Month: May 2014

We Need A Sponsor To Forge Our Second Chance

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We want nothing to do with fame or fortune, we just want to help our-self while helping others.  This video is how linking together to make your difference make a difference. Animals are just as important as human beings.

 

We are pleased to share with you this monograph, aimed to stimulate interest, ignite conversation and spur momentum for a national initiative promoting entrepreneurship as a reentry strategy. The rising number of individuals returning to our communities from prison and jail represents one of the defining issues of our time.
Individuals reentering society face myriad challenges, not the least of which is securing viable employment; in addition, each individual has a unique set of experiences, needs and resources. This project stems from the understanding that to effectively address the unique characteristics of and challenges facing people reentering society, the best and brightest minds from a diverse array of fields must collaborate to develop a spectrum of approaches and solutions.

To this end, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation granted support to the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to convene a series of Conversations between experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, criminal justice and workforce development, including academics, practitioners, funders, policymakers and formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs. During these Conversations – held in New York, NY and San Diego, CA in Fall 2006 – participants identified challenges and opportunities, grappled with complex questions regarding program design and sustainability and produced innovative ideas for a national initiative promoting self-employment among formerly incarcerated individuals. The discussions were rich and productive, and the ideas they generated serve as the conceptual framework for this monograph.

The monograph is designed to develop a vocabulary with which criminal justice and micro enterprise representatives can effectively communicate, to address skepticism about the viability of entrepreneurship for this population and to equip both fields with the knowledge and tools to develop and sustain projects without reinventing the wheel. It begins with a background containing key information, terminology and statistics on the criminal justice system, entrepreneurship and micro enterprise development. It then introduces five opportunities for facilitating successful reentry with entrepreneurship. These opportunities are infused with relevant research, case studies and examples, as well as profiles of thriving businesses founded by formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs. Finally, it provides a set of practical tools for the development of pilot projects and initiatives:
resources for leveraging funding streams; contact points for state and local agencies that must be at the table to launch and sustain an effective project; and ideas for innovative program design provided through profiles of programs currently customizing business development services for people with criminal records.

Promoting self-employment among people coming home from prison will be challenging; it will require creativity, perseverance and the ability of professionals across fields to break down cultural barriers to build productive relationships. However, the inspiring stories and examples shared in this monograph demonstrate the potential that an initiative represents for individuals returning home from prison, their families and our communities. We hope the information, strategies and tools contained within will serve as a catalyst for the conversations that must occur to truly take advantage of this potential.

The phrase “mass incarceration” is now widely used to describe the current state of criminal justice in the United States. Over the past generation, this country’s rate of incarceration has more than quadrupled, rising every year since 1972, now exceeding 735 per 100,000 people (Harrison and Beck 2006). This growth has earned the U.S. the dubious distinction of incarcerating more people per capita than any other country in the world (Walmsley 2005).

Not surprisingly, the number of people reentering the community from prison has soared. Nearly everyone who goes to prison or jail eventually comes home. A high concentration of formerly incarcerated persons (FIPs) return to impoverished communities ill-equipped to provide the resources and services they and their families may need to smoothly transition into society. Among FIPs’ most important short- and long-term needs is securing a job. But legal and practical barriers often prevent FIPs from accessing employment to earn a living wage and move out of or avoid poverty.

As the nation struggles to address the social and economic consequences of mass incarceration, entrepreneurship has emerged as a viable alternative to traditional employment opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized individuals all over the world. The micro enterprise development field, in particular, has demonstrated success assisting the hard-to-employ (e.g. welfare recipients, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees) transcend poverty through business start-up and development. As more and more people return from prison, many lacking educational and vocational skills necessary to compete in today’s labor market, entrepreneurship may represent a means of capitalizing on an underutilized pool of human resources.
While self-employment may not be a viable option for many individuals leaving prison, exposure to entrepreneurship training can play an important role in fostering successful reentry. A small percentage may have the resources and mindset to use entrepreneurship as the key to their successful reintegration, either as their sole form of employment, or in addition to a traditional job. Others will open a business once they have achieved reentry stability through other forms of employment. For many, because entrepreneurial thinking is infused with the philosophy of empowerment, exposure to entrepreneurial training will reshape their perspective on their role in society. These individuals may never become entrepreneurs themselves, but will use their entrepreneurship training to improve their performance as employees and to proactively engage with their families and communities.

Consequently, even if only a tiny fraction of the vast number of people returning home from prison pursued self employment,
it could make a significant impact. If between one and seven percent of people leaving state or federal prison next year started their own businesses (i.e., the percentage of welfare-to-work participants who start businesses in addition to or instead of securing traditional employment), 6,500 to 45,000 new businesses would be created in the United States.

Nationwide, many FIPs currently operate thriving businesses, and many micro enterprise professionals work with currently and formerly incarcerated individuals to develop and grow their businesses. At the same time,representatives from the field of criminal justice are hungry for fresh approaches to prisoner reentry, and the nation’s attention is focused on questioning the last several decades of mass incarceration and effectively addressing the challenges posed by prisoners returning home. Now is an opportune moment to take advantage of several opportunities that might emerge from collaboration between the fields of entrepreneurship and reentry:

• Cultivate: Foster individual and community empowerment through self-employment.
• Collaborate: Build relationships among and leverage the expertise, resources and structure of
micro enterprise programs, reentry programs, correctional agencies and other partners.
• Educate: Create synergy between the micro enterprise and criminal justice fields by debunking myths and
developing a common vocabulary.
• Innovate: Think creatively about modifying existing services and structures to address reentry challenges
and support a spectrum of successful outcomes.
• Initiate, Evaluate, Disseminate and Advocate: Institutionalize an infrastructure to support and sustain a
national initiative on entrepreneurship and reentry over an extended period of time.
The information, case studies and stories contained in this monograph aim to inspire professionals across entrepreneurship, workforce development and criminal justice fields to recognize and embrace entrepreneurship and self-employment as appropriate and valuable tools for reintegration. Given the size of the population returning home from prison and jail, we cannot afford to ignore their potential as resources for community and economic development; nor can we overlook the opportunity that entrepreneurship represents as a path to financial stability and engaged citizenship.

Entrepreneurship is broadly applied to describe a variety of undertakings,ranging from innovative, high-growth ventures to much simpler forms of self-employment. Some definitions place strong emphasis on innovation,others on wealth creation. However, the term is also used to simply describe a method of generating income in lieu of or in addition to traditional employment.

Research shows that adversity plays a major role in spurring enterprise building. Thus, the poor, the under-educated, minorities and immigrants are often at the forefront of entrepreneurial activity around the world. Studies of the informal (i.e., licit but unregulated) economy found that small enterprises have a “strong and natural presence,” pointing to higher entrepreneurial
tendencies among those facing barriers to the traditional labor market (Thetford and Edgcomb 2004).

Individual motivations for pursuing entrepreneurial ventures are as varied as the life circumstances of those who choose this career path. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) states that at the initial stage, self-employment can provide additional income to supplement a low paying job. For those who lack the educational or language skills required for a professional position, starting a business is preferable to minimum wage employment. Self-employment further offers the opportunity to use
talents and find fulfillment in ways rarely possible in traditional employment.

Meanwhile, many women choose self-employment for the flexibility they need to balance family and work responsibilities. People with disabilities are attracted by the opportunity to work from home. For most individuals,the prospect of being their own manager is the most appealing aspect of entrepreneurship.

There appears to be some consensus that successful entrepreneurs share certain personality traits, including readiness to take risks, non-conformity, need for autonomy and creativity. The barriers most frequently cited to successful entrepreneurship include lack of assets and capital, social networks, business skills and prior self-employment experience (AEO 2005).

This is the reason we want to open Second Chance Alliance, Please support or sponsor our vision. Click the insignia GofundMe to view.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

 

I belief In Change-How About You?

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Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.

Gail Devers

Many times we’re faced with situations that can cause us to consider compromising our values.  Maybe you have been offered a job with a company you don’t respect…but you really need the job.  Maybe your beliefs are in the minority…but you don’t want to become an outcast as a result.  Or, maybe you disagree with your boss’s business practices…but are too shy or too afraid to rock the boat to stand-up for what you really think or believe. When confronted with these situations, it is sometimes difficult to stick to your guns or stand your ground.

Unfortunately, the more we compromise our values, the more of a negative impact it has on our mental wellbeing. And, the more we compromise our values, the more we continue to do so. You could say it becomes an insidious cycle. On the other hand, when we stand up for what we believe in, the benefits can have a tremendously positive impact:

  1. It Builds Self-Confidence: When others dictate what we should think, feel and do, it eats away at our self-confidence. We begin to distrust our own instincts and lose the ability to decipher what we really believe versus what everyone wants us to believe. Although it may be difficult at first, the more we stand-up for ourselves, the more we build our self-confidence. It takes guts to express an unpopular viewpoint…it takes guts to say no when it is so much easier to say yes…and it takes guts to risk losing a job, friends or opportunities because someone won’t like our opinion. However, the more you tap into your “guts,” the easier it gets, and the more confident you’ll become.
  2. It Helps you Develop a Strong Sense of Self: If we bow to others and their opinions, and do things their way, whether right or not, we start to lose our own identity and start to forget for what we truly stand. Further, the less you allow yourself to think freely and develop your own belief system, the more you become a follower without your own direction. On the other hand, the more authentic you are to your needs and viewpoints, the more you will understand your sense of self.
  3. It Develops Self-Respect: Would you respect someone who went against their own values because it was convenient or because it was more popular? Probably not. And, with good reason.  Wishy washiness is far from admirable, or for that matter, respectable.  Yet, if you encounter someone with a less popular opinion who stands their ground (assuming the opinion or belief is founded in ethical principles), you would most likely have great respect for them.  Same goes for the way you perceive yourself. The more you stand up for your beliefs, the more self-respect you will develop. If you continually give in to what others want and compromise your own values in the process, you are going to lose respect for yourself.
  4. It Builds Integrity: In a time when so many individuals are dishonest, do things to better themselves at the expense of others, expose their personal lives for a chance to be famous and do what feels good in the moment without thinking about the consequences, integrity is a characteristic that is especially unique.  Doing the right thing or standing up for your beliefs may not be easy, but when you do, you know that you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself. You’ll know that you did the right thingand that you had integrity.
  5. It Helps You be Independent: As much as we like to believe that a hero or heroine will swoop-in to defend our honor, it is extremely rare. There are two things to consider here: First, if YOU don’t stand up for yourself or your beliefs, then how can you expect others to? And second, the person who you should ALWAYS be able to count on to stand up for you – no matter what – is you. What this means is that the more you stand-up for your beliefs, the less you will rely on others to validate them. You’ll reinforce your independence and ability to stand on your own two feet without anyone else to support you.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t make mistakes or give into what was easier once in awhile, but learning from those mistakes and standing for what we believe in the vast majority of time is what is most important.

Do you believe in yourself?  How has it helped you to reach your goals and be successful?

If you believe in change and a second chance for ex-offenders click the insignia and see if it is something you feel would change lives.

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We Have A Heart Full Of Dreams and A Mind With A Huge Vision

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False thinking and false ideologies, dressed in the most pleasing forms, quietly – almost without our knowing it – seek to reduce our moral defenses and to captivate our minds. They entice with bright promises of security, cradle-to-grave guarantees of many kinds.

Ezra Taft Benson

I have been impregnated with this vision to be apart of the struggle to reduce recidivism. Trying to gain leverage from the various circles of churches and people has been another area of agreement I have yet to convince them is of the greatest importance. While there is the reality of thinking that suggest this isn’t my problem and I am not interested in aiding anyone that made bad choices that propelled them to become a endangered species.

An exploding prison population is a concern not only for the criminal justice system, but, also for the communities where ex-offenders live after their release. Branded with the stigma of incarceration, ex-offenders struggle to find housing jobs and acceptance. Half of the ex-offenders released from prison in California are located in the harshest areas of depravity in every area of California .

At least 30,000 or more children have previously experienced or are currently living through often debilitating emotional, economic, and social consequences stemming from the arrest, detention and/or imprisonment of a parent. Second Chance Alliance (May & Aaron partners) seeks to mitigate these negative effects by assisting individuals and families whose lives are roiled by incarceration. We will advocate on their behalf, promoting innovative programs that demonstrate that over-reliance on imprisonment is a costly and counterproductive approach that fails to recognize or support the basic capacity of people to transform their lives.

May And Aaron( Second Chance Alliance) is promoting independent living for ex-offenders. It means taking risks and being allowed to succeed and fail on your own terms. It means participating in community life and pursuing activities of your own choosing. Independent living is knowing what choices are available, selecting what is right for you, and taking responsibility for your own actions. These best practices are what we used to overcome our position in life as disenfranchised educated individuals.

For people with disabilities affecting their ability to make complicated decisions or pursue complex activities, independent living means being as self-sufficient as possible. It means being able to exercise the greatest degree of choice in where you live, with whom you live, how to live, where you work, with whom you work and how to use your time.

For many years ex-offender strategies have been based largely on theoretical or ideological assumptions about “what works,” in the absence of objective, scientific evidence. Indeed, so many ill-conceived strategies were so often found to be ineffective, that many ex-offender prevention critics popularized the cynical view that “nothing works,” such a pessimistic view is no longer tenable. We are proof that these principles and core values work.

The mission of the Second Chance Alliance program is to serve the welfare of young adults and adults and their families within a sound frame work of public safety. Second Chance Alliance and its partners that we are still praying for are committed to providing the guidance, structure and services needed by every ex-offender under our supervision.

Through the partnership of the  Courts of California and the District’s  Police, we hope to:

1. Identify the needs of offenders regarding education, employment, parenting, job training and social skills:

2. Link offenders with caring and supportive adults capable of meeting those needs:

3. Offer the courts additional sanctions to deal more effectively with the issues of drugs and violence.

4. Teach offenders about the life-long consequences of violent and dangerous actions, instill a sense of empathy between offenders and those who have suffered the effects of violence.

5. Demonstrate the need for alternatives to violent or criminal behaviors, provide support and recognition to victims and their families and educate the community on the debilitating effects of violence.

Second Chance Alliance is going to be a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, founded in 2013 and hope to be incorporated in 2014. Our mission is to aid the development of the holistic person by providing supportive services designed to enhance the physical, mental, spiritual, nutritional, social and educational well-being of families. The services provided will improve the quality of life in the community and promote healthier and happier individuals.

I thank you in advance for reviewing our request/supporting literature and anxiously look forward to establishing an ongoing collaboration with you. None of this will come to pass without you the partners we are praying will see the attractiveness of such a company.

LAND OF SECOND CHANCES?
Roughly one in five people in America have a criminal history.’ Over seven million people are under the active supervision of the criminal justice system.  Every year 650,000 people, enough to populate the City of Los Angelas, come out of jail or prison to face the challenge of re-entering society in a healthy, meaningful and productive capacity.There has been a five-fold increase in the number of incarcerated individuals over the last thirty years. Two parallel trends, beginning in the 1970s and continuing today, account for this increase. First, rehabilitation as a penological goal was “publicly and politically discredited.  Second, a stronger commitment to incarceration led to the rapid construction of new prisons and a move from indeterminate to determinate sentencing.’  Incarceration has grown from a penological tool applied only to “the most violent and incorrigible offenders” to one routinely affecting many persons.” Incarceration and other contact with the criminal justice system is no longer abnormal. Though it has become much more common, having a criminal history continues to mark individuals for treatment as second-class social, political and economic citizens. Collateral civil consequences of conviction, generated by structural inequality, social stigma, criminal and civil penalties, and improved information technology, combine to create ex-offenders’ second-class citizenship.

While serving time is not necessary to place individuals into the ex-offender class, the incarceration experience itself can profoundly dis-empower inmates beyond their actual sentence and warrants elaboration. To begin, many inmates enter correctional facilities with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems that often go untreated during incarceration.
The conditions of incarceration-inmate violence, sexual predation, correctional discipline and abuse, and enforced solitude in higher security facilities  or during administrative detention-can further degrade inmates’ mental health.

Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and tuberculosis also thrive in correctional facilities, infecting inmates at rates far higher
than the general population, and limiting ex-offenders’ ability to transition into society upon release. In addition to their damaging mental and physical health effects, penal facilities grossly fail to prepare inmates for re-entering society as stable
and productive citizens. Upon release, it is not unusual for a formerly incarcerated person to possess nothing more than a bus ticket and $125.8 The counties to which corrections departments assign inmates for parole are often host to impoverished communities offering little opportunity for gainful employment.

These conditions would be ones to which even the well-educated and well-connected would have difficulty adapting. Affluent college graduates would face awkward questions about unexplained gaps in their resumes. Time away from work would also force affluent college graduates to lose a step or two due to atrophied job skills and industry developments.
Ex-offenders, however, are rarely affluent college graduates. The latest comprehensive survey of state inmates, conducted in 1991, revealed that 65% of state prison inmates had not completed high school, and 53% earned less than $10,000 during the year prior to incarceration.” According to a study of California inmates, 50% are functionally illiterate and prior to incarceration 25% were unemployed. Furthermore, the prison vocational training programs that might give inmates a decent chance at securing
lawful employment have been cut back severely as more and more correctional resources have been diverted to expansion and construction of new jails and prisons.

Second Chance Alliance Development Corporation is going to be a not-for-profit organization that accepts donations which are tax-deductible. Contact us today and help us develop our community and educate our citizens. We will forever be grateful and you will be able to say you changed the world for the better. Are you mean because you have money? Am I mean because I need your help? The Ted talks video revealed some interesting concepts. Click the GofundMe insignia to view our vision of Second Chance Alliance development Corporation.

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By means of beauty all beautiful things become beautiful

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Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune nor too scornful in misfortune.

Socrates

If one hundred people thought about the good this cause is meant to perform and gave $ 10.00 we would at least be able to get all the paperwork done like 501C3 and C5 done and file for grants to pursue all the other needs to get this program in place for those who need it. We want to thank those that contributed in a huge way already, but our time is ticking. Please click the insignia to view our cause.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

Helping the less fortunate in your community by giving them opportunities to provide for themselves is a form of philanthropy, the Greek word for love of mankind. Choose a service you want to offer to those in need. Food services help the needy enjoy a meal while a homeless shelter provides them with a place to rest while in transition. Sell used clothes and household items at a fraction of the cost of new ones. Opening a business that helps the less fortunate may not bring in much profit, but it may inspire other acts of philanthropy.

We are all born receptive to love, kindness and hope. As we grow up, we encounter the less hopeful, more challenging aspects of being human, including discovering that the things humans do at times can be hateful, calculating and unkind. Although this can turn us cynical or leave us feeling helpless, human beings are just as capable of the most incredible, amazing and wonderful kindness and love. And beyond the heroic and fearless acts that occasionally hit the headlines, it is really the everyday, often overlooked actions of deep kindness and caring that restore our faith in humanity––everyday kindnesses like caring words, a reassuring hug, a helping hand-up in times of trouble and the unquestioning acceptance of our worth by a complete stranger. If you’re feeling a little jaded about where humanity is headed, here are some active ways to restore your faith.

Restore Your Faith in Humanity Step 1 Version 2.jpg

Spend time helping people less fortunate than you. A reality check can come in the form of looking at people who are experiencing things 10 times or 100 times worse than you are and yet manage to meet each day with passion and positivity, believing that being alive is its own reward. Rather than simply reading about such people, get involved through volunteering so that you can see face-to-face the hardships experienced by others. For example, you might consider volunteering at a hospice, a hospital for children with terminal diseases or in a disaster relief community where people have lost homes and livelihoods. However bad things may seem for you, seeing the pluck and determination of those undergoing severe hardships can help you to realize that human beings really are amazing, resilient and deeply profound. It can also help you to balance your own woes and keep them in perspective.

 

Ask people to tell you about the happiest moments in their life. How often do you ask people to recall the happy memories and what makes them happy now? People love talking about what they care about, what motivates them and what makes them happy and yet, it’s not always an obvious topic for general conversation. It’s really important to provide the space for people to open up about their happy moments––it helps them to articulate in front of an audience what matters most to them (and may thereby inspire them even further) and it will help you to see the lighter, brighter and happier side of the people in your life.

 

Read public gratitude journals available online (simply search for “online gratitude journals”). Reading about how other people find gratitude in everyday things can inspire you to feel more hopeful generally and to see that many, many people genuinely care for the beauty and awe of this world and its beings.

  • Restore Your Faith in Humanity Step 6Bullet1.jpg

Changes in sentencing laws over the last 25 years have led to an era of mass incarceration with the prison population of the United States quadrupling since the early 1970s. In addition to America’s shift in sentencing policy, political and social forces in this country have led to a reduction in both prison rehabilitation and parole programs. As a result, more prisoners are completing full sentences while in prison, and being released with little or no legal supervision on the outside.

As Jeremy Travis states in But They All Come Back, the reality of mass incarceration has translated into a reality of reentry.

Because there are record numbers of inmates who are being released with minimal to no preparation behind bars or support services in their communities, criminal justice experts, academicians, policy makers, and practitioners have once again turned their focus to prisoners returning to society, or what has become known as prisoner reentry.

Prisoner reentry has become a lens through which to view the numerous issues related to the process of a prisoner’s release from incarceration and his or her reintegration into communities and society at large. It seeks to encourage the coordination of programs, services, and human resources–both inside and outside prison walls–in order to ensure the successful assimilation of prisoners into new lives, roles, jobs, families and communities.

The literature on prisoner reentry is considerable. Anyone looking into the subject of reentry might consider the wide array of issues subsumed under the prisoner reentry umbrella—probation, parole, prisoner deinstitutionalization, restorative justice, recidivism, crime victims’ rights, public safety, health, substance abuse, family violence, mental illness, housing, employment and economics. Questions of race, gender, and/or age are also of interest. Employ these words and/or phrases as key words in developing a successful research strategy for locating books in CUNY+ and/or journal articles in the periodical databases listed below. Reentry is sometimes spelled with a hyphen as “re-entry.” You may want to use both spellings.

 

These days many governors face a conundrum that is taxing their cost-cutting creativity. State revenues are climbing steadily, but the top line growth is eclipsed by soaring Medicaid outlays, surging retirement obligations, declining state pension fund assets and, in some states, court-mandated increases in public school funding. The pressure is so acute that state officials are now thinking the previously unthinkable — releasing inmates early to trim their prison and jail population.

The war on crime launched two decades ago spawned a wave of tougher sentencing laws. This in turn triggered a steep surge in expenditures on prisons to accommodate the influx of offenders, even including nonviolent drug offenders and recidivists snared for minor crimes by the likes of California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. As a result, the nation’s prisons are overflowing with nonviolent felons who languish behind bars many years longer than are necessary to see the error of their ways and pay their debt to society. And state expenditures on corrections have climbed by 24 percent alone in the past five years.

Excessive incarceration saddles taxpayers and government with housing, feeding and guarding prisoners well beyond the point when there’s any point at all. Once they’ve done their time, many inmates emerge from incarceration bereft of jobs, housing, money and hope. This marks them from the outset as prime candidates for recidivism. Ironically, the pressure to curb corrections expenditures has spurred state and federal officials to embrace prisoner re-entry programs, such as family assistance, housing aid, mental health services, education services and, of course, job training.

These welcome initiatives beg the question, though, of whether ex-offenders actually will be able to land jobs. To be realistic, they rarely leap to the head of the applicant queue in the eyes of employers. When the labor market is very tight, some venturesome employers take a chance on ex-inmates as a last resort. But they’re the laudable exception, seldom the rule.

The travails of ex-offenders trying to find jobs ricochet all over society. They’re in a miserable position upon release to support themselves and fulfill any child support obligations. Unable to secure jobs, they cannot burnish their credentials as trustworthy workers. Idle except for the shadowy underground economy, many eventually revert to criminality because there’s little where else for them to fit.

A soundly conceived transitional jobs program could help steer motivated ex-offenders down a constructive path and better position them to persuade employers that they’re a safe bet. But where on earth, would the money to finance it come from?

The answer may lie right under government’s nose, namely in the massive appropriations for the corrections system. The wages and supervisory costs for a minimum wage public service job total considerably less than the per inmate cost of incarceration. Voila! Releasing carefully screened inmates several years early to participate in a well-run transitional employment program could get them back on track and plow savings back to the government in the bargain. The program we are aiming to open will do this. I know there are several programs in effect and operating, but I feel the need to have one that tailors to the screened ex-offender and then start re-education and vocational training in prison. We want to have partners in certain industry to hire a certificated skill worker. We will house this candidate for six months all the while we will work on life skills and other skills needed to cope with being back into the mainstream of life. We are serious about this passion because we are the very people we want to help.

Who would they work for? I envision the corrections department contracting with other government agencies, like the highway, public works and environmental protection departments, and with reputable nonprofit groups that can provide credible training and supervision.

What kind of work would they do? To minimize static from unions understandably protective of their jobs, the ex-offenders could perform tasks that government clearly cannot afford, as evidenced by the fact that the work goes undone for years on end. Clearing, grooming and maintaining unsightly mass transit rights of way, viaducts and waterfronts are visible examples of unattended public work. The higher profile the assignments, the more taxpayers will value the debt to society being paid by the ex-offenders via their work and see the payoff from early release employment programs.

Engaging The Youth Is Innovation Within Ministry

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Our vision within our scope of outreach is to gravitate the young adults as well as the ex-offenders already in the system of corrections. Click the GofundMe insignia to view our passion. It will come to pass though it tarries…

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon
  • Relational. Effective ministry with adolescents was built on relationships. The central place of the Emmaus story in A Vision of Youth Ministry demonstrated the primacy of relationships and of discovering God within those relationships.
  • Goal-centered. In articulating two primary goals for ministry, A Vision of Youth Ministry gave specific direction while encouraging leaders in local communities to create a variety of ways to reach their goals. There was no longer one way to minister to adolescents.
  • Multidimensional. An effective ministry incorporated eight components with their program activities so that the needs of all the young people could be addressed and the resources of the community could be wisely used. This multidimensional approach was a needed response to social-only, athletics-only or religious education-only youth programming.
  • Holistic and developmental. A Vision of Youth Ministry proposed an approach that attended to a wide spectrum of adolescent needs and that was attuned to the distinct developmental, social, cultural, and religious needs of adolescents.
  • People-centered and needs-focused. A Vision of Youth Ministry focused on young people. It encouraged an approach designed to address the particular needs of young people in their communities. A Vision of Youth Ministry did not recommend program models or specific activities, recognizing that the day had passed when one program structure could respond to all the needs of youth.

 

e, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver

 

The emerging consensus of research shows a growing percentage of young adults are not connected with any religion, although many younger Americans express an interest in spirituality. This reality raises concern about young adult participation in religious communities.

What is the involvement of young adults in local congregations of all faiths across the United States? And how are faith communities with significant proportion of young adults distinctive?

youth-min

For these resources, a congregation is considered to have significant young adult participation if 21% or more of its participants were 18 to 34 years of age.  Across all faiths, a total of only 16% of all congregations were in this category.

The resources below explore patterns and practices of churches and other congregations with significant young adult involvement.

A report summarizing the research on churches and faith communities with significant young adult participation highlighted their distinctive characteristics.

A narrative review of current literature on the topic of young adult participation (PDF).  This review was authored by LiErin Probasco, a PhD candidate in sociology at Princeton University. She has been involved in young adult ministry and taught the subject at seminaries in Virginia and New England.  She is currently engaged in community research in East Palo Alto, California.

A summary of the best practices for young adult ministry based on the following case studies and our research. (PDF)

And finally, ten case studies of churches and other faith communities with significant young adult involvement.  These cases were chosen to capture to diversity of American religious congregations today. They vary in size from a group as small as 50 to a megachurch and are from multiple faith traditions.  In each case the case study involved one or more on-site visits with the local group and interviews with key leaders and some of the young adult participants, as well as gleaning information from working documents and Web sites.

A few years ago, one of us (Ken) was part of an ongoing study group with a profoundly ecumenical mix of clergy.

Ranging in age from the late 20s to the early 60s, the members were from the United States, Canada and Ireland and represented a variety of faith traditions: Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Jewish, United Methodist and Presbyterian.

As Ken and his colleagues reflected on their experiences leading people of faith, they came to an unexpected epiphany: none of their congregations placed much value on ministries with youth.

The large Roman Catholic parish always assigned youth ministry to the newest priest. Two of the mainline congregations hired staff from other denominations to lead their youth groups. And a couple of the other churches had simply abandoned the field to parachurch organizations.

That conversation opened Ken’s eyes. He realized for the first time that mainline churches in the United States have essentially outsourced ministries with youth.

The reasons for this development are varied. Youth are rarely in positions of power in local churches and often have no strong advocate on church governing boards. Clergy who have studied and trained in theological schools often prefer to preach and teach among adults — the typical and most rewarded career path in ministry. And given the very nature of adolescence — a sometimes chaotic and messy season in life — youth ministry is inherently challenging work.

As a result, many congregations have all but walked away from the field, allocating minimal resources to youth programs and hiring people with little theological training to lead them.

To borrow from the work of Clayton Christensen, this is a classic “bottom of the market” scenario in which disruptive innovation occurs. As Christensen might argue, overlooked youth ministries operating out on the margins — just like small steel mills making low-grade rebar — do not remain marginal. Youth ministers mature and develop; the most effective ones are not content simply to lead small groups in abandoned church basements.

While mainline churches were looking the other way, many youth ministries transitioned from small groups to larger gatherings with sophisticated music and technology to entire alternative worship services. It is not an accident that many of the most effective and visible megachurch pastors in the United States (Adam Hamilton and Bill Hybels among them) began as youth ministers. At the same time, many parachurch organizations such as Young Life discovered new ways to engage youth directly, bypassing congregations and connecting their ministries to high schools and other contexts.

And so, in the same way that Toyota entered the American auto market with the low-end Corona (which eventually morphed into the Land Cruiser and the entire Lexus line of luxury cars), marginalized youth ministries became laboratories for innovation. And like 1970s-era General Motors, mainline Protestant denominations largely ignored them. Like GM, we stayed too long with established models even as they declined in numbers and quality.

Meanwhile, new laboratories in congregations and parachurch organizations flourished, offering young people significant opportunities to experience Christ. Over the years, as mainline Protestants settled for weaker forms of youth ministry, many of these laboratories became their own vibrant institutions — with real consequences for mainline Protestants.

As a result of our neglect of youth ministries, mainline Protestants have lost young people who might otherwise have grown up to become adult leaders in our congregations. Even more important, we have also lost an untold number of gifted young people who might have considered a call to ordained ministry.

Fortunately, Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation also tells us that solutions are possible. Hand-wringing despair is not mainline Protestants’ only option. Rather, we can learn from the best insights of these laboratories and develop our own skunk-works experiments.

Duke Divinity School has already developed one such experiment, the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation, which has had a profound impact on many of its participants — not only the teenagers who attend the academy every summer but also Divinity School faculty and alumni. Many other seminaries have developed similar academies, most with the visionary support of Lilly Endowment Inc. And some mainline congregations are investing more resources and talent in ministries with young people.

At the same time, we need to remember that the growth of youth ministry laboratories has not been an unequivocal success. Clearly, youth ministries still have room for improvement — much of which the mainline is uniquely positioned to achieve. The lack of theological education among those who serve and lead adolescents going through one of life’s most developmentally important seasons is a travesty. Approximately 70 percent of full-time youth ministers have no theological education, according toone recent survey.

Already, experiments to help address this challenge are emerging from within mainline Protestantism. Building on the Youth Academy, Duke Divinity School now offers a master of arts in Christian practicedesigned for active youth ministers in partnership with their congregations. The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church offers a youth director cohort that provides skills training, vocational support and spiritual formation for persons serving in youth ministry programs.

When we recall Ken’s conversation with ecumenical clergy, we might be tempted to avoid the subject — and the challenge — of youth ministry altogether. After all, Christensen called this kind of change “disruptive” for a reason.

It will be no small task for pastors and judicatory leaders to rethink our practice of outsourcing — or worse, ignoring — youth ministry. But it will be equally challenging to allow new forms of worship, music, technology and community to reform us.

The future of mainline Protestant witness will depend on whether we can incorporate disruptive innovation into our identity for the sake of ongoing faithful Christian witness.

When we were in seminary, one of our professors published a book entitled “Will Our Children Have Faith?” In the light of the disruptions of the past several decades, the question we need to ask ourselves now is, “Will our faith have children?”

Pastor Kendall B. Goslee, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

Pastor Kendall B. Goslee, Sr., has a tremendous passion for God’s WORD coupled with agape love for all God’s people. He has a contagious spirit of generosity that flows through every facet of his ministry.

Happy Birthday Aaron

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Happy Birthday Aaron


Nine campaigns, several struggles within myself, but this is what it’s all about.. Being blessed inwardly and knowing it is the best. 

Thank you, God, for giving me another year of life.
Thank you for all the people who remembered me today
by sending cards, and letters, gifts and good wishes.

Thank you for all the experience of this past year;
for times of success which will always be happy memories,
for times of failure which reminded me of my own weakness and of my need for you,

for times of joy when the sun was shining,
for times of sadness which drove me to you.

Forgive me
for the hours I wasted,
for the chances I failed to take,
for the opportunities I missed this past year.
Help me in the days ahead to make this the best year yet,
and through it to bring good credit to myself,
happiness and pride to my loved ones,
and joy to you. Amen.

Good Or Guilt

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Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.

Martin Luther

I did an interview today and was asked about how I make decisions regarding helping others. I told the interviewer if I encounter somebody in need but don’t feel like helping them, I usually don’t. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But I explained the reason I don’t is because there are plenty of people I actually do feel like helping. And each of us only has so much time and so many resources, so I can’t choose both.

If I help the people I want to help, I’ll actually follow through, they will sense my sincerity, and the whole experience will be more enjoyable for both of us.

Not only this, but if I help the other person out of a sense of duty, I’m not so much helping them as I’m trying to get rid of my negative feelings of guilt or responsibility. My reasons are marginally selfish: I want to stop feeling guilty.

Are there times when we should do something because we feel guilty? Sure. But I don’t think there are as many as we think. I don’t want to be driven by guilt, I want to be driven by love.

In the work I do, I’m constantly asking people for help. All kinds of help. But my friends help me, I hope, because they like me, because we are friends, and because they believe in the projects I’m working on, not because they feel guilty. I don’t want anybody to help me because they feel guilty.

So, here’s how I choose where to serve, based on trying to serve for the fun of it and the love of it rather than the “ought to” of it.

  1. I try to contribute by offering the kind of help that fits my skill sets, talent and passion. For me, this means either writing advice, blogging advice, marketing help and so on. I could easily go volunteer at my local homeless shelter, but honestly, I’d be much better helping somebody who actually needs my skill and experience and I’d make a much bigger difference in their life. Why wouldn’t I choose to help where I could be the most help?
  2. I normally try to serve people I like and respect. This makes serving easy because you just get to hang out and partner with good people. Helping people you like and respect makes helping fun.
  3. I try to contribute to projects I believe in and want to see succeed. This doesn’t mean the other projects aren’t good for the world, it just means they don’t light me up.  I’m not excited about all sorts of amazing things. I’m excited for the people who are excited about them, but for whatever reason, I’m just not feeling it with them. Why? Because we are all different, and different things light us up. If I’m going to contribute several hours a week to something, I want it to be toward something I can get behind, daydream about and help into existence. I don’t want it to feel like work, I want it to feel like fun.

So, an obvious question you might have is: Where’s the sacrifice?

I’ll answer that question in the form of a question: Why do we assume a sacrifice has to feel negative?

People sometimes comment about this point by saying Jesus made sacrifices in the garden. Specifically, some people say Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross, He did so out of obligation or duty. I disagree with this idea, at least in part.

I believe the reason Jesus didn’t want to be crucified is because He was sane! Nobody in their right mind would want to be crucified. In fact, He asked His Father if He could somehow get out of it. Who could blame Him? But to say He was crucified even though He didn’t want to be crucified is to take the idea too far. He wanted to sacrifice on our behalf, He just didn’t want to feel the torture and the pain. A mother wants to give birth, but she doesn’t want to feel pain either. Still, if you tell her it’s going to hurt terribly, she’s not going to back out of it, she wants to have the baby. A dad wakes up and takes care of his crying child, even though he doesn’t want to get out of bed. Are they doing these things out of a sense of duty or obligation? Hopefully not. Hopefully they are making sacrifices because they want to.

God does the loving thing all the time, even when the loving thing will bring Him pain, pain He’d rather avoid. And He does the loving thing because He wants to, because He loves His creation, and because He is love. God is not motivated by guilt, shame or even a sense of duty. He is only motivated by love.

Jesus isn’t in an army, He’s in a family. He’s in a trinitarian relationship in which each member loves the other. They’re not raising the trinitarian flag every morning and saying a pledge, they just love each other. Love is the only motivation God has for anything He does, including acts of justice.

So what does this have to do with you? A lot. I think doing things because we want to, out of a loving motivation, is better than doing things out of a sense of duty. In fact, I think dutiful motivations are closely akin to pride, while loving motivations are not.

I know I’ve just lost half of you. But stick with me and think about these ideas. Answer a few questions for me in your mind:

Do you do acts of kindness out of a sense of duty, or out of a sense of enjoyment and love? Do you do acts of kindness to be right, or because you enjoy doing them and are motivated by love? And here’s an even tougher question: Do you enjoy the sacrifices you make for others? And would it be harder to call those sacrifices sacrifices if you genuinely enjoyed the work? Are you getting some kind of martyr complex by doing stuff you don’t want to do? Does it make you proud that you made such a sacrifice? And if you are getting a sense of pride for your sacrifice, is it really a sacrifice by your definition? After all, you’re kind of getting paid for it …

If you asked your dad why he sacrifices so much for you, which answer would be more affirming: an answer in which he stated it was his duty as a father, or an answer in which he just said, “Because I love you.” Which answer seems more selfless?

And let me ask you a final question. Think about it for a while, maybe for a few days. Can you imagine a life in which you were no longer motivated by guilt, shame or a sense of duty? Can you imagine a life in which you served God out of love and enjoyment and even fun? Would you feel OK with God if you were actually happy? If not, I want to suggest you’ve fallen into a religious kind of trap that may be far removed from the joy of loving and knowing and serving God.

If you’d like a more joyful life, start serving in the ways God has gifted you to serve, and cut out all the duty and obligation and pride crap. If you are teaching Sunday school out of a sense of obligation, stop. Literally stop as soon as you can. Instead, find something that gets you fired up. Who knows what that something is—maybe it’s plumbing or carpentry work, maybe it’s counseling executives, maybe it’s walking people’s dogs or planting a community garden. Who knows, but serve in a way God has wired you to serve. He actually wants you to enjoy it, not offer it to Him as some sort of sad sacrifice. Can you imagine your earthly father wanting you to be miserable all the time? Why do we imagine God would be so dysfunctional and, well, mean?

Make the kinds of sacrifices that you LOVE to make. In other words, be like God.

 

The Behavior Of Gratitude While In The Storms Of Life

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‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.

Alice Walker

 

1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Message (MSG)

16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

If you are not in a difficult time, you likely will encounter one soon. Jesus promised that we will have many hardships in this life (John 16:33). And was He right!

As unpleasant as trials are, there’s still much reason for giving thanks. Yesterday, we looked at three provisions believers can count on during adversity: God’s presence, a pathway through the trouble, and potential to grow. Today, Let’s explore two more.

Protection. God doesn’t necessarily keep believers from suffering or disappointment. Stopping the storms may be our goal, but from Hispoint of view, the adversity may be necessary to mature us spiritually. But the Father offers protection by staying with us in the struggle. Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are promised that God indwells us and will never leave. What’s more, we have assurance that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). So our ever-present God walks with us through the hardships, providing guidance and speaking truth into the situation.

Peace. While difficulties cause many people anxiety, believers have God’s peace. This inner serenity does not depend on whether circumstances improve. Rather, it’s a result of our relationship with Him. Our main
focus shouldn’t be on fixing the problem but on our dependence upon God.

As we recognize the Lord’s provision during trials, we can genuinely express gratitude. Doing so will enable us to fix our eyes on Him rather than on our circumstance. We often don’t know what the purpose is for each ensuing trial, but we do know that our God is good and trustworthy.

Be Deliberate In Christ

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Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.

Oswald Chambers

Genesis 22:15-18, Exodus 19:5, Romans 5:19, and Deuteronomy 11:1
God has a predetermined unique purpose for each of his children to accomplish, a purpose that will require steadfast obedience to His word. Unfortunately, many people fail to reach their full potential because of disobedience that detrimentally impacts their lives. Deliberate obedience is the key to success in every aspect of the life of a believer. If we obey the Word of God, allowing it to be our guide, we will experience great success; we will avoid shame and forgo undue stress. Committing to God’s authority and the authority of those to whom we are subordinate, we will avert decisions and actions that can have long-term negative results.
Contrary to popular belief, obedience and disobedience are choices that we intentionally make. We cannot pray for God to infuse His will and way into us. We must deliberately choose to obey God and those who have authority over us. Nearly every blessing the Bible promises to God’s people has a condition attached to it. This means it will entail some type of action on our part. Salvation is not passive, but it demands our active cooperation and commitment so that we can enjoy all of the benefits we are entitled to as believers. God simply cannot bless men who transgress His will and word.
Obedience is the act of conforming to the command of a superior out of regard for his or her authority. Christians are to coincide with God’s ways as directed in His word. Ideally, we are motivated to obey God because of our love and gratitude for Him. We must master the ability to submit to authority before we can acquire positions of authority or experience significant success in life. It does not matter if the authority figure is on our job, in our church, in our community, or in our home. At some point in our lives, we must subject ourselves to someone else’s authority. Submitting to authority is a mechanism God often uses to prepare us for victorious living and promotion.


There is a constant war between our flesh and our spirit man. The only way to remain in the spirit is to crucify (die to) our flesh daily by practicing obedience. God promises cursing for disobedience (see Adam in Genesis 3:17) and blessings for obedience (Abraham in Gen 22:15-18). Romans 5:19 reminds us that one man’s (Adam’s) disobedience caused it to be necessary for Christ to come and die for our sins. Our predisposition to sin is our inheritance from Adam. If we do not study the word of God daily, we will not experience the transformation acquired through obedience. Consequently, we will default back into our sin nature, which causes stagnation and mediocrity. In Exodus 19:5 God promises His people that if we obey his voice and keep his covenant, then we shall be a special treasure above all people. Additionally, Deuteronomy 11:13-15 assures us that God will always reward those who obey and love Him.images

Disobedience is the number one cause of the troubles we encounter in life. Even Satan, our adversary, has less influence regarding these challenges. We often consciously choose to conduct our lives contrary to God’s word. In order to experience the deliverance we seek from God, we have a role to play in acquiring our freedom. For example, if someone would like to remain delivered from pornography or drugs, that individual will need to make a deliberate decision to stay away from anything that will provide opportunity to indulge in that behavior. If an individual is attempting to live a life free of fornication, as scripture directs, he or she ought to avoid all occasions and conversations that could possibly lead to such actions. Poor decisions made in the heat of the moment can have permanent results and can cause difficult challenges for future generations. Stop acting as if we are the only ones affected by our decisions. By simply obeying the laws and principles outlined in the Bible, we will achieve the success we seek and receive the promises that God describes in His word.

The life of obedience leads to eternal life, salvation, joy and prosperity. The obedient life will take time, passion, and practice. By contrast, the life of disobedience will lead to a life of curses, poverty, lack and wasted time. How are you spending your time? How do you prioritize your day? Time is the true measure of life. Failure to establish correct priorities causes you to waste your time and energy. Refuse to waste the time God has given you.
Self-evaluation (Galations 4:6) through the lens of the Holy Spirit is the best way to know if our walk is an obedient one. We must thoroughly consider our decisions before we pursue them. Furthermore, it is essential to first seek the kingdom of God before all other pursuits (Matthew 6:33) are undertaken. We must train ourselves to put the potential consequences of our decisions at the forefront of our minds. We should live a life that will inspire others to want to follow Christ by our obedience. As we do this, we will live a life that pleases God and one that will bring Him the glory.

 

Shame

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In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

Confucius

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Jer 6:15 (NAS) “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.”

  • The Way Of Shame

Shame, guilt, and condemnation are similar in that they all have to do with sin, but different in degree, duration, and scope.

  1. Shame is an intense feeling of angst that makes you wish you could evaporate; extreme humiliation and remorse; a despairing of life from abject embarrassment.
  2. Guilt is realizing you have done wrong, usually for some particular sin.
  3. Condemnation is being sentenced (convicted) for doing wrong.

Shame is deeper than guilt. It is not based on having done something wrong so much as a soul ache of being wrong at the core. Shame is more piercing than condemnation where the reality of judgment is mentally apprehended from an outside arbitrator. With shame we palpably feel our own depravity in vivid self-realization.

With this definition, what could possibly be the benefit of shame in the lives of the redeemed? Should its debilitating presence be given no quarter, or does God use it–even require it? Is it a pity party, or the Holy Spirit’s doing?

The Case For Shame

 

1 Cor 15:34 (Wey) Wake from this drunken fit; live righteous lives, and cease to sin; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak thus in order to move you to shame.

1 Cor 6:5 (Wey) I say this to put you to shame…

Eze 16:63 (NKJ) that you may remember and be ashamed…

Ps 69:5,7 (NKJ) O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You… Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face.

Heb 12:2 (Phi) …For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame [NIV: scorning its shame] because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering…

The Case Against Shame

Isa 54:4 (NKJ) “Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth…”

Joel 2:27 (NIV) Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.

1 Pet 2:6 (Wey) For it is contained in Scripture, “See, I am placing on Mount Zion a Cornerstone, chosen, and held in honour, and he whose faith rests on Him shall never have reason to feel ashamed.”

 

  • Now, it might be understood that these and other “no shame” Scriptures are a future promise–spoken as a destiny and hope. Or again it might be pointed out that these types of texts are promising that we will not be ashamed at “throwing in” with God in the long run. But still, there they are: and should we not strive toattain them?

 

Refusing The Treatment      

 

  • Is shame good or bad? Useful or destructive? In small doses or large? And what does shame have to do with love?

Jer 3:3 (NIV) Therefore the showers have been withheld, and no spring rains have fallen. Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame.

  • In previous studies, we have looked at conviction and condemnation in the way of repentance. Conviction is portrayed in Scripture as the first (welcome) work of the Spirit, and condemnation as the (just) sentence of God on our sinful natures. This much, hopefully, is clear in its practical benefit in our spiritual reflexes to prod us back into Christ when we find ourselves “in the flesh”.

Jer 6:15 (NAS) “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.”

  • Shame might also have a use in our sanctification, and this might be good to understand. For example, often we flinch at looking so closely at our proclivities to sin because we feel a deep sense of shame… and so turn our eyein order to temporarily ease the pain. The sermon is over, the session is done, and we go away from the mirror and forget what we look like.
  • Part of the romance of God may be to prepare us to be a “blushing” bride. We certainly have enough to blush over, if we will just let the Spirit search us. But this blushing of shame “the flesh” HATES more than anything! It touches the very nerve of “self” in a most painful way. So why should we, or why must we, endure this awful feeling?

 

Reactions To God

Luke 5:8 (Wey) When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at the knees of Jesus, and exclaimed, “Master, leave my boat, for I am a sinful man.”

 

  • Simon Peter’s response is part of anyone’s reaction to a realencounter with God. By seeing Jesus he was “undone” by the resultant heightened sense of his own depravity; how far He was from the glory of God.
  • It is one thing to play with words and self deception concerning our state before the Holy One; it is another to come up against His pure goodness. What we thought we wanted now makes us feel dirty. When goodness is laced with badness it is easier to take, easier to relate to. But pure goodness is alien to us. And we know God is powerful, but to experience that power brings our own insufficiency into the light. We tend to recoil from what we also most want.
  • Jesus did not leave Simon Peter for his honest reaction, speaking words of comfort instead and calling him as an apostle. For Peter’s will power had come up against a greater will. But Peter’s “reaction” remained for a deeper “treatment” at a later date.
  • Are we greater than Simon Peter? Are we less in need of being saved “in the highest way” than him? Will we not have to be cured of this same problem in the future, even after hearing words of comfort? Even after confessing Christ? Even after walking in intimate fellowship with our Lord?

 

The Problem Of Self Confidence And Pride

Luke 22:31-34 (Phi) “Oh, Simon, Simon, do you know that Satan has asked to have you all to sift like wheat?–but I have prayed for you that you may not lose your faith. Yes, when you have turned back to me, you must strengthen these brothers of yours.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison, or even to die with you!” “I tell you, Peter,” returned Jesus, “before the cock crows today you will deny three times that you know me!”

 

  • Peter was a boaster, being confident in himself. Like us, he was prone to make grand promises to God and then to blow it inactual experience, leading to the ache of shame.

Luke 22:59-62 (Phi) “I am convinced this man was with him…” “Man,” replied Peter, “I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crew. The Lord turned his head and looked straight at Peter, and into his mind flashed the words that the Lord had said to him… “You will disown me…” …and he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.

  • In this dismal process of humiliation we perhaps can understand at a deeper level how God is going to work out that no flesh will boast in His presence.
  • Come on, with us? Really?

 

God’s Method For Turning Us Into Good Lovers

Eze 16: 54,58-61 (NIV) ” …so that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all you have done… You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices… This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve… Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed…”

 

  • These shameful failings are indeed painful, but Jesus took the blow for Peter, and for us as well. He was well aware of the emotional impact it would have on Peter when their eyes met. He knew about all thisin advance. And it was no whim or chance, it was planned that way. He deliberately chose this path and “took the blow” with/for us because our souls needed this particular medicine.

Jer 31:19 (NAS) For after I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed, and also humiliated, because I bore the reproach of my youth.

From Glory To Shame And Back Again

 

  • In Romans 9-11, Paul gives an overview of God’s dealings with genetic Israel (this “generation”–or progeny) and spiritual Israel (the church), pitting the two in temporary contest–yet tracing out God’s destiny for each. By the end (where we will now enter in) Paul is soaring as he considers the majesty of God’s plan–so full of the mind of Christ he is about to go “bonkers” in verses 33-36. But before he does, he makes an essential point on God’s dealing with both the Jews and Gentiles, that is a summation of the wisdom of God.

Rom 11:32 (Phi) God has all men penned together in the prison of disobedience, that he may have mercy upon them all.

Rom 11:32 (Wey) For God has locked up all in the prison of unbelief, that upon all alike He may have mercy.

Rom 11:32 (Jer) God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.

Rom 11:33-36 (NIV) Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” or “Who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

 

  • What “sent” Paul into this ecstatic revelry? How can the shame of the fact that all of us have been grievously disobedient end up as being to God’s praise and glory?

 

Answer: The Contrast Of Pharisee And The Really Good Lover

Luke 7:36-38 (Wey) Now one of the Pharisees repeatedly invited Him to a meal at his house; so He entered the house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the town who was a notorious sinner. Having learnt that Jesus was at table in the Pharisee’s house she brought a flask of perfume, and, standing behind close to His feet, weeping, began to wet His feet with her tears; and with her hair she wiped the tears away again, while she lovingly kissed His feet and poured the perfume over them.

Luke 7:39-40 (Wey) Noticing this, the Pharisee, His host, said to himself, “This man, if he were really a Prophet, would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching him–and would know that she is an immoral woman.” In answer to his thoughts Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have a word to say to you.” “Rabbi, say on,” he replied.

Luke 7:41-43 (NAS) “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged correctly.”

Luke 7:44-47 (Wey) Then turning towards the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house: you gave me no water for my feet; but she has made my feet wet with her tears, and then wiped the tears away with her hair. No kiss did you give me; but she from the moment I came in has not left off tenderly kissing my feet. No oil did you pour even on my head; but she has poured perfume upon my feet. This is the reason why I tell you that her sins, her many sins, are forgiven–because she has loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Sine Qua Non: Without Which Not

Rom 11:32-33 (NIV) For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!….

 

  • Let us be clear about this: sin stinks–to us and God–but it has a purpose. Boy it hurts, but God feels the pain all the more. So why does He in His Sovereignty allow us to make such a mess, especially if He Himself feels the pain more acutely than we do? Is this really the right way to cure our wound? Is this the treatment needed to craft souls that can and will show true eternal passion towards God?

Luke 7:47 (Phi) “That is why I tell you that her sins, many as they were, are forgiven; for she has so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give.”

  • Notice, here, that Jesus is not content with the positive case; he comes around and underscores the negative case. Those forgiven little are in the position of disadvantage when it comes to love. Wild!
  • So, having been exposed by God so grievously entrapped by sin, we find ourselves at once ashamed and at once joyous. For God has made “good lovers” of us after all. And He knew just how to do it. It certainly was not our idea! We did not counsel Him to do it this way!

 

The Way Of “Much Love”

 

  • On seeing this, we are moved to lavish His feet with kisses and wipe His feet with our hair. Let the Pharisees see it and “have a cow”. For we know from what He has saved us, and feel the shame as palpably as the glory of His salvation, and cannot help but praise His Holy Name for saving us in the highest way. Let them look, we are enraptured with our Savior.

Ps 40:1-3 (NIV) I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see it and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

Ps 40:5 (NKJ) Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered.

 

  • Notice, above, that David launches off into ecstatic praise similar to Paul’s–from the same insight that “sent” Paul into God’s presence: the shame of our own need.

 

The Residue Of Shame And The Eternity Of Love

 

  • Our attempts at love before were ephemeral and fickle. Sure, we have had our good moments, and hope for more, but then again our duplicity surfaces. How did we ever think this would do? Was God going to wave a magic wand and “cheat” to cure us? No, this is not like Him. His solution is just and true, and it will work forever.
  • Beyond recognizing we have sinned (guilt) and that God has seen it (condemnation), feeling shame for WHO WE ARE is “fit” for us as well. It transforms the instincts of our hearts and shatters every idol of our own self-sufficiency.

Rom 7:24 (NIV) What a wretched man I am!…

  • Shame is the “school of love” in Christ. Have we dropped out before graduating? Can we still blush?

1 Jn 1:8-10 (NAS) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Love Me As You Did At First?

 

  • At first, it was shame that led us to the love and forgiveness of Christ. But we have grown calloused, desensitized, even brazen. Where is the instinct of shame that threw us onto Christ to begin with? Can we now love the Lord as we did at first?

Rev 2:2-5 (Wey) “I know your doings and your toil and patient suffering. And I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, but have put to the test those who say that they themselves are Apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars. And you endure patiently and have borne burdens for My sake and have never grown weary. Yet I have this against you–that you no longer love Me as you did at first. Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen. Repent at once, and act as you did at first, or else I will surely come and remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent.”

The Example Of Messiah

Heb 12:2 (Phi) …For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering…

Heb 12:2 (Wey) …He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame..

Heb 12:2 (Jer) Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings us to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right hand of God’s throne.

Phil 2:5,8-9 (Phi) Let your attitude to life be that of Christ Jesus himself… He humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, to the point of death, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him to the heights, and given him the name above all names.

 

  • Shame is the wounding of our flesh towards its death with the truth of God.

 

The Way Of Shame

 

  • If we will but see it, God has revealed the glory of THE WAY in which He is saving us. He is not merely “just” and “true” in the abstract, or in the “big picture”, just and true are His ways as well.

Dan 4:37 (NIV) “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, [after the shameful rebuke of the Lord] praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Rev 15:3 (NIV) …the song of Moses [a debilitating prophetic song of the failings of Israel] the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.”

Acts 5:41 (NAS) So they went… rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

  • Shame And The Sovereignty Of God

We are persuaded by Scripture that God has in mind to rebuke all flesh, and to “get in our faces” about election in these last days. This will be consummated in the final reconciliation of Israel after showing the world just how rotten they are. This grand display of God’s prerogative will be the ultimate revelation of election, to be sure, and He is turning this same fire loose on the church in advance, so that we can be purified as well. Many of the previous texts, it might be pointed out, concern Israel.

But are we less apostate than the Jews? More discerning? More obedient given the riches we have in Messiah? The truth is, that even with such advantages, the Lord’s name is blasphemed most lavishly and without repentance by us.

If the “shame treatment” is good enough for Israel in large doses (and stand by for the largest dose), then we in the church should revel in getting the same treatment. We are indeed “first fruits”.

  • The Shame Of The Church

The modern church seems divided into two camps: One that thinks anything purporting to be supernatural is of God without testing or discernment (the “horneys”), and the others who would just as soon have God leave them alone now that they are “saved” (the “frigids”). Each group justifies itself by comparing itself to the excesses of the other. As this pathology continues, healing and unity look even more unlikely as we diverge into alternate ditches off of the narrow path.

“A house divided cannot stand,” our Lord said. Considering this, only God can save us now from the storm to come. He told us in advance–just like he told Peter that he would surely fall away–and this episode appears to be necessary to God “saving us in the highest way”. But, boy, is it ugly to consider.

Mat 26:75 (Phi) …and he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.

What was our basis for glory–the finished work of Christ–has now become the crowning horror of our shame. We are without excuse on every side, showing unbelief and disobedience in legalism and license, despite every encouragement and warning given. But the good news–the supernatural spark of hope–is that our shame may yet become His glory.

The Shame Of The Ingathering

Zeph 2:1-3 (NIV) Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation, before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you. Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Hos 5:15-6:2 (NIV) “Then I [the Lord] will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”…”Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

 

  • Feel it? It is the unfinished suffering of Messiah. Out of such shame will God make His election most obvious. And if the church falls away from such riches even now, then let us welcome the “treatment” given to those God loves enough to bring so low, only to exalt in due time. Perhaps this is the proper training even, for those servants chosen to minister encouragement and safety to the people God loves enough to bring even lower before exalting them to the highest place?

Luke 22:32 (NIV) “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Man cooked to death in scalding shower as punishment by prison guards

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“Ethical religion can be real only to those who are engaged in ceaseless efforts at moral improvement. By moving upward we acquire faith in an upward movement, without limit.”
— Felix Adler

“Let us work in partnerships between rich and poor to improve the opportunities of all human beings to build better lives.”
— Kofi Annan

Prison Reform Movement's Weblog- America: Land of the Free, Home of the Incarcerated

“I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again,’’ he screamed, until his skin separated from his dead body.

(Source: istock/Dan Bannister)

MIAMI, FL — A torturous “punishment” session turned fatal for a mentally-ill prisoner, when prison guards forced him to stand in a tiny shower stall while being blasted by scalding hot water until his skin began to shrivel away from his body and he died.  Fellow inmates say he begged for his life before collapsing in the shower.

 * * * * *

Darren Rainey, 50, died while incarcerated a the Dade Correctional Institution.  He was serving a 2-year sentence for a victimless crime; possession of cocaine.  At the time of his death, he had only one month to go before his release.

Darren Rainey was cooked alive in a prison shower.

Rainey, who suffered from mental illness, was accused of defecating in his cell without cleaning it up.   The Florida’s Department of Corrections often comes…

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Neutrality Is Not Forging Change: America We Need Change For Ex-Offenders

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Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he’s met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.

You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.

James Anthony Froude

America’s addiction to mass incarceration has impacted our society in vastly negative and destructive ways, especially the impact it has on the family. It is obvious that something is not working. But one important fact to ponder is: 95 percent of incarcerated individuals in California will eventually leave prison and come back home.

For many, returning home will be a defining moment in their lives, with many hoping for a new beginning, wanting to turn their lives around. One would think that the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” extends to all American citizens. Not exactly. Far too many ex-offenders are still treated as second-class citizens who are made to feel alienated in their own community. Many are excluded from various memberships and volunteer activities due to their arrest or conviction history.

My motivation for addressing this issue is driven by fairness and my passion to help ex-offenders forge new identities. Should we be more supportive of ex-offenders? Absolutely! We should be doing much more in our community to help former offenders transition and re-enter society, offering services to help with employment, housing and education. We need to remove barriers to productive citizenship while working to support the successful integration of persons with criminal records. I believe all people should have a chance to succeed at establishing a regular job life.

Even though the vast majority of the prison population in United States will eventually come back home, about 50 percent of ex-offenders will re-offend and return to prison for new crimes. And that’s where we, as a community, need to intervene and open up opportunities for people with past convictions, thus creating new avenues for employment, housing and education. Employment has been shown to be the paramount factor in reducing, recidivism, returning to prison.

For those former offenders who are serious about a productive future, coming home is a defining moment, with many standing ready to prove themselves. I believe everyone deserves a fair chance, and we need to provide assistance for those who are actively seeking ways to improve their lives. Once they are given the opportunity, then let them rise or fall on their own merit. Our community’s response should not be to erect barriers that impede their growth and prosperity.

But that fair chance is too often impeded by eight simple words: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” This is the most dreaded question found on many job applications, making it harder for ex-offenders to find a job. Ironically, this same question makes it more likely that some will re-offend and return to prison, thus becoming a $27,000 a year burden for society again. Something seems terribly wrong about this when offering employment to ex-offenders can help make them contributing citizens and subsequently lowering cost to taxpayers.

 

Just maybe it’s time we allow ex-offenders the opportunity to display and demonstrate their qualifications in the hiring process before being asked about their past criminal convictions, at least to some degree. Obviously, one size does not fit all.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Let’s not forget “the welfare of one group can only be maintained through assuring the welfare of another.”

Helping Hands-May & Aaron Are Thankful To All Who Helped Us

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When a child is upset, we try to comfort her. When a stranger drops his groceries, we help him pick them up. We bring over a meal for a sick neighbor. For most of us, helping others is just something that comes naturally. It is simply how we respond to events that occur in day-to-day Life. Helping others is a part of the human experience and one of the things that makes human beings human.

Part of being a responsible person and fulfilling our various roles in life involves caring for others and using helping skills. Parents cannot meet their children’s needs if they do not listen to them. A husband needs to be sensitive to the nonverbal cues of his wife. A teacher must know where and how to refer pupils who need additional help or tutoring. A supervisor cannot maintain the respect necessary to supervise others if he/she does not have their trust and confidence. Most of us have acquired many of the skills needed to help others; however, there are times when almost everyone feels unsure of their ability to help. There are very few people who feel that they are always as effective as they would like to be in their relationships with others.

 

My wife and I thought we understood compassion. Having spent fifteen years of our life training to be a stand up loving couple to every one else, I knew how to define it, describe it, and think about it. I thought I got it.

A few years ago, May and I were hit with a serious reality. Being the spiritual head of my family, I took a long break to assess the qualities that were going to have to exist if we were going to make a comeback. The main quality I had never had to use was being able to receive help from anyone. I didn’t have a clue about receiving compassion as an adult with a wife from another married couple and their family.

We had several challenging hurdles associated with our needs. We were on house arrest, and the police had to be allowed to enter the home to search any room and anything. We were homeless and without a means to support ourselves in any fashion. We had no car and no jobs.

This experience taught me that compassion is more than being nice to someone for a few minutes or hours.

True compassion is hard work, but it’s worthwhile. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

In trying to help him, I too was changed for the better.

Among the many things I tried as part of the process, some worked. Here are the top six that have stood the test of time.

Listen.

Often while listening to someone, we are formulating replies in our mind, waiting for a lull in the conversation so we can interject. Try instead to just listen. Suspend all judgment and give the person your undivided attention.

There is powerful healing in sharing your darkest secrets and having another person truly hear it and still love you.

Respond to the emotion, not the actual words.

Angry words may conceal fear; guilt may hide behind blame. Whenever I tried to refute my brother’s literal words, he became more insistent. When I tried to understand and respond to the underlying emotion, he began to trust and open up.

Get your own support system.

I’m a firm believer that we can only give unconditional love when we can receive it too. Make sure to get out, do things with people you love, and continue to experience life. Replenish your soul.

 Remember the whole person.

When someone is spiraling into a negative path, you could lose sight of all their positive qualities. Make it a point to remind yourself, at that moment, of a particular strength she/he has. May be it’s his loyalty, or humor, or patience. See the whole person.

Put yourself in that situation mentally.

Suffering is universal. Almost all of us have felt joy and pain. The particular details may be unique, but the themes are universal. So, remind yourself of a time when you went through something related.

Meditate on this and remind yourself of every single emotion and worry you had, and how much you longed for empathy and compassion from a fellow traveler. Do this often, so that it becomes second nature.

I once read a true story reported in a Reader’s Digest column. A father and his three children got on a bus in central London. The father was lost in his own thoughts, and the kids, being unsupervised, were loud and disruptive to the other passengers.

Finally, a lady in a nearby seat leaned over to the father and said, “You really need to parent your children better. They are so unruly.” The father, shaken from his reverie, says, “I’m so sorry. Their mother, my wife, just died and we are returning from her funeral. I think we are all a little overwhelmed. I apologize.”

We are often unaware of the pain another person carries inside. So when someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, take a moment and think of this story.

You will fail sometimes, so forgive yourself.

Have compassion for yourself too. No one is perfect. Give yourself a break if you come up short sometimes. Remember you are just as human as anyone else. As long as your intentions and efforts are in the right direction most times, it will work out in the end.

Because of this experience, my compassion now flows more from the heart and not just from the mind. I feel the difference, and I hope my patients can too.

What’s the role compassion has played in your life? Please share so we may learn from each other. Should you feel compassion for our cause feel free to click the link below to see why we have compassion for the targeted species of disenfranchised human beings we are advocating to assist.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

 

This woman is about to be executed for converting to Christianity

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But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Jesus Christ

We are all over this with the weapon that isn’t carnal “Prayer”.

Pressed Beyond Measure-But Blessed

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Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.

George Whitefield

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

The Message (MSG)

8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great lengths;

Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength;

Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,

Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll.

Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.

Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;

Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.

Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;

Pressed into faith for the impossible things.

 Pressed into living my life for the Lord,

Pressed into living a Christ-Life outpoured.

The pressure of difficult times makes us value life. Every time our life is spared and given back to us after a trial, it is like a new beginning. We better understand its value and thereby apply ourselves more effectively for God and for humankind. And the pressure we endure helps us to understand the trials of others, equipping us to help them and sympathize with them.

Some people have a shallowness about them. With their superficial nature, they lightly take hold of a theory or a promise and then carelessly tell of their distrust of those who retreat from every trial. Yet a man or woman who has experienced great suffering will never do this. They are very tender and gentle, and understanding what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death is at work in us” (2Cor, 4:12).

Trials and difficult times are needed to press us forward. They work in the way the fire in the hold of a mighty steamship provides the energy that moves the piston, turns the engine, and propels the great vessel across the sea, even when facing the wind and the waves.

Cultivate “Kokoro” (warrior) Spirit -You Shall Prevail

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I am speaking to myself this morning about overcoming the harassing voices of failure, embarrassment and fear. When we launched our public campaign for building Second Chance Alliance I felt so confident about it and the timing to put it forth in the social networks we have. We started a holistic approach to self improvement with the foundation of spirituality fasting and prayer. The voices of fear and doubt got loader. They say the people are laughing at this presentation and shortly after that I did get a verbal attack from within my circle of people.

Well today I am moving forward with my resolve to be successful and happy without naysayers and outside acceptance. May and I believe in what we are doing and the passion to perform this insurmountable vision is our challenge. We are getting more motivation from this book titled:

Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life!!!

Confidence-SpartanQuotes

 

While I don’t consider myself a Spartan (mostly because I have never done an obstacle race in my life nor am I professional athlete by any means), Spartan philosophy would argue that I am indeed a Spartan based on some principles that apply to all of us who are on a journey to succeed in health and happiness. People who have made a decision to go public about what makes a difference to them. People who desire to be happy and in the pursuit of God’s Divine will for their life.

  • Finding the will to succeed: The first half of a race you run with your legs; the second half you run with your heart, right? Spartan up! will help you turn your pain into an outboard motor to drive you forward.
  • Tossing your cookies: Through the Cookie Test, Spartan Up! will teach you to overcome the need for immediate gratification and help you prosper long-term
  • Getting Spartan fit: This isn’t necessarily an all-out-run-until-you-pass-out-guide, but learning to train outside the gym for strength, endurance and flexibility for your entire body (a little burpee never hurt anyone). Spartan Up! will teach you what Survival of the Fittest means for you.
  • Moving mountains: Whether metaphorical mountains or the kind that come with a tough workout, Spartan Up! will show you how what you think of as your limitations can actually be a mere starting point for transformation. And who hasn’t been there, right?

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conquer your greatest obstacle—your will
• embrace your greatest friend—discipline
• make limitations vanish and establish a new normal
• achieve the ultimate: obstacle immunity

Other events breed sheep; Spartan Race breeds wolves. Filled with unforgettable stories of Spartan racers as well as hard-won truths learned along the course, Spartan Up! will help anyone reach their full potential—in life, business, relationships, indeed anything one sets out to do. It is the blueprint that takes you right past Go to your finish line.

Courage-is-contagious.-Share-to-inspire-your-friends__spartan-spartancourage.

My wife and I will cultivate the “Kokoro” (warrior) spirit, so we are unbeatable in life. Having God in the forefront while developing that Caleb warrior “Kokoro” tenacity will keep us forging the many obstacles we have yet to encounter with this project. Speaking life to yourself from all types of motivational resources fortifies our walls.

Obstacles

Having been trained to succeed by the most elite team of the military I should know how to resist the disposition of failure and doubt. I am going to use all I have at my disposal to achieve excellence in becoming a better person for my community and self.

 

  • Forge an unbeatable mind;
  • Get the best functional workout available with the least amount of equipment;
  • Adopt a level-headed approach to nutrition;
  • Gain exceptional overall functional strength and stamina;
  • Improve work capacity and durability.

What is black empowerment when it seems to benefit not the vast majority but an elite that tends to be recycled?

Desmond Tutu

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“With realization of one’s own potential & self confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” ~Dalai Lama

Tap into the confidence you were born with.

I feel it’s something that is always there, something you’re born with that gets lost along the way, or stolen by others. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find it again. ~Amy Lee Tempest

You didn’t come out of the womb unsure of your cry or insecure about your large umbilical cord. You came out blissfully unaware of external judgment, concerned only with your own experience and needs. I’m not suggesting that you should be oblivious to other people. It’s just that it may help to remember confidence was your original nature before time started chiseling away at it.

Once you developed a sense of self-awareness, you started forming doubts and insecurities about how other people saw you. You learned to crave praise and avoid criticism, and maybe you started getting down on yourself if you got more of the latter than the former.

When you start feeling unsure of yourself remember: we were all born with confidence, and we can all get it back if we learn to silence the thoughts that threaten it. This post is doing just that for us this morning. We have found new resolve amen!!!.

This will come to past-!!!!!

8k7la86586Make-the-Jump

Expect success.

Confidence comes from success…But confidence also combines another quality because you can be successful, yet lack confidence. It requires a mental attitude shift to an expectation of success. And this alone, can bring about more success, reinforcing the confidence. It spirals from there. ~Jason Hihn

It might seem strange to say expect success since you can’t predict the future, but don’t we do the alternative all the time? Have you ever gone into a stressful situation assuming the worst—that something would go wrong?

Conventional wisdom suggests it’s smart to expect the worst because you won’t be disappointed if you fail and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you succeed. But research suggests this isn’t universally true. Pessimism can undermine your performance creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Find the successes in every day and you’ll notice over time that they increase.

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Head your course toward the light and while on this journey your perception will be changed into seeing yourself as light to a dark world. Click the link to see what your perspective is.

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Practice confidence.

It can be practiced—and with that practice you will get better. ~Jacqueline Wolven

Like anything else in life, your confidence will improve with practice. A great opportunity to do this is when you meet new people. Just like if you were the new kid in school, they have no idea who you are—meaning you have an opportunity to show them.

As you shake their hand, introduce yourself, and listen to them speak, watch your internal monologue. If you start doubting yourself in your head, replace your thoughts with more confident ones. Ask yourself what a confident person would do and then try to emulate that.

Watch your posture and your tone. Hunching and mumbling will make you feel and look less confident, so stand up and speak slowly and clearly.

People are more apt to see you how you want to be seen if they suspect you see yourself that way.

You may have confidence in some areas and not in others; that’s how it works for most of us. Draw from those areas where you’re self assured.

If you feel inadequate in professional situations, recall how it feels physically when you’re confident in relationships. If you’re insecure in love, access what you feel when you’re comfortable around friends.

Above all, remember you are capable and worthy—just as much as anyone else, regardless of what you’ve achieved, regardless of what mistakes you’ve made. Knowing that intellectually is the first step to believing it in your heart. Believing it is the key to living it. And living it is the key to reaching your potential.

Lord Help Us Find Away To Fund Our Dream

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Rihanna was sitting with the President of the L.A. Police Commission Steve Soboroff at an L.A. Clippers game. After taking a few selfies, Rihanna dropped the phone and it broke. She wanted to remain on good terms with the LAPD, so she took out her check book and wrote a check for $25,000 for the police cadets and fallen officers fund.

WOW!!!
That’s enough to buy a few hundred phones!

Not only did she donate money, she also took the phone and signed her autograph on the back and put it up for the LAPD to auction off. Can someone tell May & I what we need to do to get exposure for our passion and cause to get some leverage to get this type of support or attention. We are not trying to do anything except be the hands and body of God to a perishing species of disenfranchised individuals…HELP!!!!! please help us understand the difference between a human, cell phone and animals.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

These comparisons are really getting to my inner peace. Why is it that a cell phone signed by a celebrity gets so much momentum and attention and there are human being struggling to make their difference make a difference. Real live human beings are suffering for various reasons and it seems that no one cares about their plight. I realize that their are programs out there, but they aren’t reaching the masses.

When the subject of ex-offenders in the workforce comes up, one of the questions that May and I likes to pose requires little imagination to answer.

“If the public doesn’t want to give ex-offenders the support they need to get a job,life skills or a launching pad to success what is the natural result of that?” asks the strategic advancement manager at AccessAbility, Inc., a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that helps people with multiple barriers to employment find high-quality jobs. “There are so many people who want to turn up their nose at ex-offenders or look past them, but the outcome of that is not good. They need a second chance.”

For an ex-offender reentering mainstream society, finding legitimate, gainful employment is an essential step toward creating a productive new life. But whether due to a lack of education and skills on the part of the job applicant or to bias on the part of employers, getting hired can be a formidable challenge for someone with a criminal record.

Convict Alley Rudy Holder

As Rudy Holder walked down East Harlem’s main drag, everyone seemed to remember him. One man after another greeted him with a handshake or a quick, one-armed hug. Each exchange brought a nervous look to Holder’s face: Friend or foe? Some of the men he recognized. Some he didn’t. But they all knew him.

“Trouble,” they said, again and again. It was the nickname he’d earned as a teenager.

After serving 12 years in prison, Rudy Holder had come home to East Harlem on parole, joining the 725,000 others who are released from correctional facilities each year across the country. Holder’s crime was gunning down two rivals, neither fatally, in 1993. In returning to Harlem, he was hoping to avoid the cycle that engulfs so many ex-convicts and lands them back in jail time after time.

Of the 7 million Americans (1 in 33) who were incarcerated, on probation or parole in 2010, more than 4 in 10 can be expected to return to prison within three years, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States.

That cycle of repeated arrests and incarcerations comes at a high price to the states, which collectively spend about $52 billion a year on corrections costs. That number has quadrupled over the last 20 years as changing law enforcement philosophies, including the so-called war on drugs, have meant more aggressive policing, criminalization and incarcerations.

While recidivism rates vary from state to state — California’s is about 60 percent, at the high end, as compared to South Carolina’s, which is about 32 percent — the national rate has remained relatively steady over the past decade. According to the most recent figures on recidivism by the Pew Center, the national rate actually decreased slightly from 1999 through 2004, from 45.4 percent to 43.3 percent.

But experts say a host of socio-economic issues make the likelihood of recidivating extremely high.

Stray dog Sochi

It’s hard to know where to start with the problems at the Sochi Olympics, but the one that appears to have attracted the widest worldwide outrage is the killing of stray dogs.

Even in Russia, where they have chastised western media for being on a witch hunt for bad stories, it was a Russian billionaire who stepped forward with a donation to save Sochi’s dogs. Oleg Deripaska heads up several energy and commodities businesses. He’s about as pro-Putin Russia as you can get, yet he didn’t want to see the dogs “culled” either. Some question whether his funding for animal shelters in Sochi will extend beyond the length of the games, but it’s still a big gesture that can only be read one way: one of Russia’s most powerful men thinks the dog killing policy is wrong.

When news broke last week that thousands of dogs were going to be eliminated in one way or another, the Humane Society and numerous other animal rights groups mobilized their networks and offered help. There are even websites up already with detailed instructions for people around the world who want to adopt a Sochi dog.

Western media has given a lot of coverage to Russia’s anti-gay policies, among other human rights abuses. There have been protests and social media campaigns calling for LGBTQ tolerance and rights. But the dog stories – with their adorable photos –stirred a level of outrage that seemed to cross greater political and geographical boundaries. And they certainly achieved faster results. It raises a quandary: do we care more about what happens to animals than other humans?

“The indispensable and transforming work of faith-based and other charitable service groups must be encouraged.
Government cannot be replaced by charities, but it can and should welcome them as partners. We must heed the growing consensus across America that successful government social programs work in fruitful partnership with community-serving and faith-based organizations.”

A national movement to rethink crime and punishment is gaining a foothold in Minnesota, pushing the state toward policies that helpex-offenders rebuild their lives in an age of instant background checks and eternal Internet mug shots.

The most recent example is the “ban the box” legislation, passed earlier this year by a bipartisan coalition, which eliminates the criminal history checkoff box on most private sector jobapplications. The bill is just one in a series of small victories that have Democrats and Republicans working together to give felons a second chance.

“I think this is without any doubt the most bipartisan work getting done at the Capitol right now,” said Sarah Walker, founder of the Second Chance Coalition, which is leading the charge.

Hebrews 13:3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

Psalms 69:33 For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

 

 

 

I Am Learning Obedience While In My Desert

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With faith and obedience practiced long enough, the Holy Ghost becomes a constant companion, our natures change, and endurance becomes certain.

Henry B. Eyring


http://youtu.be/jT4G9o4EkqU

May and I define a blessing as any expression of God’s goodness and love toward us. Answered prayer, miraculous provision, and unexpected favor are some examples. We easily recognize these as God’s gifts. But sometimes He chooses to bless us in different ways. For instance, He grants us strength and joy in the midst of hardship, and He uses our suffering to help us mature spiritually.

When we obey God, we can trust that He will display His goodness and love to us. Those who are wise will watch for His blessings in all their different forms.

Biblical Examples

A. Noah’s obedience saved his family from the flood.

B. Abraham’s obedience resulted in his becoming the father of a great nation, God’s chosen people, Israel.

C. Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.

D. Joshua won the battle of Jericho by following God’s supernatural strategy.

E. David refused to harm Saul, the anointed king.

F. Jehoshaphat relied on God’s word when the Ammonites attacked Judah.

G. Peter obeyed Jesus’ command to fish in the heat of day.

H. Paul followed God’s will and took the gospel to the Gentiles.

Types of Blessing

God’s gifts aren’t always obvious. But when you obey Him, He may bless you with:

A. Peace, joy, and contentment. These internal qualities often result when we step out in faith and obey God.

B. Spiritual growth. We will have more faith to obey the next time God challenges us to do something.

C. Eternal blessings. When we stand before God on judgment day, we will be rewarded for our obedience (see Mark 9:41; Luke 6:21-23).

Suffering Before Blessing

Often, the first effect of obedience is not blessing, but suffering. Sometimes, what God requires of us will initially lead to pain and sadness. We shouldn’t assume that difficulty means we’ve made a mistake or that He has abandoned us. Let’s look at two significant examples of suffering as an initial result of obedience:

A. Moses followed God’s command to lead His people out of Egypt. Not only did the leader experience difficulty in freeing the Israelites from bondage; the people also complained bitterly about life in the dessert once they were released. Despite these and other challenges, Moses is known as the most important leader in the Old Testament.

B. Paul obeyed God by preaching the gospel. As a result, he suffered tremendous persecution, danger, and physical abuse (2 Cor. 11:23-27). However, because he was imprisoned, the apostle had time to write his epistles to the Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon. His obedience resulted in supernatural blessing (see 2 Tim. 4:7).

God’s Purposes for Our Suffering

A. To bring us to the end of ourselves. We become most useful to the Lord when we rely on Him completely. If we respond correctly to loss and suffering, we will find blessing through it.

B. To prevent pride. Suffering reminds us that all good things are gifts from God and not earned by our own efforts.

C. To remove idols from our lives. Worshipping anything other than God is a problem. He causes all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28). So if He removes a good thing from our lives, He must have a purpose, even if we can’t see it at the time.

D. To deepen our understanding of His ways. When God does something and we aren’t sure why, we can anticipate learning something new about how He operates.

E. To demonstrate His faithfulness to His children. In suffering, you and I have the opportunity to become living examples of the goodness of God. As others watch how we respond to overwhelming adversity, they recognize His loving care.

Conclusion:

If you obey God, can you expect His blessings? Yes. But remember that His choice of blessing may be different from yours. Perhaps He will use suffering to draw you closer to Himself. Or He may use it to remove from your life those things that hinder fruitfulness for Him. No matter what, if you walk in His will, He will bless you in surprising ways. We are speaking from a suffering spirit right now, but O’ how sweet it is to see His provision and peace all the while.

What Do You Do @ 4 A.M. ?

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Benjamin Franklin — the original guru of self-control and productivity — once said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Fast forward to today and rising early is still considered a common quality of highly successful people. Much has been made of the benefits of being an early riser — we’re told that morning people are more proactive and get better grades, and that many of the most powerful CEOs wake up by 6 a.m. Early-risers, the experts claim, might also sleep better and feel happier. Of course, it’s important to note that waking up early shouldn’t come at the expense of getting enough sleep: Adequate shuteye is also an important component of success. (Don’t believe us? Check out these famous nappers.) Missing out on sleep has been linked to decreased productivity and problems focusing, among other effects. We took a look at what some of the world’s most successful people — past and present — do first-thing when they get up in the morning. Not everyone on the list is an early bird (Simone de Beauvoir said she “dislike[d] starting the day”), but they all know how to leverage their mornings to start working on a positive and productive note.   1. Barack Obama

http://on.ted.com/a0CFF

antiterror Obama is a self-proclaimed night owl — but he wakes up early to squeeze in a workout before getting in to the office at 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. “Health is obviously important to Obama,” writes Robert Pagliarini of CBS News. “So much so that it’s the first thing he does in the morning. He doesn’t hope to squeeze in a workout if he has time, he ensures he has time by doing it first thing.” 2. Anna Wintour anna wintour Before her daily blow-out at a quarter til seven to perfect that famous coif, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour reportedly starts her day with a rousing 5:45 a.m. tennis match, according to The Guardian. 3. Margaret Thatcher margaret thatcher The Iron Lady — who famously ran on around four hours of sleep — would stay up until two or three in the morning with her officials working on speeches, according to the BBC. But she would still be up by 5 a.m. to listen to “Farming Today,” a popular broadcast program on BBC Radio 4. (While Thatcher is a suspected “short sleeper,”skimping on sleep isn’t healthy for the vast majority of people.) 4. Vladimir Nabokov vladimir nabokov Like many writers, the prolific Russian novelist said that he liked to start his work first thing in the morning. He described his writing habits at his home on Lake Geneva in an interview with The New York Times in 1968: “After waking up between six and seven in the morning, I write till 10:30, generally at a lectern which faces a bright corner of the room instead of the bright audiences of my professorial days,” Nabokov told the Times (looks like someone was ahead of thestanding desk trend). “The first half-hour of relaxation is breakfast with my wife around 8:30.” 5. Tim Armstrong tim armstrong The AOL CEO told The Guardian that he gets out of bed immediately when he wakes up at 5 or 5:15 in the morning, either to answer emails or sneak in a workout. “Historically, I would start sending emails when I got up,” he told The Guardian in April. “But not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7 a.m. Before I email, I work out, read and use our products.” 6. Gwyneth Paltrow gwyneth paltrow daily routine Health comes first for actress-turned-wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow, who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to practice her asanas. ”I’m really not a morning person at all,” Paltrow told In Style. ”It’s just sheer determination. I’m very strict with myself. When I practice six days a week and eat clean food, I feel much better.” 7. Frank Lloyd Wright frank lloyd wright The genre-defining architect came up with his best ideas between four and seven in the morning, according to Daily Rituals, Mason Curry’s blog-turned-book about the routines of famous artists. “I go to sleep promptly when I go to bed,” Lloyd Wright explained to a friend, as documented in Daily Rituals. “Then I wake up around 4 a.m. and can’t sleep. But my mind’s clear, so I get up and work for three or four hours. Then I go to bed for another nap.” 8. Michelle Obama michelle obama prison Like her husband, Mrs. Obama puts exercise at the top of her morning to-do list. The First Lady told Oprah that she wants her daughters to see her as a woman who takes care of herself, even if it means waking up at 4:30 a.m. to do it. “I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work,”Michelle said in an interview for O Magazine in 2009. “If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.” 9. Simone de Beauvoir simone de beauvoir “The Second Sex” author and feminist thinker Simone de Beauvoir — who professed to not being a morning person — said she always started her day with a cup of tea before diving into writing. “I’m always in a hurry to get going,” she told The Paris Review in 1965. I first have tea and then, at about 10, I get under way and work until one.” 10. Robert Iger disney ceo Disney CEO Robert Iger is also part of the 4:30 a.m. club, waking up bright and early to enjoy a little quiet time to himself. “It’s a time I can recharge my batteries a bit,” Iger told The New York Times in 2009. “I exercise and I clear my head and I catch up on the world. I read papers. I look at e-mail. I surf the Web. I watch a little TV, all at the same time.”

Behavior-Nothing New Under The Sun

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Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Message (MSG)

 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.]
    There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth.

mandrake


And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest

Leah’s eldest son, who is supposed to be at this time about four or five years of age F5, who went out from the tent to the field, to play there perhaps; and this was at the time of wheat harvest, in the month Sivan, as the Targum of Jonathan, which answers to part of our May; a time of the year when the earth is covered with flowers: and found mandrakes in the field;
the flowers or fruit of mandrakes, mandrake apples, as the Septuagint. This plant is said to excite love, provoke lust, dispose for, and help conception; for which reasons it is thought Rachel was so desirous of these “mandrakes”, which seem to have their name “dudaim” from love: the word is only used here and in ( Song of Solomon 7:13 ) ; where they are commended for their good smell, and therefore cannot be the plant which goes now by that name; since they neither give a good smell, nor bear good fruit, and are of a cold quality, and so not likely to produce the above effects ascribed unto them. It is very probable they were lovely and delightful flowers the boy picked up in the field, such as children delight in; some think the “jessamin”, others lilies, and others violets F6; it is not easy to determine what they were; (See Gill on Song of Solomon 7:13); and brought them unto his mother Leah;
as children are apt to do, to show what line flowers or fruit they have gathered: then Rachel said to Leah, give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s
mandrakes;
being taken with the color or smell of them; for as for the notion of helping conception, or removing barrenness and the like, there is no foundation for it; for Rachel, who had them, did not conceive upon having them; and the conception both of her and Leah afterwards is ascribed to the Lord’s remembering and hearkening to them.

 

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Looking back on the rich, colorful history of sexual stimulants, it is interesting to note, in light of the medical advances we have enjoyed, that many ofthese substances worked to promote sexual interest just by correcting a nutritional imbalance. It makes sense that a person suffering from a mineral deficiency would find his or her interest in sex returning after ingesting a mineral-rich substance touted as an aphrodisiac. After all, a healthy person is much more likely to have the desire and energy for sex.

In ancient times, the pursuit of sexual stimulants was governed by the “law of similarity.” According to this rule, whose erroneous precepts still commandcredence in some parts of the world, any item that looks like aroused male or female genitalia will be powerful aphrodisiacs. One example of the principle, the oyster, is as popular among sensation seekers today as it was hundredsof years ago. The root of the mandrake, which resembles a human male, was also much sought after in biblical times. A testimonial to the enduring urgencyof our search for these stimulants is the fact that many of the animals whose parts were and are used as sexual aids under the law of similarity are nowextinct or nearly so.

For instance, the law of similarity is the basis of the continuing popularityin Asia of powdered rhinoceros horn. Often publicized in the news when customs officials confiscate and burn huge quantities of the illegally obtained horn, the fallacy continues that the horn will work as an aphrodisiac. Frequently, poachers will kill rhinoceroses and leave their bodies to rot after usingchain saws to take off the massive protrusions. As a result of this longtimehunt of the animals, all five species of rhinoceros are now endangered. China banned sales of the horn in 1993, but it continues on the black market, fetching prices of up to $27,000 per pound in Taiwan in 1990.

Chemical analysis of rhino horn reveals that it contains ethanolamine, phosphorous, and sugar, along with the free amino acids threonine, aspartic acid, lysine, histidine, ornithine, and arginine. This last ingredient has a reputation for raising the intensity of sexual sensation, although there is little evidence to support this assertion. In general, rhino horn is made of keratin–the same material of which our nails and hair is made. Originally, the penis of the rhinoceros was what men sought to restore their sex drives and potency. Under the law of similarity, this portion of the animal’s anatomy must surely have represented a persuasive argument that it would serve their purpose.

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Genesis 30:14-21

The Message (MSG)

14 One day during the wheat harvest Reuben found some mandrakes in the field and brought them home to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah, “Could I please have some of your son’s mandrakes?”

15 Leah said, “Wasn’t it enough that you got my husband away from me? And now you also want my son’s mandrakes?”

Rachel said, “All right. I’ll let him sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s love-apples.”

16-21 When Jacob came home that evening from the fields, Leah was there to meet him: “Sleep with me tonight; I’ve bartered my son’s mandrakes for a night with you.” So he slept with her that night. God listened to Leah; she became pregnant and gave Jacob a fifth son. She said, “God rewarded me for giving my maid to my husband.” She named him Issachar (Bartered). Leah became pregnant yet again and gave Jacob a sixth son, saying, “God has given me a great gift. This time my husband will honor me with gifts—I’ve given him six sons!” She named him Zebulun (Honor). Last of all she had a daughter and named her Dinah.

Perhaps Leah is already worried that Reuben’s birthright would be stolen. He finds some MANDRAKES:
1. Thought of as an aphrodisiac and aid to fertility.
2. Mentioned only Song of Solomon 7:13 “The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my lover.” (Song of Solomon 7:13)
3. The Arabs called it the “devil’s apples” and the Greeks nicknamed it “love apple” because of its legendary reputation as an aphrodisiac.
4. Mandrakes are part of SHAKESPEARE PLAYS where they are given mystical or occultic powers.
5. Spoken of in HARRY POTTER –
6. JOSEPHUS – reflects the first century idea that digging when you dig up the root of a mandrake, a demon like character lets out a scream that kills anyone who hears it. Josephus recommended securing a rope around the mandrake and tying it around a dog’s neck. When the dog follows his master, the mandrake will be removed and if the screech is heard, it will kill the dog while saving the master. (Josephus, B. J. vii. 6, § 3), quoted in http://www.theodora.com/encyclopedia/m/mandrake.html.
RACHEL thought the MANDRAKES would help her get pregnant.
RACHEL embraces CULTURAL VALUES over God’s Word. This is not the only time that Rachel embraces cultural ideas over confidence in God. In Genesis 31:34 she takes the “household gods.” when leaving for BerSheba
Rachel trusts in good luck charms but NOT in God.
LEAH’S ACCUSATION: Gen 30:15. “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband, will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
YEARS of frustration and anger
RACHEL controlled the bedroom rights.
LEAH is angry and manipulates Jacob’s love.
JUST LIKE US, RACHEL – trusting in her own ways.
LEAH – Waiting for an opportunity and lashing out.
LEAH unleashes her POISON BOX
Reuben is now a young boy or teenager
Leah has not forgotten that she is not loved
She has STORED UP her anger and it comes out when provoked. I call the place in our hearts where we store the hurts and pains of the past our POISON BOX.
THINGS WE PUT IN OUR POISON BOX
Past Hurts
Insults
Wounded Pride
Theft
Injustice
“Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” (Proverbs 26:18–21) “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.” (James 1:9)
and  Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)
The Danger of Keeping a POISON BOX:
The darts that we store away will eventually be used
When you throw your poison arrows you cannot control where they land or how much damage they cause. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6) Once thrown, you cannot take them back. Ben Franklin is attributed with saying, “A slip of the foot you will soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”The longer you hold your poison, the more it takes control of your life.

But we don’t have to keep a poison box! Here are some God Honoring alternatives to storing up past offenses.
1. Overlook Offenses
Proverbs 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Proverbs 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Things that should NOT be overlooked (Ken Sande)
Is it (the offense) dishonoring to God?
Is it damaging your relationship? Matt 18:15-20
Is it hurting others? 2 Tim 2:24-26
Is it hurting the offender? Gal 6:1-2; James 5:19-20
Reconciliation. Matt 5:21-24 (you and your brother/ sister)
Negotiation. “A mutually agreed upon third party or method.”

When the two in the dispute attempt to work things out themselves.
Proverbs 18:17–19 The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. 18 Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart. 19 An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.

2. Mediation. Intervention counseling is a form of mediation. An example of this is the The Jerusalem Counsel. Acts 15:1-5

3. Arbitration. (Example, OT PRIESTS, NT Jerusalem Counsel, An example of arbitration can be found in Deuteronomy 17:8–13 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. 9 Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. 11 Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 The man who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God must be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

4. Accountability. In serious conflict ask that a third party ensure that everything is being fulfilled according to the agreed upon plan.

There are great Benefits of Restoring Relationships
The most GOD HONORING thing we can do when we are hurt is to show grace to the one who hurt us.
James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV) “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”
Ephesians 4:3 (NKJV) “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

What do we do with our poison box?
Give it to the Lord.
Forgive what can be biblically forgiven
Commit to a God honoring way to resolve other differences
Release those who refuse to be reconciled from any personal desire for revenge or vindication. Leave it in the Lord’s Hands.

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There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.
Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”?
    Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
    And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody’ll remember them either.
    Don’t count on being remembered.

Rejection Is The Pathway To Victory

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Romans 8:31-39

The Message (MSG)

31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

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 People can live in bondage to rejection and not even know it. It causes us to believe lies about ourselves and undermines our relationships with the Lord. Even though God says He is for us and nothing can separate us from Him (Rom. 8:31-39), past experiences can make us feel differently. It’s impossible to avoid feeling rejection’s sting, so we must deal with it by acknowledging its presence, discovering its source, and letting the Lord help us overcome it.

II. The Nature of Rejection. It is a painful emotion that is created when someone refuses us, and it has many negative outcomes:

A. It creates a feeling of being excluded or unwanted. We can feel unworthy or like we don’t fit in.

B. It is a form of control. Those who refuse to accept us can influence what we do and think.

C. It leads to self-rejection. We become critical of ourselves and lose self-respect.

D. It can become a syndrome. Those who have never dealt with their feelings act in ways that cause others to reject them.

III. What are the characteristics of a person suffering from rejection? People who are consciously or unconsciously enslaved by rejection will:

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A. Have a critical spirit toward themselves and others. People with low self-esteem often try to bring other people down.  

B. Experience difficulty in loving others. If people don’t love themselves, they’re not equipped to love others.  

C. Have feelings of inferiority. Rejection makes people believe they never fit in or measure up.  

D. Be overly attentive to appearance. Hurting people try to dress in ways that will help them feel accepted.  

E. Be prone to perfectionism. To avoid failure, some people won’t try tasks they cannot do perfectly. This also leads to procrastination.  

F. Live in a state of floating anger. An attitude of anger permeates their lives and leads them to find fault with others.  

G. Display an attitude of superiority. An arrogant demeanor is really just a cover-up for feelings of inferiority.  

H. Be overly sensitive. Those who struggle with feelings of rejection are easily hurt and prone to misinterpreting comments as being unkind.  

I. Resist being loved. People who don’t feel worthy have difficulty accepting affection.  

J. Be suspicious. Some people become suspicious of anyone who tries to befriend them because they believe there must be an ulterior motive.  

K. Become aloof. To avoid rejection, some people become loners.  

L. Fall into depression. When people feel unworthy, they naturally are sad and discouraged.  

M. Be cheated out of life. People who can’t overcome the emotional effects of rejection miss God’s best blessings.  

N. Have a materialistic focus. To feel wanted, some people gather possessions only to find they never satisfy.  

O. Miss God’s plan for their lives. Feelings of rejection cheat people of all the Lord wants to do in and through them.  

P. Adopt sinful practices. When people can’t accept themselves, they sometimes turn to drugs, drinking, or sex in a search of relief.

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IV. Reasons for Feeling Rejected. The underlying cause of this painful emotion is a person’s opinion of himself, which is brought about by hurtful experiences such as:

A. Physical defects. Not liking how he looks can make a person feel undesirable or unlovable.

B. Past emotional hurts. When a person is hurt, the damaging effects always linger.

C. The death of a loved one. Some people interpret loss as rejection because they feel alone. In their eyes, God has turned His back on them.

D. Divorce. This is a very painful experience because both spouses and children are affected and are left feeling discarded.

E. Childhood experiences. Words of criticism and rejection stick in a child’s memory and shape his view of himself. He will spend a lifetime trying to validate his worth.

V. How can we overcome feelings of rejection? These negative feelings must be dealt with if we are to be truly complete. There are three essential elements that comprise a healthy attitude, and the Lord supplies them all. Through Him, we gain:

A. A sense of belonging. Those who are a part of the body of Christ belong to God’s family (Rom. 8:16). Once we fix this truth in our hearts, we’ll feel secure no matter what.

B. A feeling of worthiness. Jesus considered us so valuable that He was willing to die in our place (John 3:16).

C. A sense of competence. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit came to live inside us. One of His jobs is to enable us to accomplish whatever God calls us to do (Phil. 4:13).

VI. Conclusion: There is no need to go through life handicapped by past experiences. The first step to gaining victory over rejection comes when you choose to believe the Lord and find your acceptance in Him. Begin by asking the Lord’s forgiveness for allowing hurtful emotions to hinder you. The next step is to deal with your offenses toward others and ask for their forgiveness because true healing demands that you address both sides of rejection. After that, it all boils down to a choice between believing what God says or what others say about you.

Lord Help Us To Be Wise When Dealing With Failure

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We gave it our all with the knowledge we had at our disposal. The momentum we need to get started is not taking place with the  campaign. We want to keep it running for 3 more weeks. If we haven’t reached our goal of at least getting our applications 501c3 & 501c5 completed we will return the money already donated to those who have sown into it’s coffers.

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My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.

Abraham Lincoln

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Empower A Felon

 

 

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Everyone wants to be a success. I have never met anyone who purposely set out to be a failure. Undoubtedly, this is why so much has been written on the topic “How to be a Success” and why these books are so popular. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” The simple reality is that failure is one of those ugly realities of life—a common experience to all of us to some degree. Thus, the ability to handle failure in its various forms and degrees is a vital part of the spiritual life and another sign of maturity. A careful study of the Bible reveals that most of the great figures of Scripture experienced failure at one time or another, yet those failures did not keep them from effective service for God. As a partial list, this was true of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, and Peter. Though they failed at some point, and often in significant ways, they not only recovered from their failure, but they used it as a tool of growth—they learned from their failure, confessed it to God, and were often able to be used in even mightier ways.

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The manner in which a leader meets his own failure will have a significant effect on his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that Peter’s failure in the judgment hall had forever slammed the door on leadership in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the depth of his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ reopened the door of opportunity to a yet wider sphere of service. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but who refused to continue lying in the dust. Their very failure and repentance secured for them a more ample conception of the grace of God. They learned to know Him as the God of the second chance to His children who had failed Him—and third chance, too.

The historian Froude wrote, “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a singular and peculiar trial. Peter the apostle, through forewarned, thrice denied his Master on the first alarm of danger; yet that Master, who knew his nature in its strength and in its infirmity, chose him.

Understanding the amazing grace of God and His incredible forgiveness and acceptance through Christ, a mature Christian is one who has grasped the truth that his or her failure is not the end of an effective life with and for the Lord. While there may be consequences to live with (as with David) and serious issues to work through, the mature believer rests in the grace of God and uses the failure as a backdoor to success through growth and understanding.

A favorite hymn for many Christians is “Victory in Jesus” because there IS victory in the Savior. In fact, Christians are super-conquerors in Christ. They are those who have, as translated by the NET Bible, “complete victory” (Rom. 8:37). Significantly, this statement by Paul is made in a context that considers the reality of the varied onslaughts of life which must include failure.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or death? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39).

In view of this, we often speak of the victorious Christian life. But the truth is there is a lot of defeat in the Christian’s life because none of us will always and perfectly appropriate the victory over sin that Christ has accomplished for us by the cross. Further, the amount of deliverance we each experience is a matter of growth; so on the road to maturity and even after reaching a certain degree of spiritual maturity, Christians will sin and fail—sometimes seriously so. We don’t like to talk about it or admit it, but there is a lot of failure. Failure is a fact of life for the Christian community, but God’s grace is more than adequate to overcome any situation. The mature Christian is one who has learned to apply God’s grace remedy for failure.

The Prevailing Attitude About Failure

Presently the bookstores are full of popular “How to Succeed Manuals” on every conceivable subject. And why is that? Because we are so concerned with the glory of God? I would hope so, but there are also other reasons. Too often, it is because we look at failure with eyes of scorn. We view failure as a Waterloo. We see it as the plague of plagues and as the worst thing that could happen to us.

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As a result, the fear of failure has many people in neutral or paralyzed or playing the game of cover up. We consciously or subconsciously ignore our sins and failures because to admit them is to admit failure and that’s a plague worse than death. People often refuse to tackle a job or take on a responsibility for fear of failure. People believe if they fail they are no good. They think failure means you are a bad person and you are a failure. But, as previously mentioned, most of the great leaders in Scripture at some time in their careers experienced some sort of failure. For instance:

  • When Abraham should have stayed in the land and trusted the Lord, he fled to Egypt because of the drought. And this was by no means the last of Abraham’s failures.
  • Moses, in trying to help his people, ran ahead of the Lord and killed the Egyptian. Later, against the command of God, he struck the rock in his anger.
  • When David should have been out in the field of battle, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted the murder of her husband.
  • Peter, in spite of his self-confidence and his great boast, denied the Lord, as did the rest of the disciples who fled before the evening our Lord’s arrest was over.

There is a fundamental principle here. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success with us. Our failures are often rungs on the ladder of growth—if we will learn from our mistakes rather than grovel in the dirt.

This is not to make excuses for sin or to place a premium on mistakes or failure. This does not mean that a person must fail before they can be a success, but our failures, whether in the form of rebellion or just foolish blunders, can become tools of learning and stepping stones to success. The point is, we should never allow our fear of failure to paralyze us from tackling a job or trying something that challenges our comfort zone.

Nor should we allow past failures to keep us down or keep us from recovering and moving on in the service of the Savior. This means we should never allow failure to make us think we are a failure or that we can never change or that we can never again count for the Lord or that God can’t do anything with us because we have failed in some way. The Bible says we are all sinners and prone to failure, but in Christ we can become overcomers.

After the horrible carnage and Confederate retreat at Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee wrote this to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy: “We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.

Mature Attitudes About Failure and Success

(1) Mature believers understand that a Christian can become successful in spite of failure because of God’s incredible grace and forgiveness. We may have to live with the results of some of our failures or sins, yet God is free to continue to love us in Christ and use us for His purposes because of grace (cf. John 21 & Peter).

(2) The mature believer seeks to use failures as lessons for growth and change. Mature believers will act on two principles: (a) They understand that failures remind us of the consequences of our decisions. We reap what we sow. This is the law of harvest. Failures remind us of what can happen, they can make us careful, but they should not be allowed to paralyze us. (b) The mature believer recognizes that our failures show us what we should and should not do; they become lessons in where we went wrong and why. You know what they say, “hindsight is 10/20.” It can help us avoid the same mistake twice if we will learn from history.

Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things. December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67.

With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?

The inventor’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. “My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67—no longer a young man—and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ‘Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’”

The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.161

(3) When mature believers fail they:

  • Acknowledge their failures and refuse to hide behind any lame duck excuses.
  • Confess any sin to God when sin is involved is involved in the failure.
  • Study or examine what happened so they can learn from the failure.
  • Put it behind them and move ahead (1 John 1:9Phil. 3:13).

Being assured of God’s forgiveness, we are to put our failures behind us, count on and rest in His forgiveness, and refuse to use them as an excuse for morbid introspection, pessimism, self pity, depression, and fear of moving on for the Lord.

(4) Mature believers grow through failure. They will know and act on certain truths:

  • We are accepted in the Lord on the basis of Grace, not our performance.
  • We are human and, as a result, we are not now perfect nor will we ever be.
  • God still has a plan for our lives. God is not through with us yet, and we need to get on with His plan.

(5) The mature believer will be one who understands there are different kinds of failure.

  • There are those who have genuinely failed according to the principles of Scripture. If we fail to know why we believe what we believe and then fail to give an adequate reason to those who ask for a reason for our hope (1 Pet. 3:15), then we have failed in our responsibility to witness. That can become a stepping stone to getting equipped and to becoming bold in our witness, but at that point there was failure.
  • There is a false guilt of failure because of a wrong view of success. Many missionaries have labored faithfully in foreign countries without much success by way of converts, but that by no means indicates they are failures. A biblical illustration is Isaiah. Right from the beginning, after seeing the Lord high and lifted up, after confessing his own sin and that of his nation, and after saying, “Here am I, send me,” God sent him to preach to a people who would not listen and told him so beforehand (see Isa. 6:8-10). In the eyes of people, he was a failure, but not in God’s eyes.
  • There is another class of failure; those who mistakenly believe they are successes! These believers may earn an honest living and be fine supporters of the church. They unconsciously (or sometimes all too consciously) consider themselves examples for others to follow. Yet they do not realize that from God’s perspective they are failures. One man put it this way: “I climbed the ladder of success only to discover that my ladder was leaning against the wrong wall!”

Heaven will be filled with surprises! Many “successful” Christians will be nobodies, and some whose lives were strewn with the wreckage of one failure after another will be great in the kingdom.

(6) The mature believer is one who understands the importance of choosing the right standard of measurement to determine success and failure. There are a number common worldly beliefs about success that people apply to themselves and others, but they are all distortions of the truth. 

Most of these are based on some form of faulty comparison. To those who were guilty of this kind of foolishness, the apostle Paul wrote: “For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Cor. 10:12, emphasis mine)

Fundamentally, this is the distortion of comparing ourselves with others. We are all to do our best according the abilities God has given us and we are right in using others as models of Christ-like character. Paul told the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). But this is not the same as when we compare ourselves with other people from the standpoint of their gifts, abilities, bank accounts, possessions, position and other such standards and then attempt to determine our success or failure or that of someone else based on such comparisons.

When in seminary, we wrote our test answers in a little booklet called “The Blue Book.” After the tests were graded, they were placed in our mail boxes in the seminary mail room. Naturally, we all anticipated or dreaded, as the case might be, looking through the little glass door and seeing that little Blue Book stuffed in our box. The tendency for students was to inquire about the grades of their classmates or to loudly declare the grade they received, “Great, I made 100!” Many students refused to be involved in this game and kept their grades to themselves because of the foolish comparisons that sometimes occurred. Some students, regardless of how hard they studied, actually began to see themselves as failures because they were not able to make the high grades of some of their class mates and questioned whether or not they should even stay in seminary.

Other people determine their level of success by their bank accounts as measured by the luxury items they are able to purchase—a huge home, furniture, automobiles, boats, etc. Lutzer writes,

If money is a basis of judging success or failure, it is obvious that Jesus Christ was a failure! Consider this: when He had to pay taxes, He asked Peter to find a coin in a fish’s mouth. Why? He didn’t have a coin of His own.

Christ was born under the shelter of a stable’s roof. Most of us would be appalled if our children could not be born in a modern hospital! When He died, the soldiers cast lots for His garment. That was all He owned of this world’s goods. He died naked, in the presence of gawking bystanders.

Was Christ a failure? Yes, if money is the standard by which He is judged. The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man did not have a place He could call home.

Of course, earning money (and even saving some) is both legitimate and necessary. But the amount we earn is not a barometer of God’s blessing.

And I might add, lots of money and things are never an evidence of success in God’s eyes. Many who are wealthy are failures from God’s viewpoint. The point, then, is the absence or presence of money is not in itself proof of success or failure.

The comparison game reaches out to almost every area of life. It may involve comparing friends, i.e., name-dropping to suggest that one is successful because he runs with the right people. Or it may involve believers comparing the size of their church, the size of their mission’s budget, the number of books one has had published, etc. None of these things are in themselves a proof of success in God’s eyes. A classic illustration is when Moses struck the rock when God had told him to only speak to the rock.

Water flowed. The people were jubilant! Was Moses a success? Yes, in the eyes of men. No, in the eyes of God! His disobedience brought water, but it also brought punishment.

Results in themselves are not a proof that God is pleased. It is possible to win attendance contests and disseminate the Gospel and see results; all these activities can be done without pleasing God! Such results can be achieved by deceptive gimmicks or for purely personal satisfaction. It is not enough to do God’s work; it must be done in his way and for His credit.

There are many causes for failure. Some are the product of specific acts of sin, but some are not. Some are simply the product of ignorance or of circumstances beyond our control like a drop in the stock market or extreme weather conditions (drought, floods), which can cause a farmer or rancher to lose his shirt, as they say. Naturally, this kind of failure, as serious and painful as it is, is not as serious as spiritual failure like, for instance, the sin of David. While David did recover from his sin and was still used of God afterward, there were lifelong consequences in his life and in the lives of others.

Whether caused by sin or by the many things that can happen beyond our control, all failure teaches us the important truth of just how desperately we need God and His mercy and grace in our lives. Sometimes our failures are mirrors of reproof, but always they can become tools for growth and deeper levels of trust and commitment to God if we will respond to them as such rather than rebel and become hardened through the difficulty. “God is adequate for all kinds of failure. Some failures may not be our fault, but they serve as reminders that we must live with eternal priorities in mind. Other failures are directly the result of our own sinful choices.”

Regardless, God has made more than adequate provision for us in Christ and His finished work on the cross, which is the sole basis of our relationship and forgiveness with God and our means of a meaningful and productive life with Him.

We are Daring To Dream-Fear Is knocking At Our Faith

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We, humans, are fascinating beings. We show mesmerizing courage in the face of some of the most incredible challenges in life, and yet, we can be easily stopped by a simple emotion such as fear of failure. We do realize, logically, that failure to fail in life stands in the way of us executing on our full potential. And yet we allow someone else’s definition of success or a fear of being judged consume us and prevent us from realizing our dreams.

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Empower A Felon

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Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will give you awful advice.  It’s not because they have evil intentions.  It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions, and life goals mean to you.  They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk.  We were afraid to introduce this project to our circle of people because we have been blessed in so many ways by their presence and treasures. Fear of what they may think and fear of not being accepted or getting buy-in from our circle is pounding at our peace. We are wondering is this really what we should be doing publicizing our position in life and looking foolish because we have a passion to help human being just like us.

There are so many other causes that have momentum and support that makes us wonder if our dream is reasonable. We see campaigns for animals with a much larger launch pad than ours and we get frustrated at our-self pondering whether we are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will give you awful advice.  It’s not because they have evil intentions.  It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions, and life goals mean to you.  They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk.

So they try to protect you by shielding you from the possibility of failure, which, in effect, also shields you from the possibility of making your dreams a reality.

As our friend Steve Jobs says:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

Everyday in America, thousands of ex-offenders suffer from cruelty and neglect while in prison or jails. However, thousands were released last year into society, with no money, no job, no home, no hope. The words used in this statement came from the animal campaign and commercial used to raise money from abused animals, they go on to say “Thousands were rescued last year, But for thousands of others help came to late”.

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An executive was on his way to see the CEO. All kinds of thoughts were going through his mind. What went wrong? Why did this project fail? What did he miss? He was entrusted with a multi-million dollar project. Everyone knew it was a risk… everything new that hasn’t been tried before usually is. But it was a bold move, which, if worked, could really pay off. What now? Standing in front of his boss, he extended his hand with the letter of resignation. The CEO looked surprised, then slightly irritated. “You cannot be serious,” he said. “I just paid 2 million dollars for all of us to learn a valuable lesson. Now let’s go apply that knowledge and get us on the right path!”

Positive outcome. Great leadership too, wouldn’t you say? But it’s the fear of the opposite outcome that usually stops us from truly innovating, from not holding back.

FAILURE. Scary word, isn’t it?

Recently I radically changed my career. I have worked for Fortune 500 brands most of my professional career and earlier this year I took on a role of leading a start-up. And this question of failure came rushing back into my life. I was excited out of my mind with the possibilities. I never much doubted my abilities to get stuff done, especially when I am passionate about something. But there are always defining moments in your life that, no matter how confident you are, make you ask “But what if I fail?”  I happened to ask it out loud in a conversation with a friend. A question to which he replied: “What is failure?”

Really? What is failure?

This question always fascinated me.

John Lennon tells a story about when he was in school and his teacher gave the class the assignment to write down what the kids wanted to be when they grew up. He wrote down “happy.” The teacher told him he didn’t understand the assignment to which he retorted that they don’t understand life. Maybe some of us just don’t understand the assignment? Or life?

Like I said, the question always fascinated me. So I talked to people about it, trying to understand what failure meant to them, what role it played in their lives. While writing about business innovation and the struggles associated with training for ex-offenders I asked my interviewees that question yet again. And yet again when I thought hard about changing my professional path.

And what I found was profoundly simple. Our definition of failure, and our path in life, is shaped by three things: Passion, Purpose, and Attitude.

Our passion shapes our purpose. We are all created to make an impact and our passions define us, mold us into who we are. Once a person knows her true purpose there is no stopping her. Purpose gives us confidence, makes us fearless. Having meaning in your life is one of the most powerful forces a human being can be driven by.

And those two in combination – passion and purpose – affect your attitude. When you know who you are and what you want to achieve, your attitude shifts. It makes you sure, unstoppable. At that point you know no failure, you accept no failure but the path that gets you to your goal. You don’t sit around fearing failure, you are forging the path forward even through mistakes along the way. Are there times when you are frustrated by your trials and errors? Absolutely. Are there times when taking a wrong path sets you back. Yes! But you keep on going, doing what truly matters to you.

And that is what’s intriguing. When your passion and purpose collide, they become a strong aphrodisiac. And that is when failure becomes non-existent.

Consider this number. 5,126. That is the number of prototypes it took JamesDyson to successfully create a bagless vacuum cleaner. Dyson created a fail-less environment in his company. He challenges all his staff, especially his engineers, to be naïve, curious, downright silly. He invites them to challenge conventional wisdom, turn what we know on its head, explore what at the first glance seems impossible. One of Dyson’s bestselling products, Airblade dryer, was created while working on a totally unrelated product and trying out crazy ideas.

It took Steve Jobs nine years of investing in Pixar to make the world see how amazing computer animation can be. As a matter of fact, he attributes his being fired from Apple as one of the best things that happened to him and a reason he succeed as Apple’s CEO later in life.

Flicker was supposed to be a gaming company. They failed at that miserably, but noticed that photo-sharing among their community is rather high, so they shifted gears and we now know Flickr as one of the most popular photo-sharing sites.

And what about individuals? Well, let’s see:

  • Henry Ford went broke five times before he finally succeeded.
  • Beethoven was proclaimed by his teacher as hopeless as a composer.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas and creativity. Disney went bankrupt several times before it succeeded as a company.
  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn’t read until he was seven. His teacher described him as “mentally slow.”
  • The Beatles were rejected by many music labels.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade.
  • Marilyn Monroe was told by a producer that she was “unattractive” and could not act.

And if you think that you are not Marilyn Monroe or Walt Disney, you may be right. But I know every single one of you is passionate about something, no matter how small it may seem in comparison with someone else’s passion or achievement. You matter to somebody. You are someone’s inspiration, someone hope. And if you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.

Doubts kill more dreams that failure ever will. When we are kids, we were able to create, imagine, dream with no limits. We don’t doubt ourselves or our purpose. But when we get older, we are taught about responsibility and that maybe becoming an artist isn’t exactly a “safe and secure” profession. We move away from our passions and tell ourselves that it’s just a part of growing up. It is reality, we tell ourselves. But in reality, multiple studies showed that people who followed their hearts and led with purpose were way more likely to become independently wealthy vs. those who followed money and security.

Michael Jordan once said: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

We need to define what failure means to us. As a matter of fact, we need to take the definition that was given to us by someone else and rip it up. And maybe you end up figuring out that that word doesn’t even exist and it’s just a series of small mistakes you make on the way to living your purpose. I encourage all of us to rip up what somebody else said we should be, think, do, and feel and throw it out.

And don’t doubt yourself. Heck, if you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits. Don’t settle. Find your passion, live your purpose, ignite a movement. Trust in who you are and walk the journey that is only yours. After all, if you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs. True failure is to not try at all. So I encourage you to let go of the fear and dare to fail, because you just might fail your way to amazing things.

What Are My Value’s Attached Too?

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We need to build websites with celebrity speakers who talk about the ideals of fairness, sharing, democratic cooperation, and altruism in public life.

Deepak Chopra

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

This quality needs to be put under the microscope, examined carefully and fully understood lest one confuses it with blind instinctual passions and senseless societal values.

The instinct to nurture relentlessly drives many people to sacrifice their lives for offspring or family, only to feel resentment at the sacrifice. This is understandable for this self-sacrifice is a driven, automatic reaction, not a freely undertaken action.

The moral and ethical rules of society demand of its flock, as a principle, that they make certain sacrifices for the common good and enforce these rules by carrot and stick. Praise, acclaim and even adulation are showered on the overt do-gooders while those who err towards what is deemed bad and unacceptable are controlled by condemnation, ostracism, laws, lawyers, police and jails.

Thus one is either blindly driven, or forced ‘as a principle’ to sacrifice one’s life, for the good of others. One is neither naturally, as in genetic/ instinctually, free nor does one feel free within the applied restrictions of one’s tribal group. There is, however, ample evidence within the human species of acts of altruism that are neither blindly driven nor self-seeking of an earthly or heavenly reward. Many are spontaneous acts, such as those who risk their lives to save another or undertake unsolicited and impromptu acts of consideration for others – benevolence in action.

On the path to Actual Freedom it is this quality of altruism, or benevolence in action, that readily becomes more and more evident in one’s thoughts, behaviour and actions. This quality is startlingly different from the spiritual love and compassion – ‘I am God acting for the good of others less fortunate’ – and from being a goody-two-shoes in normal society with its subsequent rewards. Benevolence in action is free and spontaneous – there is nothing in it for ‘me’ at all, in fact, it only happens when ‘I’ am absent. However one can be observant of it happening and, in seeing its ‘self’-less purity and perfection, energize this quality of altruism to initiate the process of self-immolation in oneself.

The path to Actual Freedom is not at all attractive for there is nothing in it for ‘me’ – no phoenix arises from the ashes to claim the glory, no acclaim of adoring disciples, no wonderful overwhelming feelings, no fame, no recognition, no power – neither overt nor covert. Extinction is extinction. It is for this very reason that one needs a goodly dose of altruism.

We Started In Our Home; Second Chance Alliance

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Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Famous Garage Startups:

#1 Amazon
#2 Apple
#3 Disney

About 45 minutes down the road from Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA, there’s a house in Los Angeles where The Walt Disney Company got its start.

In 1923, the house belonged to Walt Disney’s uncle, Robert Disney. Walt and his brother Roy moved in with their uncle and set up “The First Disney Studio” in the one-car garage out back. There they started filming the Alice Comedies which was part of the original Alice’s Wonderland.

May & I started this vision while displaced and uncertain about sheer survival. I went on 205 interviews with fortune 500 companies. I even worked for a company 4 hrs. running a purification process as a machine operator bottling water. The supervisor said you improved our process and made more quality product than our 3 operators. He asked me when can you start? I was very transparent about my past. I past the written text and drug screen and physical, but when it was time to get the offer and sign for the position I was told we can’t hire a felon. I took a stand for religious liberties honoring the Sabbath. We were propelled into homelessness and destitution. God and a loving family accepted a student and a out of work engineer, (both felon’s) into their home and community. We began to pursue education about this cause and my wife is about to graduate Argosy university with a psychology major and substance abuse minor. I have an associates degree in Human Behavior and B.S. in Chemical Engineering.

We are now in a new home and awaiting the blessing of getting this business up and running in a facility with May’s name on her office door. We are dreaming big because we have been impregnated with this vision from on high. So like Disney and the 10 garage start-ups we will tarry though the vision seems out of reach. Our faith is in the things we can’t see. Our restoration to this point was birthed by faith.

Today, Disney is the highest-grossing media conglomerate in the world.

MORE THAN 600,000 individuals will leave state prisons and return home this year. That is 1,600 a day, and a sixfold increase in prisoner releases since 1970. Of course, inmates have always been released from prison, and corrections officials have long struggled with how to facilitate successful transitions. But the current situation is decidedly different. The increase in number of releasees has stretched parole services beyond their limits, and officials worry about what assistance can be provided at release. Research confirms that returning prisoners need more help than in the past, yet resources have diminished. Returning prisoners will have served longer prison sentences than in the past, be more disconnected from family and friends, have a higher prevalence of untreated substance abuse and mental illness, and be less educated and employable than their predecessors. Legal and practical barriers facing ex-offenders have also increased, affecting their employment, housing, and welfare eligibility. Without help, many released inmates quickly return to crime.

This video though low budget is as transparent as one can be. We are not ashamed of the gospel nor of the tools at our disposal. If you can not see us with your funds to put to good use. Then think about this:

Over time, the impact of reducing recidivism is substantial when considering the average cost of housing an inmate is $60.73* per day. With a median sentence of 2.5 years, the average cost savings could be as much as $55,428 per inmate.” (4) On one hand, many lives are being ruined in a vicious and expensive cycle of crime and punishment, and on the other, taxpayers’ money is being used to finance it — a losing scenario for the prisoners, government, and society. If that same $55,428 was used to invest in programs like Construction Career Training Program, there would be a direct increase in the number of ex-offenders that could be served.

Reduce Recidivism: Invest in Life Changes
Community re-entry programs for ex-offenders are vital and necessary to not only reduce the recidivism rate but to also teach the ex-offender how to become a productive, contributing member of society. Thousands of ex-offenders are released back into our communities, every day. The rate of recidivism in the United States is estimated to be about two-thirds, which means that two-thirds of released inmates will be re-incarcerated within three years. Recidivate means to return to a previous pattern of behavior, especially to return to criminal habits. The recidivism rate increases when an ex-offender commits another crime and re-enters the criminal justice system and returns back to prison. Studies show that if an offender is not rehabilitated or educated, they are highly likely to be re-incarcerated or recidivate.

We are proof that education fueled with a positive support group that holds you accountable to the faith in Jesus Christ and each other works. Thank God for Kansas Ave. SDA and Crown of Life Ministries. Let’s put Second Chance Alliance in some hearts so we can get this same testimony from them.

You Are What You Think You Are

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Our sinful thoughts are still sin. Sin in the form of thoughts still requires the death of Jesus Christ, because we can sin in our own heart, in our mind, in our thoughts. Most people ignore their thoughts, thinking that they’re not important. We tend to think that our actions are the most important things.

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Our sinful thoughts are still sin. Sin in the form of thoughts still requires the death of Jesus Christ, because we can sin in our own heart, in our mind, in our thoughts. Most people ignore their thoughts, thinking that they’re not important. We tend to think that our actions are the most important things.

Many people can disguise what’s in their minds; and we say, “Well, we’re not mind readers.” I say that. “I’m not a mind reader. I can’t read your mind.” But when it turns into actions, however, sometimes our thoughts are made known, that is, what was there before. We know what was in a person’s heart all along, that they were thinking something.

I don’t know if any of you watch Dr. Phil. I haven’t seen him for a long time, but I remember he has one of these signature phrases when he’s talking with people and he’s discussing with them some of the really idiotic things they do sometimes and how they wreck their lives by what they do and what they say; and the question he asks them is, “What were you thinking?” Well, I think that question is meant to evoke a certain response. It’s to get them to go back and say, “Well, what really was I thinking that lead to this particular kind of an action?”

Now, your thoughts are something very important. In fact, what allows you even to have thoughts, that is, not only your brain…the brain is simply the physical organ, but there is something more than that that allows you to have thoughts. But thoughts that are uncontrolled, undisciplined, and allowed to run their course can turn you into a person that you simply don’t want to be.

Proverbs 15:31

New King James Version (NKJV)

31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life
Will abide among the wise.

Is my image of myself based on what God created me to be?

The story is told of a man who found an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a barnyard chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the eagle did what the chickens did. It scratched the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. It clucked and cackled. And it flew no more than a few feet off the ground in a chicken-like thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers.

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One day the eagle saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. He watched as the bird soared gracefully on the wind, gliding through the air with scarcely a beat of its powerful wings. “What a beautiful bird,” the young eagle said. “What is it called?”

The chicken next to him said, “Why, that’s an eagle–the king of all birds. But don’t give him any mind. You could never be like him.” What you think of your own potential defines who you are today and what you will become tomorrow.

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value. Click the link to see what value we are trying to be successful in creating for human life.

Overcoming Challenges and Model Victory

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Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.
— Benjamin Franklin, American inventor and politician

Because of the cycle of riotous and addicted behavior this family has received a second chance to be consumers and tax payers leaders of their family and models within their communities. Mother’s have been reunited to children and grand children, fathers to son’s and various companies that these individuals are associated with are getting a honest individual that is very assiduous in work ethics.

Bad habits have been broken due to the model of these individuals. They used the skills given while within community of one another. Skills like:  
1.Change the environment to change your behavior 
2. Learn new behavior (using models, self-instructions)
3. Using controlling or conditioned response 
4. Relapse prevention 
5. Motivation training–increasing our drive level 
6. Meet basic needs (so they won’t get in the way) 
7. Recognize your motives and defense mechanisms

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

I am still learning to walk the faith I profess to have and I am still learning to be a good christian witness. The challenges I face on a daily bases alone rocks my foundation. Keeping the love of Christ and His admonishments from scripture help me daily to face my challenges as a rooted christian. Having been delivered from adverse conditions of temptation and foul living I pride myself on being committed to what so many others find boring. Being a christian is fun when you get in service and fellowship.

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Christians living in modern American society face many challenges to their values and lifestyle. One of the biggest of these challenges is maintaining their Christian values while being continuously bombarded by worldly values found in secular music, movies, television programs, magazines, and advertising.
The way Christians can overcome this challenge without losing their values is found in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
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As Christians read the Scriptures to learn God’s principles to base their life on and ask the Holy Spirit to give them the power to apply these principles to their daily lives, they will be transformed away from worldly values and their minds will be renewed with spiritual values.
Another way for Christians to have their minds renewed is by listening to good Christian music while they are travelling in their car or in their homes. As they listen to songs praising God, it lifts their spirits, renews their minds and attitudes, and reduces their daily stress.
Another challenge that Christians face is the need to be part of society and have fun with their friends while still maintaining their Christian values and lifestyle. This challenge can be overcome by having fun in social activities within Christian groups. Many Christian churches have social activities that are fun and meaningful for people of all ages, such as: Christian movie nights, social dinners, Christian music concerts, sporting events, Bible study groups, and prayer support groups.
The third challenge that Christians face is maintaining their Christian values while going through the secular public education system which teaches values and principles that often conflict with Christian values and principles. The way for Christians to overcome this challenge is for them to have been taught Christian principles based on the Scriptures so well that when they hear something that conflicts with these principles, they will know the difference and then be able to discuss this with their teacher, parent, or church worker.
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There are some parents who deal with the challenge of secular public education by making great sacrifices in order to be able to send their children to Christian schools so they get taught Christian principles as a foundation that will last them a lifetime.
Although there are other challenges that Christians will face in their life in modern society, these can also be overcome by using the power of the Holy Spirit to apply Scriptural principles to overcome every challenge or problem that comes their way.

Adversity Is A Blessing

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There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.

Rachel Griffiths

This slideshow shows God’s power. May and I have been given everything over again from the drapes to pictures to couches and tables and cars. We have been blessed with community and several church families that love us and we love them. Our family who once had written us off has been restored as well. But the vision of acquiring a business that will help us perform the ministry of reconciliation for a targeted species that we ourselves know all too well is what “Second Chance Alliance” is all about. The building is in sight and the hope is flourishing, however the funds are still so far out of reach. Please pray with us and believe for us that this vision will one day soon become a reality in-order  for us to perform our mission statement- “Empowering Felons to rebuild themselves and their lives” …as we have . Click the link below to view our passion and dream.

 

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

While nobody enjoys trials, in God’s loving hands, they are tools for our improvement.

When it comes to adversity, none of us are immune. We have all experienced the heartache, pressure, and anguish caused by hardships. Whatever form our trials may take—whether sickness, financial problems, animosity, rejection, bitterness, or anger—we tend to consider them “setbacks” in our life. God, however, has a different perspective. He views adversity as a way, not to hinder the saints, but to advance their spiritual growth.

When facing tribulation, we often wonder where it came from. Is this my own doing? Is this from Satan? Or is this from you, Lord? Regardless of the specific source, ultimately all adversity that touches a believer’s life must first be sifted through the permissive will of God. That is not to say everything coming your way is the Lord’s will. But God allows everything that occurs because He sees how even adversity will fit into His wonderful purpose for your life. ( Romans 8:28)

According to Isaiah 55:8-9, God’s thoughts are higher than ours, so we cannot expect to understand all that He is doing. He oftentimes takes the most painful experiences of adversity and uses them to prepare us for what lies ahead. God wants us to regard our struggles the way He does so that we won’t be disillusioned. Therefore, far more important than determining the source of our adversity is learning how to respond properly.

Consider Joseph, one of the very few people in the Bible about whom there is nothing negative, but whose life is characterized only by adversity. It is interesting to note Scripture says that God was prospering Joseph in the midst of his affliction—even in a foreign jail! Every trial was part of God’s equipping Joseph to become the savior of Egypt and also the savior of his own family, who would later journey there to avoid starvation.

The Bible reveals a number of reasons that the Lord allows difficulties in our life. As we begin to comprehend His purposes, we can learn to react in ways that will strengthen rather than discourage us.

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ONE OF GOD’S PRIMARY PURPOSES FOR ADVERSITY IS TO GET OUR ATTENTION.

He knows when we are frozen in anger and bitterness or set on doing something our own way. He may allow adversity to sweep us off our feet. When we stand before God, stripped of our pride and self-reliance, He has our complete attention.

Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, had to learn a lesson this way. Proud and egotistical, he was doing everything he could to rid this earth of Christians. Then God struck him blind. Lying on the Damascus Road, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5) God had totally captured his attention. At the time, it must have seemed like a screeching halt to his life’s work; in actuality, it was the beginning of an extraordinary preaching career.

ANOTHER WAY GOD USES ADVERSITY IS TO REMIND US OF HIS GREAT LOVE FOR US.

Let me ask you: If you moved out of God’s will into sin, and He just let you go that way, would that be an expression of love? Of course not. He loves us too much to let us get by with disobedience.

The Bible realistically agrees that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful!” (Hebrews 12:11 nlt) We can all say “Amen!” to that. But just as we lovingly discipline our children to protect them from developing harmful patterns in thinking and behavior, so our heavenly Father trains us by discipline in order to bring about “a quiet harvest of right living.”

Hebrews 12:5-6 says: “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when He corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes those He accepts as His children” (nlt). If you are without discipline—which is correction in love—you are an illegitimate child, and not one of God’s own. So if you are experiencing adversity, allow it to be a reminder of God’s great love for you.

A THIRD REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION.

When God allowed Satan to buffet Paul with a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), the apostle prayed three times for its removal. In the process, Paul certainly must have searched his own heart, asking the Lord, “Is there sin in my life? Is my attitude right?” When we encounter adversity, we would also do well to ask, Am I in God’s will, doing what He wants me to do?

Perhaps you’ve done that and confessed any known sin, but the adversity persists. God deals not only with acts of transgression, but also with pre-programmed attitudes from youth. For many believers, it isn’t a matter of overt sin or not loving the Lord, but something from the past that may be stunting spiritual growth.

To deal with “roots” —like self-esteem, attitudes toward others, and even misguided opinions about God’s capabilities—the Lord sends adversity intensely enough to cause deeper examination than usual. He wants us to ask: What fears, frustrations, and suffering from childhood are still affecting or driving me? Is an old perfectionism or grudge destroying me? Did a comment cause feelings of rejection or worthlessness? An attitude lying dormant for years may be hindering progress. Recognize in your adversity God’s loving desire to help you reach your spiritual potential.

A FOURTH PURPOSE GOD HAS FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEACH US TO HATE EVIL AS HE DOES.

Satan sells his sin program by promising pleasure, freedom, and fulfillment, but he doesn’t tell you about the “interest charges.” The truth is, “Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7)—and he reaps later than he sows and more than he sows.

People once trapped by drugs, alcohol, or sexual indulgence, but now freed by God, will speak of their hatred for the sin. Because of the suffering, helplessness, and hopelessness they experienced, they have learned to despise the very thing they at one time desired. David agrees: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray” (Ps. 119:67). If we could learn to anticipate sin’s ongoing and future consequences, our lives would be far more holy and healthy.

As parents, we need to level with our children about our failures. There is no such thing as a perfect father or mother, and pretending to have no faults is detrimental. Our children need to understand that God allows adversity for their protection. We should be candid about our weaknesses and clearly explain sin’s effect, Satan’s desires, and God’s solution. Warn them by explaining how you responded to sin in your own life, and how they can avoid it in theirs. Your children will be blessed by your honesty.

A FIFTH REASON GOD SENDS ADVERSITY IS TO CAUSE US TO RE-EVALUATE OUR PRIORITIES.

We can become workaholics, exhausting ourselves and ignoring our children until it’s too late. Or, we can get so enamored of material things that we neglect the spiritual. So what happens? The Lord will do away with the things that dislocate our priorities.

God doesn’t initiate family breakdowns, but when He sees us neglecting His precious gifts or focusing in the wrong place, He may send a “breeze” of adversity as a reminder to check priorities. If the warning goes unheeded, however, a hurricane may be in the forecast. Then, if we persist in ignoring the intensifying storm, it’s as if He withdraws His hand and lets the adversity run its full course.

For example, many women work hard to balance career and motherhood. There are inevitable points of conflict between the two, which can serve as cautionary breezes. But if priorities are misaligned, and moving up the corporate ladder becomes the exclusive goal, a whirlwind of adversity may be approaching. Don’t choose the world over your family, or they may decide to let you have your way.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT PURPOSE FOR ADVERSITY IS TO TEST OUR WORKS.

God already knew the outcome when He told Abraham to sacrifice his son. His purpose was not to discover what the response would be, but to show the patriarch where he was in his obedient walk of faith. When Abraham came off that mountain, not only did he know more about God than ever before; he also understood more about himself spiritually.

Besides that, Isaac, more than likely, never forgot the experience! Children often remember things we do not expect—things far deeper than the externals. More than the sight of that pointed dagger, Isaac remembered that he had a father whose obedience to God knew no boundaries.

So when God sends adversity to test us, does our family watch us buckle, or do they see us standing strong in faith, trusting the Lord to teach us, strengthen us, and bring good from the circumstance? Remember that our response carries a weighty influence for good or for evil in the lives of those who love us most.

As you face hardship, keep in mind that its intensity will not exceed your capacity to bear it. God NEVER sends adversity into your life to break your spirit or destroy you. If you respond improperly, you can destroy yourself, but God’s purpose is always to bless, to strengthen, to encourage, and to bring you to the maximum of your potential.

Help!!!!! Create Meaning By Helping Others (Without Doing it for Validation)

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Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.

Audrey Hepburn

Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon

 

“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” ~Buddha

Why are you here on this earth? What is your purpose? What are you supposed to be doing with your life? These deep questions burn in all of us. Our souls’ desire is to lead fulfilling lives that have meaning.

My life’s journey has always been linked to helping other people; I just never saw it as serving them. As I have grown to know myself, I have discovered that I have this huge heart that wants the best for myself and for others. I now live to serve, and this brings me great fulfillment.

The Difference Between Seeking Validation and Serving

It wasn’t always easy for me. I spent a great deal of my life questioning why I was here and what my life was all about. I had been through so much pain and had suffered at the hands of others. I couldn’t understand it all until I took a stand. Enough was enough. I needed to be different.

Little did I know that being different meant discovering myself and not simply changing my circumstances.

I was always a helpful person, but it was about seeking validation for what I did, not about the difference I could make in others’ lives when coming from a place of inner strength.

I started learning about who I was and why I was behaving the way I did. I would often be so angry with myself for doing things for other people that I really didn’t want to do.

I was angry that I didn’t say no when I really wanted to. I was seeking validation in these moments and wanting to be liked. I realized that I could say no, and that I’d been saying no to the wrong person. I needed to start saying yes to me, and that meant no to others.

I also wanted to be sure that I wasn’t being mean and hurtful to others by saying no to certain requests, and so I started asking them. I realized quickly that true friends are the ones who tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

I wanted more of that in my life, and I knew if I were open and honest with others in this same way, I would help them discover something great about themselves. This was true servitude, and it came from a more empowered place.

The focus was on serving them and not seeking validation for myself.

The more I gave to myself, the more I was able to give to others, and the more I then received.

When we give, we always receive.

Why Serve Others

As I discovered how beautiful I was, I learned to give away to others from a place of inner strength. I could now give curiosity and compassion instead of frustration. I could listen and be present to people and give them respect. I could appreciate people for who they were, not the behaviors they displayed.

I started helping people gain insights into their own lives and the power they had to create and change them.

They started finding fulfillment and meaning for themselves, and this impacted their relationships. The sense of fulfillment this gave me showed me I was living my life on purpose.

Serving others can create this same joy and meaning for you.

How I Serve Others – Pain vs. Suffering

One way I serve people is by creating awareness about the difference between pain and suffering and helping them let go of what they need to release.

Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

I remember my first love going overseas for a year after she had completed her studies. I felt abandoned, and the pain I experienced felt devastating. Abandonment seemed to be the story of my life.

She was still young and needed to experience the world. She met new people and started going out. I knew she loved me and still I was worried for us. Then the worst thing that could have happened hit me like a brick in the chest: She met someone else.

I still remember the phone call. I was standing in the kitchen and I was so excited, as I had decided to put my studies on hold and had committed to going over to see her. Her words were cold: “Don’t come over; I’ve met someone else.” I was broken.

I spent so many years suffering from that blow. The pain of the breakup was inevitable. The revisiting of the moment in my mind was suffering.

had a choice, and I chose to wallow in this pain. I spent hours thinking what I could have done differently. I did not see myself as good enough, and so I thought it had to be my fault.

I am now in a place where I realize that suffering is optional, and so I serve others by sharing this. Living in each moment and being present to the beauty that shows up is something we all have the power to do. We just have to choose it.

Some Ways You Can Serve Others

Create awareness for them about how beautiful they are. 

We come into this world with infinite potential and then become conditioned to live to society’s expectations. This is the way it is, and yet we have the potential to change it.

We can have such doubt about ourselves. Am I good enough for this relationship? Will my writing stimulate people? Will I fit in with this new group? Society may limit our potential, but these are self-imposed doubts.

Serve people by reminding them of their potential. Remind them that they can choose self-doubt or self-belief. When we believe in ourselves, we show up differently in the world.

Get people to be curious about their lives.

Challenge people when they are closed off to other interests. Help them see the value in exploring the riches life has to offer. Be curious for them about what life can be and let them pick up on that.

Share the passion your talent brings.

We all have special talents that make this world a richer place. Serve people by showing them how beautiful life can be when you live passionately exploring it with your talents. This may be in writing, painting, singing, or any area of life.

Believe in yourself to show others its possible.

You can achieve almost anything you want if you believe in yourself and you put your heart and mind to it. This level of self-belief allows you to know that you will be okay, no matter what happens.

Serving people is easy when we know who we are and what we are about.

I believe our true purpose in life is to give our lives away to others, and that we receive happiness, fulfillment, and meaning in return.

Develop Compassion

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Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.

Deepak Chopra

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There are stories in the Bible were we all cheer the hero of the story, go home rejoicing in what they had done, but then go back to our ordinary lives. One of those stories is the good Samaritan—the priest passes by, the Levite passes by, but the Samaritan stops, loves, heals, gives, and even goes the extra mile and says, whatever else they need, put that on my account. Jesus tells this story to show the difference between heroes and the ordinary, the difference between being religious or making a difference for God. So many churches are dwindling down in number, they are looking for the next great program or great marketing strategy to put them over the top, but it is really simple, become a hero, stop passing up the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

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Why Some Stop, Why Some Pass By?
Luke 10: 30-37

We have all passed by in our lives, we all have walked on the other side of the street. Many times we look for those to come to the church that are going to help support the cause, not be a cause for support. I want to be someone who stops, I want to be a hero for God. Let’s look at who passed by in the story, why they might have passed by, the reasons we might pass by, and what could cause us to stop.

1. Who Passed By—A priest and A levite—this really stings being a minister, and they both represent something that really isn’t good about religious service. I am sure Jesus used these two to drive home a point to all those who want to serve God from a religious point of view.

a. they were both busy in religious service—this is a real problem, there is a difference between religious service and Christianity.
b. Sometimes in our quest for the good, we bypass the best. The goal isn’t theology, or spiritual recognition, our goal is to be like Christ. 
c. They were in the ministry—it is true that there is a real danger that ministry can become what others can do for us, over what we can do for others.

download (1)2. Why they Might have passed by—

a. they may have been in a hurry to get to Synagogue—religion can cause us to become churchy, to feel like ministry must go on inside the four walls under the steeple.
b. they may have decided the person had it coming to them. Many times the lack of effort in helping those in need is the predisposition we have of making the judgment that they should have been in church. Or I knew they would never amount to anything. Or they should have listen to us a long time ago.
c. Maybe they could just care less—as long as I am righteous, as long as I’m on my way to heaven, as long a my family is doing good. Religion has the tendency of making people self centered and self absorbed.

3. Why might we pass by? 

a. one of the main reasons we might not care for the lost and hurting in this world is the effort required to help people. It takes time, effort, energy and sometimes money, and it is easier just to go to the weekly praise a thon, or the spiritual shake, rattle and roll event. 
b. Maybe we don’t have as much of Christ in us as we profess. Maybe we are still carnal, fleshly, worldly and given over to our own appetites and needs.


c. We might just not like people—people love the church, they love the ministry, they love the conferences, the councils, the committee meeting, they just don’t like dealing with problematic people. It’s like, if it were for all these rotten people, the world would be a better place. When we get out of the people business, we pass by.

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4. What Could Cause Us To Stop?

a. have compassion—the Samaritan had compassion, Jesus had compassion on the multitudes, and until we get a good dose of compassion and love for sinners, the lost, the sick, the lonely, the hurting of society, we won’t ever stop.
b. To realize the church has lost it’s impact on society as a whole, and if we don’t start stopping, this old world is going to fall apart. The church can be the spiritual glue that can hold things together. We have the ability to make a difference by our love.
c. a fresh revelation of the cross—if we realize that Christ didn’t just die for us, but for this whole world, it could be the attitude adjustment that could cause us to stop, to help, to care, to listen. Maybe you will get burned a few times, maybe some will take advantage of you, but at least you are on the right side of the road.

In many occasions Jesus would tell a story and then say, go and do likewise. Jesus tells us to walk on the right side of the road. Anyone who is a giver, a helper, a person of love and compassion, is a true neighbor. So many people profess a great love for God, but 1 John says that the love for God who we have never seen is proven by those who we do see. We have all passed by before, let’s pray God gives us a chance to stop. When we stop, we aren’t doing the people near as much good as we are doing ourselves. It is when we do real ministry we feel real. 

Community Service Is All Our Responsibility

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Matthew 6:25-27  “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothing?” And in Luke 12:6-7 we read: ”Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows”.

Fighting in a war can be a harrowing experience, but imagine coming back and not being able to find a home.

More than one million veterans are at risk of becoming homeless, while tens of thousands of former servicemembers are already living without shelter, according to the Center For American Progress. In fact, one in seven homeless people previously served in the military, a December 2011 report found, and much of the other data surrounding homeless veterans are equally worrisome.

Indeed, the issue of veteran homelessness is becoming increasingly important as defense spending cuts limiting vital benefits for veterans will automatically take effect in 2013, if Congress doesn’t take action, according to the Center For American Progress.

As the future of the veteran support systems hangs in the balance, a recent report found that, compared with other homeless people, veterans face even greater adversity. Former service members are 11 percent more likely to develop a life-threatening disease while living without shelter compared to their non-veteran counterparts.

Good news for veterans may be rare but there is some hope. Recent job initiatives by President Obama have helped veteran unemployment fall by six points over the past year. Between January 2010 and January 2011, veteran homelessness declined by 12 percentage points. Still, with wars winding down in Iraq and Afghanistan, those numbers could increase rapidly without government safeguards, according to the Center for American Progress.

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As of December 2011, veterans of the military accounted for one in seven homeless people, the Center for American Progress reports.

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The proportion of homeless veterans that were African-American in 2008, far exceeding the 11 percent of total veterans that African-American, a report cited by the Center for American Progress found.

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The average number of homeless veterans who could be counted on a given night in January last year. Over four in ten of those veterans would go unsheltered, according tothe Center for American Progress.

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In 2010, nearly 1 million U.S. veterans reported being in poverty over the last year, theCenter for American Progress reports.

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Click the insignia to see the campaign that has been launched to assist this issue of disparity among a ever increasing species (Ex-Offenders). Veterans are being propelled into this species after serving their country at an alarming rate. Help us to help in the community outreach and restoration of human life. Veterans and felons and common people are my passion.

 

But Jesus didn’t speak as kindly to the religious leaders of his day, calling them out in plain view of the people, “Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites!” He warned about acting pious, going to a public place, putting on a gloomy face and making vain repetitious prayers to be seen by men. He advised instead of going into one’s inner room and shutting the door to pray. (Matthew 6: 5-6)

A good sermon builds people up; gives hope for a brighter tomorrow, no matter how pressing our problems are today. I recall hearing many sermons like that before I became homeless. Sermons that told me I was created in God’s image and if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed, we can say to that mountain “move” and it will obey us. Hearing a good sermon should lift us up.

But the theme of the sermons I heard while living on the streets was not the same message that I had heard before I became homeless. They were more like:  You are a hopeless sinner; you will not overcome your addictions unless you accept Jesus as your Savior and become saved.

It didn’t matter that I told them that I was following Jesus’ teachings, as recorded in the Bible and that in spite of that I became homeless. In their eyes I was homeless so therefore, I must have some sin or addiction that I was struggling with.

I had several addictions and drugs or alcohol were the least of them and I have always believed in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I do not like people stealing from me, so I do not steal.  I do not like people cheating me, so I do not cheat others. Simple.  Just because I’m homeless doesn’t make me a hopeless sinner, doomed to hellfire.

One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 7: 1-5   Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

There is only one God and one Messiah. So why are there so many different Christian religions?  (Don’t answer that.  I already know.)  I only mention it because I have seen how many times other people (including Christians) who have not experienced life on the street themselves tend to lump the homeless community into one big pot of drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally unstable people who are too lazy to get a job.

To be a Christian is to serve others; not to judge them and threaten them with eternal hellfire and damnation. But I want you to know that those people who judge you by your appearance do not represent God. There are those who are true Christians and who sincerely care about your well being and work to meet your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

If it was not for Christian organizations like the Open Door Mission, the Salvation Army, and many others, the homeless would be getting a lot less help than they are. I appreciated every meal and every volunteer that made my life a bit more tolerable when I lived on the streets.

During that time God taught me a lot about myself. One important lesson I learned was that while I was spending a lot of my time complaining about how others were judging me for being homeless, I was judging them for not being homeless. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to show grace to those who judge us.

We must always remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1: 26-29 “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. “

To Thine Own Self Be True

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Inner-Harmony

Sometime ago I posted a article called Moral Decay In America. I was pleased that several people were motivated to comment on this article, but there was one comment in particular that got my attention. Here’s the comment, “change nothing, just be yourself and experience peace.”

How do you feel about that statement?

The more I thought about it, the more thought-provoking it became. It is very true that to experience peace we must live in harmony with our true self. Striving to be something we are not only creates internal conflict and disharmony. So on this level I completely agree with the statement, “just be yourself.”

But which part of ourselves should we be?

Within each of us is the capacity to be generous or selfish, understanding or harsh, loving or unloving. It is up to each of us as individuals to choose what aspects of our character we want to nurture and develop. Clearly, if we want to maximize our potential, we need to make wise choices about the kind of person we will allow ourselves to become.

Prisons are full of people who were just being themselves. The problem is that the aspects of their personality that they chose to express had a negative effect on the world around them. So the philosophy of “just be yourself and everything will turn out fine” seems a little simplistic, don’t you think?

Who else could we be?

While it is true that everything we are, or will ever become, is already part of our true self. It is also true that most people do not know how to make the most of their incredible potential because they do not understand their true self. This is where learning advanced life skills can open the door to self-discovery and personal growth.

But no matter what kind of personal change we experience, we don’t grow into someone else, we develop into the best possible version of ourselves. Regardless of how it is expressed, we will always be ourselves. Think about it, who else could we possibly be?

We get to decide who we will become

Finding the best expression of our true self can involve any number of choices and challenges. Sometimes we need to learn to let go of those stealthy, little, self-imposed obstacles that can block our ability to realize who we really are. Other times, it’s about finding our passions or adjusting our focus to harmonize with our true nature.

Self-expression can be the vehicle by which we achieve our dreams, or it can land us behind bars. If we operated solely on instinct, the way animals do, there would be no room for choices and no basis for accountability. As humans though, we have the ability to exercise freedom of choice, and like it or not, with that freedom comes accountability.

Why accountability is a good thing

Accountability is a two-sided coin. If we use our freedom of choice in an unwise fashion, then we may experience undesirable consequences. On the other hand, if we make wise choices concerning the person we allow ourselves to become, life can be extremely rewarding.

Every single day of our life will present us with choices. Big or small, those choices represent opportunities. Do we use our freedom of choice to encourage our personal growth and development in a positive direction? Will we embrace the reality that the person we become is the culmination of the choices we make day in and day out, year after year?

When we accept personal responsibility for who we are, and how we impact the world around us, we grow. When we choose to be accountable to ourselves for our thoughts, our conduct, and our contribution, we add value to the world around us. Accepting the concept of accountability always creates opportunity.

Two voices

Have you ever seen one of those cartoons where somebody has a little angel whispering in one ear, and a little devil on the opposite side, whispering in the other ear? One is saying, “Do the right thing,” while the other one is saying, “Never mind that, do what you want.”

In reality, those voices don’t come from any outside source. Those voices come from inside, and they are both a part of our nature. That is precisely why we need to make wise choices about which inner voice we will listen to. Nobody is all good or all bad, it’s not that cut and dried. Not one of us is always motivated to do the right thing, anymore than we are helpless against our wrong inclinations.

There is ALWAYS a choice

We listen to the voice we want to listen to, because ultimately, most people do what they want to do. What do you want to do? Which voice do you allow to guide your thoughts and actions?

Once we have an answer to those questions, it becomes a matter of developing the habit of consistently making choices that will support our decisions.

How to be yourself and be at peace

One of the best ways to develop a strong sense of inner peace is to take the time to discover your deepest personal values and passions. These two aspects of your true self define the person that you truly want to be. If you structure your self-expression around these core elements, you will create a deep sense of internal harmony.

Internal harmony is something that very few people ever realize because almost everyone is, to some degree, out of balance with their deepest values and passions. They are out of touch or insulated from their true self. When I work with others one-on-one, this is where we start. When I created TRUE SELF, this was the focus of the very first step. If you want a deep sense of inner peace, you need to discover what is at your very core, and build from there. You must discover your true self.

The self-discovery process

To be yourself, and be at peace with yourself, you must truly know yourself. Getting in touch with your true self is not usually as straightforward as we might like. The reason for this is because the real you likes to play hide and seek with your conscious mind. Our ego has a way of disguising our true self, so it requires some effort to unveil it.

We also have an emotional maze of pain and pleasure paradigms that will attempt to steer our efforts in the most comfortable direction. This is a built in safety mechanism that is designed to protect us emotionally, but it also tends to thwart our attempts at core discovery. If we are acting out of harmony with our true self we may subconsciously avoid facing that realization.

Not as difficult as it sounds

In spite of the psychological detours, the process is not as difficult as it might sound. By using a series of specially targeted questions, we can easily convince our deepest values and passions to come out of hiding and reveal themselves. Once that happens, the ability to “just be our true self, and be at peace,” tends to unfold naturally.

So, here we are back at that thought provoking facebook comment, “just be yourself and experience peace.” Do I agree with that statement? Yes, as long as that person you call yourself is in reality your true self.

How about you –
Do you feel that just being yourself will lead to inner peace?
Do you feel truly aware of and connected to your authentic self?
The lines are open!

Does your Language forge Productive Behavior?

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Does the language we speak determine how healthy and rich we will be? New research by Keith Chen of Yale Business School suggests so. The structure of languages affects our judgments and decisions about the future and this might have dramatic long-term consequences.

There has been a lot of research into how we deal with the future. For example, the famous marshmallow studies of Walter Mischel and colleagues showed that being able to resist temptation is predictive of future success. Four-year-old kids were given a marshmallow and were told that if they do not eat that marshmallow and wait for the experimenter to come back, they will get two marshmallows instead of one. Follow-up studies showed that the kids who were able to wait for the bigger future reward became more successful young adults.

Resisting our impulses for immediate pleasure is often the only way to attain the outcomes that are important to us. We want to keep a slim figure but we also want that last slice of pizza. We want a comfortable retirement, but we also want to drive that dazzling car, go on that dream vacation, or get those gorgeous shoes. Some people are better at delaying gratification than others. Those people have a better chance of accumulating wealth and keeping a healthy life style. They are less likely to be impulse buyers or smokers, or to engage in unsafe sex.

Chen’s recent findings suggest that an unlikely factor, language, strongly affects our future-oriented behavior. Some languages strongly distinguish the present and the future. Other languages only weakly distinguish the present and the future. Chen’s recent research suggests that people who speak languages that weakly distinguish the present and the future are better prepared for the future. They accumulate more wealth and they are better able to maintain their health. The way these people conceptualize the future is similar to the way they conceptualize the present. As a result, the future does not feel very distant and it is easier for them to act in accordance with their future interests.

Different languages have different ways of talking about the future. Some languages, such as English, Korean, and Russian, require their speakers to refer to the future explicitly. Every time English-speakers talk about the future, they have to use future markers such as “will” or “going to.” In other languages, such as Mandarin, Japanese, and German, future markers are not obligatory. The future is often talked about similar to the way present is talked about and the meaning is understood from the context. A Mandarin speaker who is going to go to a seminar might say “Wo qu ting jiangzuo,” which translates to “I go listen seminar.” Languages such as English constantly remind their speakers that future events are distant. For speakers of languages such as Mandarin future feels closer. As a consequence, resisting immediate impulses and investing for the future is easier for Mandarin speakers.

Chen analyzed individual-level data from 76 developed and developing countries. This data includes people’s economic decisions, such as whether they saved any money last year, the languages they speak at home, demographics, and cultural factors such as   “saving is an important cultural value for me.” He also analyzed individual-level data on people’s retirement assets, smoking and exercising habits, and general health in older age. Lastly, he analyzed national-level data that includes national savings rates, country GDP and GDP growth rates, country demographics, and proportions of people speaking different languages.

People’s savings rates are affected by various factors such as their income, education level, age, religious affiliation, their countries’ legal systems, and their cultural values. After those factors were accounted for, the effect of language on people’s savings rates turned out to be big. Speaking a language that has obligatory future markers, such as English, makes people 30 percent less likely to save money for the future. This effect is as large as the effect of unemployment. Being unemployed decreases the likelihood of saving by about 30 percent as well.

 

Similar analyses showed that speaking a language that does not have obligatory future markers, such as Mandarin, makes people accumulate more retirement assets, smoke less, exercise more, and generally be healthier in older age. Countries’ national savings rates are also affected by language. Having a larger proportion of people speaking languages that does not have obligatory future markers makes national savings rates higher.

This is an unconventional way of explaining people’s consumption-saving decisions and health-related behavior. More conventional factors include dispositional, situational, motivational, and cultural factors. The marshmallow studies focus on dispositional factors—being able to delay gratification is an innate ability. Other research has looked at situational factors. For example, researchers have shown that simply rearranging the placement of food and beverages in a cafeteria can improve sales of healthy items. Other research focused on motivational factors. People often need to curb their current desire to consume in order to reach their future goal of getting out of debt. Researchers have shown that closing smaller debt accounts first gives a sense of accomplishment early on, boosts motivation, and increases the likelihood of completely getting rid of debt. The motivational effect is beneficial even if closing off smaller debt accounts does not make economic sense, for instance when the bigger debt accounts have higher interest rates attached to them. Other research has investigated cultural factors. It has been argued that Americans spend more than they need to because they want to emulate the lifestyles and spending patterns of people who are much richer than themselves. Chen’s findings suggest that maybe we should focus more on how we talk about the future in order to improve our intertemporal decision making.

These results also provide evidence for the language-cognition link, which has stirred some controversy among researchers. Early 20th century thinkers such as Ferdinand de Saussure and Ludwig Wittgenstein were among the first who argued that language can impact the way people think and act. More recently Steven Pinker argued that we think in a universal grammar and languages do not significantly shape our thinking. The issue is still hotly debated.

At a more practical level, researchers have been looking for ways to help people act in accordance with their long-term interests. Recent findings suggest that making the future feel closer to the present might improve future-oriented behavior. For instance, researchers recently presented people with renderings of their future selves made using age-progression algorithms that forecast how physical appearances would change over time. One group of participants saw a digital representation of their current selves in a virtual mirror, and the other group saw an age-morphed version of their future selves. Those participants who saw the age-morphed version of their future selves allocated more money toward a hypothetical savings account. The intervention brought people’s future to the present and as a result they saved more for the future.

Chen’s research shows that language structures our future-related thoughts. Language has been used before to alter time perception with surprising effects. Ellen Langer and colleagues famously improved older people’s physical health by simple interventions including asking them to talk about the events of twenty years ago as if it they were happening now. Talking about the past as if it were the present changed people’s mindsets and their mindsets affected their physical states. Chen’s research points at the possibility that the way we talk about the future can shape our mindsets. Language can move the future back and forth in our mental space and this might have dramatic influences on our judgments and decisions.

This Is A Cause That Needs Developing Also

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Thousands of British servicemen and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are abusing alcohol to block out the horrors of war.

An authoritative study has found that as many as 33,000 members of the Armed Forces – around one in five – are drinking harmful levels of alcohol.

Troops who are deployed in direct combat on the battlefield had a higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with seven per cent reporting problems compared with four per cent among all regulars.

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Study found as many as 33,000 former soldiers had drunk harmful amounts    

Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’

Troops deployed into direct combat have high risk of getting PTSD


article-0-13F167B0000005DC-777_634x454Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’ with one in seven attacking someone in an explosive rage after returning from the frontline – often wives or partners.

And the report found reservists were more likely to experience mental health problems after coming home from a warzone.

 Violence among service personnel remains a ‘concern’ with one in seven attacking someone in an explosive rage after returning from the frontline – often wives or partners.

And the report found reservists were more likely to experience mental health problems after coming home from a warzone.

‘It remains to be seen what the longer-term psychological impact of serving in Iraq or Afghanistan will be, and what social and healthcare services might be required for this small but important group of veterans who are at highest risk of mental health problems.’

Forces charities say they are bracing themselves for a ‘tidal wave’ of veterans with psychological problems because of the numbers being deployed to warzones.

Some veterans struggle for years with crippling symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, depression and anxiety attacks. Many fall into chronic alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness and crime.

Peter Poole, deputy chief executive of Combat Stress, said: ‘We are encouraged by measures put in place by the UK Armed Forces to support serving personnel are having results. Nevertheless, the rate of those suffering from PTSD is worrying.

‘With the increase in demand for services every year we know we will see the legacy of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come. It is vital that we are able to deliver effective support to these brave men and women so they can return to fulfilling lives.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the Government had committed £7.4million to improve mental health for service personnel.

She said: ‘We are not complacent. We want to further reduce the stigma of mental illness and continue to better services.’

 

 

 

It Started As A Need To Have A Vision….

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Remember…..    The secret to learning as an entrepreneur is to mix equal parts of inspiration and perspiration. Hard work without a vision is futile, while a great idea without execution is similarly worthless.

What makes you so special? Seth Godin’s talk is all about why people just ignore the ordinary. In order to stand out, Godin says, you must be either bad or bizarre. Boring will not bring you success.

In my quest to find traction for my vision to empower a specific species of human beings today I’ve searched several libraries of knowledge and truth. Having a vision means you sometimes stand alone.

 

Any successful endeavor requires a vision...
Empower A Felon
Empower A Felon
   a. The word "vision":
      1) Literally means the ability to see things that are visible
      2) But it also used to mean the ability to see other things
         a) "unusual competence in discernment or perception;
            intelligent foresight" (American Heritage Dictionary)
         b) "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible" (Jonathan
            Swift)
   b. Such ventures as business or politics require "men of vision"
      1) Companies require CEOs with vision, countries require leaders
         with vision
      2) Without the ability to visualize worthy goals and how these
         can be realized, very little of importance is achieved

2. In the Lord's work, we desperately need an elevated vision of what
   it is all about...
   a. We need greater goals (what can be done) and greater objectives
      (how it can be done)
   b. Jesus certainly had a great vision:  the saving of souls! - cf.
      Mt 9:36-38; Jn 4:35
   c. We need to have visions that are worthy of the "King of kings and
      Lord of lords"

[What can help us to elevate and enlarge our vision in the Lord's work?
Let's first notice how an inadequate vision can actually stifle our
work...]

I. TWO WAYS OUR VISION CAN BE INADEQUATE

   A. AN ILLUSTRATION OF AN INADEQUATE VISION...
      1. Suppose a man is driven by the "vision" of "making as much
         money as possible"
      2. Two things may keep him from making as much money as he should
         a. He may be limited in his idea of what is "a lot of money"
         b. He may never make any specific plans other than have the
            vague notion of "making as much as possible"
      3. His problem?  His vision:
         a. May be too small concerning what can be done
         b. May be too general without any plan for what he can be
            doing now to make his vision a reality

   B. OUR VISION OF THE LORD'S WORK MAY LIKEWISE BE INADEQUATE...
      1. We may have the vision of "teaching as many people the gospel
         as possible"
      2. A noble vision on the surface, but we might by afflicted by
         the same shortcomings:
         a. We may think too small concerning what can be done
         b. We may think too generally about what we should be doing

   C. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO GENERAL...
      1. No dream has ever been achieved except by someone who dared to
         flesh it out in terms of the specifics necessary to make the
         dream a reality
      2. For example, it is fine to plan:
         a. To go to heaven
         b. To serve the Lord faithfully
         c. To do the work of evangelism
      3. But how do we do such things?
         a. By what means do we get those results?
         b. What specific, measurable actions will take us where we
            want to be?
         c. How much time, effort, and money will it take?
            We need to see our vision of the Lord's work in concrete terms
            of things we can actually do...and plan specifically how much
            of them we are going to do!

   D. THE PROBLEM OF A VISION THAT IS TOO LITTLE...
      1. When we do think specifically about the Lord's work, we often
         fail to set our sights high enough
         a. Perhaps we are hindered by our past experience
            1) Personal efforts made in the past may have not born
               fruit
            2) Congregational efforts did not seem to go anywhere
         b. Perhaps we have been fed a steady diet of defeatism
            1) Told by others that people are not interested in
               spiritual matters anymore
            2) Telling ourselves that people are not interested
      2. With small visions, many churches and individuals seem content
         with:
         a. Just "keeping house for the Lord"
         b. Just an occasional conversion, usually involving our
            children or spousesWith the limited vision of many churches, little is done and accomplished [I believe the Lord intends greater things for His church, especially for those servants with a willingness to work (cf. Mt 13:31-33; 1Co 16:8-9; Rev 3:8). What does a vision worthy of our Lord's work require? Perhaps the following thoughts might be a step in the right direction...] II. WHAT OUR VISION NEEDS A. OUR VISION NEEDS TO BE GREAT... 1. E.g., to double in attendance every year 2. E.g., to spread the gospel to thousands in our community each year B. OUR VISION NEEDS SPECIFIC ACTION-STEPS... 1. To double in attendance every year: a. Invite two people a week; by the end of the year you will likely have a least one attending regularly b. Provide transportation to people who can't drive; is the value of a soul not worth what time or effort might be involved? - cf. Mt 16:26 -- If each person succeeded is just getting one person to come regularly, the attendance would easily double 2. To spread the gospel to thousands in our community each year: a. Give a tract to one person per week b. A congregation of 50 would share the gospel with more than 2500 people per year -- How does that compare to the past year, where no vision was present? C. OUR VISION NEEDS FAITH... 1. Faith in the power of the gospel a. To save souls - Rom 1:16-17 b. To produce souls that have been born again - 1Pet 1:22-25 2. Faith in the power of the Lord a. To open doors for His prepared servants - 1Cor 16:8-9; Rev 3:8 b. To impower His servants wanting to do His will - Phil 4:13; Eph 3:16,20 D. OUR VISION NEEDS BOLDNESS... 1. A virtue displayed often by the early Christians - Acts 4:13; 9:27; 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; 28:31 2. For which they prayed and solicited prayers - Acts 4:29,30; Eph 6:19-20 3. A boldness based upon our hope in Christ - 2Co 3:12 4. To say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, despite the circumstances - 1Thes 2:2 E. OUR VISION NEEDS PERSISTENCE... 1. Not losing heart, for we shall reap in due time - Gal 6:9 2. Always abounding, knowing that our labor is not in vain 1Cor.15:58 Many visions are never realized because people give up too soon!  1. Not all "vision" is good... a. Some have "tunnel vision" - focusing on small and often insignificant problems in the church b. Some have "visions of despair" - seeing only the negative, never the positive 2. But a vision that has... a. A grand scope worthy of its mission (saving souls) b. Specific steps to accomplishing its goal (teaching others) c. Faith in the Lord and in His word d. Boldness and perseverance in carrying it out ...such a vision is what the people of God need today! Is this your vision? Or have you allowed yourself to have "tunnel vision" or a "vision of despair"? How much better to heed the words of Jesus: "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (Jn 4:35)