probably just hysterical.  However, the first thing the parent does (or should do) is give the child a hug and tell them “It’s okay.  I’m here.  I love you.”  Then later, after they are both settled down, tell the child to stay with them, blah, blah, blah.

See the main part of this story is the reuniting part.  That is how I felt.  I had gone so far away, exploring on my own; and I finally realized “Hey, something is wrong.”  I can’t handle the pressures of this situation on my own.  I was exploring different religions, putting Christianity on the back burner; putting my faith in people, in food, in cards, and so on.  Then one day a whole bunch of crap happened.  I got really scared, looked around and said, “Wait, where is my Dad?” and I lost it.  I was about to burst out in tears right there in the block.  I didn’t know what to do anymore.  I was lost.

So I got to “the hole” and broke down.  I cried and cried and cried.  I worked to start getting back into God’s loving arms, but part of me was still resisting.  I had been gone for so long.  I knew God still loved me  I know that, but it took a while for the pain to go away.  The pain from doing my own thing.  It was rough.  But today, I sit here and say “I can’t do this life without you, God and Jesus.”  I just can’t.  It is not in my being or anyone’s to live a peaceful, happy life without God and Jesus in our lives.  I knew this, but I still strayed away.  It is easy to do.

We so often get caught up in this world… in our busy lives, that we sometimes forget.  I encourage you to spend at least an hour a day in prayer, devotion, God’s word and Christian meditation.  I have, fortunately, had the time to spend more than an hour a day with God for the last week.

I am currently devising a plan to keep it up wherever I end up.  I see, now more than ever, how important it is. I am praying every day to be stronger in my faith and to have more devotion and discipline when it comes to my walk with Jesus.  I also encourage you all to watch the movie “War Room.”  It is about how to let God fight your battles and prayer.  It is an excellent movie. I am going to leave you with 2 verses that stuck with me last night and I meditated on.

“So we too should run the race that is before us and never quit.  We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down, and the sin that so often makes us fall.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.”  – Hebrews 12: 1-2


Water Walking

In the last two months, I have read two books about water walking.  One was non-fiction and the other was Christian fiction.  They were both very good  The non-fiction book is called:  “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg.

In this book, he talks about our fears and courage.  How so often we stay in the boat because we feel safe and we never to water walking.  Sometimes this can really put a damper on our discipleship for Jesus.  We allow our fears to take over.  We want to stay comfortable in the boat.  So John Ortberg encourages us to have faith, trust in God and step out of the boat.

Let me give you an example of walking on water.  Let’s say we are used to going to church and living in a middle class to upper class neighborhood and that’s where we stay.  That is where we are comfortable.  So we don’t go into the projects to help in drug abuse rehabilitation, feed the poor, tutor children who are struggling, or even help young teenagers in gangs to get off the street.  We know that God wants us to do these things.

We can do these things by loving these people and caring for them.  We can do this by trusting in God to guide us in our ministry and discipleship.  But then we start thinking about the gang violence, drugs, murders, robberies, and so on and we start to freak out.  We start sweating, having stomach aches and our hearts are beating a mile a minute.  Then we say “You know what?  I think I’ll just donate some money, kick back, put my feet up and watch TV.”  But that is not what God wants us to do.  He wants us to serve the poor, the drug dealers, the prostitutes and the gang bangers.  He is telling us to “Come on, get out of the boat, walk on water, trust me. I am God.  I’ve got this.”  With God, we can have the courage to step out of the boat and walk on water.

The second book I just read was called “Water Walker” by Ted Dekker.  This book also talks about water walking.  It talks about a girl who is abducted by her biological mother, but her mother is being brainwashed by a cult leader to raise her a certain way, just so they can receive 1.5 million dollars from a trust fund that her father left.  It eventually gets so bad that the cult leader starts physically abusing the teenager and breaking her leg.  The teenager has a series of dreams where she is encouraged by God’s disciple to get out and walk on water.

She eventually finds the courage to give everything to God and walk on water.  She realizes that her body is just a costume.  No one can steal her joy.  Eventually she will have a spiritual body with God.  So her broken leg doesn’t matter.  She gains the courage to forgive her mother and help her to see the truth of the cult leader’s deceitful was.  She steps out of the boat and puts her full faith in God.  She walks on water and helps others see the truth.

So how are you going to walk on water?  Think about ways you can overcome your fears, put danger aside, and have the courage to be an extreme disciple of Christ.  Start off small.  Take a step at a time.  Be a water walker!

The Violent Stuff

Ever since I began to read the Bible, I always had a problem with the violence in the Bible.  Whole nations were destroyed, even the babies and the kids and the writers in the bible would say “God told them to do it.”  I always had a problem with this, because I don’t believe God would tell someone to destroy a whole nation.  It goes against what God stands for. .. unconditional love.  God doesn’t like violence.  I am reading a book right now that pointed this issue out.  The author mentioned that the Israelites were destroyed, whole nations were destroyed, then they would recover and 80 years later, the cycle would start over.

The writers of the Bible had a purpose in telling these stories and pointing out all the violence that went on. First, let’s look at what they meant by God telling them to do it.  Back in that time, in that culture, it was so common for the people to give credit to their gods for their victories or their great harvests or blame their gods for poor harvests and famine and the list goes on.  They actually believed that their god helped them in their victory.  However, the point the writers of the Bible were trying to make with these stories of violence were this.  In the words of Rob Bell, “Those stories containing senseless violence point out how senseless violence is.”  The writers were writing those stories because they wanted violence to end.  To let us know that violence doesn’t solve anything.

So I thought about this and applied it to my current situation.  Some might say I am in the heart of gangland in North Carolina.  Which, in a way, is true.  Over the last couple of weeks, there have been some violence within the “affiliate groups.”  All over nothing.  It might be because this guy in this group beat up another guy in this group.  So the other group has to come and stab that guy and cause a war.  It is senseless violence.  There is always going to be disagreement.  There are always going to be people that make mistakes.  There is always going to be anger.  Violence is not going to make it disappear.  However, if we love, nurture, care of people, help people to grow, talk things out and use various nonviolent methods, we might have a chance to be a more stable and productie society.  Lives wouldn’t have to be lost and we could find more ways to live in harmony with people.

This is the message the writers of the Bible are trying to get across by sharing the brutal, barbaric, primitive violent scenes that they chose to share.  Not that it is okay to destroy whole nations because we believe Gold told us to.  That is not the message.  The message is the opposite and God doesn’t want us to act out in violence.  Senseless violence is senseless. Period.

Can you give up everything? -Oct 17, 2016

I just finished watching the movie, Divergent.  In this movie it is about a society that is split up into factions.  You are born into a faction and at a certain age, you take a test to find out which faction you grow up in.  However, on selection day, you can pick whatever faction you want to be a part of.  The #1 rule however, is “Faction before blood.”  If they pick a faction other than their parents, they are not allowed to talk to their parents or live with them- no contact.  They have to devote 100% of their life to their faction.  If they leave their faction, they can’t go back to their parents.  They become factionless (basically  homeless).  They want you to be “ALL IN”.  I am not going to go on about what “Divergent” means or the different kinds of factions.  I might touch on Divergent in a different blog.

I sat there and wondered what it would be like to love your family deep in your heart, but leave them for a greater purpose.  I know for me and most everyone, it would be hard. However, isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do?  It is all throughout the Bible, especially in the new testament.  Luke 9:23 says “If you want to be a disciple of me, deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.”

In Matthew, Mark, Luke, he talks about hating our family members and following him.  He doesn’t mean to actually hate them.  He is saying, put me #1.  Be my student, follow me, not your family, not yourself, not your job, not the world.  That is very hard… very, very hard.  I love my family to death.  Even God asked Abraham to leave everything and follow him.  It is a common theme in the Bible.

Can we leave what’s comfortable to join the faction of Christianity and to follow the leader of that faction?  Obey his every command?  That is what we are supposed to do.  Are we “ALL IN” or on the fence?


October 7, 2016

Hey all.  I am so sorry I haven’t written in a while.  I was sitting here thinking of the blog and how I haven’t written in months.  I apologize.  I will try to write more often.  This will be long because I have a lot to say.  Let’s start with class. I am in my 3rd and final semesters of Horticulture.  It has been a great year of class.  I have learned a lot and met a lot of great people.  This semester has been a little uneventful.  We do have a successful fall crop right now.  We have planted Arugula, Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Swiss Chard, Radishes, Zucchini, Onions, Lettuce and beets.  The beets and Zucchini didn’t do too well.  The Carrots, Turnip Greens, Arugula and Radishes have done really well.  My Aloe isn’t doing great inside the greenhouse, but it isn’t terrible.  I divided some baby Aloe and it is struggling from shock right now, but I think it will bounce back.  My orange trees look great.  That is about all that is going on in class right now.

The last day and graduation are on December 9th.  Then I might become a library worker while I am waiting to be shipped out to Medium Custody. I am excited to be going to Medium Custody.  I am also a little nervous.  My first choice of prison is Harnett Correctional.  They have a lot of classes there.  They have Barber School, Welding, Plumbing, Electrical, AC/HVAC, Small Engine Repair, Masonry, and Carpentry.  They also have a sex offender program that I would like to go through.  Once you go through it, you can get put in to be a peer counselor.  Seeing that I want to be a Counselor when I get out, I would love the experience.  My second choice is Warren, which I have heard is primarily Gang members.  They have a Travel & Tourism class I am interested in taking.  They also have part-time CDL classes too.  I am thinking of Lumberton.  They have some classes I am interested in as well.  However, I could be shipped to whatever prison has a bed.  My case manager will put in for me to go to my Top 3 choices, but it is not guaranteed.  So please keep me in your prayers for that.  I will be shipped out any time between January and March 2017.  I briefly mentioned above that I would like to be a counselor when I get out.  I am checking into correspondence courses to get my Master’s Degree in counseling while I am in here. I would like to get my PhD when I get out.  I will be 46 when I get out.  I still have time.  I would like to help felons, ex-cons and sex offenders.  Oh yea, also gang members. I would like to have a ministry for sex offenders to help them transition into society when they are released from prison.

I have met a lot of sex offenders who don’t have anywhere to go when they get out.  No family or friends.  They can’t stay in halfway houses.  At least in NC, there are no halfway houses that take sex offenders.  They can’t get Section 8 housing either.  So they need help.  It is also hard for them to get jobs.  That is the goal.  I will keep you updated.  Today, I read in my book, “And Jesus Said” by William Barclay, about servant hood and helping people.  He talks about how we should help people.  He uses the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  He talks about how and why the rich man was sent to Hell.  It is simple.  The rich man knew Lazarus was there, but he didn’t do anything to help him.  That was his sin.  As Christians, I have preached this before, we need to not just have pity, but do something about it.  The author talks about how the littlest thing is all we need to do.  Flash someone a smile, listen to them, give them a drink, invite them for dinner, have lunch with a homeless person, send someone a card, pray with someone.  I could go on and on!  Be creative!

He talks about how it’s our responsibility to make others’ lives easier and happier.  The saying “do unto others as you would have them do to you” goes a long way.  Think about that.  Let’s look at the negative form of that law.   “Don’t do to others what you do not want them to do to you.”  I challenge you to think about these two phrases, meditate on them.  I know that I myself have a lot of work to do in this area as well.  We can’t have a life of love without God’s help.  Put your trust in him always.  I love you all!


Love Beyond… July 4, 2016

This morning, I was watching Good Morning America.  They had a lot of 4th of July segments.  The one segment that stuck with me was a commercial/video that was made with John Cena speaking in it. It was a 4th of July video about patriotism, but in the end “love” was the main character of this video.  What he said was short but powerful.

He said something along the lines of “The 4th of July, we celebrate Patriotism, but it is also a day we celebrate Love… love beyond race, age, disabilities, sexuality and religion.”  I might have left some things out, but you get the point.  In the background you saw a Hindu hugging a Muslim, Black hugging White, Christian hugging Muslim, so on and so forth.

I don’t know how many of you remember the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.  There was one called the “Melting Pot”.  It talked about the great American melting pot.  This country was founded by immigrants, we are a country of all races, cultures, religions and beliefs.  We have been for centuries.  However, over the past centuries we have fought against each other’s races, religions, and cultures.  We have harbored a lot of hatred. Love is better than hatred.

I just read the book, “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg.  He talks about our raggedness. He talks about how God loves our raggedness.  How he loves his “Rag Dolls”.  See, the author talks about how is sister was fond of and loved her rag doll, “Pandy.”  Pandy was a part of the family.  Eventually Pandy was unrecognizable and his sister didn’t want her anymore.  She traded her for a boyfriend.  Well, the Mom couldn’t throw her away, so she wrapped Pandy up in a box and kept her.  When his sister was married, she had her third child and it was a girl.  She took Pandy out of the box, got her fixed up and gave it to her daughter, who kept her and loved her for another 15 years.

See, we are like “Pandy”.  We are ragged.  We have faults.  We do bad things, we are lonely and the list goes on.  But God still loves us.  Let’s go beyond that…. Jesus came to love the raggedness, the most ragged, unrecognizable, unlovable people on the planet.  He loved them.  We are called to do the same.  I know I have written about it a lot, but “love” is so powerful.  In the world, there is a lot of hate and not enough love.  There are even Christians that are so hateful.  As Christians, we should be able to love beyond race, religion, sexuality, disabilities, age, and whatever else that comes to mind.

We should love beyond others raggedness.  Love Beyond Reasons.  Let’s try to look past their skin color, sexuality, religion, disabilities, diseases, faults and age.  Love others.

Love Beyond Reason…. Love Beyond…. Love

Piano Update and Other Stuff – June 4

Recently I wrote a blog about piano.  Well, I officially auditioned 2 weeks ago.  The chaplain wants me to learn 15 songs by the beginning of July.  Then I will start playing for church services.  That is very exciting!  I am really enjoying getting back into playing piano.  I really, really enjoy it.  Especially playing praise music.  It really helps me to draw closer to God.  I am also going to be the guest resident speaker at the next Kairos reunion on June 9th.

I will be speaking about Jesus’ healing miracles and his love and compassion.  When I get finished writing the message, I will send it to you all.  I am almost finished with it.

Over the past few months I have taken a great interest in Jesus’ life.  A lot of people focus on his death and resurrection but don’t pay much attention to the details of his whole life! It is amazing!  I will let you all know how it goes!

I love you all!