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Archive for the month “May, 2018”

Dane’s Pain And Gain

There was no freedom.  All of that had been taken away.  It really seemed there was no hope.  Locked in a tiny prison cell all he could think about was what went wrong.  I didn’t know Dane very well growing up.  Kevin his brother who was my friend in our high school years told me that it was hard getting close to Dane because he was never around.  Dane had run away from home a few times.  Each time he was found and returned.  Why did this happen I wondered?  Dane explained that he was one of six kids and always felt like he was the black sheep.  He was a free spirit and felt confined at home.  This was my conclusion from trying to piece his story together.Image may contain: 1 person

One night while Dane was drunk and strung out on drugs an army buddy called.  There was a house he knew of that was ripe for the picking.  It was open and nobody was home.  It would be easy to enter and take whatever they needed or wanted.  When Dane arrived he found the house just as described.  Him and his buddy ransacked the house as Dane took an expensive stereo system and a nice guitar.  Somehow they must have made mistakes in what they thought was a perfect crime.  Dane had taken the stolen merchandise back to his friends apartment and fell asleep.  He was awoken by the sounds of sirens from police cars.  Busting into the place they found and arrested Dane.  He was too out of it to even care.  So that was the beginning of what Dane thought was his pain.  In truth his pain had been going on for a long time.  Before he was in prison he lived in an invisible prison.  Yes he could come and go as he pleased but inside he was in bondage but didn’t know it.Image result for sunrise picture

It was obvious as he sat in that little cell day after day that this was the real thing.  Day after day he had nothing but time.  Time to think, time to regret, time to worry, and time to go crazy.  He had a picture of the sun rising that he had in his cell.  That picture kept him going when he knew he wouldn’t see the actual sun.  There were times that Dane was put in a cell with as many as thirty other inmates.  Other times he was in a cell by himself.  Then there were times that he got into trouble and they put him in what they called “the hole.”  This was a place where he was alone with absolutely nobody around.  This was the punishment for mouthing off or doing some other act that caused extra punishment.  Dane wondered if he could keep his sanity and many times he was sure he couldn’t.  He mentioned that he preferred a cell without cell mates.  Unlike the hole these cells at least had noise and action going on around him.  The scariest cells were the ones shared by many other inmates.  Dane feared that another inmate might attack him and he was always uncomfortable and on full alert when he was forced to live in this situation.Image result for prison cells

His mind drifted to when he arrived at this Portland Oregon Prison.  It was called Rocky Butte and it was built in the rocks right off of the highway.  A whole bus load of prisoners were dropped off including Dane.  They were all strip searched and given prison uniforms.  That was the beginning of Dane’s hell.  So much time to think about things in his life.  So much time to analyze his mistakes.  He was at his lowest point many times.  He stated that it was a case of keeping sane in a place where sanity was hard to hold onto.  Just when things were at their darkest a small light entered Dane’s life.  It came in the form of a pastor who cared.  Dane was to the point where he thought nobody cared.  He had received mail when he first arrived and eagerly looked forward to getting more.  Slowly the mail stopped coming in.  He was a dying man reaching for a saving rope and little did he know this pastor was throwing one to him.Image result for picture of the Bible

Dane listened intently at the message the pastor was delivering.  One thing about prison that is very clear is the words in the Bible that all have sinned.  Seeing the dark side of life helped Dane recognize the light.  It was like he was in total darkness and someone had pulled the curtain up where a little light shined.  Naturally Dane gravitated to that light.  He had heard about Jesus and wanted a way out of his darkness.  You see not only was Dane in a dark place physically but he was empty on the inside.  The pastor made it clear that he needed Jesus and he accepted Jesus into his life.  The pastor gave Dane a Bible and Dane got busy reading.  Jesus became real in his life and from that time on he had peace in the midst of his prison surroundings.  From that day many years ago until now Dane has lived with a peace that only God can give.  He was released from prison years ago but the pain that he felt is still remembered.flag

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and obviously it is a time to remember our fallen heroes from the Military.  Dane would like us to remember other people also.  They are prisoners who are living their lives in bondage.  Pray that someone comes along like the pastor did for him and gives them an opportunity to receive Jesus.  Pray that they will not give up hope and not give up on life.  We have a tendency to forget the people who are in jail because they are not walking among us.  Sometimes we say to ourselves “they made their bed now they have to sleep in it.”  Dane recognizes from experience that there are many lonely hurting people that made mistakes and are paying for them.  In Luke chapter 7 verses 41-43 Jesus tells this story.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Pray that those who had sinned much receive forgiveness.  These are people like the Apostle Paul who were going 100% in the wrong direction.  Paul was determined to kill as many Christians as he could and felt he was doing the world a favor by doing it!  That was until he had an encounter with Jesus on his way to Damascus.  Many times people like Paul when salvation comes their way are the ones who turn completely around and go 100% the right way.  The world needs their testimony because they are  people that Jesus can use because their testimony is so drastic! In a dark cell tonight there is a person like Dane who will have a story to tell.  They may feel lost and lonely tonight but someday there will be freedom and peace.  Pray for and contribute to prison ministries for when you do you may be adding a crusader to the kingdom!  To this day Dane has and reads the Bible that pastor gave him.  It’s a nice reminder of someone who cared enough to come into his dark world to share a beautiful light of love!Image result for I was in prison picture of jail ministry

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How to Deactivate A Bomb

Clever. The Road Runner is seen as clever in this picture because he switches the TNT to when Wile E. Coyote pushed the lever it blew up on himself.

I guess the first sight of a bomb I ever had was of the cartoon variety.  It might have been when the Coyote was trying to kill the Roadrunner and lit the fuse of a black bowling ball looking object. All of the Coyote’s explosive devices were purchased from a company called ACME.  As kids we didn’t think about how the Coyote was able to afford all of these high powered devices and why he kept going back to them after constant failures.  For you kids out there too young to know about the Roadrunner cartoon and his rival Wile Coyote I can only tell you this.  Every effort of the thousands that he tried to blow up or smash the Roadrunner boomeranged on him.  The Coyote was amazing when I look back because after every explosion, fall, or smashing he received, he was always back in the next clip trying again.  He was totally obsessed with getting the Roadrunner and stopped at no means.  When we truly analyze the cartoon (and take all of the fun and adventure out of it), why would the Coyote be so obsessed with getting the Roadrunner?  It certainly wasn’t for a meal.  The Roadrunner was a bony bird with very little meat on him.  It had to be more of a challenge to him.  With each failure there was hope that the next bomb that was purchased would be the one that would work.

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Although bombs have gotten a lot more complex over the years the first bombs looked very similar to the ones the Coyote and other cartoon characters used.  They had a containing holder along with a fuse to be lit.  The holder was filled with gun powder and that was where the explosion occurred when the fire hit the powder.  Once people got the idea of causing an explosion from a specific spot ideas started flowing as to different ways of causing an explosion.  Today there are many different ways to set a bomb off.  We have all seen the skits where someone receives a package in the mail that is ticking.  Right away we gasp knowing what is actually on the inside.  Of course the characters usually seem dumb as they wonder what the ticking noise is.  Bombs can be programmed to go off from a timer.  We saw that many times on the show of the 1960’s called  “Get Smart”.

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In everyday life we hear the term “short fused.”  It is normally used in the terms of a person.  That Joe has a short fuse.  What does it mean?  It means that it doesn’t take much for Joe to blow up.  Anything that goes wrong or anything that doesn’t go Joe’s way and Joe’s bomb explodes.  Unfortunately Joe isn’t the only one with a short fuse.  I can’t tell you what percentage of people have a short fuse but I can tell you what studies tell us of people who do.  Dr John Barefoot now of Duke University did a study on law students scoring the highest in hostility and found that they were 5 times more likely to die of heart disease than their less hostile classmates.  In a similar study he found that students scoring high in hostility had four times the probability of dying within the next 25 years.  These facts alone should be enough to tell us that it isn’t healthy to be a walking time bomb.  Yet many of us will make excuses as to our behavior.  We will say that we can’t change and that was just the way we were made.

We’ve all heard of the saying that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  What does it mean?  It means that there was such a weight on the camel that the extra straw was too much.  He was at his breaking point and a tiny little extra weight put him over his threshold. Did you ever wonder where that chip on your shoulder phrase came from?  Apparently back in the 1800’s if someone was looking for a fight they would place a chip of wood firmly on their shoulder.  Anyone who wanted to take him up on his offer only had to knock that chip of wood off of his shoulder.  Unfortunately there are many walking around today with a chip on their shoulder.  You may be on your breaking point and are just looking for someone to rub you in the wrong way.  At that point the fuse burns out and the explosion occurs.

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So how do we cut the fuse of the bomb and stop the coming explosion?  How do we open up the time bomb and turn off the timing mechanism that will lead to destruction?  The answer is very simple and it can be found in the Bible.  “Peace I give to you”, Jesus stated.  In the sermon on the mount Jesus told us the golden rule.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  What does this mean?  Does it mean to do unto others as they do unto us?  NO, It means to treat them as we would like to be treated no matter how they treat us.

Many times I have noticed that so called christian people are bad offenders when it comes to anger and building up grudges.  It is time that we take inventory of where we are.  First of all have we accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Lord and Savior?  With that first step he puts a love in our being and a desire to please him.  Secondly have we strayed from our initial faith?  Do we truly love people the way Jesus wants us to or have we become cynical and hateful?  These are hard things to face but facing them can get us back on track.  Sometimes our train has just gotten off of the track and we need someone to put us back.  That someone is God and he can get us back to that blessed place of peace and love that we once had.

When the bomb within us is discovered it is important to take proper action.  Instead of trying to defuse the bomb ourselves seek an expert.  The expert is God.  Ask him to take it away and put love in your heart.  Forgive in your own heart all of the people that you are holding a grudge against.  Have him take that chip off of your shoulder where you are looking for a fight and replace it with a desire to lend a helping hand.  As much as God wants to help us the decision is ours.  We can choose to try to explode the Roadrunner (or our enemies) or ask God to give us real love for them.  The former will lead to destruction to ourselves while the latter will lead to peace, happiness, and life.

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