Monday, February 29, 2016

I Stand All Amazed

Yesterday I had opportunities to offer pastoral counseling to two inmates.  The Spirit was there, and I was able to do it without going outside my scope of work.  These moments pop up frequently.

I realize - know (as in a recent ah-ha moment for me) that I am a pastor of the Lord (with a little p) and the prison I work in is part of my parish.  So grateful.

This song below, I Stand All Amazed...

I sang it as a kid in the LDS church and it meant a lot to me back then.  When I recently researched it, I found the author was a Presbyterian man who later converted to Methodism.  By the end of his life Charles Gabriel wrote thousands of hymns and published numerous hymnals for mostly protestant denominations. Hope you enjoy it.  If you want to hear it live click here for The Lower Lights version on YouTube - one of my favorite bands.

I Stand All Amazed

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.


Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Text and music: Charles H. Gabriel, 1856-1932
Aka. Charlotte G. Homer, H. A. Henry, and S. B. Jackson
Song (1898/1905)

Florida Department of Corrections: Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time. - and yes, I do buy into this.  I experience it daily.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Call to Action (a note on depression)

Psalm 91: 1-2 (NIV)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

An interpretation of this verse:

Call to Action.
I feel so ashamed of the man I've become,
It's time to start living in the light of the Son!
His fortress!  It shadows all those who come home,
So all who are in Him, that they may be one.

A light in the darkness to those who come near,
Bringing them out from the darkness and depths of despair.

I hope readers don't come away with the feeling that I'm going to do something to harm myself.
I'm okay - really.  If you read this poem again, and the rest of my work (I hope) you'll find peace and redemption at the end of the initial stress lines of the verse.

God is my fortress and without the love of His Spirit embracing me, I may have not come out of those dark places I've experienced.  Sometimes depression can rear its ugly head.

The shame I mention above has to do with second-thought thinking of decisions I made earlier in life that were sometimes unhealthy or selfish, such as:   What if I had been a better example to my children?  What if I would have gotten a Master's degree at age 28 instead of trying in my 50's? What if I would have spent more time with my parents before they died?  What if I would have answered the call to ministry earlier in life?  What if? What if?

These thoughts come to me sometimes late at night and I give them to the Lord right then.  In this poem, line one came as I was dozing off so I wrote it down and went to sleep.  The hope came the next morning during my dawn devotional reading of Psalm 91.  This whole experience was kind of like a dance between me and God.  I reached out, He reached back.

Depression is a major world illness, but does not have to be left silent and secret.  If you suffer from it, seek help and come home to to your Father who will give you peace. Close friends can help too.

gk, Feb. 22, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tithing When You Have No Money - A Prison Inmate's Perspective

I've always felt prison inmates should have an opportunity to pay a tithe like other Christians. In some state correctional departments it's legal and offered to the incarcerated.  In Christianity it is a religious right (and rite) and sacrament whom some people hold sacred and a privilege.

In prison all inmates have the opportunity to attend chapel meetings of their religious choice.  They can receive kosher meals if required and afternoon prayer time if that is their tradition.  So what about giving back financially, tithing?  Here is what one of my inmates wrote.  He is serving 4 plus years for fraud related crimes.

I solicited this story from him in an effort to challenge him to stay academically motivated and to express his thoughts on paper for therapeutic and historical purposes. He gave me permission to publish it, using his own words.*

In Malachi 3:10 we are told by God to bring our tithes into the store house. He also tells us to test Him with tithing. Poppa God tells us that if we do so He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there will not be enough room to receive it. In verse 11 Poppa God goes on to say that He will rebuke the devourer for our sake and that the devourer (the devil) shall not destroy the fruits of our ground and neither shall our vines fail to bear fruit for us in the field. Also in verse 12 He tells us that we shall be called blessed by all nations and that we shall be a delightsome land.

Before we go any further let me make mention of what a tithe is. A tithe is 10% of one’s income. Also known as 10% of one’s increase. It’s giving to God 10% of what we make off the top. When we tithe we allow God to manifest Malachi 3:7-12 in our lives.

One day when I was spending time with the Lord He revealed to me a great revelation about tithing. He shared this revelation with me because I told Him that I did not have any money to tithe with. He told me to tithe 10% of my time. I was like huh? Do what?

The Holy Spirit reminded me that there are 24 hours in one day and 60 minutes in one hour. He helped me understand that 24 hours x’s 60 minutes = 1,440 minutes. He helped me see that 10% of 1,440 minutes = 144 minutes. He also broke down to me the fact that 144 minutes is also considered 2 hours and 24 minutes. Then there was the climax!

I realized that 2 hours and 24 minutes is 10% of one day. God was telling me to tithe 10% of my day to Him. I was amazed at this. Some people may say this is petty. To me it is profound.

I say this because Poppa God says to test Him with tithing. But what kind of blessing could be so BIG, so abundant to the point that there will not be enough room to receive it. I mean after all, I’m tithing time not finances so what’s to expect? What kind of blessing could I possibly be blessed with by tithing 10% of my time? This is what He shared with me.

He let me know that he would bless my spirit, soul and body. The Holy Spirit reminded me of how my soul is divided into three distinct elements. He reminded me of how my soul is also known as my mind, my emotions and my will. He even reminded me of how I can refer to my soul as my thoughts, feelings and actions. My actions are an outward manifestation of what I may think or speak.

The Holy Spirit let me know that if I tithe 10% of my time to God each day, that I would receive a blessing that consists of spiritual healing. He informed me that my soul would be healed. Even my body. He revealed to me that all the barriers, all the obstacles and all the walls in my life that are keeping me from responding with compassion out of love towards others, especially those who are bitter towards me would be torn down, destroyed and removed completely. He let me know that He would help me be more like Jesus.

The revelation I received also included restoration for my family. It was laid on my heart to know and understand that Poppa God would rebuke the devourer for our sakes. It was made clear to me that the devourer (the devil) would not destroy the fruits of our ground. God was talking to me and telling me that He would protect us. He let me know that we would not fail to produce fruit and that all nations would call us blessed and that we should be a delightsome land.

This revelation of blessing came to me because I inquired of The Lord about tithing. I brought to His attention that I was not able to tithe financially, so He told me to tithe 10% of my time. If you are like me, and are not able to tithe financially, consider tithing 10% of your time to God. You can do this by studying His Word, fasting and praying, and by service to others. Test Him in this area of your life and you will see that He will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon you.

Malachi 3:7-12
Test Him!

By: An inmate
February 4, 2016

* Disclaimer - this article was not vetted by, approved or endorsed by the Florida Department of Corrections.  The inmate's name who wrote this is held confidential.  There is not, nor will there be any financial gain or benefit from it's publication on this site by myself or the inmate.  This is strictly for educational, religious and spiritual purposes.