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

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Heavy Dirty Soul – Jan 30, 2016

The other night I was watching the Winter X-Games, live in Aspen, Colorado.  One of my favorite bands did a concert there and they showed one of their songs.  They performed the song called “Heavy Dirty Soul”.  The name of the band is 21 Pilots.  One of my favorite songs by them is “Holding Onto You” and has a very positive message.  They plan it on HIS Radio Z in Greenville, SC.  Well, the main line in “Heavy Dirty Soul” is “Can you save my heavy, dirty soul?”  I thought about this line, this question.  When I had a visit today, I was talking with my Mom, Mark, Sam and Colin (Mom, step-Dad, Sister and Sister’s Boyfriend).  I was telling them about some of the inmates.  A lot of them have done some terrible tings and have lived a life of crime.  For some odd reason, talking about them made me think of this question:

Can you save my Heavy Dirty Soul?”  A lot of people in this world are carrying a very heavy, very dirty soul.  Some have gotten used to carrying this soul and have lost all sight of right, good, peace, joy, and the list goes on.  Some of them have no hope.  They feel like they will always be like that.  Some people would read that question and bluntly say, “Not me, not my soul.  My soul could never be saved.”  I had a guy look at me in the eye and say to me, “God doesn’t love me!”  I said, “Yes, he does.”  And he laughed and said “No he doesn’t.”  With a smile, I said, “God still loves you.”   And he smiled and kept working.  There are people, a lot of people, that think they can never clean their soul and throw away all the nasty dirty junk.  I say to the question, “Can you save the Heavy Dirty Soul”? Yes, Yes, God can.  God wants everyone and he will help you do the dirty job of cleaning your heavy, dirty soul.  He will do it with a smile on his face, and love you when you reveal it all to him.

God loves you.  He loves those who carry that burden.  All you need to do is ask him to help.  No soul is too heavy or too dirty to be cleaned out.  Look at the man among the tombs.  He was gone.  He was the meanest, dirtiest, angriest man in the town.  He had to live in the tombs!  No one could go close to him.  But Jesus came, and the man let him help him.  No one believed it.  Jesus did what he knew how to do best.  He came to this Earth to love God and to show that love to man.  To love man.  God has a purpose for us.  That is also to love God and love man.

Help someone to clean out their Heavy Dirty Soul.

Love Never Fails – Jan 16, 2016

Recently I just finished reading The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker and it had a great impact on my spiritual life.  There were a couple of scenes in the three books that spoke to me.  I am going to try my best to explain one of the scenes for this blog and give my analysis of the scene.  First of all, let me give you a small summary of what the trilogy is about.  It is about this young man named Thomas who dreams about this other reality.  He is from Denver, but when he falls asleep, he dreams of this other reality which resembles Heaven and Hell.

In the first book, he wakes up in Hell and gets to Heaven.  But then the firstborn falls to deception and ruins Heaven and it is taken over by Hell.  So the survivors make a trek across the desert and find a forest.  Thomas and his wife are the leaders of the Forest dwellers.  They are constantly being attacked by the Horde, the desert dwellers.  The Horde are also known as the Scabs.  They have a terrible skin disease, their minds are evil and corrupt.  In order to be cured of the disease, they have to bathe in Elyan’s (God’s) water.  The Forest dwellers hate the Scabs and vice versa.  Then in the second book, the Desert dwellers beat and kill Justin, drown him in God’s water and shed his blood.  But even the Forest dwellers betrayed Justin, who was Elyan in man form.

So now that the people betrayed Justin (God), they were cursed with the disease.  The only way they can get rid of it is by drowning in the lake of blood.  Then they had a new life in God.  This was a beautiful scene, which I will break apart in another blog.  So onto one of my favorite moments in the trilogy: Thomas, the Mighty Warrior of the Forest dwellers, was captured by the Horde (Scabs).  He worked out a deal with a Scab King Quorang to be a slave and help them read the Books of Histories.  He was teaching Quorang’s daughter, Chelise.  She was ugly.  Her skin and smell were wretched.  She was filled with evil and shame.  She refused to worship Elyan or die to become one of his.

Before Justin was beaten and drowned, he was seeking peace between the Horde and Forest dwellers. Justin wanted them to live together in harmony.  As Thomas was helping Chelise, he started to have feelings for her. The same for her too.  Thomas escapes, but decides to go back for Chelise and rescue her from her future husband.  Everyone in the circle did not agree because Scabs don’t live with Elyan’s people.  However, Elyan came to Thomas and said that she was his bride too.  I am trying to make a long scene short.  So he rescues Chelise and brings her to his people.  They don’t really accept her at first, but they realize Thomas loves her, so they accept it.  Chelise doesn’t believe Thomas’s love is true.  So to prove it, he kisses her, but Thomas doesn’t see her as a an ugly Scab.  He sees her as Elyan sees her, as a beautiful woman.  Thomas accepts her for who she is, how she looks and how she smells and even if she didn’t drown and die for Elyan, he still loves her.  He doesn’t push her to drown.  He never mentions it.  He loves her and so do the circle.  He knows that Elyan adores her and loves her just the way she is.

I am not going to tell you how it ends, just in case you want to read the trilogy.  This scene stuck with me and made me think of how we treat people.  We look at someone who is different or believes something different or is from a different faith / religion and we put them in an “other” category.  We fear them, we stay away from them. We neglect them, almost like they have a disease.  For all different reasons, such as race, sexual orientation, mental disorders, poor, rich, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Rasta, Wiccan, fat, ugly, smelly, mean, unlovely and the list goes on.  We shy away from people out of fear or because they aren’t like us.  That is the complete opposite of what God wants us to do.  God loves them.  He uses us to show his love to ALL people.  I challenge you to love the unlovely.  Don’t pound their skull with the bible.   Just show them love.  Care about them.  Allow someone else space in your heart.  You would be surprised how a little love goes a long way.  I forgot to mention one thing about that scene.  He never expected her to love him back, and he was fine with that.  Be fine loving people even if they don’t love you back.  That is the beauty of it all.  God loves, but most of the time, we don’t love him back.  But he keeps loving us anyway.  There are 4 books I recommend you read:  “Black”, “Red”, and “White”, the Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker; “Tattoos on the heart” by Gregory Boyle.

I leave you with these bible verses.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  — 1 John 4:7-8

Windows – Jan 28, 2015

I was sitting here writing, and I looked up and saw a sunset.  Beautiful Sunset!  It is a nice, clear evening and outside my window, I see the mountains and the sun setting.  Now I bring this up because I realized how lucky I am to have two windows.

When I was in Central Prison, there was no window in my cell.  In my first room at Marion, I had two windows, but I was on the third floor.  That means the windows don’t get cleaned, and you can’t see out of them.  In my current room, I am on the first floor.  Apparently, the windows get cleaned on the first floor.  I can see clearly out of them.  It is great to be able to see outside.  I know this may seem small, but it is a privilege in here.

I know this is a short blog.  Let me remind you of something.  Be thankful for what you have.  No matter what you have, how little you have, be thankful.

God is good.  All the time.

Jason Update – Jan 28, 2015

This past Sunday, we had church and before church, we have a short choir practice. Jason and I are choir partners.  Jason came to practice with something on his mind.  I said, “How are you doing?”  He told me he wasn’t doing well.  I ask him what was going on.  He didn’t want to tell me, and honestly, I understand.  It is hard to trust people in prison.  There are a whole bunch of men in here that did stupid things.  A lot of them deny it, lie about it, and a lot aren’t trustworthy people.  They are the worst at spreading your baggage around.  Now I know that I wouldn’t do that to anyone in here or outside.  If someone wants to share something deep, it will stay between the two of us.  However, Jason doesn’t know me well enough to know that I won’t reveal him and his problems.  I didn’t bug him to tell me.

So I did what I know best… try and cheer him up!  A lot of the encouraging parts of my personality, I give credit to my grandfather, or “Pops”, like I call him.  He can cheer anyone up.  And what I did on Sunday in choir reminded me of something Pops would have done.  One time, during choir, Pops and I were singing a hymn and he wasn’t looking at a hymnal.  He forgot the words and started singing “watermelon” over and over again.  I lost it.  After the hymn was over, Pops told me that if I ever forget the words, to just sing “watermelon.”  I took his advice a couple of times over the years.  Never got caught! Ha!

Well, my story about Jason isn’t as funny, but what I did was bold.  We were singing a song called “Trading my Sorrows”.  The lyrics go something like this (but not exactly): “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my shame.  I’m trading my pain for the Joy of the Lord.”  All of a sudden, I went all “Kirk Franklin” in the middle of the song.  Kirk Franklin is a famous gospel artist.  He is a singing preacher!  After each line, I turned to Jason and shouted an echo line.  “I’m trading my sorrows.”  “Come on, Jason, trade your sorrows!”  “Come on trade your shame” “Come on trade your pain” then I repeated “for the Joy of the Lord

I kept doing it through the whole song.  He was laughing and smiling.  It was like no one else heard me, and I am pretty loud.  After the song, he said, “You know how to cheer me up.”  I realized that my gift is to encourage people.  We had a conversation.  I told him that it was a new day, and whatever it was, hand it over to God.  He seemed more positive.  What is your spiritual gift?

Read Romans 12: 1-8

The “Real” Christian – Jan 12, 2015

This last Sunday I went to church and sang with the choir for the first time.  What an awesome feeling it was to be part of a group of guys that loved to praise God through singing.  The first part of the service went well and then it was tie for the message by Rev. McDaniel.  His topic was about being a “real” Christian.  I am writing about it, because I thought it was worth sharing.

He talked about how so many Christians put on a show.  They go to church every Sunday, they go to Sunday School, they tithe, they carry their Bible around, they serve at church and so on.  Then they go home, they put the Bible down until next Sunday.  Or they go to work and talk trash about other people.  Or they cuss up a storm.  The list goes on.  Then people as them if they are a Christian.  They say “Yes” and they laugh.  This is why so many Christians are called hypocrites.  We go through the motions of being a Christian.  This is really a problem in prison.  Inmates are the worst at this.  They attend church, go to Bible studies and choir, but when they go back to the block, they are different.  They are cussing, arguing, judging others, gambling and the list goes on.

Other inmates see them come back and are like “Aren’t you a Christian?”  and it turns people away.  I came back to my room and the first thing I did was open this devotional book to the first devotion.  The title of the devotion was “Whose Am I?” At the beginning, it quoted John 14:7 “Jesus said, ‘If you really know me, you will know my father as well.’”  I continued to read and it talked about a 4 year old son and his father.  They were building a playhouse and the son imitated everything his father did.  Then the author says, “As I think of the way this son imitates his father, I wonder if my actions, habits, and preferences reflect my heavenly father.”

I also received a letter from my Mom today.  She said “Live a life glorifying God.”  It sounds easy, but it isn’t easy.  If you do live a life glorifying God and imitating Him, you will indeed have peace, joy and complete salvation.

I leave you with some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do my words and actions show the influence of the Holy Spirit in my life?
  • Does my life reflect the teachings of Jesus?
  • Am I faithful, patient, and loving – not just on a good day, but every day? And finally
  • Can you reflect your father to the people around you?

Read Galations 5: 22-25

First Fight of 2015 – Jan 20, 2015

Last night they called a “Code 4” at about 9:45 p.m.  “Code 4” means there is a fight.  They lock down everyone in the prison so they can send as many officers as they can to the block where it is happening.  We were locked down for the rest of the night.  An officer came into our block and an inmate asked what happened.  The officer told him that 14 men jumped one guy.  That is the only information we got.

When we woke up the next morning, we got called to chow late and some blocks and units were still locked down.  I went to chow and word got around about this fight.  Apparently one of the officers in F Unit took something from an inmate and an argument started between the officer and inmate.  The inmate was in a gang and his 13 other gang members in the block joined him in beating the living daylights out of him.  All morning all of F Unit is locked down and probably for a couple of days.  All education activities are cancelled, and there is no Yard as of now.  Since they think it was gang related, the prison is taking safety precautions.  This is the story I heard, and I don’t know if it is 100% true, but most of it is true.  I am in H Unit, the most laid back unit.  I am blessed.

God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.

Love,
Eddie