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Monthly Archives: May 2017

War Fare and Nature’s Comfort – Trina Peake

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“War Fare” and “Nature’s Comfort”
By Trina Peake
Womens Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

WAR FARE
the battle that’s going on inside, no longer can I hide.
I understand the war been won, in the mean times in between times it
intensifies.
the fighting in my head can’t even comprehend what’s being said, my soul often feels embedded to the depth.
As much as I miss this and miss that no matter what I ain’t going back, or going to … what I put myself through.
I’m thankful no grateful for the truth
that sprung let the Father’s will is done!!

NATURE’S COMFORT
lookin’ out this window
I see the snow
not through my eyes
do I see prison
but that of His snow globe

white blanketing brown and green
frozen life
chillen till spring

its miraculous how You do
and what all things must go thru
how Your plans never fail
and it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails!

To Change of Not – Stephen Graham-Wright

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“To Change or Not”
By Stephen Graham-Wright
Chippewa Correctional Facility, Kincheloe, MI

To change or not
That is the question
That I should let God lead
Is no mere suggestion
I can’t force change
To be made new takes time
It’s a process
Of renewing my mind
Thoughts are where action starts
So fill my mind with something pure
Jesus, please take control
And help me to endure
The process is long
It can be painful
But You are beside me
And forever faithful
I want to change
And, Lord, be like You
Help me remain to You
Always faithful and true.

Father Will You – Todd Graham

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“Father Will You”
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

Running around lost in shadow
Where myself I long to know
Try to coax him out to see
Hiding inside is the real me

Father will You accept this heart
It has been battered and oh so scarred
Father will You accept this mind
Tired from battling all the time
Father will You . . .

Always afraid You’d not approve
As my self-worth I tried to prove
Failing time after time again
Contemplating to bring an end

Father will You accept this heart
It has been battered and oh so scarred
Father will You accept this mind
Tired from battling all the time
Father will You . . .

Have so much baggage to carry
And it all feels way too heavy
Spirit’s broken and needs repair
Right now I feel I just don’t care

Father will You accept this heart
It has been battered and oh so scarred
Father will You accept this mind
Tired from battling all the time
Father will You . . .

Father I know You hear my plea
And You sent Your Son to save me
Father I know You’ve heard my plea
In You I am finally free
In You I am finally free
In You I am finally free

Busyness – Todd Graham

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“Busyness”
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

The sun rises creating picturesque scenes
Red and orange streak across the sky in beams
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

Shimmers of light fill the night sky
As the Aurora Borealis dances by
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

Across the field rolls a thunderstorm
Fingers of lightning showing strange forms
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

A prism arcs across in a rainbow
Showing the diversity of Your love’s glow
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

The fall wind bristles through the trees
A kaleidoscope of color in falling leaves
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

I’m surrounded by friends who truly care
Through thick and thin they’re always there
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

My daughter texts to say she loves me
Spanning great distance with technology
I would have stopped to worship You at the site of this
But instead kept rushing through life with busyness

A Witness – Todd Graham

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“A Witness”
By Todd Graham
Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility, Ionia, MI

A witness to that which can hardly be believed
My eyes unfocused and heart beating so relieved
Through my blurry image and dark cloud of despair
An outline of Your Glory to remind You’re there

A witness to that which You laid before all time
Plan of salvation personalized to be mine
At the dawn of Your creation You could see me
And foresaw the day You would come to set me free

A witness to that which promised to never end
The agape’ love of a Father and a Friend
An invitation to join a True Family
Spanning the distance that was between You and me

God Doesn’t Give Up – Calvin Kizer

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“God Doesn’t Give Up”
By Calvin Kizer
West  Shoreline Correctional Facility, Muskegon Heights, MI

I am the youngest of seven children (3 boys, 4 girls). My sister and I, the two youngest, were raised in Kentucky by my mother’s brother and his wife, who couldn’t have children of their own. Living in Kentucky, we went to church every Sunday until I was of age to decide and was asked if I wanted to continue to go to church or work on the farm with my uncle. Of course, as a young boy, I chose what seemed to be fun, working on the farm.

At the age of 11, my uncle’s wife died of cancer and my sister and I had to move to Michigan with our mother and siblings who we were used to visiting every summer, but not living with. Our father was never in the picture, so it didn’t matter concerning him. Once in Michigan, we lived in the suburbs and didn’t attend any church. At the age of 12, I became a troubled child, smoking (trying to) and hanging out with older, troubled teens. I began to skip school (elementary) and before long, I ran away from home and was stealing and breaking into houses to survive.

It didn’t take long before I was introduced to the juvenile home. Life as I once knew it was due for a big change. Trouble seemed to follow me into adulthood. Still trying to find myself, I was still hanging out with the wrong people and crowds, now smoking pot and drinking alcohol were habits. One night, I was picked up by the police for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was in the habit of carrying this big knife that was against the law because of how long it was. I didn’t know this, plus the fact that I had the knife concealed. Cost me my first felony.

Now living in the inner city and considered grown, I felt the city was my playground and trouble was my new name because every time I turned around, I was in trouble, in the juvenile home or on probation. At the age of 18, the juvenile was done with me and I received a birthday card from the county jail . . . “Happy Birthday, see you later” is what the card read.

Months later, I found myself in the back of a police car on my way to the county jail. In the county jail, I can remember talking to the chaplain and him telling me about Jesus Christ, His love for me and His death on the cross setting me free from bondage. The only thing I thought about was the “setting me free” part — from jail. At that time, I prayed what I call the jail house prayer, “God if you help me out, I’ll never do it again. I’ll never get in trouble again.”

Even though I soon got out, again and again, I always returned to the type of old co-called friends, drugs and alcohol, forgetting anything about God, Jesus, forgiveness or going to church, or even the promises I made to Him.

At the age of 19, I got the girl I was dating pregnant. Months later, I was caught in the act of doing a breaking and entering (B&E) and was sentenced to my first prison term of 2-1/2 – 15 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections. At 19, I was incarcerated away from family and friends, mentally confused, physically hurt and spiritually lost. I was bitter at the world and bitter at God. All I thought about was my pregnant girlfriend out there alone. I guess I was mad at God because of my misunderstanding of Him and His word. In my mind, or understanding, He was like a genie. He was supposed to help me and answer my prayers when I asked with all my heart and soul. I had done this and this God wasn’t doing anything the Bible or people said He would do for me. I was at the time a very confused and lost young man.

One day I was talking to a guy and called him the “N” word, as it was a common word in my vocabulary at the time. He explained to me that we shouldn’t call ourselves this, that we were Morrish Americans after our ancestors from Africa. He began to teach me Islam, which was his religion, and Moorish American, which was his nationality. The nationality part is what stuck with me the most. I was taught nothing good or positive about Christianity and I didn’t learn anything spiritually or about a Savior and His love not just for me, but for the whole world. I began to learn about studying and the importance of bettering one’s self. After serving my time, I still didn’t have any morals, I still had the same attitude, and not only was I addicted to pot and alcohol, I was now chasing women. Six months out of prison, I was back in jail for another B&E and parole violation. This time I was sentenced to 2-1/2 – 5 years. Back in prison, I continued to waste my time playing basketball and sharing street lies to fill the void of loneliness and to help pass the time. Not once did I even consider the higher calling that was knocking at my door.

Again, I finished dong my time, but this time I thought I’ll get married. It’ll help me stay out of trouble as a family man plus it’ll keep me from ever being lonely again, so I thought.  I met up and married a woman with three young children, an already made family, which only made matters worse for me. Here I was, fresh out of prison with no education or job skills and a family to provide for. I soon became the neighborhood drug dealer, thinking “I’ll leave the crime to the fools.” That didn’t work either because six months before I was to get off parole, at the age of 30, I found myself once again on my way back to prison with 4-1/2 – 15 years for selling drugs to an undercover police office.

My marriage was over and I felt my life was, too. It was then that I began to think just a little about my life, my future. I buckled down and within the first year of my incarceration, I got MY G.E.D. and I was beginning to believe I was growing spiritually within Islam. I also was studying the Bible and other religions in search of the “truth.” It was then that I began to understand and realize that something was missing in my faith, in my religion, but I was still trying to be true to this nationality thing and to whom we called Allah, thinking “is this my calling?”

After serving my 4-1/2 years, I was sent to a correction center for two years where I worked a steady job paying off my restitution and saving some money. I began to think and feel better about myself and the changes I was making. After leaving the correction center, I started dating a woman who had her life somewhat (without God) in order. After all the years in trouble, I finally made it off parole. My girlfriend ended up pregnant and we got married. For 7-1/2 years life was good and I stayed out of trouble until I began to drink and smoke pot again. I began to hang out in the streets late at night, which made it hard to hold down my job. Things got so bad with my drinking that my wife just gave up on our marriage and I moved out. I also lost my job which prompted me to go back to old habits of selling drugs. I ended up getting caught and sent back to prison to serve 1-30 years at the age of 43.

It was at this point that I truly realized I needed a change in my life and that change was Jesus. But I wasn’t wholeheartedly ready to submit my whole life to God, though I did a lot of praying. I got out of prison after serving my one year. Five years later, the woman I was dating asked me to move to Florida with her. Before we moved, we had some serious issues we decided to overlook. One year after moving to Florida, I found myself back in Michigan dealing with that serious issue with 10 to 30 years. As I sat in the county jail, I heard a voice ask me, “are you ready for what I have been trying to give you all these years?” From that point, I gave my life daily to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call onto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”

I know God is with me because everywhere I go He puts true and sincere Christians in my life. He also has provided for me when I didn’t have and kept me from wanting to do wrong to make it while I am here incarcerated. He has opened doors that I thought were forever closed, and where others have meant to do me wrong or bad, God has made it to be for the good. Every day He allows me to wake up. I am at peace because it’s Jesus who I live for now. I may not be perfect, but I thank God that He didn’t give up on me.

Choose Life and Blessings – Richard Wiseman

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“Choose Life and Blessings”
By Richard Wiseman
Roeder Assessment Center, LaGrange, KY

“One of the greatest gifts God gave man on his day of birth is the ability to choose. The greatest choice a man can ever make is to forsake himself and become the man God created him to be.”

Among the innumerable other choices we have to make is the daily choice of life or death, this even after choosing salvation. We can forsake the living for the dead and the dead for the living. Surely there is also a balance between the two.

There is a cunning adversary that resides within us. It is our fleshy mind. It is most unfortunate that we often allow our fleshy mind to put too much emphasis on some things we should not. It is choice that frees or enslaves us.

The next quote is from a piece of my prayer from my Sunday 4-16-17 journal entry:

“….I fear that my mom’s sorrow for the dead and things of this world that they left behind will put her in an early grave.  Sad are those who watch the living die over the dead as we witness the joy of those who are still alive stolen from them by those who have passed and the survivors who twist the knife of revenge and affliction into them, taking pleasure in their sorrow. Where is the justice for my mother? Is her love not enough to merit some relief from the misery of this world while she remains? We know she will be taken up with the saints. But, why Lord? Why can you not wipe her tears away here also? You can! Will you? Will you if I beg for her in petition and supplication? Will you have mercy on the one you chose to form me inside of? Will you release her from her prison? How long O Lord, How long?  Has she not served her time? And for no wrongdoing that I can see. Will you not put compassion in the hearts of people for her? Will you not soften their hearts? Please release her. Please give her relief.

Perhaps He will not. Perhaps He has given her relief and the ability to choose it. It is her choice. This is an opportunity for us to grow closer and me be a participant of her release! I will write and use what God gave me!”

A couple of years ago I met Brooke. She is the nicest girl I ever met and there is no doubt she is my soul mate and the love of my life.

When we met, I was in transition. I was at the end of one life and could not yet see the new life soon to come.  Nevertheless, I had a choice. I chose to be depressed and focus on the calamity and sorrow from that which was passing rather than the joy and hope that was before me. I chose to allow depression and a longing for what I could not have steal the good that was right in front of my eyes.

If I would’ve just let go (choice!), I could have been reborn into a new vibrant life with an angel right then. I did not make that choice. I have endured everything I have since then that has brought me to the place I am in Christ down a much more difficult path. I am now reborn into a much more vibrant life than I ever could’ve imagined back then, or that any human could ever offer no matter how wonderful she is, I do still have hope.

The choice of life and death, blessing and curse was before me back then as my old life was coming to an end and Brooke was a light shining from the shore to guide me in to a new life. I chose to put emphasis on death and curse though. I sabotaged the living and hope in the future for that which was already past. I chose to not let go and grieve the one who God gave me each day and thus forcing her to carry the same heavy bags I chose to be chained to.

It is the one whom you loved that allowed the death of his marriage to destroy the rest of his life along with forcing those who love him to bear witness to this and thus forcing us all to carry those bags with him.

It is dad who gives us all the example to follow though! Forsaking what lies “behind and pressing on in what is before us and the hope and joy to come, both now and the life that is in the relationships we have now and these that will remain tomorrow!”

The Lord tends to the dead. Therefore we do not need to concern ourselves with them. Retain what you can in your heart. For no one can take these things from you. Our memories are a gift from God and we will do well to manage them responsibly in a manner that does not rob us of the joy He has in store for us today and tomorrow!

“You would think that in Abraham’s old age – after he had come to the land of Beulah, after the birth of Isaac, and especially after the expulsion of Ishmael – he would have had a time of rest. But, it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham. (Gen 22:1) Let Abraham’s story warn us to never plan on rest from trials this side of the grave.

The trumpet still plays the notes of war. You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. You still must wear the helmet and carry the sword. You must watch, pray and fight. Expect your last battle to be the most difficult, for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.” C.H. Spurgeon

Greater than those tests and trials are the joys of peace he gives us to endure them. I pray this joy would outshine that calamity as you choose to focus on praising God for the promise:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Fulfilled: (life and blessing)

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (III John 4)

It is a miserable business those who are still slaves to the enemy have in trying to bring those in Christ down. But, we have a Savior and a hope that is much stronger than them!

All too familiar to us is the story of the disciple who took his focus and placed it on the storm rather than the joy set before him. I beg of you and God to no longer allow the adversaries to rob us of the woman we love.

Many years ago you asked me this: “When are you going to set down those bags?” Now I ask you – When are you going to choose to set down your bags?

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days…” Deut 30:19-20.

When I’m Gone – Loren Slough

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“When I’m Gone”
By Loren Slough
Thumb Correctional Facility, Lapeer, MI
When I’m gone.
Picturing the day, brings so much pain,
That day our Savior left with the rain,
The blue Jay flew by not making a sound,
For all you could hear is the unbreakable ground.
Prisoners cheered for the death of an innocent man,
Heaven cheered as they received their leader of the perfect clan.
The Earth mourned for the Creator of us all.
Satan wan encouraged because of his fall.
Learning from the blue eyes of the blue jay,
We’ve seen that Jesus wasn’t here to stay,
Yet what he left only the Bible can tell,
For his story is ours to yell.
If you only let him touch you,
you will want him to stay and guide you.
For the power that he gives is beyond measure,
Yet when you seek his commandments you will find all his hidden treasure.
So tell him that you need thee,
Every hour I need thee .
For then he will bless you with eternity,
Granting you the perfect gift of joining his fraternity.
So when He says in the Bible,
I am gone but I leave you someone for you to liable.
Trust him as The Holy Spirit will be by your side,
Wanting to direct your path along this life we call a ocean sea side.
Jesus didn’t mean that he would leave you alone,
But had a perfect plan when He said when I’m gone.

Dear Momma – Archie Porter

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“Dear Momma”
By Archie Porter
Carson City Correctional Facility, Carson City, MI
Dear Momma
For years I’ve overlooked the perfection of the union of these two words. They’re mirror images of each other, almost redundant. “Dear” means empathic, caring, sensitive, loved, cherished. “Momma” means the exact same things. You hear them so often they sometimes lose their effectiveness. Everything we refer to as “Dear” certainly is not.
But “Momma” is. Momma stands up to every aspect, every facet of the word “Dear”.
When someone is always there you can almost lose sight of them. Thanks be to GOD that momma never lost sight of us. Momma was at the cross when JESUS died. The Bible says she stood nearby. As I take up my cross daily, I know my momma is nearby. When nearly all his disciples had forsaken him, his momma was there. When almost all have abandoned me, momma is there. As Mary looked at her son JESUS on the cross, do you think she had full understanding of GOD’s plan and why it had to happen that way? Probably not.
As my mother looks at me behind these prison walls, do you think she fully understands why it had to happen this way? Probably not. There is a common thread between “Mary, the mother of JESUS” and “Mary, the mother of monty”…
GOD’s grace is sufficient for them both and their suffering is not in vain. Could JESUS have accomplished his purpose without this momma’s help? HE probably could’ve. As for me, I would’ve been nothing without the love and support of my momma. The same stands true to this day. I don’t have enough words or paper to describe your worth or my love for you, so I’ll sum it up with just these two, “Dear Momma”… I love you.

Your Life Is Not Your Own – Matthew Nawrocki

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“Your Life Is Not Your Own”
By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility,  Newberry, MI
Your life is not your own. Dead to self, alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:11; Col. 3:2).
When this life is over all that will matter is that you loved well and finished strong. A lot of Christians wonder why their lives are not fulfilling. Well, similarly to a good ‘ol American Thanksgiving Day tradition, you’ve eaten all you could manage, and then dessert, and you’ve become comatose; good for nothing but a nap on the couch!
“Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead and Christ will give you light” (Eph. 5:14). It’s time to give OF yourself, not TO yourself. You’ve fed already, now feed someone else. It’s not about you, your struggles, your insecurities, your failures, or your appearance. “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8). The worst place for a Christian to be, who never gives of themselves to others, is a bible study, service, or a conference.
Do you want to be free? Go free another. Do you need encouragement? Go encourage another. Share what God has done in your life. If you know what Jesus has saved you from, you know enough to go into all the world and make disciples. Don’t think so? Read John 4:39-42, after Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well. In verse 39 it says, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in [Jesus] because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.'”
We must remove the fear that binds us from speaking to others, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). When we fail to speak, we selfishly choose our comfort over another’s life. Do you care about other people’s lives? Do you want to see a revival? Do you want to see lives changed? We must get into the field, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Lk. 10:2).
God moves because faith is present, let us be faithful to enter as laborers into His harvest, for we are “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9), remembering that ” neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7); Then we will see revival, then we will see God’s presence, then we will see the harvest reaped. Souls are at stake, eternity is waiting, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Be encouraged that you are a part of God’s team!!! See you in the field.