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.


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!


April 11th, 2015

I was thinking today that it has been quite a while since I have written about what is going on here in prison.

A lot of stuff has happened in the last couple weeks.  I was asked to lead a praise song on Easter.  The song was “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.  I found out 2 weeks prior to Easter.  The first thing I did when I found out was pray.  I prayed that God would use me and my voice to relay his message to the congregation.  I also asked if he would calm my nerves and fill me with the Holy Spirit.  I wanted this song to be spiritual, about him and not about me.

I prayed many times before the 1st practice and the 2nd practice.  Then on Easter Sunday I led the song.  During the intro, I prayed my singing would be pleasing to God and for him.  After I finished, there were quite a few grown inmates crying.  It was a very spiritual moment for everyone.  My prayers were answered and the message for the song reached the very core of their hearts.  Throughout the week, inmates were commenting on how the song touched them and they enjoyed listening to me sing.  I am glad that people were blessed!  God was present that day!

Then the next day at 4 a.m. we were woken up to a “shakedown.”  A shakedown is when a whole team of people come in and search your cells.  A deep search!  They strip search you, handcuff you and make you sit down looking into your room while they tear your room apart.  They told me I had too many books and my OPVS # wasn’t etched into my radio.  I explained to them that I bought it at Central Prison and they didn’t put my number on it.  They decided not to confiscate it.  Thank Goodness!  No one in our block got a write up!

From what I hear, this wasn’t a real shakedown. During a real one, they take all your stuff out of your room and throw it in a pile on your mattress outside in the dayroom.  I heard that someone got a hold of a cell phone.  That is why they had a shake down.  Who knows if that is true!  Then that night I was asked to sing and lead another song for April 12th.  The Chaplain is coming to me more to help lead songs and teach harmony parts.  God gave me the gift of singing, and He wants me to spread His messages through singing!  I am so excited!  Then I talked to my Mom on Wednesday and got an update on Mark’s hand.  I found out the week before that he messed up his hand working on the lawn mower.  During surgery he coded, flat lined.  Please pray for him.  Pray that his hand will heal properly and quickly.

I also got a bunch of letters and cards and that was awesome.  I even got a funny comic from my cousin Allyson.  Maybe my Mom can put it on the blog.  I don’t know if she can.  I am sending it with this blog post!  I couldn’t stop laughing!  comic (1)I finished the book “Hinds Feet on High Places” by Hanna Hurnard.  I recommend reading it.  It is an amazing interpretation of the author’s journey to be close to Jesus.  Awesome!

Update on my exercise program.  I have been doing well and have lost 8 pounds in 2 weeks.  I feel better, and I am finding it harder and harder to eat sweets and junk.  It is easy for me to not eat them.  Yay!  I faced the inner temptation and asked God to take it away.  I am still not 100% there yet, but I will be.  Working at the Sewing Plant is good.  I put belt loops and reinforced the fly, 2 front pockets and back pocket on 1,536 pairs of pants this week.  Haha.  I just laughed, because I realized that, that is a lot of pants!  Oh yea, one more thing . . . . . wait for it.  I shaved my head completely bald!  I love it except I have a red head from being outside for 3 hours today!  Haha.

I love you all!

Exercise Program – March 28th

Last night at Bible Study I was talking to Jason about losing weight.  Another one of my brothers gave me a 10 minute exercise program out of Men’s Health that I can do in my cell.  Well… another brother turned around and offered to help me get on an exercise and diet program.  I was stubborn and said I have lost weight before.  I know how to do it.

Well, the Chaplain had a message I needed to hear about choices and perceptions.  I have heard this message before, but I am no different than anyone else. I am human and sometimes I need a reminder.  After the study, I went up to that brother and said, “I would like to give it a try.  I apologized for being slightly defensive and not listening.  Come to find out that he was 315 pounds when he came to prison and now he is skinny and buff at 215 pounds.  He is tall, probably 6’ 3”.

We talked for about 45 minutes. I am to write everything down that I eat for the next 7 days.  Then I have to give him a budget of what I can spend in the canteen.  He told me less bread, sweets, junk and more protein.  My Mom has been preaching this to me for the last 2 months.  He knows what I can get in the Canteen that will help.  Then he is going to put me on an exercise plant that will burn fat and build muscle.

Well, today it was 31° outside, and I went outside to start my exercise.  My buddy walked with me around a huge track, about 1/3 of a mile.  Then we jumped into a 2 on 2 basketball game with two other of my Brothers in Christ.  If the other team scored, you had to do 10 push-ups or 10 squats.  Come to find out I am a beast at defense in basketball.  I figured that if I didn’t let them score I didn’t have to do push-ups.  My strategy worked.  I still ended up doing about 50 push-ups and 10 squats.  It was an excellent 45 minute work-out.  What was even more great, was my Brothers’ encouragement.  I am not in the best f shape but they kept encouraging me, saying “You can do it, Ed”, “Good job,” “Keep going” and even “I’m proud of you.”  Instead of tearing me down for being overweight, they lifted me up and encouraged me.

Even the inmates on the sidelines.  My perception was that people would make fun of me… not the case.  Now I feel encouraged and very very sore!  Haha.  I will keep you all updated on my progress.