God’s Work Release Program

At least once a month I go out to the Benton Work Release Center to minister to the men incarcerated there. This is the final stop for some before they are released to hopefully become productive members of society and not end up back in prison. My role as a volunteer worker is to give them something they can hold on to and build on in their lives to help empower them to stand strong and not give in to their previous lifestyles that break the law and do harm to themselves and others.

They are in prison, but for most of us, we have to deal with personal prisons that hold us captive. God healed me of a chronic back condition last year. It was wonderful. My life was in daily debilitating pain, and after two weeks of speaking and standing on the word of God for healing, the next day I was not in pain. Twice, immediately after that, I had that very pain return, which I stood against speaking the word of God. It left me and for many months I had no pain and did heavy work. Recently, in the space of a week, I overworked, and I put the icing on the cake by loading a big trailer with junk that had accumulated around the house, In that, I did something to my back. It is a completely different set of symptoms from the chronic back condition I had before.

My lesson: You can abuse and injure a healed back! Duh! If you break the law of sound judgment, reason and moderation, you will imprison yourself in a hurting body that takes a while to heal. We humans do stupid stuff all the time that break laws, so we carry our prisons around with us. Sometimes we incur our prisons as we serve in the line of duty and gainful occupation. Sometimes our prisons are imposed on us by others wrong choices and lifestyles. Life happens. Regardless of how we got our prisons, the good news is that the Bible says Jesus, the Word, is anointed, is endowed with the Spirit, “to preach deliverance to the captives” and “set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). It says that Jesus, “with…word…healed all that were sick” thus fulfilling what Isaiah the prophet said, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:16, 17). Through repentance for our stupidity, or by submission to God for our uninvited condition that life gave us, we can give ourselves to God. Then, we take his anointed Word and apply it to our lives and we do all we can in the natural. Continuing this, we can expect healing and release from our prisons to again become a productive member in society. Jesus came to do this for us, to his glory. It is God’s work release program.

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Doctor Jesus

I am thankful for every doctor, nurse, and medical technician out there doing a good job. Without them, most of our families would not be as complete as they are. In past conversations and with recent dealings with people in the hospital and hearing of the amazing medical procedures and provisions that we now have, I was reminded of the little joke I heard years ago. God was sitting in heaven one day when a scientist said to Him, “God, we don’t need you anymore. Science has finally figured out a way to create life out of nothing – in other words, we can now do what you did in the beginning.”“Oh, is that so? Explain…” replies God. “Well,” says the scientist, “we can take dirt and form it into the likeness of you and breathe life into it, thus creating man.” “Well, that’s very interesting… show Me.” So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to mold the soil into the shape of a man. “No, no, no…” interrupts God, “Get your own dirt.”

As advanced as we are, compared to God’s ability and provision, we cannot even make our own dirt. That is why, in seeing the greatness of God, we should always first put prayer and his Word on every situation we face and for every drug taken and every procedure performed. This should be engaged just as surely and as faithfully as we are faithful to go see the doctor and to take the meds he prescribes and receive the procedures he performs. It is up to us to go to the doctor’s office and lay our condition out to him, and receive his procedure and his prescription for meds, and follow his directions. We can go to God in full confidence and faith because God has already told us in his Word that he wishes above all things that we prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers (3 John 2). The provisions are already in place through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s not so much of a religious thing, it is just life. If we want to live, we receive cleansing from death-dealing sin by faith in the blood of Jesus. With that connection with God, we are in his office to receive all the promises of the Book. Then we just follow his instructions. Again, going to and receiving from God is just like going to see the doctor, laying your problem out to him, and following his instructions. Where man’s ability stops, God’s power starts. The same God that made man from dirt, certainly has the ability to fix what ails you. Get Doctor Jesus in on every bit of it and he will help you in every way you allow him to.

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Seedtime and Harvest

With the yard now cleared of all colorful, interesting, Christmas decorations it was said to my wife that the yard looks bare and depressing. With the winter-scape in full swing and all the leaves now mulched away back into the lawn, we now have a smooth, evenly light brown yard that is the canvas for spring color. The grass, bulbs, and perennials that are already in place are mustering their energies, with the early bloomers already peeking out from among the bedcovers. In several weeks we will start to see the dormant life spring forth with new and interesting color, plus, what will come out of the commercial greenhouses will be irresistible, for pots of life in special spots.

The word tells us that God set things up on a “seedtime and harvest” principle – “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Life is that way. While we remain, what thoughts, choices, actions, and activities we sow into life is what we reap in life. It is a set law of life. Thankfully Jesus came and fulfilled and superseded the law of sin and death with the law of the Spirit of life. We all operate in a law of sin and death in our physical body, but the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8: 2). What does that mean to me? It means that by operating by that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, my mortal body can have an infusion of resurrection life here and now. In that life we can be energized, healed, and made whole. Just like we eat physical food on a daily basis to energize our bodies, we can feed on the good news of what God’s Word says and energize our spirit man and physical body (Romans 8: 11). The key to that is to cooperate with the Spirit of God. If there is any one goal we should have at the onset of this year it is to learn how to better cooperate with the Spirit of God. He only leads us into good things. He plants good things and gives harvest to good and beautiful things. As we become co-laborers with him in the landscape of our life, even though we might be in the midst of a somewhat brown, drab winter now, by working with him we can expect good things to spring forth and be seen. What Jesus Christ has done for us to strengthen, energize, and heal in every way, is to be applied by faith just like we eat our “daily bread”. God confirms his Word with signs following. Apply his Word to the winter of your life, and see his life rise up in your behalf.

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Seedtime and Harvest

With the yard now cleared of all colorful, interesting, Christmas decorations it was said to my wife that the yard looks bare and depressing. With the winter-scape in full swing and all the leaves now mulched away back into the lawn, we now have a smooth, evenly light brown yard that is the canvas for spring color. The grass, bulbs, and perennials that are already in place are mustering their energies, with the early bloomers already peeking out from among the bedcovers. In several weeks we will start to see the dormant life spring forth with new and interesting color, plus, what will come out of the commercial greenhouses will be irresistible, for pots of life in special spots.

The word tells us that God set things up on a “seedtime and harvest” principle – “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Life is that way. While we remain, what thoughts, choices, actions, and activities we sow into life is what we reap in life. It is a set law of life. Thankfully Jesus came and fulfilled and superseded the law of sin and death with the law of the Spirit of life. We all operate in a law of sin and death in our physical body, but the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8: 2). What does that mean to me? It means that by operating by that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, my mortal body can have an infusion of resurrection life here and now. In that life we can be energized, healed, and made whole. Just like we eat physical food on a daily basis to energize our bodies, we can feed on the good news of what God’s Word says and energize our spirit man and physical body (Romans 8: 11). The key to that is to cooperate with the Spirit of God. If there is any one goal we should have at the onset of this year it is to learn how to better cooperate with the Spirit of God. He only leads us into good things. He plants good things and gives harvest to good and beautiful things. As we become co-laborers with him in the landscape of our life, even though we might be in the midst of a somewhat brown, drab winter now, by working with him we can expect good things to spring forth and be seen. What Jesus Christ has done for us to strengthen, energize, and heal in every way, is to be applied by faith just like we eat our “daily bread”. God confirms his Word with signs following. Apply his Word to the winter of your life, and see his life rise up in your behalf.

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Bo Donkey

One of the most inspirational animated movies I have enjoyed is “The Star”. It has to do with the birth of Jesus Christ from the perspective of a little donkey named Bo. He is a little donkey whose lot in life is to grind grain by going round and round at a grinding wheel. But he has a heart’s desire to be one of those to pull the king’s carriage of that country. The older donkey, who is walking the grind stone with him, tells him that his dream is impossible, but the old donkey does what he can for the young hee haw to have his freedom. The old donkey is successful in getting the youngster free, and from that point on, one adventure follows another. First, the pursuit of his owner to get him back into captivity is one thing, then, he is up against an evil force that seeks to stop and destroy anything that gets in the way of its evil intent, including what the little donkey is all about. Ultimately, through many tests and trials, the young dreamer has his dream fulfilled, not in the way he thought, but in a way much greater than he ever expected.

There are two lessons in the movie that really touches me. First, it does not hurt a thing to dream big. Joseph had a big dream, and he had to go through some stuff, but his dream came to pass. Sometimes we need to let ourselves just dream “out of the box.” It’s a “shoot for the stars and if you miss and just hit the moon” thing. Hitting the moon is pretty good. That’s better than just hitting the top of a tree. But the second lesson is the greater lesson to me. Anyone who desires, can be a part of the entourage of the King of kings and Lord of lords, including the dogs who were part of the force to destroy him (you gotta see the movie to know about that).

The King of kings came in the humility of being born in a barn to embrace everybody from the most lowly, insignificant person on earth, and the most evil person on earth, to the highest and the mightiest person on earth with forgiveness and a place in his kingdom. For that, all bow down and worship him. He is not just a religious teaching and philosophy concocted by some man. He came from the heart of God for the good of all. He is a living person who was actually born in a barn. For what he did to honor his Father, there is no person who will not bow down and do him obeisance, one way or another. The Father will have honor given to him by every person. Every animal and person in the barn bows to him for who he is. With joy and gratitude I willfully bow to him for who he is and for what he has done. Thank you Lord Jesus.

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Bo Donkey

One of the most inspirational animated movies I have enjoyed is “The Star”. It has to do with the birth of Jesus Christ from the perspective of a little donkey named Bo. He is a little donkey whose lot in life is to grind grain by going round and round at a grinding wheel. But he has a heart’s desire to be one of those to pull the king’s carriage of that country. The older donkey, who is walking the grind stone with him, tells him that his dream is impossible, but the old donkey does what he can for the young hee haw to have his freedom. The old donkey is successful in getting the youngster free, and from that point on, one adventure follows another. First, the pursuit of his owner to get him back into captivity is one thing, then, he is up against an evil force that seeks to stop and destroy anything that gets in the way of its evil intent, including what the little donkey is all about. Ultimately, through many tests and trials, the young dreamer has his dream fulfilled, not in the way he thought, but in a way much greater than he ever expected.

There are two lessons in the movie that really touches me. First, it does not hurt a thing to dream big. Joseph had a big dream, and he had to go through some stuff, but his dream came to pass. Sometimes we need to let ourselves just dream “out of the box.” It’s a “shoot for the stars and if you miss and just hit the moon” thing. Hitting the moon is pretty good. That’s better than just hitting the top of a tree. But the second lesson is the greater lesson to me. Anyone who desires, can be a part of the entourage of the King of kings and Lord of lords, including the dogs who were part of the force to destroy him (you gotta see the movie to know about that).

The King of kings came in the humility of being born in a barn to embrace everybody from the most lowly, insignificant person on earth, and the most evil person on earth, to the highest and the mightiest person on earth with forgiveness and a place in his kingdom. For that, all bow down and worship him. He is not just a religious teaching and philosophy concocted by some man. He came from the heart of God for the good of all. He is a living person who was actually born in a barn. For what he did to honor his Father, there is no person who will not bow down and do him obeisance, one way or another. The Father will have honor given to him by every person. Every animal and person in the barn bows to him for who he is. With joy and gratitude I willfully bow to him for who he is and for what he has done. Thank you Lord Jesus.

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Training in the Walk

Waylon and Willy, my two little furry canine friends, generally get a walk every morning and every evening, sometimes early and sometimes late. They don’t like rain and storms, so on those days they prefer to just stay in their quarters. But with the normal daily interaction, I have opportunity to drop a word on them, lead them into a specific action, and offer a reward with successful completion of that action. This, repeated on a daily basis, quickly brings an association in their mind which trains them to those specific words. At the command “Inside!” they have learned if they run into their pen they will have a delicious glucosamine jerky treat that they love. To train them for that, I first led them through the motions the first few times, repeating the word “inside” to them, and when the action was completed they received the reward. I did the same thing with the word “bench”, leading them to jump up on the wooden bench in the yard, except the treat for bench was simply a barrage of petting, hugging, and saying “good boy”. On a good day, I can be walking them in the yard, and by getting their attention and giving them a good enthusiastic “inside” they will run into their pen and dance around and squeal a little bit eagerly awaiting their treat. It’s the same with “bench”, and I always reward them with some good “lovin’”. The other day I was with a friend in the yard and I had the dogs out. I gave them the “bench” command and they quickly ran over to the bench and jumped up on it excitedly. I petted them generously. In a couple of minutes I got their attention and spoke the “inside” word. Instantly they both simultaneously ran into their pen as fast as they could go. The friend was impressed and I was proud of them.

As we spend time with our heavenly Father and allow him to lead us by his Word into specific actions repeatedly to receive the reward of those actions, we learn that his Word is alive and really works. We learn that his Word can be trusted. Jesus is that living Word. As we walk with Jesus in this way, we grow in grace and faith, and we receive the reward of his power manifesting in our lives. It takes some commitment, some following his leadership, and some repetition, but the rewards are worth it. As we are trained in this way, we become excited to “run with the Word” because we know the reward is sure. Not only is there great peace and joy in this response, but we can know the Father is very proud for all to see the reward of his goodness in the lives of those who will walk with him in harmony with his Word.

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A New Season of Life

I notice since the last low temps we have had the leaves have really turned brown, and a lot of stuff that was sort of hanging on with color met its final denouement. The role has been played, the work has been done, the season has been served, and it is time for the glory of what has been, to pass on into the next glory of what is to be. The beauty of the cycle of life is that there is a grand design in all things, and as we acquaint ourselves with the Designer, we find peace and consolation, and thanksgiving in all things. As we see and understand to some degree the grand design that God, the Designer, created and put into motion, we can truly know thanksgiving from our innermost being. Much of what we don’t understand, in our acquaintance with him, we can know that he who is good, he who is just, he who is compassionate and he who is of tender mercies, knows all about it and is working his goodness for us in the midst of all the twists, turns, and blows of life. We are only finite in our present place, but he is infinite, and through our trust in him we can draw strength, peace, and even joy in the midst of the “whatevers” of life. Sometimes life seems like looking at the backside of a tapestry with no perceived pattern to be seen, but when it is turned around to see the other side, we see the divine design that was worked in the midst of all that occurred. Central to God’s design is his Son, Jesus, and the work that he accomplished on our behalf. He did what he did, he gave himself as the sacrifice, to take our sin away so we can live a life connected to God by the indwelling life of God. For this we can be thankful.

No matter what the seasons of life, the Son is given for all. It only makes good sense to submit to what God has provided, to receive his life, which is eternal life, connected with God. The seasons come and go. The role is played, the season is served, and the time comes for all that the glory that has been known will pass on into a greater glory if we are in the life of God. He who is good, he who is just, he who is compassionate, and he who is of tender mercies, welcomes all finite ones who come to him just the way we are to be changed by him according to his infinite design. What a grand provision he offers to us in his Son Jesus Christ! Of all the things of which we can give thanks, the greatest thing of all is to be able to give thanks for Jesus Christ being our Savior and Lord. Please make sure you know him so that this is your supreme thanks before God as you enter a new season of life.

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Spotlight on Joy

I guess you could call my wife the Lady of Lights. We have solar lights scattered throughout our 1.67 acre place, and she started putting Christmas lights out in both the front and back yards at the beginning of October. She started so early because she has so many to put out, and, she just loves Christmas and everything associated with it. When some people offered her their wonderment at her putting them out so early, I offered her some justification by reminding her that the stores were already putting Christmas stuff out at that time. She took my consolation and kept right on trucking, which she would have done anyway without my input. The spotlight that shone on JOY in the back yard went out. The light itself had been immersed in water a couple of times due to the Noah level of rain that we received, and it corroded to such a degree that it no longer burned. With a flat headed screwdriver I scraped around on the inside of the base and wiped it sort of clean with a paper towel. We put a new bulb in it and it shone brightly. We decided to try the old bulb and we were surprised to see it burn, but only dimly. It did not burn brightly enough to be put back into the place that it had occupied. It was no longer qualified to fulfill its original “call”. Oh! There we both knew, that will preach!

When we become immersed in the elements of life, corrosion sets in, which if not attended to, will completely put our light out. We have no real testimony of Jesus. Or, even worse still, we keep professing to know him, but the light we give is seen by others to be corrupted, and whatever respect for the gospel that had been gained, is lost. Jesus said if the salt has lost its savour, it is good for nothing but to be cast out (Matthew 5:13). I personally don’t want to be useless, dirty salt, not good for any nutritional purpose but fit only to be thrown out. If the cares of this life have corrupted us, we need to own up to it and deal with it, if we are going to be in the kingdom of God. If we lose the qualification of our original calling, by repentance and faith in Jesus we can at least be saved even if it is yet so as by fire (1 Corinthians 4:15). God is merciful to those who turn to him with a true heart. When God cleans you up, he will put a new bulb in your life that will shine brightly. With the new bulb in that cleaned up fixture, the word JOY now shines brightly in our back yard. Let God clean your fixture up and put a new bulb in your spiritual socket, and JOY will shine brightly in your yard, too.

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Honoring All Veterans

I recently read a Face Book post bringing attention to the fact that in our society actors and sports figures are some of the most highly honored, yet the least needed in our society. It brought out several examples of people that are needed by us all such as farmers and other everyday not-so-glorious types of occupations. I realize the list could not be exhaustive in the short post, but there is one category of people that should have been included in the examples given, and that is veterans. It is a guarantee that without the service of veterans, we would not be enjoying the freedoms that we enjoy. I am not a veteran, but I have two brothers and some cousins who are, and many kinfolks in generations past who were. This Monday, November 11, 2019 is Veteran’s Day, a national holiday set aside to honor veterans of the United States Armed Services. It was initially set up to remember that the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. There will be a Veterans Day parade in Hot Springs with my brother Joe serving as Grand Marshall of the parade. I plan to be there to honor him and all veterans. To all my readers who are Veterans, I give you a hearty “Thank You!” for your service to us all.

Jesus is a Veteran of a war he fought for us all and won. By his victory, we all can enjoy freedom in every way now and for all eternity. He fought sin, flesh, death, and the devil, and whipped them all, and gave us an example of how we can do the same. When we believe on him and become a fellow soldier with him, we can take up the boots, helmet, and battle gear and weapons he provides, and go into battle to win. With the robe of righteousness and feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace and taking the shield of faith and donning the helmet of salvation, we are dressed for battle. We can take the weapon of the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and the walkie-talkie of prayer in the Spirit, and by bold speaking the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ we can fight and defeat the opposition we encounter (Ephesians 6:11-20). As Jesus had a victory parade, triumphing over all, so can we share in that victory if we follow him and his ways closely. There are enemies. Fighting is required. If we learn to use the weapons of our warfare under the direction of our Commander, we can ride in the victory parade under the Grand Marshall’s leadership right on in to glory. Thank you Lord Jesus!

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