Candy Wrappers 04.24.18

Our princess Elizabeth wrote this poem. She is a warrior poet. Also she is our resident ballerina.

When you walk the wire, remember Satan is a liar, 
his lies bind you tighter 
so don’t fuel his fire or let his burning conspire 
against the higher calling of your thoughts.
Be a fighter with truth as your attire and the Spirit as your rider. 
For the blood is your buyer 
and grace your supplier 
peace the umpire 
and faith the provider 
of the promises of God as your advisors. 
Your desire has already transpired so do not tire,
the saints look on as admirers,
for  your foundation is now laid in sapphires.


Joshua and David created this caricature to depict  Freewill as a Comic Book Super Hero. It can drive us beyond all the struggles we face. Three cheers for an act that has proven extremely effective.


Someone recently told me that they love the photos on this web site. So I think I over did it. I got a little carried away. Hope you can enjoy them. Can’t say that we don’t love what God has give us to do. My family and I have been in Paraguay for the last few months. God has opened doors that we never imagined. The authorities  welcomed us into schools, orphanages, prisons and even city events.

The Holy Spirit of the living Jesus has led us into amazing opportunities to share His gospel; “Praise You Oh Father”. They even invited us to share Jesus for an entire hour in their national independence day event which was covered by nation wide television. Their colors are also red, white and blue.

Paraguay is a nation saturated with the effects of a history of tyranny, communism and dictatorship. The oppression and extreme poverty determines, and is fully recognized,  as causing incompetence at all aspects of society and has plundered this country into  attitudes of destitution.  We have probably learned more about compassion in our experiences here than in many other longer periods in various other countries.

The gospel was created to reach into such suffering with beautiful outcome if one is willing to learn the ways of the cross.

We may never be rich, or have great talent, but anyone, at anytime, in any place, can own great wealth by the choice to yield to the cross. The world looks down on a broken man, but I have learned how the cross is the only way to truly experience the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.1:18).

God says His child is not a coward but has power, love and discipline (2 Tim.1:7).  It really doesn’t matter what we claim.  It is what we do, with what we have, that shows the world who we are (Mt.6:21).


It is not from  human motives that we are willing to bear the hardships and suffering for Jesus Christ. It is Jesus living in us. When we die He can move through us. Sometimes a guy will write who seems open. Then, after I share about the cross, he quickly fades away. He does not understand the power God offers in it.

The key to understand the cross is in this Scripture “By His wounds (scourging, stripes)  we are healed” (Is.53:5/1 Cor.1:18).

You see my friend, it is called in Greek “kenos”-to be made empty.  (This is salvation: True humility is death to self; ultimate ’empathy’). God emptied Himself of Himself as the ultimate example of love to us. His ‘humility’ resulted in our salvation. He emptied Himself, of His Himself in order to love us as one of us (Phil.2:7). He absolutely identified with everything about us.

It is the mystery of His mercy. And it works!  It goes like this. All that matters; Faith cancels out the puzzles in the mind. Faith is bought by nothing (Rm.4:17-18).  So anyone can get it. And grace is free. So anyone can have it. You just believe and receive. And if this truly happens Christ comes within you.   Salvation is the Father implanting of the Son as the seed within us ( Gal.3:16). It is the condescension of God into our exact misery (Jn.1:18/Ps.18:35).

The photos depict a wide range of people. Prisons hold every walk of life. Every man is different.

Paul was in step with how Jesus enters the lives of all men. No prejudice. Any place a wicked man goes, God goes.  God does not deal with men according to their sinful ways but according to His profound compassion (2 Cor.5:19).

In one photo we are in a catholic church. In other we are amongst men of all religions. We may be amongst obvious hypocrites, while in another gang-bangers. Our ‘haters’ say that such diversity exposes our compromise; “You associate with catholics, protestants, gang members, cults and atheists as if you agree with them”.

Paul says “I become all things to all men to win one”  (1 Cor. 9:19ff).  Jesus does not limit His love. In fact, there could be nothing more “compromising” than for a holy God to come into the nature of a sinful man.  Thus is the mercy of the New Testament in contrast to the ten commandments of the Old Testament. Hypocrites don’t know how to be with sinners (or laugh with them) because forefront in their minds is “My righteousness”. To walk in the freedom of the Spirit demands we die to our self-righteousness. Paul became like any man so that, possibly, in some way, he could reach that man.

My son, Abraham, often tells men the key to knowing Jesus is not saying “Ya.I know all that already”. Rather three words to God; “I don’t know”. The humility of ‘kenos’ is like a huge castle with tons of rooms to discover and everyone is rich with revelation. In a bizarre twist of realities, Jesus completely surrendered Himself to men to apply their ‘tools of their trade’; wickedness, to His very Person. He chose to fully subject Himself to whatever men wanted to do to Him (Mt.20:28). He knew what it would be.  Yet He continued.

Like an astronaut in outer space who is detached from his tether line, Jesus detached Himself from His divinity to join Himself to our humanity (Phil.2:9). While He ‘floated’ in moments of utter darkness; “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me”, Jesus was working to provide the healing love to our grave wounds.

Jesus displayed, on the world stage of the cross, the utter wickedness of man. Then, as His second ‘act’ manifested the ultimate love and power in resurrection victory. I confess. I believe.  I live an ongoing testimony to the resurrection of the living Jesus, a magnificent mystery (Col.1:27,2:2). Jesus walks this earth today…in us….and all who serve HIm.

Little did men know, way back then, that by killing Jesus, they were killing their own greatest enemy; sin. In man’s worst event in human history, God was achieving His greatest event in human history.

In a way of speaking, the Father compressed His divine glory, into a human posture. In the womb of Mary, God impregnated a sinful nature with divine power (the incarnation). Then…Bam…33 years later, sin exploded and was forever destroyed. Jesus rose from the dead. This seed is now in me. A hammer and nails failed to kill the One Who reclaimed His divine glory. He was seen for Who He is; God.

“He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor.5:21).

Wow. Big time stuff. Dancing, laughing and singing kind of stuff. We do not bring a dead and boring Jesus to men. Jesus  went to the lowest sector of humanity to bring us to the highest sector of glory. This is awesome stuff. It generates creative intelligence and hope. In working with “criminals” we proclaim “The Criminal” Who “despised” the punishment but now reigns  as  Judge. Jesus became the ultimate… “prodigal son” Who danced His way back to His Father (Lk.15/Heb.12:1).

Failure and redemption are my ways. Jesus bore all my wounds, while He was in prison, in scouring, and on the cross. He entered the place where each of us is ashamed to admit and afraid to go. And it is here, in the heart of sin, where Jesus inserted Himself, to demonstrate the power of God (Mt.20:28). Although just a man, Jesus believed His Father would raise Him out of this human predicament. And as author of such  faith the Father gave Him the Name above all Names and demonstrated the power above all powers; the resurrection (Phil.2:9). We now have access to this faith.

So many prisoners tell me the same experience that I myself know; i.e. the mind toils away at night, at times, as if caught up in a cyclone of destructive thoughts. Loneliness feels like it’s eating a hole in your soul. Sometimes sadness is imbedded in our every feeling. These are the precise wounds of being human.

Inescapable feelings of pain can conjure up terrible fears. As if some alien being of sorrow as infiltrated our body and is hiding somewhere behind our bones.  This is the monster of sin. I must not listen to it’s echoes of death reverberating in the chambers of my brain. I must believe Jesus bore this exact thing and live by faith. At these moments, I believe that He was here, all alone, on the cross, in this darkness. As Paul writes I “fellowship with Him” in these sufferings, of the cross (Phil.3:10).  I await the power of His victorious Character. Thus, I am healed of these wounds through identification and His participation.

In one prison we had shared with men for about three hours. Sometimes  just don’t know if they’re “getting it”.  After we finished, the prison Director walked with us out to our van. “My jaw is on the ground” he said. I don’t know how to explain what I just saw.” An unbeliever  saw the amazing mercy and “kenos” of a ‘humble’ God towards men. It was not a family or a ministry. This is King Jesus.


In every prison, we face men, with whom we are at a loss for how to reach. Their living conditions are despicable, both physically and in their souls (Read Section A at the end of this article). But the blood of Jesus runs threw our veins as we are carry the heartbeat of God.

This past Friday, the 18 of May, we drove six hours into the middle of nowhere. I was literally stunned to see the faces, all look the same, as the men came walking into the gathering from their individual cell blocks. It was like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’. A sci-fi movie scene where each face was molded into an exact same look of agony. Like we had landed on a distant planet, far from anything we had planned for.

We were there four hours. We could only beg God to help us reach them. Today we learned of the outcome. A very beautiful thing. The Director, after our visit, changed his web sight profile, from his individual picture, to a picture of him with our family. It is the ultimate compliment.


Todays “Christians”  talk about the cross as a vague impractical doctrine. As if it is a mental gymnastics for “salvation”.  Jesus never diminishes His work to a prayer; “Pray a sinner’s prayer to ‘accept Me as Savior”.  He calls us to obedience and a new life. The cross is “the power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). It starts with a humility that kills your greatest enemy; the ego.  But Jesus would never say things that lead to grief. So when He says “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24) it is a call to abundant life, not of this world (Jn.10:10). You simply don’t understand, or don’t want to.

No  lasting victory over sin, can be had without  detachment of yourself from yourself. The cross does this. No, it is not complex. If you yield, like a caterpillar, He will bring forth a butterfly. Read the book “Hope For The Flowers”. God used this book to simplify and edify the glory of the cross to me.

Long after Jesus died, Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal.2:20). The apostle Paul explains the cross as a contemporary ‘living’ experience. He says every Christian, to be a Christian, must be “united” with Jesus in His death (Rm.6:6). This one simple decision renders the promise; “By His stripes we are healed”. Paul says “that I may know…the fellowship with His sufferings being conformed to his death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead….” (Phil. 3:10-11). Re-attach your tether line to the living promises of the Word of God.

 

There is real power in true  faith. Not personal morality. Faith is the only power offered to us by which we can actually access divine life; the free gift of salvation.  Every problem; physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, circumstantial involves sin. So by Jesus “becoming sin” and exploding it, He established “the place”; “the way, the truth and the life” experience of exploding it, for us to enter in order to conquer it (Jn.14:2,6).

This is the excitement in preaching the gospel. We feel so unworthy. We have something to take to men greater than material happiness. This world draws men with an ‘eye candy’ of happiness. One time we were preaching on the quad of Colorado State University. A marine recruiter was offering pamphlets to draw young men. I asked him “Do you tell these guys any stories from Walter Reed Hospital? If a package of cigarettes is required by law to warn of cancer how much more so should a job with death and life-altering injuries as a possible end?

They say “Be All You Can Be”, then something they incur does just opposite. It takes away their ability to be what they could have become. They offer PTSD counseling, because a handicap, a divorce or thoughts of suicide leave them wounded the rest of their lives.

Bank on it.  Everyone has no one. And no one has any one… to love them. Don’t buy the ‘eye candy’. Everyone knows that they have no one. Regardless of image.  God says ‘All men moan like doves…growl like bears (‘Is.59). No matter how many people you ‘know’, you know, that no one knows you. It is  heart-wrenching. But it IS solvable through the supernatural work of the cross. No matter if you are a banker or a bum walking on Wall Street,  true repentance,  is the only thing that offers you a promising future.

Jesus says  ‘God so loved the world that He gave…ME’ (Jn.3:16).  He knew ‘what’ He was and all His Father had to offer and it made Him ecstatic. Master Jesus came as a poor man, to the poor, with poorness of heart (kenos), to conquer the poorness of the world (Mt.5:3).

In His thoughts, beyond the cross,  Jesus anticipated He would find poor individuals to whom He would reveal His viable and profound joy and save men from hell. And man, was Jesus excited when He found such a person (Jn.4:32/Lk.7:9/Mt.15:21).

Contrary to the lies of fat-cat “prosperity” preachers, His “mission statement” is focused on the poor and suffering, not the rich and comfortable (Isaiah 61). The gospel is the provision of the enormous blessing of healing to the wounds of sin, not with material “blessings”, but spiritual revelation (Eph.1:3ff). A heart crammed full of materialism and comfort has no place to find faith in the invisible comforts of God (Mt. 6:24/Mk.10:25/1 Tim.6:10).

People who realize they are overwhelmed by inescapable ‘hell’, both outside and inside,  have the divine opportunity to see God in their “kenos”; emptying themselves.  Such circumstances yield the genre of God. God did, can and does heal the “incurable” wound but it is only when we yield to His kenos (Jer. 10:19,15:18,30:12-15,17:9).

We tell people “I want to show you something you can not see… to prove to you it exists”. This is our heart in our demonstration of preaching the living Jesus and all His rich promises.


Long ago, when we were walking the streets, next to a volcano, in a village in Central America, my daughters were playing with some children. I remember praying “Lord please use such beautiful women to their fullest”. Today I see His fulfillment far beyond anything I could have imagined. They are intimately involved with multitudes of children.

Below ‘Gentle Josh’ helps his mother calm her anxiety and introduce her to sing her heart to ‘children’ disguised as prisoners.

The cycle of desperation breeds children of such poverty with tragic stories. We stop some from ending up in prison. It takes courage just to face their wounds.  In going to so many schools, as we do, it is a profound privilege to realize the impact a willing person can make upon another little human life. When you see their hearts it makes us wonder “What was the actual real tone in the voice of Jesus when He says ‘Let the children come to Me'” (Mt.18)? Could it have been in a depth of sadness from seeing their poverty and desperation of their condition?

They live in a state of panic because they are raised with the unbridled instinct for survival. Imagine growing up in, and slowly putting two and two together, to realize you have a life of absolute desperation.

They are wounded at an early age by feelings of desperation and abandonment. They realize if they want to eat they must do something. If they have no parents what are they to do? Some impersonal guardians are looking any opportunity to escape their responsibility.

We have tried to distribute food and are overtaken by heart-breaking desperation.Two little boys were at a stop light. Hugging and playing with each other in the intersection, as if displaying some circus act.  One of them made the sign of the cross as he hurriedly ran up to cars hoping for a hand out. They got nothing. They huddled back and tried again, and again. While ministering in a prison here, the other day, I asked some men what they were going to do when they were released. They explained  “working the intercessions”.

The cardboard neighborhoods are without number. The individual stories of murder, family tragedy, drug abuse and unimaginable suffering pile up in our minds. We think we can just hear them, comfort the people and keep working. But somehow they penetrate our hearts in ways we do not realize. It’s unbearable.


So sometimes we find ourselves so troubled and depleted.  At the same time it is marvelous because it makes me wonder “Wow. This alone is proof of God; to make a selfish man like me care about total strangers.”

When the Scriptures say that He “bore” our sin we don’t realize it means as a real man 24/7 while He walked the earth.  He was afflicted by the constant bombardment of immense suffering all around Him, constantly pressing upon Him.

CANDY WRAPPERS

My son Joshua received two pictures on his phone from an inmate in a very remote prison we visited. They were of left-over  wrappers from candy and popcorn we distributed in our time there.  This guy, we’ll call John, owns nothing. But, he would never say “nothing”.  Because in his cell he has two candy-wrappers he protects like gold coins. When he holds them he thinks of far more. You see, the candy wrappers hold back the dark forces of despair pressing upon his mind and sustain him with a memory that calms his anxiety.

They represent three young women, Ruth, Beth and Sarah, and a family who “came from God” one morning in mid-March. The girls distributed, tracts, candy and popcorn down the rows of chairs set up in the prison courtyard. They stopped to greet him personally. They didn’t condemn him but rather treated him like a long lost friend.

Something like this had never happened to John, over the past seven years he had been in prison.  So the candy wrappers held the ‘magic’ of these real memories. They help to balance the memories of deep regret that put him here. He remembers how Ruth placed the candy in his hand and Beth  touched his shoulder. He often touches his shoulder and remembers what he felt like. Sarah actually paused to give him a place to talk. John knows that this experience will never happen again.

Below Joshua is working in one of the oh so many cardboard neighborhoods that fill Paraguay.

The man was hit in the head with axe, by a gang of thieves. He was left for dead, and for blame, at a crime scene, of which he had nothing to do. Of course no one believes him. He asked Joshua if he could call his eighty year old mother and talk to her. After Joshua did so, the man texted back that hearing the happiness in his mothers voice was like a miracle. It made him read the Scriptures that Joshua had been sharing. The awful sounds of crying prisoners, in the background, and the stench in his nose, fades for the duration he can maintain the memory. So John tells us how he imagines the program is starting over again…and again…and again.  It was the time he was given something, other than hatred; hope, love and access to the words of Jesus.

Imagine: What would be your manner of  life; your state of mind; for you to actually cherish candy wrappers?


THE CONSPIRACY- Can you recall the words, as you grew up, from teachers, parents and friends about how this world offers a great promising future? As you got older you realized it was all garbage. People say they don’t know why there is so much mental illness, opioid addiction, divorce, suicide and school shootings.

You might understand it in the desperation of a third world country but America?  People don’t have ‘candy wrappers’. They have access to everything yet have no happiness.

I have walked the streets of rich countries, preaching the living Jesus, and on college campuses, for over forty years. To find one open soul is a very rare thing. There is no “kenos”. They claim to know all about the Lord but have no clue how to effectively cope with the pressures of this world. Young people are raised in the iniquity of parents who have been conditioned to comply with American values.

A culture of poverty adjusts to the poor and uneducated. It makes room for them. It holds to catholic values. America has no such adjustment. Get with it, regardless of age, or face the consequences. Parents are no where to be found. Teachers have no clue. The politically correct garbage does not discern between social issues and immaturity because of age.

Why did famous people Heath Ledger (Joker in Batman), Kurt Cobain, Avicii, Junior Seau, Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Chris Farley and so many others, both known and unknowns, kill themselves? They had all that riches offer. But nothing can fill the void for your Creator. No purpose=No happiness. No meaning. Opioids and marriage. Big houses, fancy apartments, nice clothes and parties. Booze and entertainment. But when you get to the top you see something you were not prepared to see; it’s the same empty heart as at the bottom.

Below Abraham and Rachel perform a play about a girl chasing butterflies for happiness and a Prince (on stilts-the amazing Abraham) tells her that she must become a butterfly.

People living in rich nations, especially the young, are abnormally subject to a culture of immense anxiety and pressures, scandal, perversion, internet dominance, media distortion and many other things that do not exist in third world countries. The obsession of parents to focus their children on boyfriend-girlfriend relationships results in catastrophic consequences.

Rejection is nuclear destruction to the feelings of an adult, how much more devastating to the ill-prepared and immature? So when children (and they are only children)  face rejection and breakups it begins a wound of mental breakdown. American children face things a child of the same age, in a 3rd world,  will not face until their mid-thirties.
Consequently, young people are full of excuses, rebellion and accusations as a result of the iniquity of their parents. These “christians” know it all. “Don’t tell me. Been there done that. I’m doing IT in my own way. Accepted christ years ago.”

It is the delusion resulting from self-consumption in rebellion to the cross.  They can’t be taught a thing. Not an ounce of kenos humility. My family and I know the evil things people say about us, and as Jesus would, we respond “Father forgive them…”.

And, lest you think this perspective is that of an isolated religious vagabond, consider  a famous man like Sylvester Stallone, in the movie Rocky:

 “Let me tell you something you already know. The world is not butterflies and rainbows. It’s a cold cruel dirty place. And it don’t care how tough you think you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there as long as you let it. Not you, not me, not anybody can hit as hard as life. But it’s not about how hard you get it hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. About how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. “

(Side picture: Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Shalom, Joshua and David organized a birthday celebration of games and competition for juvenile center of orphan young men who will never have a real birthday.)

You only live once. Who are YOU? Don’t take the easy way out my friend. Maybe not today, but the day is coming when you will terribly regret it. Give up and give in to the cross of  Jesus.

TO SELL, BUY AND PAY– The Game of Christianity

We beg you not to play “church”. The word for foreknowledge in greek is “prognosis”. Like a doctor who knows well the effects of a disease, we can foretell to you the effects of hypocrisy. Once you grow beyond a certain time, it is becomes “impossible” to change (Matt. 19:23ff).

Today’s modern “Christianity” thinking is an intergal part of Satan’s conspiracy against the truth.  One man, calls himself a “preacher’. He projects an image with a rhetoric to sell his version of  a “salvation” of trite involvement. It provides a good feeling of smiles and positive lingo about one’s own self as being righteous without one minor thing, the cross.

The naive buy this image and commodity of “salvation” to claim “I am a Christian. Look and see”.  They each pay each other a lie, for the lie each agrees to accept. Amidst their 20,000 denominations they insist they are different than “lost souls”. Yet when confronted with their many contradictions and hypocritical living they are quick to rationalize “Well nobody’s really different or perfect”.

Anything to do with unregulated exposure to awkward situations, with the outside world of sinners, is forbidden. And anyone confronting this lie or living the truth is denounced as a vagabond “accuser”. They ask “Where’s your love?” while they themselves are do nothing, but token ‘works’, to care for others. Christianity is played within the confines of a building they call “the church”. It can be huge or you and one other person.

You can choose to believe whatever, or whoever, you want, but the witness of my family and I, is to the truth that the promises of the living Jesus, in His Word, produce dynamic oneness;  John 17:11. I would be lying if I said otherwise.  Don’t listen to the lazy cowards. Become alive.


My dearest friend, you have no idea how much you have to give and have been given. The Father is waiting to use you. You can see, hear, smell, walk, sing and do things you can’t now imagine. Aside from the most basic provisions of housing, food, transportation etc.  you are offered all the riches and promises in God’s Word. You have no idea how much you can do, and say,  to help someone else. Multitudes are waiting for your candy wrappers.

I tried to share the gospel with an older Spanish-speaking couple at the park the other day;  “Good Lutherans”.   It was hard to get a word in; ” We are saved by grace and need not DO anything.” Such thinking is nothing more than silly nonsense.  When I asked if they ever shared the gospel with others they accused Sarah and I of being a cult and insisted that “works” won’t save us. I wondered if they ever thought of one word… LOVE.

Could caring about others trump doctrine? Today’s “Christians” use Bible verses to block out accountability to love men. People think that to call yourself a Christian means you are one. They equate sentimental feelings of love for Christ, and good works, or throwing token money, ‘tithe’, here and there, with salvation. Not quite (Mt.7:21).

I guess Jesus must have had aliens in His mind, when He said “Go into all the world…” because every “Christian” I talk to says “Oh, THAT is not for me. Don’t put your calling on us”. The aliens are yet to come to earth to obey God’s Word.  The truth is Jesus calls the most common and the most nothing (1 Cor.1:20ff). Surely a fisherman had no schooling. I had no in-born ability or desire to tell men about Jesus. It’s not some big complicated “calling”. It’s just the outcome of energy from knowing His love. We are the most simple and share Jesus in all walks of life because He makes us care.

Paraguay recently had a big race event. Of course, all my guys entered it, including Rachel,  to both run it and to witness at it. It was spectacular. Some forty thousand people. Everyone did fantastic. Lo and behold our “little” Rachel actually won her category. No little feat (feet) considering she has a stride befitting her petite stature. Sorry, got to brag on our sweetheart mother.

It was amazing but Ruth went up and talked to the man in charge. She told him about us being here in their country and asked if she could say a few words to the large crowd with the microphone. I thought it was in vain. He would never do so.

Well, as often times, I was wrong. He gave her the stage and she came through with a beautiful testimony to the living Jesus. She shared about the steel rod in her leg and how she was in a wheel chair. How Jesus raised her up and now she runs in many races. So this testified to  how they can tap His redemptive power and find His healing in all their situations.

As I grew up I saw the lives of three of my brothers end in tragedy; divorce, drugs and perversion. I did one “little” thing at the age of twenty that led me into this beautiful life. I gave may life to the living Jesus. Your life will either end in the trash heaps of this wicked world or the divine destiny of the living God. You can invest in a life of sacrifice by caring for others with the love of Jesus or live a life of empty existence for yourself. The choice is yours…right now.

These streets were made for dancing, 
these hands for those that are grasping,
these gifts for those who are lacking.
This love for the hearts that are cracking,
these seeds for the ground of planting,
these answers for those who asking.
This light was lit for the unmasking,
so their burdens they might start casting,
to make their eyes start laughing,
their courage to be long lasting.
Because love is the last man standing,
and this life is the life everlasting.

Beth Shalom

 

SECTION A– Prison life

Have you ever seen a picture of the statue called “The Thinker”? Most statues commemorate a person or historical event. This statue is simply of a man sitting, with his head resting on his hand, with his elbow on his knee. It is obviously commemorating the posture of thinking; the art of contemplation.

I beg you, forget what everybody else around you says for a moment. If God is real would He not want you to think individual thought? The conformity of non-thinking to the system of “Christianity” is nothing more than political correctness. Peer pressure.

Stop waisting your life.  Stop looking to “Christians” who draw their religious sounding babel out of their mental warehouse of excuses based on sermons, cliche’s and delusion. Jesus wouldn’t even be allowed to speak in the “churches” of today because He is not submitted to a “Pastor” (only His Father). He has none of the scholastic credentials or ‘speaker’ qualifications. He has attended no seminars or schools. He does not preach “church” attendance and a sinner’s prayer. He proclaims relationship with His Father.

Likewise, Paul would be labeled a “rebel”. The “super apostles” didn’t recognize him.  His rebuke of the “prosperity” teaching and the love of money and comfort would be classified “You’re not being loving”.

Do something novel. Think for yourself. I have never seen a car fix itself. Have you? Never seen a refrigerator cut the grass or a computer wash the floor. No machine can do something it was not manufactured to do.  It is a limited machine.

Not so with you and me. We each have the profound potential to change. I remember in college when I first began reading the Scriptures. The idea that God offered to change me was fascinating. He calls it repentance but it means “change of mind” (metanoia).

You will stand alone before God. So think alone now. His true blessing and destiny awaits one who will pick up his cross of personal accountability to follow Jesus. To care about others hearing the gospel. Jesus says “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”.

The apostle Paul writes about the essential need for a man to think for himself. ; to think differently. It is our greatest accountability. It is a stunning reality but the majority merely acquiesce to common thinking.

Over the past ten years my family and I have worked very hard to penetrate the prisons in South America with the gospel of Jesus. It could never happen in the states but there is a huge harvest throughout the world. As a result of relentless prayer, and such efforts, God opened doors that we never imagined.

I share this to motivate some young sincere man or woman who loves Jesus. It is no small endeavor but the rewards of personal fulfillment are enormous. Little did we ever expect what we now know. What we have touched, and been touched by, has changed our lives.. We have  uncovered a reality not unlike the concentration camps created by Hitler.

Along with all the innumerable horrors of human suffering; drug addiction, serial killers, abortion, child abuse, human trafficking, etc. being subject to prison is one of the worst tragedies on the face of the earth. As tons of “Christians” get re-saved for the tenth time, or “share a word” with a deluded congregation, who render no true repentance, there are literally millions who would give anything to hear what you have to share. To just have you come and talk to them. To touch their should or hug them.

Try to imagine the severe physical and mental anguish, of living in such hell, moment by moment, with the consciousness of having five, ten, thirty or more years, with not a shred of hope for escape.  then compound them with all the hours, days, weeks, months, years of doing their sentence and nothing but sitting and sleeping in filth and stench.

Below is the art work shop in the biggest prison in Brazil.


No friends. No contact. No food or nutrition. Slop. No outlet. Nothing to look forward to. No park. No grass. No clean shower or change of clothes. Every view they have is of the exact same walls of hopeless despair. Never an escape. I’ve said these things before in some variation and I will say them many times yet to come because they constantly turn in my mind.

Memories of guilt and regret haunt their minds. They can not run away or hide. Barbed wire reminds them their label is “Dangerous (locked away) Criminal”. The other day I told a group that, in God’s eyes, all men are both criminals and victims. They were not inbred criminals. They spontaneously erupted into applause. That’s how much it is on their minds.

There’s a prison in Paraguay of five thousand men that is like walking into a mental ward. You see things you don’t want your mind to see. If you dare look closely into the eyes of these men absolute devastation and hopelessness. They have abandoned their soul and resorted to animal instincts of survival. They are hanging by a thread of human existence.

Imagine trying to sleep with ten other guys in 90 degree heat and no mattress or air to circulate. Imagine being sick or having a tooth ache or broken bone. Having no hope causes another wave of mental decline. No loving touch. No outside conversations. The guards treat them worse than animals in a zoo.


Above Sarah works to bring young people out of themselves as she conducts her “Leadership Challenge” at a local Paraguay school.

Then to see these same guys smile at us because of something we say or do. They instantly know our names. They just want to hear us talk to them. When we see them care about us when nobody cares about them. We have received more love from them than anyone we have ever known in the states.

They ask for stuff then apologize when they realize we don’t have stuff because are not supported by anyone and are not rich Americans. Yet some overflow with gratitude and insightful phrases. After studying us as a family this guy told me “You realize Michael that you have built yourself your own private army”.

We asked a guy what he thought of our performance. What could we do better? He said to be honest the performance was great. But what was really powerful was your kindness. Your humility in bringing yourselves as a family was most powerful.

We are not phonies. No fake smiles. No enhanced photos. No ‘Look at how good and righteous we are”.

Indeed, an army of lovers. An army highly skilled in combat compassion. Of “special ops” listeners. We toil constantly with things we could buy to give them but always come to the point that there is nothing greater than the gospel of eternal life. The simple choice to heed Jesus saying “I was in prison and you did not visit Me” (Mt.25:34ff).

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