Hope For Life

This article appears in the New Beginnings newsletter, an Independent Prison Outreach Ministry, Summer 2017 Edition.

I have a good friend, ____, who some years ago served ____ years of a ____-year sentence for (a deadly serious crime). I’ve heard his testimony several times. He credits his time inside and the healing work of Jesus Christ for making him the man he has become: liberated from prison, college graduate, married, a father and grandfather, a man of God, full of faith and hope, giving back and paying forward in many ways (including visiting those inside), sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ; that all may be saved and set free. He was saved by Christ right in his cell and was immediately released (spiritually).

Released spiritually.

I have not been confined against my will, except for a few hours for a DUI in 1996 and a week-long stay at a behavioral health center following a suicide attempt, so I can’t relate literally to my friend’s experiences. But, like him, I am a lifer spiritually. The ironic thing is, today I’m “held” by my will, not against it.

You see, Christ found me on that same day I attempted to escape life, July 25, 2008. Before that day, I was in a prison of my own making, with bars of guilt and secrets, surrounded by a wall of shame, convicted in my heart and head of the things I know I did.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8 NIV

One thing my friend and I both have learned is that freedom and restoration are possible. These things are not at all circumstantial. You can be free no matter where you are. And all it takes is accepting a gift, receiving a new life. That gift is the one man who voluntarily accepted every sentence, punishment, and penalty, once and for all. He is Son of Man, Son of God.

Why would anyone, let alone a Son of God, do such a thing for the likes of us? One reason is that God is perfect, completely just and completely merciful. The only way He could fulfill his own verdict on sin and still hold each one of His creations dear is to pour out His wrath on Jesus.

But there’s another reason. He offers us this gift of being born again because he has an important task – a sacred mission – for every one of us, and He fully understands how we have been detoured and side-tracked and even kept ignorant of our purpose.

Now, my friend and I have something very much in common. We’ve been sentenced to life; a life of hope. Now that we know even a little about God and Christ, we will never be free from Him and the hope that he gives. And this is a very, very great feeling.

Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;
Even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Zechariah 9:12 NIV

What do I hope for? Something, anything, everything better, even though I may not receive it until I finally meet my Maker face to face.

How does it work? I describe it being given a new attitude, a tiny piece of awareness that caused a complete reversal in the way I looked at myself and this world. This is miraculous because my outlook hadn’t been something I seemed to have much control over – especially about myself. Deep down, I did not love, or even like myself, and that made me miserable and angry.

If I had to choose a single word to explain what changed in me, it is acceptance. Acceptance of several things:

  • acceptance that there is a God with a plan for everything, and incredible, unbelievable love for me, even at my worst, because He created me
  • acceptance of reality – of my current place in this world, my circumstances (and that my own decisions had led to the mess I was in)
  • acceptance that there are many, many things I have no control over – specifically other people, and that actually, the only thing I can control is myself – my own thinking and reactions
  • acceptance  (and this is huge)  that God has something for me to do with this life

I can see that this is God’s story, and that mine is just one small chapter. This does not mean that my part in the story is small; it’s unique and vital in some way to the biggest picture. I may never know exactly how.

There is someone who is a great example of this faith, Nick Vujicic. You may have heard of him. You can google him. He was born with no arms and no legs. Think about that. He can’t do even the simplest of tasks by himself. But he can control what he thinks and how he would react to his circumstances. Today, he is very much alive and living, a successful (meaning $$$$$$) motivational speaker, a husband and father, and famous. And he is a Christ-follower with hope for life.

#general, #journal, #life

Must we confess all our…

Must we confess all our sins to be forgiven?

I mean, come on now, what about the sins we can’t remember? What about something we do that we don’t consider a sin but it really is?
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post.
How about leaving a like or a comment today.
You’d make my day.
God bless.
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#determination, #jesus, #life, #tenacity


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#determination, #life, #motivation

The Next Level

When we were kids most of us would be focused on making to the next level of our favorite game. You would keep trying your hardest and planning how you could do it. Even if it was just a game the dedication was impressive. Then a funny thing happens you grow up and face real challenges you are easy to say that it can’t be done. Where does that desire to reach that next level go?

You may not think of your real life goals as having levels but the truth is there is many. Each level comes with many challenges and you have to find a way to Catapult yourself to the next level. At first its easy at level 1 when you just start your journey. It’s easy because it’s all so new and you feel like you are doing something positive with yourself. You start to find success jumping level to level and you think this is going to be a lot easier than you thought.

You reach the middle levels and you run into a brick wall and you are stuck. You are not sure how to handle it because this is the first challenge you have faced on your journey. It takes you so long to get past this hurdle that it throws your whole timeline off. For this reason you start to question your path and realize the path is much harder than you expected. This is the main difference between present day you and your younger self. Your younger self would try again until they got to the next level even if they had to try all night. When you get older the fear of failure gets in your head because after all life isn’t a game and there are real consequences. The concept is similar because the only way you get to the next level in real life is repeated effort. If you get knocked down you need to get back up and come back smarter and stronger.

If you can get past those initial challenges you will have supreme confidence for all your future challenges. Just because you get past one challenge doesn’t mean there aren’t many others waiting for you. After we get past a huge hurdle we often think the worst part is over but truth is there will be other challenges. These early challenges just get us ready for the long road ahead.

Success isn’t simple and success takes many factors. The biggest factor is failure as funny as that sounds. Think about it how do you know what success feels like if you don’t know what failure feels like. The feeling of failure is necessary to truly feel the power of success. As for the other factors they have always been inside you since you were that little kid determined to get past that level. Desire, passion, and a never quit attitude aren’t skills you get as you get older. You are born with these great qualities but at times you can let fear take over. When fear takes over we can forget who really are.

If you think that next hurdle is just a little to tall and reaching that next level just doesn’t seem possible. Try to get in touch with your younger self and ask them what they think is possible. When you were younger you believed everything is possible. Just think about what you wanted to be when you got older. Likely you wanted to be a doctor, musician, actor, or other job that you totally dismiss when you got older. You dismiss it because the world tells you that it’s not realistic. Get in touch with your younger self and regain that feeling of anything is possible. If you do that you will find that next level isn’t as far as you think. If you look up you can see it right and front of you all you have to do is close your eyes and believe. Before you know it you reached the next level and you will be able to tell your younger self that anything is possible. You shut out the idea of impossible and finally reached the next level.


#inspiration, #life


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#christianity, #humanity, #life, #moses


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