Friday, December 2, 2011

Church, Keys, and Prison

I was going to share some things today that my Mother and I were discussing yesterday but I guess that will be for another day. God has a way of redirecting us sometimes and He did this through a birthday card I received in the mail yesterday.  Through this card, He took me back to what happened Sunday morning in church.

During worship my Lord began to speak to me, "I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you  loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:19) Then I saw, in the Spirit, the hands of Jesus holding forth a jeweled box. He was presenting it to different people. Some didn't even notice, others were reaching in with joy and withdrawing something from inside. I began crying out to Him, "I want it, Lord. Give it to me. I want what you have to give." He held it before me and opened it. It was full of keys. I reached in to receive.

I love our pastor and our church. It is full of Spirit-filled believers, but sometimes I wonder if they are really listening to the Spirit of God within them. You see, our pastor didn't have to preach long because the Holy Spirit was already moving in a powerful way. He flowed with the Spirit and gave an alter call. The call was for anyone who had an unfulfilled promise from God or anyone who needed a breakthrough. Well, I have to tell you, my husband and I wasted no time getting in that line. I jumped right in with my mind full of needed breakthroughs, unanswered prayers, and promises that have not yet come to pass.

As I stood in line full of joy and praise for this opportunity to step out in faith and have my faith united with the faith of others, I was amazed at the people glued to their seats. I thought, "REALLY? None of you have a need, an unanswered prayer, an unfulfilled promise? None of you need a breakthrough? None of you are wrestling with powers, or principalities, or the rulers of the darkness of this world, or spiritual wickedness in high places?"

I believe some were praying in their seats but many more were indifferent. I wonder what our Father thinks when He hands us these opportunities on a silver platter, when He stretches forth His treasure chest of gifts and calls His children to "Come" and be blessed and they just zone out as if a bad commercial came on TV in the middle of good movie. My heart was saddened for them, they were choosing to walk away from the church service leaving behind a blessing, or a miracle, or a breakthrough. I believe God had something for all of them and many missed it. I prayed for them and quickly returned my focus to God and He did not disappoint!!

Now, you may be wondering how a birthday card prompted all of this. You see, the sender is my brother and his situation is an unfulfilled promise. My brother was sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's a long story. I may be able to share it with you some time, if he doesn't mind. But God made a promise to me that HE would be the One to set my brother free when it was time. HIS time! It's been nearly thirteen years now but I still believe God's promise.

My brother is in a physical prison because of what someone else did. Many people all around us are living in spiritual prison as the result of what one man did. Adam. But One Man named Jesus paid all with His blood to set us free. He is the door and He gives His children the key to enter in.

I humbly ask that anyone who reads this post would join me in praying for God to reveal the truth in my brother's situation and that he would be set free. But also that God will use him for His glory right where he is.

In case you have any false illusions of prison life, let me just share a little of his letter with you:

The day here dawned crisp and cold. The powers that be have decided to not provide us with heat this year until the daytime temperatures drop below and remain beyond 60 degrees. (*People, this does not take into consideration the night time temperatures.) This being Texas, could place the introduction of heat, if based on that line of logic, somewhere in January. To further emphasize the disdain with which they view our well-being, they have opted to not provide us with the second blanket, which is usually passed out in the winter months.

The ensuing nights within our concrete enclosure are without question on the far side of brisk.
I have always loved the onset of winter, the autumn seems to bring things into focus where nature is concerned. Every breath is somehow more invigorating and it's as if you can see for miles due to inexplicable clarity. That love though is tempered in here by the restricted line of sight and the lack of the ability, once taken for granted, to gird oneself against the chill. Even so, I am thankful for the relief from this past summer's brutal heat, seventy plus days over 100 degrees. Numb fingers and toes are a small concession to be free of that for a time. (*These men also have no air conditioning in the sweltering South Texas heat.)

I was blessed when they moved me into a cell with a very good friend of mine. You can scarce believe what a calming effect it is to share small quarters with someone trusted and honestly liked rather than some random stranger. (*These cells are smaller than what is legally allowed to house two dogs at the animal shelter.)

My brother went on to say how grateful he was for his Thanksgiving meal but that many complained because they cut out several items that they are usually served. There are two meals these guys look forward to each year. Often the day to day food is served repeatedly until there is scum floating on top and it's soured. Chicken is a rare treat that is used by kitchen staff for bartering for other things, so many of the men don't get their share.

There are supposed to be certain food requirements on what they receive each day. I've also learned that if a guard doesn't like you or something you've done or said, they have the kitchen staff make you what is called a "loaf." That means your every meal for the day is mixed all together in a bowl; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then it is put in a loaf pan and baked. That's what you get until the guard says otherwise.

These men are supposed to be supplied with five new uniforms every five years. My brother is wearing the same five he's had since day one. On top of that, laundry is packed so tightly into the big industrial washer that what is in the center doesn't even get wet. Therefore, it isn't even clean. That includes socks and underwear and you don't know who wore them before you.

I could go on. But what I wanted you to notice is the things he is thankful for in the midst of his suffering. It put me to shame. We are so spoiled and take so much for granted and there are people who are thankful for frozen hands and feet because the heat of summer was so unbearable. This led me to think of so many others in our own country who are suffering this holiday season. I pray God opens our eyes to really see the needs right in our own community. We so often set our sights on other countries and their problems when we have hurting needy people all around us. I want to whole-heartedly put into action "what you have done unto the least of these my brethren, you have done unto Me." God blesses us that we might be a blessing to others.

Rich Heavenly Blessings to you My Friends!

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