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TeachingSeptember 04, 2019

A Brother’s Love

Over the time of working in prisons, both here and abroad, I have found myself face to face with countless individuals in the despair of impossible circumstances.

Instinct and impulse got the worst of them. Anger, greed or lust drove them to rage. They killed someone. They did the unthinkable. God explains that the nature of such guilt carries enormous torment (Gen.4:9-15). Now they face 20, 40 or 60 years in one acre of hell. Some have several life sentences.

God has opened the doors to so many prisons it is hard to keep pace. We are moving every other day. No matter how many we visit it is always a gripping image to drive up to hundreds of yards of barbed wire. We carry our hundreds of pounds of equipment down long hallways of a cold institution amidst a deep sadness of shattered lives. We do we all we can to connect with each individual. They laugh, they cry, they grasp the gospel of Christ, and we take with us the stories of the men God has given us to pray for.

Recently we went into one of the largest prisons in the U.S. It has “lethal” barbed wire. Some prisons have 3 to 5 layers of barbed fences. Every fence of layer indicates the level from minimal to maximum security. So you can imagine the implications of a “lethal” barbed wire that instantly kills.

You can read the look on a brother’s face like words on a page of a book. Whatever the specifics, you know the story-line is one of sorrow and suffering. So many men released from prison have nowhere to go. Family an society rejects them so they live on the street.

I feel at a loss of words. I’ve seen how token words, doctrines and prayer formulas offer nothing substantial. So I have sought God, for how to help such men. It is no little thing. It is profound compassion provided only in the brotherhood of the living Jesus.

The key is not getting to them, but getting to Him, while amongst them, to give Him to them. So I am learning to “wait” upon Him (Is.40:31). His deep heart is expressed in the heart of the gospel. It demands our brokenness and sincere identification with the cross, which is the power of God (1 Cor.1:18/Phil.3:7-11).

It is only in being able to see and refer to another man in as a natural brother that we have any hope of drawing him into the spiritual brotherhood of Jesus (Mt.25:40). All men die… but not all men LIVE. And a man can only live when he discovers “a brother’s love”.

One of the first thoughts Jesus had, after rising from the dead, was what He had created with His brothers so He wanted to get to them to explain exactly how He actually rose from the dead. Imagine. I sure would have loved to be there. He wanted to see their faces as He blew their minds (Mt.28:10).

This was, and is, the goal of the living Jesus, to explain to us the power of His resurrection. He says “My sheep hear My voice” (Jn.10:27). This is happening in me. It can happen in you, wherever you are, whatever your circumstance.

The only people on earth who find God’s intended worth, in their time on earth, are those who give their time on earth to walk with Jesus in the giving of His LIFE to create resurrection brothers on earth. It is LIFE beyond your life.

Both ways to describe Jesus, as a brother, or the Brother, offer unique insight. As a the most humble brother, Jesus lacks any imposing ego or intimidation. He is the ultimate Sympathizer. He is willing to be just a brother to get down and dirty with us in the trenches of human warfare.

Yet His words and Presence is so wonderful He instantly draws us into the awe of THE Brother. There’s not a lot of people who can offer forgiveness and resurrection life, at any moment, in any place. Come to think of it, He’s the only One. So He is THE BROTHER.

I “run the way” of His way and watch His love “enlarge” my heart (Ps.119:32/Jn.3:8). Someone Who is so Big is willing to come to someone so small. He welcomes us into a family where His brotherhood replaces our alienation and deprivation.

“A friend loves at all times,

And a brother is born for adversity” (Pr.17:17).

Few people think of Jesus as a brother. Savior, Messiah, Lord, King, etc., yes, but how do we think of Him as a Brother? It is beautiful how the Scriptures detail His work as a brother to resolve our every adversity.
One of the most grieving things to see in prison is old men serving out the end of their sentence. So many have been in prison for thirty or forty years. So many are sick. The world has no mercy. Satan steals everything. Jesus promises, not a second chance at life, but a life of second chances.

“For both He (Jesus) who sanctifies and those who are sanctified (us) are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying” I will proclaim your Name (the Father) to My brethren (us)…for those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Hebrews 2:9-18,12:1/Rm.8:29).

In other words, Jesus yearns to meet us in the moments of our frailty because He sees how the Father Himself is willing to recognize us as a fellow brother. The enormous ramifications of the death and resurrection breaks every obstacle tiny and huge obstacle we face.

The term a brother, connotes someone who understands the common and ordinary struggles of life. It is as of a family member who has a lock-down, side-by-side, loyalty of help, in the worst of situations. A brother shares with you in things that mom and dad, a wife, or a stranger, would never understand, or that you would not want them to know. So He is faithful to harbor your deepest secrets. Yet as THE brother is able to mediate and resolve all issues.

If we are willing to ‘put ourselves out there’ to try to help others in their impossible circumstances Jesus promises to meet us because this is His the heart of His will for our lives. We can naturally think that in order to do such a thing we must try our hardest. In fact, this can only happen when we realize “I can’t do it”. This is bigger than me. Instead of striving in self-righteousness we recognize there must be another side to our constant failures.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LAW

Multitudes wrongly think God wants them to try, as hard as they can, to do as much as they can, to feel as Christian as they can. Sorry to say, all this creates is a phony. Such a lifestyle keeps one on THIS side of the law. We must get to the other side of legalistic thinking. If we are occupied with trying to do things “right” we are not being still before God. If love is not the center of our life then we have no life. A life of striving to be right is not a brother’s love. It is not the mind of Christ.

Jesus is waiting to bring you the details of how to apply His resurrection and draw you into another “place” (Jn.14:23). To make you His brother. This place is the other side of the Law. It is the cross. It is the only place to find The Brother’s love of the living Jesus. Those who settle for a moral system live in the cold and fearful shadow of Mt. Sinai (always thinking about what is “right”). They live under it’s “curse” (Gal.3:10-13). Things just never ‘click’. Something always going wrong. The hole in the heart remains unfilled.

I once saw a photo of the lines of people attempting to climb Mt. Everest. It looked like the lines at Disneyland, trying to get to the top, with dead bodies frozen along the path. Likewise, multitudes seek that personal feeling of self-accomplishment; “I can do it”. But yet all we see is our failures. Why not go low, so He can take you high? Don’t stand in line at Mt. Sinai.

Jesus dissolves the thinking “I already know that”. His ways require a broken disposition; “I know nothing”. In order to enter into the deepest chambers of another man’s darkness, with the light of Jesus, you must realize how all the things you think you know, have no weight. You must bring this brother the other side of the law; the living Jesus.

Touching raw pain and impossible situations, requires a broken vessel willing to be shaped into the Character of Jesus. Thus the cross of Jesus is mandatory. You’d think that the center of the gospel is a church, a sinner’s prayer or a preacher. People wear a cross. It is seen on top of buildings and worn as jewelry. The reality is the cross is the everlasting covenant of the New Testament. Death to self is not an option. It is the essence of salvation.

So many focus on so many things other than the living Person of Jesus. He is the only One Who died on the cross. He is the only One who can mediate salvation. His living Spirit is the only One Who can teach us to be a “First Responder” to a brother living in pain. We can actually be the very first one to get to someone, who has never been loved before. We can bring the ‘first aid kit’ of forgiveness and kindness of the Brother’s love.

This is one of the many scenes that Joshua designed to serve as a backdrop to our
“demonstration” (1 Cor. 2:4).

I want to learn as much and as fast as I can. I want nothing in me to stand in His way. How about you? Jesus promises to put in us, here, now, today, the same exact love and divine revelation He shares with the Father (Jn. 17:22-26). The word “Name” means “character” in Greek (onami). The “Name of Jesus” is not a pentecostal or magical incantation that zaps stuff. We’ve all seen this hocus pocus religious nonsense.

Rather, His Name is a matter of learning how to specifically express His divine Character (Name) of love, kindness, truth, and understanding to others. His Character in us IS the power of God upon us and others, in any and every “adversity”; circumstance and situation (1 Cor.1:18/Acts.4:12). Paul says “For me to live IS Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

“I have made Your name known  to them, and will make it known, so that the  love which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn.17:26). Amazing!

Two brothers above. My sons, Joshua and Abraham and David (our DJ of music-not pictured), work to the bone, to connect at levels of humor and comedy, using card tricks, and wisdom, as well as theatre, Tae Kwon Do and teaching, to draw men into their brotherhood of Jesus, learned from their years of experience proclaiming Jesus throughout the world.

Knowing Jesus as a Brother is the personal journey of being quick to se our selfish pride and repent. To learn how to meld our rough edges in order to weld the broken parts in the hearts of our brothers.

As I watch the clock tick away, I am compelled to “seize the day”. How about you? The aches and pains of my dying body “Broadcast live!”, “Every moment of every day, your time is slipping away”.

Every man on the face of the earth is in desperate search for love. Every man hates the awkward feelings of alienation and striving to be accepted. Becoming a brother of Jesus eliminates these human inclinations. So I offer you here, in this blog, as your brother, the witness of my family; my wife and six adult children; to the truth of what it means to be His family. I join with Paul who prayed;

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”… that God would show you the profound riches of His Character so that you can find the true power of His Spirit in the “inner man” (Ephesians 3:14ff). 

“I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it” (1 Cor.9:22).

Please, my friend, no matter what you may think of some things I write, hear my heart. I may seem rough and tough, and at times, ‘in your face’, but there is a strategy behind my ways that is from a Brother’s heart. Some call it ‘tough love’. Hell is no scare tactic.

My friend, there is a horrendous storm, far worse than the most recent hurricane devastated the Bahamas. It is not composed of rain and wind but fire and demons. This is not hyperbole or Bible scare tactics. It is going to happen. There will be no place to flee. It is prophesied in Revelation 16, of a just and holy God. This is no time to coddle delicate feelings of your flesh being offended. This is the end of time. Please, do not procrastinate. Read this until you understand.

This is another one of the nine boxes, all of the same size, that all fit together, that Joshua created to serve as the optional back stage.

THE TEST

“For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. TEST YOURSELVES TO SEE IF YOU ARE IN THE FAITH: examine yourselves!…” (2 Cor. 13:4-5).

Are you willing to become weak that He might become strong in you? Are you willing to sacrifice your ego so Jesus could manifest a brothers love to you and through you.

The Father chose Abraham to show us how we can get beyond ourselves (Rm.4:19). We can get beyond every obstacle. Abraham was a very old and feeble dude. This is why God chose him to become the father of faith. He exemplified a “type” of the resurrection of Jesus by contemplating his own body “as good as dead”. He was able to imagine an attitude of “hope against hope” (Rm.4:16-21/Jn.6:29).

Abraham generated the same faith Jesus was to demonstrate beyond the dictates of His dire circumstances. Abraham created the only weapon in the war against reality; faith. He “contemplated” his own body, yet, in regards to God’s Word, He yet imagined life beyond his limitations. Without using our imagination of faith, we have no wings to fly.

IMAGINE-a perfect Father, and a perfect Brother

PICTURES IN YOUR MIND-(supplant 2 Cor.10:3-5 w/ Eph.3:20)

Satan feeds our mind with little invisible thoughts as long as we allow him to, but we can change our mind (2 Cor.10:3/Rm.12:2). It can help us begin to replace the cycle of failure. If you seriously want to know the brotherhood of Jesus it requires you learn how to utilize your mind to learn true repentance.

God has created our mind with the profound capacity to form a positive imagination. Imagination is the Launch Pad of faith. IMAGINE a plane taking off from a runway. The plane is faith. Imagine a NASA rocket being propelled by the booster rocket of fuel. The fuel is our capacity to imagine and the rocket is our faith  headed into the divine realm of God’s promises. If we are willing to initiate new ways of stepping out in faith it shows our ability to imagine a new life remains in the grip of Satan’s lies.

Imagination is the means to, not improve, but to break loose and replace our routine imaginations with God anointed thoughts. The ability to imagine a new life feeds our hope. It is the process of true repentance.  To utilize our mind and not allow it to become lazy. Mental atrophy results in mental anguish. We are created to create.

We are reborn to alter the cycle of your past mental routine. Transform is very exciting to imagine (Rm.12:2). Jesus specifically chose the word “calculate” to speak of salvation because it requires doing real stuff (Lk.14:26ff). This is not emotion. It is the word used for calculus, which is one of the deepest levels of mathematics. It requires the exercise of our will and reaches into the deep heart of our Brother Jesus.

Imagine yourself laying on a beautiful grass field looking up at a night filled sky of stars. Imagine sitting on a pier and smelling the ocean as giant waves roll in from the sea. Imagine sitting by the aroma of a fire surrounded by friends laughing and singing. Imagine sitting on a mountain peak looking for miles and knowing all things are beautiful. So many things you can imagine.

So now imagine a perfect Father. He is not in some distant fairyland. But right here next to you. Contemplate all His magnificent ways revealed in the Word of God. He wants to bring all His glory to bear upon you here and now. Imagine Jesus as the Brother of the resurrection. Imagine giving yourself fully to His death and resurrection.

This is the start of faith. Talk to Him. Fill your imagination with truth. Replace the lies with promises of God.

Would a perfect Father not make total perfect provision for the mistakes and failures of those He knows have a sinful human nature? He is well acquainted with our frame, that we are but dust.  Jesus showed us the Father’s response (Lk.15:12ff).

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us…” (Eph.3:20).

There’s nothing more Jesus desires than for you to share in His brotherhood and behold the Father as He knows Him. So Jesus uses the word “calculate” to help us understand how to press in and press down into the attitude necessary to appropriate His salvation into our lives (Lk.14:28ff). The root of this word is calculus, which is a deep level of mathematics. Mathmatics is not based on feelings or fluff. It requires serious concentration, exercise of the mind and free will. Salvation is not an emotional whim of good feelings. It requires brunt force trauma against our own lazy, wicked and selfish ways.

My beautiful daughters are as fellow brothers. Sarah, Ruth, and Elizabeth marvel over God’s wisdom to use both the “magic” of their lives and magic they learn to draw men. Prisoners are fascinated by it and so appreciate such a high-class show. In the above trick they “actually” make their mom appear out of a cardboard box.
Ruth sharing her the X-ray of her wound of the titanium rod and screws in her leg to identify with those in wheelchairs and other physical trauma. She then dances “Riverdance”. The response here was so good we stayed late into the night. Cool green lights for her shoes she ordered online.

People love to “fist bump” themselves as they see themselves attain their own standards of what they think God wants. Paul did this and said it was “crap” (Phil. 3;4-8). My flesh is no more righteous today then I was when I was smoking my joints, and listening to Moody Blues and Santana.  As we grow in Christ our flesh does not assimilate angelic molecules.

I was not, at that time, nor at this time, a good man (Rm.3:10). I knew, and I know, I was, and I am a hopeless cause.  But, as Abraham revealed, I find a brother’s love in a “hope against hope”. Jesus says his brothers are those who obey God, not their fleshly inclinations (Lk.8:21). Jesus faced the hopelessness of the cross yet His obedience of faith in the Father drew Him beyond the hopeless situation of death. So He now propels me into this faith (Rm.4:18). 

HEALING THE WOUND

When I gave my life to Jesus, in the football stadium of Notre Dame, I focused on one Scripture; “learn from Me” (Mt.11:29). As a young brother, I didn’t have a clue. I was troubled by my ongoing guilt and failure. I found myself standing in line at Mt. Sinai along with multitudes. But I was intent in my faith that my Brother promises a real power and I had to find out.

It took years and it came from serious application to fully understand that to get to the other side of the law required passing by way of the cross. Paul says it is the “power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). Long after Jesus died, Paul says “I have been crucified” (Gal.2:20). Here then I discovered how to become united with His death (Gal.2:20/Rm.6:6). Whew. The end of guilt. Where there is no law neither can there be any violation (Rm. 4:7,15/1 Jn.3:9/John 8:11). The law began to tutor me how to rest solely on faith in Jesus (Gal. 3:24).

Abraham sewed this beautiful costume from scratch to exemplify “the wound” of 1 Peter 2:24. He and I both wear it. He does so with stilts. We have put together a play to offer a healing perspective to replace the raw pain of regret these men face every moment of every day. Jesus is the only One to have conquered our wound of sin and suffering (Jer. 30:12ff/Lam.3).

The other side of the law is not the common claim by so many of “I don’t need to do anything. I am saved by grace.”: i.e. lawlessness. Rather, grace is the power from the actual fusion of new ways brought into our lives by the healing of the blood of Jesus. He covers our sin and replaces our heart with His.

Always pondering our next move. The wind blows where it wills (Jn.3:8). How can this vessel facilitate a brothers love?

Jesus is the perfect Brother offering you fellowship with a perfect Father (Heb.1:3 /Jn.13:1). Paul says “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!…” (Rm.11:33). This was the first verse I taught my wife, Rachel, when I led her to Jesus, back in college. It is the path we now walk together as one family. 

Those who know me understand my ‘tough guy’ appearance is to win the Harley bikers, Semi-truckers, and gangs. Paul learned from Jesus, to become like another brother is an effort to win that brother into the brotherhood of Jesus (1 Cor.9:19ff). Hey, it ain’t gonna last too much longer. Soon I’ll only be able to appear as an old fuddy duddy dude.

michael woroniecki 2019
I put a self-portrait on my shirt. In the prisons here in the states we are not allowed to show pictures of the inmates.

It is a joyful relief to see yourself loving someone more than yourself. Such is the privilege of having gotten to the other side of the law.  

Elizabeth brings a dance from Spain that displays a love for so many Spanish speaking inmates. They appreciate it so much.

 My friends, God teaches us through His Word, through prayer, meditation, contemplation, ordinary events in everyday life, the marvelous ways of His Father. 

When I was in seminary I became quite grieved hearing the constant chatter of men trying to “find a ministry”. There was even classes specifically designed to help students determine whether they were to be a teacher, evangelist, missionary, prophet, etc. 

Few of them listened to my claim, that I had no other identity, or desire, than to become a son and a brother. I don’t care about a title or a ministry. We live on the road in total obscurity. We care about pleasing our Father and communicating our Brother’s love to the lost. And as that storm, of all storms, rapidly approaches, we rejoice to be in the safety of His will. Join us. 

Whatever we do, or don’t do, to the least of His brothers, we do or don’t do, unto Him (Mt.25:40). No one of us can meet this call, unless we go to the other side of the law, to immerse our mind in a Brother’s love. It is not in our nature to care for anyone other than ourselves. We are no better than the mankind of 2000 years ago. The “we” of then, is the “we” of now, UNLESS….we learn the care of the Brother’s Love; the living Jesus.

“Come to Me, I will give you rest…” (Mt.11:28). 

My hope is that in whatever time you have left on this earth you will apply your heart to comprehend a Brothers love and the Brother’s love. Above all, I ask you for your prayers. Not for us, but for those brothers suffering so much whom we are working so hard to bring the resurrection of the living Jesus (Mt.25:40). Thank you.

The end of the world is near. I do not intend for this to sound like hyperbole because it is the truth. 

Imagine…

God being fashioned in atoms, captured in stature, compatible with the tangible, and grafted into the actual; This disguise of mankind,He wore willingly though not befitting, the fully divine, His hand living and touching everything that touches us, the full circumference of suffering every injustice. Tasting death in a broken vessel, our decaying flesh and bones as His earthly temple. He endured every level of hurt to unearth the worth of needed new birth, Jesus silenced the violent cries in His mind as He heard the Father’s every word. He transferred our shame then took the blame, He did not evade being well acquainted with our physical abasement or to be named amongst the disdained and complacent. Called a glutton called a drunkard, with the criminals He was numbered, too much to suffer? So that in all things He could call us His …………..brothers.

Elizabeth