VOLUME AUGUST 2004
August 2, 2004
VISIT FROM AFRICA
As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far
Proverbs 23: 25
The God I worship and serve is able to do wonderful things.
Today, for example, I was blessed by a visit from a man I have been corresponding with for approximately ten years. He is
Pastor Emmanuel Tannor from Ghana, West Africa.
For a decade Pastor Tanner and I have been exchanging letters,
writing to encourage each other to always seek a closer walk with God. His congregation and his family have been praying for
Finally, after much waiting, a door of opportunity had opened
for him to come to the United States to attend a Bible training center in upstate New Y ork.
He hopes to stay in America for a year, and then return home.
Presently Pastor Tannor has been staying with a family who've
opened their home to him. Then, in a few days, he will leave for the training center.
Yet it was a joy to see him and to meet a man who is so full
of the Holy Spirit.
Brother Tannor was bursting with the glory of the Lord. It
was a wonderful pleasure to spend several hours with someone who loves Jesus, and who has a burden to win the lost.
God gave him many words to encourage me, and I received them
gladly. Thus when I left the visiting room I was refreshed, and it felt as if I was being re-energized. Today my thirsty soul
As a gift and as a token of our long friendship, he presented
me with a special "shawl of gratitued" from his family, his church, and his tribe.
Pastor Tannor lives in the little village of Wenchi. He travels
around his region of Ghana going from village to village on a bicycle. It's his only means of transportation other than his
The United States is a new world for him, and he said that
he's shocked to see so much "worldliness" in America's churches.
In Ghana the people worship the Lord with more fervor and serve
God with more dedication. I agree.
Our churches are lukewarm compared to the level of spirituality
that exists among Christians in Third World contries.
August 9, 2004
This past week I had to make a major decision, and I had to
be very careful to seek the Lord's counsel on the matter. I did, and He told me to make a change.
Thus as of today, I have left my job at the Intermediate Care
Program (ICP) in the afternoons.
It's a big change for me as I have been going into this special
unit for many years to help and encourage the inmates who have various mental and emotional problems.
With my present workload, however, along with my many responsibilities
as an "elder" in the church, and all the writing I do, it's been to much for me. I was burning out. For many weeks I have
been walking around in a state of semi-exhaustion. And the Lord had been trying to get my attention for a long time.
So after much prayer, I believe God had directed me to leave
my job at the Mental Health cell block and to become a "porter" during the afternoons in my own cell block.
So beginning today, this change takes effect. In the mornings
I will continue to do my work as a "mobility guide" to help the blind and visually impaired. Then in the afternoons I will
be cleaning the building I live in.
My janitorial work will allow me more time to pray and to study
my Bible. But the good part is that I will still be able to go into the ICP unit on some mornings because "Phil" who is blind,
lives in this unit. Thus I will have the opportunity to minister to these men without having to spend as many hours in the
ICP as I once did.
August 10, 2004
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall
ye not know it? I wll even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
Our church is experiencing many cnages now. The Lord seems
to be getting ready to move us to a new level, and I'm not even sure what His will entail or what it will be.
But I do know that God has been exposing sin in our congregation.
The Holy Spirit has ben strongly impressing upon our hearts the need to turn away from sin, to confess it, and to bring it
to God's thone of grace for cleansing and forgiveness.
Unless these things are done and unless we stop truying to
hid our sins from the Lord, I told the men, there cannot be the revival and the "move of the Spirit" that we've been yearning
Instead there will be confusion, disappointment, lukewarmness,
and continued backsliding. The Lord will not use unclean vessels, I reminded them, but only those who have fully surrendered
to His cleansing. And I definately included myself in all this. For I need God's forgiveness, too.
Yes, change is indeed coming for us. For there is a stirring
in the hearts of these men. And we are living in expectation and in faith that God is getting ready to do something special
in this little church that's here behind prison walls.
August 11, 2004
The Lord hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should
know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
During the past several weeks I have been counseling and praying
with many men. There appears to be an increasing openness for some of the inmates to want to know more about Jesus Christ,
or to seek guidance for ther problems.
In my congregation some serious and potentially troublesomne
situations and issues have had to be dealt with recently. And there are a few things we're still working on as we seek to
grow as "one body in Christ".
At times it has been difficult, yet it has also been very challenging.
I am learning a lot.
Problems are getting resolved and disputes are slowly being
settled. Men have been seeking reconciliation with each other. They have been accepting correction. And they are being encouraged
to get closer to God.
Many of the members of my fellowship have said that the Lord
seems to be fine tuning each of us for better communication with Him. That He is teaching us to be "still" in his presence
and better able to hear His voice.
I have also been seeing an increasing victory over the powers
of evil that seek to rule men's hearts, and which seek to destroy our church community.
Within the past several months my church has been experiencing
change. Even men who've been away from the fellowship for awhile have begun to return to their faith. And this is very encouraging.
August 21, 2004
Even though I am no longer working as an aide in the prison's
"Intermediate Care Program" (ICP) Unit) in the afternoons, I am still able to go into this specoial unit during most mornings,
as I have to assist Phil, the man who is blind. I mentioned him in my journal entry for July 24, 2004.
On Saturdays, usually around 9 o'clock in the morning, I go
into the ICP Unit to help Phil clean his cell. Now, though another inmate, who happens to live in the ICP UNit, is also helping
me with this.
But when I am done helping Phil there is time for me to walk
around the tiers to talk to the men while they remain in their cells. At 10 o'clock the cells open, as they do every Saturday,
for the inmates to go the recreation yards, or to stay in the dayrooms to watch television. Or a man could choose to stay
inside his cell.
Phil, however, loves to go to the big recreation yard to sit
in the sun and smoke his cigarettes.
Nevertheless, before it was time for our recreation period
to begin, I was able to spend about thirty minutes talking with a young black man who was once in a gang. He's been very open
to the Bible and with talking about Jesus Christ.
He told me about his experiences in a gang called the "God
Their philosophy, he said, is that the men are kings and the
women are queens. their children are the "little seeds" that must populate the earth in order to increase this gang's membership.
Now he is doing an eighteen year sentence for the crimes of robbery and assault.
August 22, 2004
A SEASON OF REPENTANCE
Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while
He is near.
This has been a gorgeous and sunny day. All traces of yesterday's
dark skies and heavy rains are gone. During most evenings, however, it has been unseasonably cool. Even now I can see about
a dozen or so trees among the hundreds which surround this prison that have begun to turn golden yellow or orange. Perhaps
this is a sign of a very cold winter ahead?
We had a good church service this morning followed by a challengng
Bible study by 'Brother Alan." In his class we examined many Old Testament Scriptures that deal with sin and repentance.
During this time of the year Orthodox Jews read and ponder
these very same passages from both the major and minor prophets. For the Jews this is the month of Elul where hearts are being
prepared for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).
The Jews believe that now is the time to make things right
between both our neighbors and God. For Rosh Hashanah not only represents a new year and a new begnning, but also a time of
judgment when God, according to their beliefs, opens His books, including the Book of Life, to determine who will be blessed
in the coming year, and who shall continue to remain in the land of the living.
Rosh Hashanah, as I have written in many previous journal entries,
is a very sacred and extremely significant time. For this day, as well as the "High Holy Days" of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)
and Succoth (the Feast of Tabernacles), which are always celebrated in the fall, are going to play a big part in God's prophetic
plan for the ages that is yet to unfold.
To me, in my own personal journey with my Creator, now is the
season to seek the Lord while He may be found. It is time to call upon the Lord while He is near.
If there is any "wicked way" in me, then I want to forsake
it now, turn from it, and be free from its power to enslave me. I desire to be clean and for my soul to be pure.
August 23, 2004
And Jesus said, the things which are impossible with men are
possible with God.
We have the complete victory in Jesus Christ if we want it.
When we're fully surrendered to the Lord, then all things are possible. Most Christians, however, see little of the power
and awsomeness of God because they have given Him little of themselves. They're holding back.
These Christians still love much of what the world has to offer.
They have yet to make Jesus the Lord of thier lives. And so they experience, I believe, only a small portion of what Christ
has to give to His church.
But Jesus has not rejected these brethren. He loves them, and
He's longing for them to come closer. Yet until they do, their Christian life will be lukewarm at best. They will continue
to miss much of the spendor, joy and magnificence of God. And in eternity their rewards will be less. How sad!
Since we only go through life once, then I want to give Jesus
everything, including all of myself. Of course I still fall short with this, and I do have a long way to go in my own spiritual
life. Yet He is worthy of my all.
August 28, 2004
STOPPING TEEN VIOLENCE
A question was posed to me by a man who has a nationwide outreach
ministry to teenagers. He asked "How can we stop teen violnce?" I will share some of my response to him with the hope that
others will get some insights. I am not an expert. I'm only sharing my own thoughts on this important topic:
What is violence but an outward display of pent-up anger, frustration
and rage. According to the Bible, no one will be able to stop all the violence that occurs. Things like crime and various
violent acts will continue to take place in the world until Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom and rule the world
with justice, equity and fairmess and in perfect peace.
However, much violence can be curtailed when we learn to love,
forgive and reach out to other people with compassion.
We need to consider others first and ourselves second. For
violence, I believe, is selfishness in action. Yet society needs to be alert and sensitive to the struggles a young person
may be having. We need to learn how to spot trouble and reach out to those who are angry, and who are hurting. Teenagers who
unleash hurt upon others are more than likely hurting withing themselves.
Young people also need to know that violence is wrong. It is
a terrible and abhorrent thing to unleash violence upon others, even if they did something to make you angry.
Teenagers are usually impulsive and they act out without thinking
of the consequences. They're not good at problem solving, and it may seem normal to leash out violently. But it's not normal.
It is wrong. And there are consequences for doing acts of violence that may haunt a young man for years to come. He will end
up hurting both himself and his victims. He hurts his family, too.
I wish I could get young persons to see and meet those who've
come to prison as adolescents. These guys were sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years old when they got busted for committing
a violent crime. They got no sympathy from the courts. Instead they got slammed with long sentences. They've thrown away their
lives when each one made his decision to do violence.
I think that much teen violence comes from pent-up anger and
frustration that is simmering beneath the surface. A victim of bullying, for example feels lonely and rejected. It beomes
easy, therefore, for him to brood, and to feel he is worthless. After a while he starts to think that the torment of being
bullied will never stop unless he hurts his tormentor.
He begins to fantasize about getting revenge, and he may eventually
strike out in a violent rage.
Some young persons may feel cheated at love, or that life has
dealt them a cruel hand. But as best as is possible, family members and friends, teachers and guidance counselors, youth ministers,
police officers, and everyone in the community need to be on point, watching for those who are troubled, angry, withdrawn
Do not expect a troubled teenager to communicate his or her
feelings to you, either. Most teens who are angry brood a lot. They try to keep their anger bottled up. But they will drop
many hints that something's not right. And you have to be concerned and alert enough to watch for such things.
Furthermore, teenagers need to be responsible for their violence.
A person who hits or destroys someone's life must be held accountable.
I am not referring to "Zero Tolerance" where a harsh punishment
is inflicted on a young person and no room is allowed for mercy and mitigating circumstances. But in a civilized society,
damaging lives and property of others cannot be permitted.
Most of all, teenagers need to be taught to value life. Life
is something to cherish and respect. It is a gift from God and it is sacred.
In addition, teens, I believe, need to know wthat there is
a God who created them and who cares about them.
They also need to learn how to solve their problems--and everyone
has problems--without reaching for a gun, knife or club.
In my opinion, being violent is not a sign of manhood and maturity,
but of childishness and stupidity.
August 31, 2004
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven.
I always pay careful attention to the changing of the seasons,
and I try to observe everything I can about natare. Now, as my summer nears its end, several more trees have begun to make
their transition from verdant summer greens to the brilliant brown and bronze colors of Autumn.
I have also been seeing more flocks of geese in the sky. They've
been crisscrossing over the prison enroute to the many lakes which dot the country. I think they may be trying to get their
bearings down pat before they get ready to make their long journey down south.
In addition, an ever increasing number of ordinary sparrows
now seem to be using the 30' triangular courtyard outside my window as a meeting place. Beginning early in tht mornings they
gather in the concrete yard or on the rooftops of the buildings to start their music. I could spend hours watching them as
they bounce back and forth on their little feet, then suddenly fly away as if being chased by a predator.
However, as August comes to a close, I could thank the Lord
not only for the lovely dispays of His creation that I could see from my window or from the prison's recreation yards, but
also for every spirutually prosperous and productive month.
For God has afforded me many opportunities to help the men
and to share my testimony. But mostly I have been able to pray for them as well as give each man a word of encourgement from
the Scriptures in the same way the Lord is always encourging and strengthening me.
Nevertheless, I don't know how much longer I wll be on this
earth. The Lord's coming for His children could be soon. Or perhaps this won't happen for many more years? But I want to be
ready should the 'midnight cry" come today.
Yet while I am still on this earth I must give my heart to
Christ each day, because I know I fall short in many ways. I'm still working on mortifying this lazy flesh that's so prone
And while my carnal desires will never be completly eradicated
in this lifetime, through the Holy Spirit's help and His indwelling presence, I can live victoriously and not allow sin to
rule in my body.
God is merciful. The Messiah's plea is for people to repent.
To turn from their sins and turn to Him for forgiveness and salvation.
May I ever cease from proclaiming the gospel.
End of my Journal for August 2004