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Monthly Archives: October 2019

Unworthy – Jonathan Southwell

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“Unworthy”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, MI

Who am I
that you should notice me?
a man
who has lost his way
time and time again.
Yet You are always there
by my side.
You found me when
I felt unworthy.

How did I expect
to find my way?
When I could
find very little
about myself redeeming.
Yet You thought
I was precious.
You loved me
when I was lost.

What did I think
that I could keep going?
Did “they” see me
if “they” did were
“they” whispering monster?
Yet You saw past that
and heard a little boy crying.
You wrapped nail pierced
arms around me.

I can’t help but feel
so unworthy of such love.
Thank you Poppa
that your love doesn’t
depend on me.
But flows so freely
so full of grace.
You do not forget
even the most unworthy.

Shimmer – Jonathan Southwell

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“Shimmer”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, MI

Standing at the window,
watching the world shimmer by.
The windows swash
a trick of light like a fractal.

I don’t want to turn back.
Behind that locked door,
beyond the narrow little window
sickness, death, and anger lie
waiting to spring their trap
in the grungy halls.

I can hear it clawing at the door.
The throb of a decaying heart.
A haunting sing-song
“Come play with us,”
scratching at my eardrums
like nails raking a chalkboard.

I press my hand against the glass,
then my forehead.
The cold leeches to my core,
stealing away the warmth
of the mussed covers
I was just under.
Alone,
in those few lost moments
no way out,
stuck,
for now at least.
I can’t see the future
through the drizzle,
without a spike of fear
piercing me through and through.

Then I remember that You
are always there
by my side.
Your presence warms me.
Your love for me makes my heart soar.
Your mercy takes away the pain.
Your grace reminds me how blessed I am.

You have saved me.
From things I felt
powerless against.
Shadows so dark they
they obliterated all light.
You breathed into the
oppressive darkness
lifting it away.
Your light piercing the
veil setting me free.

You have made me whole,
able to face what’s
lurking behind door #1.
By Your strength only
can I stand in the flow
face turned up to You
let it wash over me
face another day.

The world shimmers as
your light pierces
the night sky.
Dawn awakens in
the gray fog
lighting the way
so I can move
pushing off the glass
marching forward in faith.

Intent – Jonathan Southwell

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“Intent”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, Michigan

What is the intent, the song that we sing is it with an open heart or are we just going through the motions.

Trust me I have been there, felt like the same songs, the same lifting of hands. Sometimes going through the motions is all we can do at that point, as long as we persevere. Not every time will it be a mountain top experience. Things will change and come around.

The same song that is secular can be turned into worship by the intent. The same thing can be said of the reverse. Satan can use religion to draw souls away from Christ. The word can be used and twisted to justify wars, murders, and all sorts of things. Look at the Pharisees. They believed that killing Jesus was doing God’s work, and it was, but they believed they were justified. Paul believed he was doing the right thing in persecuting and condoning murder of members of The Way.

We often ask Jesus silly questions like how many times must we forgive our brothers. We are lucky He didn’t turn around and say to us, “How many times have I had to forgive you?”

Serve in the little things and more will be given to you. It is a promise given to every believer. In God’s kingdom the little things matter, sometimes more so than the large things. In the judging of the sheep and goats Christ does not talk about the thousands of dollars someone gave, or all the churches that someone built, nor the number of religious conferences a person attended. He speaks about the little things a little food for the hungry, a drink for the thirsty, a piece of clothing for a naked man.

We feel the need to do great things for God. He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He is quite capable. He did manage to create the whole universe and everything in it without consulting us. We are lucky that He chooses to work through us, can use us, and be a part of His kingdom.

God is able to take small things and do amazing things with them.

Hurt – Jonathan Southwell

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“Hurt”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, Michigan

We are afraid to get hurt, to put ourselves out there for Christ. Scared to talk to someone, scared to say we are Christians, scared to be judged, to get hurt. We sit in pews on Sunday clapping, singing, shouting hallelujah, but won’t put ourselves out on a limb on Monday.

We don’t consider how has our sin hurt God’s heart. To have to watch His creatures, His children disintegrate to such a lowly state. To fall so far. The things He created in His image that He used to walk in the cool of the day mistreat one another and abuse all that He made us steward over. We gave it away like pearls thrown before swine. All because we like our sin more.

How have our words, actions, choices made Him sad? How many times does He have to beg us to come to Him that He may heal us and fix us?

We forget what He endured for us. God abhors sin. He cannot stand it. It cannot be in His presence. Yet, He came to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ. He endured for over 30 years among that which He abhors, watching us do things that damaged ourselves, damaged others.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to not have created us? He knew what was going to happen, He knew the cost He would have to pay, and He created us anyways.

Then He began His ministry. He showed us all what we could be. If this was not enough He willingly went to the cross. He endured through the shame, the beatings, the being reviled, the taunts, the pain. He endured the worst of the worst. He took our sins and bore that weight on His shoulders. He was broken down, spit on, beat up for us. His Father had to turn away from Him because of OUR sin, not His, He was without. All so that we could have relationship again with God.

This was ours, what we should have endured, but never could because we are too weak, too frail. All because He loved us. Because He wanted us to return to Him. And yet we are afraid to get hurt for Him. Afraid to rock the status quo. Afraid to trust that we are really in His hands. But when we want something, need something, we are quick to call out.

Why are we afraid to hurt Christ when He was hurt for us?

Holiday Gatherings – Jonathan Southwell

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“Holiday Gatherings”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, MI

I Kings 38:62-66
Thinking back to childhood, some of my best memories are gathering together around the table, during holidays especially. It was not just that, but everything that went along with it – getting to help in the kitchen, learning under my mother, aunts, grandmother (all great cooks), growing up, getting to do more, the first time I got to use a knife to chop things. Today, I love to host my family for the holidays.

I imagine that is how Solomon felt. He had walked with his father, David, learning from him how to honor God, how to be king over Israel. As he grew, I am sure more and more responsibilities were placed on Solomon’s shoulders, all the little things leading up to that one big undertaking, crafting God’s temple on earth.

Even in this massive undertaking, there were many steps. Supplies had to be gathered to pay them, altars had to be crafted and the tools to use with them. The whole recipe laid out by God to Moses and David, very much like any cook, Solomon added his own flare in his zeal for serving his Heavenly Father.

Then it came time to dedicate the temple. Solomon, along with all of Israel, gathered together. The feast was so huge it stretched “from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt” (I Kings 8:65). This gathering lasted for two weeks. They praised, they worshiped and they broke bread together.

I have this image of God in the midst of it all, dancing, arms out-stretched, soaking it all in with His love radiating out to all His people.

He is like the table in the middle of our gatherings. We all gather around to dine as one large family with our Heavenly Father and Jesus as our head. Love passes from hand to hand, like a cherished dish. Our souls, hearts and bodies are nourished as the bonds of family grow as we rest in Him.

Papa, help us to rest in You. To seek You out for the true nourishment we need each day. To gather together as the family You have created us to be. In Jesus we as your sons and daughters pray. Amen.

Hands – Jonathan Southwell

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“Hands”
By Jonathan Southwell
Cooper Street Correctional Facility, Jackson, Michigan

I look down at my hands
and I don’t recognize them.
Are these my hands?
Time goes by
and I change in unexpected ways.
I never thought I would escape
the cycle I found myself
lost in,
unable,
unwilling,
to escape because it was easy,
it was comfortable,
it was familiar.
Marching forward to death’s chilling embrace
day by day,
knowingly,
but I couldn’t seem to care.
I wouldn’t do anything about it.
Feeble attempts yielded little
in my own power.
I was bankrupt,
on E,
going nowhere fast,
broke down,
left on the side of the highway of life.
Content to let it all go by,
because it was too difficult,
life was too difficult.
Where was my fight?
When did it abandon me?
How did just existing become enough?

You had to sit me outside of myself
force me to give up control,
so You could change me
could fix me.

I can see things that I was blind to before.
Lost in a world of my own making,
not really living, but existing in fantasy.
I am becoming
Someone brand new.
Old things pass away
all things are new
because of You.
Veins flow and throb with life
twisting and turning among
tendons and sinews of the journey.
My hands alive once more,
loosen their grip on death,
restore to life
in this desert place.

The Difference Between Flesh and Spirit Belief – Terri Reese Green

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“The Difference Between Flesh and Spirit Belief”
By Terri Reese Green
Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Ypsilanti, MI

Genesis 2:15-17: God gave Adam a command, not to eat from the tree of knowing right from wrong, or he would surely died. But those who saw this saw Adam go on to have children. Can they believe the rest of the Bible? No, not until they give their life to Jesus Christ. We as Christians want you to know that the Bible is Spiritual. According to John 6:63 the bible is spiritual. If God said that Adam died, Adam died.
Pray this prayer: Lord help us to believe God. According to Romans 4:3 God is true.

Surprise – Carl Nunnery

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“Surprise”
By Carl Nunnery
Farmington Correctional Facility, Farmington, MO

A little girl is enjoying the sunny outdoors, she has in her hands a bucket
of cool water, ready to surprise someone with a cold splash of cold
water. What she was not aware of was while she thought she was doing
the hunting, she was unknowingly being hunted herself.

She was soon welcomed with two bursts of unsuspecting water sprays
which caused her to shreek. She laughs in her excitement which caused
her to spill the water out of her bucket. “Surprise,” they yell in their
successful attack on her.

If we stop to think about it, this is truly a life experience like we may go
through. While we may think we are ready and prepared, we find out
how quickly things can happen in our lives that proves we are anything
but prepared.

Many enjoy life in joy and happiness as it was with this little girl, when
they suddenly receive a surprise of their own. They realize they are
being hunted by a lion (Satan), who is on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8) who is
causing difficult times in their life. They realize the only defense against
this attack is Jesus Christ (Psalms 89:18). This causes them to look
at their lives, to seek Him who protects, to seek Him who gives life.
There are a lot of people who think they are ready for anything when they
are suddenly jolted by a real surprise of their own.

In the Bible, this surprise is referred to as an “awakening.” This is when
they come out of their spiritual sleep. In (Eph 5:14) it says,” awake thou
that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

You see, when we sin, we are spiritually dead, which means we are
separated from God. Jesus is ready to wake you up by using some unpleasant events in your life that will cause you to re-think just how ready or prepared you
think you are.

Wake up to the light of Jesus and be ready for the surprise of your life.

I Pray – Julius Evans

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“I Pray”
By Julius Evans
Bill Clements Correctional Facility, Amarillo, Texas

There is so much that I pray to the Lord for every day.
Me and my family, other’s families
For moments of calm and comfort.
In the midst of heartache,
I pray for our deep inner strength,
To find our way through the days ahead.
And when you/we need to just be still and breathe.
I pray to the Lord that you/we are able to find sanctuary somewhere,
To rest and renew our spirit,
But most of all,
I pray that we all know that we are not alone in this.

God – Julius Evans

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“God”
By Julius Evans
Bill Clements Correctional Facility, Amarillo, Texas

My heart yearns
For that special someone like the Lord above.
To show my caring and compassion,
And to bring much love and joy into my heart.
And kick Satan away,
Sooth the loneliness.
To share the hidden love that’s been buried so deep
Within my heart,
That’s aching to break free.
For only the Lord and me
To see, see, see.

Romans 8:28 – it will be worth it.