Bible

More Letters from Jail

Merry Christmas small gift

Project Hope is the brainchild of an adopted Romanian girl. She’s a grown up lady now, but she is still child-like in her faith.

About two years ago she took her pastor’s challenge to become unleashed in her walk with our Savior. “Get out there and get to it. Share the life-changing news about Jesus.” She thought, “Yes!”

So she did.

Every month she delivers gifts to our Kitsap County Juvenile Detention Center. As well, about three times a year she supplies our Kitsap County Jail with boxes of brand new study Bibles for the chaplain to give out. In December she delivers plain lunch bags filled with a few little treats for Christmas. And currently she is attempting to open the same kind of doors to our Women’s Correctional Facility.  Her thoughts are these: “I know others are doing bigger and more, but I think every now and then, from time to time, people just need to receive reminders…reminders that ‘a person’ or ‘a church’ is thinking of them, caring for them, praying over them.”

Every gift is accompanied with a small note…that little reminder that a person and a church cares. Recently we received some notes in return. Let me share just a few excerpts from a few of the letters…

From one: “My name is __________ __________ and I am currently incarcerated at the Kitsap County Jail. Today, during lunch, I, as well as the other inmates, received a small paper bag with some wonderful items inside. I agree with the card that it is a small effort because when out of jail these items are petty. But in here it is a huge treat, and for that I thank you. Inside this small, white paper bag I found hope. It proved to me that there is still so much good in the world…which lately has been dark and gray…”

From another: “Thank you. I have a box at home with what seems like worthless items. However they are priceless to me. Your greeting card will be in that box.”

And another: “…I’m writing this letter to thank you for the chips, hot cocoa, and Hershey Kisses…  In the info card it reads, ‘While it’s such a small effort, we want you to know we care and you are in our prayers.’ I say this on my behalf and I can and will tell you on behalf of others in here. Yes, it reads ‘a small effort’ but to us and the smiles and joy and the warm feelings it made us feel, it was huge. It was a big and kind gesture that West Sound Community Church did for the sinners that are locked up in Kitsap County Jail. This unexpected gesture of kindness helped me tremendously, and seeing other prisoners smile because of the beauty in such a kind and sweet moment. I’ll never forget the words that came from some of the other prisoners. Here’s what some said, here’s the things I heard and I write this so you all can know that the Lord’s work is mighty in small things or great things…: 1) ‘How cool for a church to send us a gift,’ 2) ‘Thank God that we were even able to receive it,’ 3) ‘God’s touching those in charge of the jail, cause I can’t believe that the gift from the church didn’t get rejected,’ 4) ‘God loves us,’ 5) ‘God’s great,’ 6) ’There’s good people out there, God bless them,’ and 7) ‘I wonder why someone at a church would waste their time and money on us?’ These are just a few of the things within ear shot of myself…to tell you (and I hope I can paint this picture) so that you all can visualize what I saw in Kitsap County Jail on December 9, 2015. In the pod unit I am in there are two tiers, the upper and lower tiers. Both tiers, upper and lower, have about 26 inmates and every inmate had a smile, a smile that stayed on them for a while. Words of joy came from these inmates. I can tell you from my experience, I’ve never seen every inmate in here smile all at the same time. But on December 9th, 2015, starting around 11am, I saw something remarkable in here. All in the same hour, all because the inmates at Kitsap County Jail received some things from people they don’t know and never met. I will never forget the smiles on my fellow inmates. I will never forget the words I heard come from prisoners…all because of a church.”

One of the quotes from this last letter really sticks out for me. An inmate was overheard asking, I wonder why someone at a church would waste their time and money on us? The answers are quite simple.

  • An orphaned child in Romania was adopted by a Mom and Dad in Minnesota. She received two precious gifts from them: the gift of new life with a new family and the gift of the gospel which led to an even better new life and new family from the Savior.
  • A young lady, with childlike faith in her Savior, delighted in the idea that she could be his partner in the giving of his gift. She knew a most profound truth, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
  • A church, the young lady’s church, accepted her challenge…”Will you help me?” The folks of her church also believe that “every now and then, from time to time, people just need to receive reminders…reminders that ‘a person’ or ‘a church’ is thinking of them, caring for them, praying over them.” They need to know God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit want them to have the greatest gift of all…eternal life. Sometimes a small effort leads to massive results.

 

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Bible

Another Thing That Makes Me Wanna Say “Hmm.”

HmmJust one of those things that makes me wanna say “Hmmm.” Why are so many national pundants saying things like “this or that is going to provoke ISIS?” Shouldn’t we be more concerned about their provocation? I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that somehow bullies even have the capacity to be provoked. They are already provoked by their dark hearts.

So, because the fight is afoot, I choose two weapons. The first is truth. Read the Koran. ISIS adherents do…and they believe it. It’s why they do what they do. However, the light of truth can dispel their misled allegiance to it. Which brings up the second, prayer for their salvation. Yes, there is indeed a physical battle to win if we are to save lives and freedom. There is also a spiritual battle to win if we are to see an end to ISIS and its cohorts. This battle is won by prayer as we partner with the Prince of Peace to spread abroad the light and love of God into their hearts. Earthly justice and heavenly mercy are partners in this struggle. Stay balanced my friends.

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Bible

Another Day

From my daughter…her insight seems to grow by the minute…

Jesus+Jessie


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.55.

That’s how old she would be today.

And yet today, she celebrates in eternity with no need for age.

No need for tears, but of joy.
No more pain.
No more toil.
No more grief.
No more sorrow.
No more sin….

Only perfect company.
Perfect love.
Perfect happiness.

Now, I know, that to many of us…even the mention of her name can bring tears to the eyes.

I can’t say the same for myself every time.

It’s not for a lack of missing her…
because I miss her every day as much as ever.

But, it’s more because I’ve learned to love the grief.
Missing her reminds me of how much I can still love her.

“How lucky I am to have something
that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
-Winnie the Pooh-

Grief is an unending story of learning to love what you can no longer see, touch, or hear.

Grief is an…

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Bible

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled…Lean Neither Left Nor Right

francis schaeffer

We must realize that the Reformation world view leads in the direction of government freedom. But the humanist world view with inevitable certainty leads in the direction of statism. This is so because humanists, having no god, must put something at the center, and it is inevitably society, government, or the state. ~ Francis Schaeffer

This is why the gospel and the left are not compatible. However, before you get too upset with me, allow me to share another quote from Francis…

One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary.

There is nothing so counter-cultural as the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

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Adversity

Coffee Beans and Adversity

Bitter or Better 2

I recently read a wonderful story. I stumbled upon it at the following web address: http://www.upmoments.com/she-tells-her-grandma-that-shes-just-been-cheated-on/.

You’re gonna like it. It’s sweet. It’s poignant. And it’s truthful…to a point. Well, stick around until the end, you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s the story:

“A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, ‘Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the granddaughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked the granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, grandmother?’

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

See what I mean? It’s a beautiful story…a parable illuminating truth…except for one thing…boil the beans again and again and again, and you no longer have the desired outcome. The analogy fails. Like the coffee beans, a person left to him or herself simply cannot be boiled over and over and over. Pretty soon there’s nothing left to produce the wonderful change described in the story…

unless…

unless the beans are very special…

unless the beans are miraculously renewed over and over and over again. Then the bean–and the person–can keep giving over and over and over again.

Then, in the face of adversity, we can make things better, not bitter. Whether coffee or life there must be something that’s new and fresh. With coffee the requirement is new beans. With us the requirement is new life. This is the miracle of regeneration. Its effects are spectacular.

Here, take a quick look…

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”        2 Corinthians 4:15-18

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