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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Valley of Vision – Todd Graham

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“Valley of Vision”
By Todd James Graham

I walk through a Valley of Vision
As the Son peeks over the horizon

Feel the warmth of His love
Shining down from above

The sky is as clear as can be
Outlining Zion’s beauty

All creation seeks His face
All humanity receives His Grace

This valley is actually a high
Here True Love we cannot deny

Angels sing in a choir
Satan’s chained in the fire

And our hearts and our minds have been freed
To understand why Jesus had to bleed

God’s Tapestry – Todd Graham

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“God’s Tapestry”
By Todd James Graham

I’m only one string woven into God’s tapestry
One line of color He has assigned only to me

From beneath I cannot see that path and pattern
But from above God see’s the crimson yarn

Just a single line of thread through His design
Weaving through creations image for all of time

This single line brings His artwork together
All creation then forms a beautiful picture

One of a Savior sent to right all wrong
And create a family where all can belong

I marvel at The Master’s hand as He weaves
Assembling the threads of all who believe

Seeing the shape now taking place through His Word
It’s the Salvation Work revealed in Jesus my Lord

All That I Do – Todd Graham

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“All That I Do”
By Todd James Graham

I love you Lord, hear me lift my voice
Up to you in prayer, help me make the choice
To follow You in all that I do
To follow You in all that I do

I love you Lord, see my hands lift high
Give me strength to honor and not deny
To follow You in all that I do
To follow You in all that I do

I love you Lord, feel my open heart
Please fill it with your grace to never depart
To follow You in all that I do
To follow You in all that I do

Remember Our Chaplains – Cliff Moffat

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“Remember Our Chaplains”
By Cliff Moffat

Ever met a chaplain temperate and trustworthy?

Ever met a chaplain who worked vigorously in the face of extreme adversity?

Ever met a chaplain clothed with strength and dignity?

Ever met a chaplain who could laugh at the days to come?

Ever met a chaplain who spoke with wisdom and instruction?

Ever met a chaplain who spoke up for those who couldn’t speak for themselves?

Ever met a chaplain with a beautiful voice who plays an instrument like the wind blows?

Ever met a chaplain who washed your feet, and dried them with a towel, literally?

Some would argue this chaplain could never exist, but I beg to differ. I “have” met this chaplain who surpassed them all, and it was sublime.

Thank you to every chaplain who works – or worked once upon a time – for the MDOC.

Men, let’s respect our chaplains regardless of their ups, downs, or our differences. Let’s find the good in them, and remember to send them a kite every now and then just to say “thank you” for what you do. Encouragement goes a long ways.

Our Testimonies – Cliff Moffat

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“Our Testimonies”
By Cliff Moffat

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 13:11).

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me [Paul] his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God…” (2 Tim. 1:8).

I share these verses to encourage you to be “bold” when giving your testimonies. Tell the details, give the facts, be transparent – be “authentic.” If we truly want to grow in our ministries to one another, we must be confident that it’s the power of God that allows us to confess our faults, tell others what brought us to prison, and share the hurts, troubles, and scars we’ve endured. It is our “authenticity” that will ultimately “win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thes. 4:12) and thus “win souls” (Prov. 11:30) for Jesus. Remember, our Christ-centered objective is to “save sinners from death” (James 5:20). Being authentic about ourselves – and thus to God – speaks a lot about a man, and a lot “to” a man. Be bold – it is “the power of God” within.

I recently watched a video of a seminary instructor from Asbury Christian College. He noted that history reveals revival is sparked at any given geographical location when believers begin to authentically confess their sins to one another. This actually occurred at Asbury in the 70’s, and the results of that spark remain with Asbury today – extremely powerful.

Ponder your authenticity.

Do Not Forsake Wisdom – Cliff Moffat

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“Do not forsake wisdom… (Prov. 4:6)”
By Cliff Moffat

Brothers…

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom (Prov. 4:7).

When a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge (Prov. 21:11).

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge (Prov. 23:12).

My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad (Prov. 23:15).

Be wise, and keep your heart on the right path (Prov. 23:19).

Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding (Prov. 23:23).

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures (Prov. 24:4).

A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength (Prov. 24:5).

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off (Prov. 24:14).

I share these morsels of God’s truth with you [those who are behind the narrow windows] in light of a Christian Bible Correspondence College that has recently been accredited through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, and thus recognized by the U.S. Dep’t of Education (view at DEAC Website: http://www.deac.org) and for a one-time $25 registration fee, they offer the following degree programs to us:

• Certificate in Religious Studies (C.R.S.) (non-degree & no $25 required)
• Bachelor of Religious Studies (B.R.S.)
• Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.)
• Master of Divinity (M.Div)

The name of the college is NationsUniversity (“NU”), and the only other costs required is paying your own postage for assignments and tests, and you must obtain any necessary books/textbooks, many of which may be available through checkout from the library, Chaplains’ library, or Lakeland Interlibrary Loan Program. To get started, first request NU’s application form at this address:

Amreeka Exam Services
Attn: John Casteel, Dir. Of Prison Enrollment
P.O. Box 3342
Brentwood, TN 37024-3342

There is a great benefit to obtaining a college degree in prison. Vivian Nixon, Executive Director of College & Community Fellowship in New York has recently reported that, on a national level, 43% of prisoners return to prison within three years of their release. However, recidivism drops to 5.6% for those who obtain a Bachelor Degree while incarcerated, and less that 1% for prisoners who receive a Master’s Degree.

In addition, as reported in 1997 by “Justice Quarterly,” “inmates who were most active in Bible studies were significantly less likely to be rearrested during [a one year] follow up period.”

Ponder this: who is the Parole Board most likely to consider for release when your review comes up? Those with a file with some tickets, a few 363s, and a good work report or two? Or those who may have all that, “”plus” an accredited Bachelor or Master Degree to show for?

Take my advice brothers [and sisters], get an education while in here. You must have a High School Diploma or G.E.D. to apply for this program, so, get that first if you don’t already have one. then, for $25, pursue this like you’ve never pursued anything before. That price is a God-send, trust me.

I Came to the Well – Timothy Pelfrey

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To all those in Christ Jesus My thoughts and prayers are with you and for you.

“I Came to the Well”

I came to the well with a bucket of doubt
He sent me back with a spring of living water.
I came to Him rejected and forgotten
He sent me back accepted by GOD Himself.
I came to Him broken and wounded
He sent me back healed and whole.
I came to Him laden with burdens and questions
He sent me back rested, as a source of answers
I came living a life of quiet desperation
I ran back overflowing with hope.

Be blessed and at peace,
Timothy Pelfrey

Delbert’s Daily Walk – Delbert Faulkner

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“Delbert’s Daily Walk” (11-15)
By Delbert Faulkner

As part of his sermon, a Volunteer at our church service discussed the religious zeal Muslims seem to exhibit which, to him, he seemed to lack.

It wasn’t very long thereafter that the Lord shared a truth with me. The next time the Volunteer comes in I’m going to share this truth with him. I’m going to tell him that I can relate to what he mentioned at his last service because, if we loved the Lord as much as we profess, we should have the same zeal exhibited by Muslims.

As a matter of fact, I had similar feelings and compared the religious zeal of the Old Testament Jews with that of today’s Muslims and asked people where these Jews and Muslims were failing God? For the most part, all I ever got was funny looks and answers that didn’t make any sense. I then read Matt 12:7 where it says, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice.” The Lord then revealed to me that we serve Him in love, not by way of compulsion. This is exactly where the Jews and Muslims have missed the mark, but not so with a real Christian. He/she serves God because he/she wants to, not because he/she is compelled to do so. Compulsion is imprisonment, but serving Him willingly is freedom.

I later shared this truth with the Volunteer. He said, “Thank you for sharing that with me, brother; you have lifted up my spirit.”

The New Jerusalem – Nick Butler

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“The New Jerusalem”
By Nick Butler

As Christians, we need to create a vision in our imagination of what heaven is. This will enable us to stay steadfast in the faith and cling to the hope that is before us.

Unequivocally, we know that God is the Possessor and Creator of heaven and earth (Gen. 14:19 & 1:18). The Bible teaches us that God has a throne in heaven (Ps.11:4 & Is.66:1). In speaking of a throne, we conjure up images of a kingdom, Paul in Eph. 3:10, tells us that heaven has a governmental structure where power resides but will operate under God’s wisdom. Additionally, everything in this heaven and in its government will be purified (Heb.9:23). In this heaven, Christ Jesus will be our High Priest (Heb.8:11), and we shall be His kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex.19:6).

Physically speaking, this heaven and earth will pass away (Matt 5:18 & 24:35) but God in His loving mercy has prepared a country/city for believers, this New Jerusalem, will host many angels (Heb.12:22). However, only those plants rooted by God will enter this new city (Matt.15:13). In this heaven, our Father has told us that there will be many mansions (Jn.14:1-3). Since heaven has many mansions, the implication is, some will not be in heaven.

Furthermore, Luke informs us, that names are written in heaven (Lk.10:20). Because heaven can be measured (Jer.31:37) the gate in heaven (Gen.28:17) is narrow (Matt.7:13). Therefore, heaven is designed by God, for God’s chosen ones, all believers have been registered to heaven, to God our Judge (Heb.12:23 & Phil.3:20). Christ will also be present at God’s right hand (Heb.10:12).

Now that we know that we are so special to God that He designed a place just for us to reside with Him and His Son, what will heaven be like? To begin, Rev.21:23, informs us that there will be no need for a sun or the moon to shine in it, because God’s glory will illuminate the New Jerusalem, and the Lamb is the Light. We were once called to be the light on earth (Matt 5:16). This light, represents righteousness and holiness, attributes of our resurrected new heavenly bodies-just as Christ had (Rom.6:3-7; 1 Cor.15:48-49; & Eph.4:24).

God tells us that the sufferings of the old heavens and earth will not be remembered (Is.65:17-19) and that this new heaven will not have theft nor decaying (Matt.6:19-21), there will not be poverty, hunger, crying, hate, gossip, or any exclusion (Lk.6:19-31). We will rejoice and share this happiness with our whole family (Eph.3:15). We will all, including the angels, worship and praise God (Lk.2:13), even heaven and everything in it will praise God (Ps.69:34).
Believers will receive rewards in heaven (Lk.6:35 & 1 Cor.3:8). Our faithfulness on earth earns us an imperishable crown (1 Cor.9:25); those of us that love His appearing will receive a crown of righteousness (2 Tim.4:8); when we resist the temptation on earth and show ourselves approved (Rom.12:1 & 14:8) to God we will receive a crown of life (James1:12); we will inherit an incorruptible and undefiled nature that does not fade away (1 Pet.1:4). In heaven, we will stand next to, and talk to those heroes of the faith that inspired us (2 Cor.5:1), heroes like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses to name just a few. Every tribe, language, people, and nation of believers will be there (Rev.5:9).
In Revelation chapters 4 and 5 detailed descriptions are given of what heaven will be like.

What an awesome vision of what our lives will be like in heaven, which is guaranteed to us when we embrace it as a hope greater than what this earth offers us (Dan.4:26 & Col.1:5). Envision heaven and allow this hope to be your guide in your walk as Christians on this physical plane.

I Felt Like A Lost Soul – Anthony D. Roper

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“I Felt Like A Lost Soul – Searching For “Who Am I”
By Anthony D. Roper

In the beginning man has always looked to the sky with open arms and asked God “Who am I?” I’m a man of flesh and blood – a sinner. Because those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on things of the flesh. But, those who live according to the spirit and the things of the spirit live in Jesus Christ. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2-8) So, I raised my arms to the sky to pray to God, and I asked “God, who am I?” I have sinned and done many horrible things. I have loved and lost and bought toys and spent tons of money. I put these things above you. I had used my talents, words, and tricks, and that just made me slick. But, everything I did in the dark, was brought to light. I used the talents of fixing machines and learning quickly on “How to do something” as a tool to do what I wanted. Not knowing or thinking it was a precious gift from you. I was dishonest, hurtful, ignorant, and downright ugly at times.

You gave me a beautiful woman a jewel of a daughter to call my own, then you called them both to Heaven on the same day. I again, raised my arms to pray and asked “Why?” But, you didn’t answer! So, I used a coward’s way out to crash a car into a tractor. Only to wake the next day in the hospital, with a split head, and to find out that I saved a family of 4. I looked to my soul and it felt empty. I again looked to Heaven and asked God “Why?” Still you didn’t reply. I still couldn’t see the greater good in me. I continued to trick and be dishonest and buy trucks and boats, and put them ahead of you. I used good deeds of buying toys for the Angel Tree and Toys for Tots to cover up the criminal behavior inside of me. Thinking “no one” will know, because I of course am doing good things?

I went through life in flesh and blood, turning always from you. Because I couldn’t find you. You wouldn’t answer. I continued to use cars as battle rams, buying toys and transporting drugs. Then one day, you gave me another precious love, but I treated it as dirt and walked on it, as if it was a carpet or a tool for something more. Pain and sorrow, I caused her. I continued to walk in the flesh, but never knowing why my heart bled. I committed this crime to get more out of like. I used people and dishonored Our Family Name. Now, I sit in this prison cell, I looked again to Heaven and asked God to “Just let me die!” I know now, I have destroyed you love and many victims’ lives! “So, I ask God when will you answer me? Why aren’t you here?”

Then one night, like so many others, sitting in the dark still awake, I heard a small voice from my heart say; “Seek me on bended knees, with your head bowed.” I got on my knees and prayed to my savior Jesus Christ and asked him for forgiveness. The voice replied, “Happy are the pure in heart.” (Matthew 5:8) “For I’m a Jealous God, and nothing will be put above me.”

Again, in my heart, I heard: “Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone. You thought toys, money, cars, and boats was your comfort zone. You were wrong! Your life begins with me, Jesus Christ. I have always been right there: Even telling you NO, when you wanted YES. Quietly handing in there with you, like a true father. Walking right alongside of you, through all that is happening, and offering you gentle suggestions. Even carrying you when you couldn’t walk. Shielding you, when Satan was at his worst. Loving you through your spirit, even when you still did wrong. Wake now, my son and no longer live in the darkness. Pray on your knees, feel the love, honor, peace and always give others respect. Forgive those whom have harmed you, and make direct amends by asking forgiveness from those you distrust. So, that I, God can heal your pain and repair the destruction you have caused others. Look to Heaven on bended knees and fill your heart with joy, peace, open-mindedness, and true integrity…”