Today marks 12 years Tracey and I have been married for the second time. Due to some pretty gnarly habits and fast paced lifestyle our first try at marriage went down in flames. Truth be told, I don’t know how anyone can stay married without Christ.

Looking back it seems we were both running from God and our upbringing. Tracey grew up attending church on a regular basis and so did I. It seems, like many others, by the time we reached “Adulthood” we thought we knew better than our parents so we hit the road to live life our way. Doesn’t the Bible tell us “All we like sheep have gone our own way”? The good news is God is all knowing, and if it wasn’t for us partying and frequenting bars we probably wouldn’t have met each other. Imagine that–two prodigals. We were both running the wrong way but that meant we were running the same direction.

Without going through all of the gory details let me just say we had been married for 5 years when it all collapsed. Tracey came to me one day, looked me in the eye and said, “Are you willing to make this relationship work?” Now just for a little clarification, let me say she had been attending church and attempting to get her life together for a while before this confrontation occurred. I, on the other hand, didn’t want anything to do with it, and I was deep into addiction and denial.

When she asked me about my willingness to make the relationship work all I heard was “Are you willing to straighten up?” At that point I wasn’t and said, “No”. That’s all she needed to hear so she packed some things and left. What was meant to be a two week separation, with the hope that I would come around, turned into a divorce. That’s when things really turned dark for me.

My destructive behavior became worse and worse, because without Tracey around it seemed I had no conscience at all. Of course that isn’t really true but it did make my bad choices a little easier to make. I no longer had to tip toe around her so the partying took over even more. For those of you that have been there you know that can’t last. At some point there comes a crash. People always want to know what did it. They say, “What was your bottom?” I can’t really say there was any one thing but rather a series of things. Tracey left, I could no longer function well enough to keep my employment, friends didn’t want to come near me because of my poisonous attitude, and I lost all hope of being able to manage my life.

Jumping ahead a bit I went through a treatment program for a year and half in order to kick drugs. Toward the end of that time I made the move to go to church in the hope that I could find meaning and direction in life. I had come to a stand still without a clue as to which way to turn.

In a short period of time of attending church and reading the Bible I was born again. One night during a revival meeting I asked Tracey if she wanted to pray about our relationship. She agreed, tentatively, so we prayed. As a young man I had said a prayer for salvation but apparently it hadn’t stuck. My prayer this night wasn’t for salvation, or at least I didn’t think it was. Basically I prayed “God you have to show her I mean business.” I had tried to prove to Tracey my life was changed but she kept me at a distance and rightfully so. Now I was handing it over to God. If she was going to trust me again it was going to take a miracle so I left it in God’s hands. Little did I know how much my life was going to change because of that prayer.

On the way home from church, in my car alone, I was born again. I had no idea what was happening to me at the time, but the Spirit of God came into my life in a tangible way. I had a sensation that moved from the bottom of my feet through my whole body to the top of my head. My heart started pounding, I laughed and cried and was clueless as to why, but deep inside of me it was as if God was telling me “I’ve got this” and he has ever since.

Tracey and I were subsequently remarried on July 31st 2001 after being divorced for two years. Neither one of us was looking to reestablish our relationship, but God had other plans. Let me back up a minute. It was a little while after being born again because Tracey had to be convinced so she devised a plan. I had opened my mouth at some point and told her “I’ll try anything you want”. She took me up on that by way of getting me to eat broccoli. I never liked broccoli, but I told her I would try it so after smothering it in cheese I gave it a whirl. Well, it was just as I suspected, and I haven’t had any since but that night Tracey became convinced I meant business.

We have been married now for 12 years and what an adventure it’s been. We are both involved in jail and prison ministry, teach a couples Sunday school class and lead a Bible study on Wednesday’s. We have truly become one as God intended. A big part of the reason is I decided at some point to be all in. Living as two independent people in a marriage can’t work.

God designed marriage to be two becoming one. The reason is because it is a picture of the union we have with him in the Spirit. The Bible tells us “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” When two people are really working as one in a marriage it is a light to the rest of the world. It is to the glory of God because I promise without him in the middle this wouldn’t work. I guess we’ve already proven that haven’t we? Without him life is grueling, but with him as our life it is a new adventure everyday.

Written by Louie



Tracey and I went to a gathering called a day apart this past Saturday. Several people came to teach and be taught along with some laid back fellowship. Brian and Tandy Coatney hosted the event they call “A day apart.” It’s a time set aside to gather and share physical as well as spiritual food with each other; a time of nourishing our bodies and spirits.

There were four of us designated to teach, but it was actually a time for all of us to pitch in with thoughts and insights. The real teacher, the Spirit of God, dwells in each of us and teaches through anyone if we’re only willing to receive.

It was also the scheduled day for Tracey and I to go to the women’s prison; so after our time at the Coatney’s we met up with our Pastor. Our service at the prison runs from 6:00 to 7:30. We usually arrive just before six in order to sign in, get our badges and go through the metal detector. There’s medium and minimum security; so we split into two groups to cover both sides. Tracey and I take the medium security with a couple others and the other group goes to minimum. They are the ones that work the farm and are a little freer to roam the property during the day. Usually they are finishing up their stay so they aren’t under as strict scrutiny.

We meet in the building used for visitation. Sometimes we have to set up chairs and get the room prepared for the service, but this time one of the ladies was there and had already gotten everything ready. Tracey spent a few minutes chatting with her while we waited for the others to arrive. She said, “I got my parole!” She will be leaving in August but said, “I’ll be able to come to one more service.”

While it is exciting for her to be released the future outside of prison is always scary and filled with anxiety. She is going to move to a halfway house and isn’t sure what to expect. I admit I haven’t experienced being released from prison, but I do know what it’s like to be released from the bondage of addiction. It took a little time for me to learn how to live outside of drugs and alcohol; so I understand a little bit about what she’s facing. Either way we are hopeful for her and look for God to do some miraculous things in her life in the future. She was faithful to come to the services and always paid close attention, so we have to believe she is looking to Christ for her life.

Of course the next morning was time for Sunday school. We had four new people in our class two of them were a couple. Before class started the wife asked Tracey “Are you still going to the jail?” Tracey said,” How do you know that?” she responded “I saw you there!” She had spent a couple months in jail and recognized Tracey from the church services.  The other two came in after the class started so we didn’t get to talk with them much. One guy was there because he was going to be sealing the parking lot, and the other lady had been involved with Vacation Bible School throughout the past week. Although they didn’t say much it is always great to have new people in attendance.

Around 5:30 that evening I went to pick up Brian for our scheduled Bible study at the local jail. We have a small group study with the men deemed “Violent offenders”. This night we had six guys to come and we read and discussed Mathew 12. We normally read verse by verse through a book in the Bible, and I usually walk away with some pretty amazing insights. The time with those men goes by so fast for me. I never tire of reading and talking about the Bible. It really is as Jesus said, “The words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” Even when we are tired in our fleshly bodies our spirits can be rejuvenated by the Word.

Talking with Tracey Sunday night I said, “Who spends their weekends the way we do?” Don’t get me wrong I love teaching the Bible but sometimes it dawns on me how our lives and priorities have changed because of Christ. In my past life I would have never spent my weekend in this way because I had no interest in spiritual things. Now it’s as if I can never get my fill and long for others to catch the excitement of how Christ doesn’t want to give us life—He is our life!

Written by Louie


A drawing illustrating the fruit of the Spirit from one of the ladies in jail

A drawing illustrating the fruit of the Spirit from one of the ladies in jail

“The law came in so that the transgression would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then, are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? The answer is May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” That is the question most ask when looking at this through the eyes of flesh. Remember Adam in the garden when he ate of the forbidden tree? God said he would surely die, but he didn’t die. Wait a minute, Adam died in his spirit because he was separated from God. The law is what makes the transgression increase, not grace.

For example, it’s as if a man who owned a cafeteria heard a commotion in the alley where the dumpsters are. He sees the most pitiful man he ever saw fighting the alley cats for scraps of food. He has compassion on him and brings him into the cafeteria and offers him free food everyday so that he wouldn’t have to eat out of the garbage cans anymore. He tells him he can have anything he wants, “anything I want?” he asks. “Yes”, he says, it’s yours for the taking. Then the guy asked him, could he go back to the dumpster and eat more garbage? He thought he was crazy. That is the very thing we are saying when we ask can we go back to sinning or how close to sin can you get without touching it? It’s when we know that Jesus Christ laid down His life for us to take away our sin and to free us from the bondage of sin and death. He was raised from the dead and He gave us His very life to experience. Why would we want to go out and sin or eat more garbage? He came that we might have life and have it to the fullest! No, the grace of God does not give us a license to sin. The grace of God frees us from the bondage of sin and death and allows us to experience the very life of Christ.

We have to take it by faith, like Abraham believed God, before he had any children, that God has reckoned it to be so. Abraham believed God and He credited it to him as righteousness. That is the same way we do it too. We believe God by faith that Jesus finished the work. We rest in Him and let Jesus do what He does in us and through us. For me, that is the best part about living this life resting in Him, through the midst of the storm. It’s by grace that I never want to sin. I don’t think about it, I don’t run into it, but sometimes, I slip, fall, stumble, and occasionally I am drawn away, but I never stay there. Jesus always provides a way of escape from temptation.

Why do we still sin if we are dead to sin? It’s because of our unrenewed mind. We forget who we are and we forget the pain and abuse that sin took us to. Most people in jail don’t want to be there, but they forget once they get out and end up back in the same ole bondage. Once we experience true freedom, when you really know you are free, you never go back.

That’s how 2 out of the three ladies I talked to tonight felt about it. “Bucky” talked about how she was confused about how long to pray and wanted some guidance. “Princess” wanted to talk about how God has changed her this time in jail. She mentioned how other ladies come in and out of there so much and it makes her tired and she is living differently this time because of Jesus. The last lady I heard from was “Riley” she is getting out soon and wanted us to pray with her about not messing up. It is unlikely that she won’t mess up. How would that look to other people who know her and see that she never messes up anything? They would start to talk wouldn’t they?

Well, now she sees how important it is to lean on Jesus and let Him pick her up when she falls, and let Him love her through all the great things there are to learn through failure. It didn’t seem that comforting at the time, but I know she will see how most of us tend to learn the hard way. The good news is that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over. When Jesus Christ lives inside us, He does great things through us to glorify Himself.

That sounds like grace and mercy to me.

The cafeteria illustration taken from “Classic Christianity” by Bob George

Written by Tracey


As a believer in Christ I have to know some things. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans five that we were all in Adam when he sinned therefore we all sinned. That’s not such good news but thank God the story doesn’t end there. We also discover that just as sin entered into the world through one man, righteousness also came in through one man. His name is Jesus or the last Adam. “In Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

The Apostle Paul closes Romans five saying, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” Obviously he knew how most readers would hear this so he went right ahead in Romans six and asked the question, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Of course his response to the hypothetical question is “God forbid.” He then tells us we have died to sin so how are we going to still live in it? You see if all that happened was us being washed in an outward manner we probably would want to keep sinning, but the good news is part of the New Covenant was the promise of a new heart. With a new heart that loves God we aren’t going to want to sin and that’s the key. Once our wants get lined up with God’s wants we are well on our way.

Continuing on, there is something else we need to know. First he asks, “Do you not know that we have been baptized into Christ’s death?” In other words we have been crucified with Christ and our old man has died. That’s right that old sinning man we used to be in Adam is gone. We have died to sin and are free; so why would we want to go back into the bondage sin always brings?

Some of the trouble arises with believers, and them knowing they’re dead to sin, because they still feel the pull of sin. Feeling the pull of sin doesn’t indicate we have to obey it. This would be like having one of your old bosses calling you on the phone to tell you to do things for him. Since you used to listen to his demands your first reaction may be to do what he says, but if the truth be told he is no longer your boss. You don’t have to listen to him anymore. You have a new boss now. You are dead to that old boss.

Once we see we are dead to sin we have to count on it. The King James Bible tells us to “reckon.” The word “reckon” is an accounting term. Another word for “balancing” your checkbook is reconciling. For instance if you have $100 you wouldn’t reckon you have $500. In the same way God is telling us we are dead to sin so we are safe to reckon on it. God wouldn’t tell us to reckon on it if it wasn’t true. So we can trust that we are in fact dead to sin and alive to God; we can count on it.

The last thing we read in Romans six is we are to yield ourselves to God. Once we know we have been crucified with Christ and we reckon on being dead to sin, we have to yield ourselves to God for his purposes. Just as we use to give ourselves to our old sin boss; now we are told to give ourselves to our new boss Jesus Christ. Our humanity is seen as the same instrument, or weapon, only now we are being wielded by another. In other words, it was never our humanity that was wrong it was the master that ruled us. Now that we have been crucified and raised with Christ, we walk in newness of life with our humanity back on track to be what God intended which is for Christ to be fully formed in us.

Written by Louie


It seems there is no end to the discussion when it comes to the trial of George Zimmerman. Even though he has been found not guilty of murder they are now trying him in the court of public opinion on whether or not he is racist. No matter where you turn the television or radio they’re going on and on about racial tensions and justice. Let me reassure you I am not going to get into the fray of things, as if you need my analysis, but I would like to point something out.

Over 2,000 years ago there was another man who was put on trial and he was innocent and the verdict was unjust. His name is Jesus. He was charged with claiming to be a king, and even worse than that, some were saying the Son of God.

According to the Gospel of John, after Jesus was led from the High Priest Caiaphas he was taken to Pilate. As Jesus stood before Pilate he asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus’ response was “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about me?” Jesus wanted to know if Pilate had gotten a revelation of his true identity. Of course Pilate just wanted to get to the bottom of this whole thing because he knew his livelihood was on the line. His job was to keep peace between the Jews and Rome and if this Jesus thing wasn’t settled he could be in big trouble.

Jesus spoke up and said, “My kingdom is not of this world…” Therefore Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” What a powerful thing to say! Pilate’s response is astounding and one we all must ask. He said, “What is truth?”

When the truth is literally standing in front of you it is your responsibility to act accordingly. Of course Pilate’s fear of losing his position, or maybe even his life, took over and he handed Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified. The good news is God’s plan all along was to give his son for the sins of the world. In fact in Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost he said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death. But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

So there you have it. One of the most unjust things that could ever happen, God turns around to bring salvation to all that will place their faith in Christ. You see the grave couldn’t hold Jesus because “The wages of sin is death…”, but Jesus had no sin of his own. The grave had no legal right to him therefore God resurrected him to live forevermore. If we are joined to him by faith we too will live forever. Now that’s the outcome I’m looking for.

No matter what your opinion is on the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin trial, I would urge you to look a little closer at the trial of Jesus Christ. I’m not saying theirs isn’t important, but the trial, verdict and sentencing of Jesus Christ has eternal consequences attached to them. If Jesus truly is a King and the Son of God; if God really raised him from the dead in order to bring salvation to you and I, it may be important enough to look at the details a little closer.

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…”(1 Peter 3:18)

Written by Louie


When speaking to someone about “Christ in you” and how he is the one that is the real doer as Paul said, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”, the question that always comes up is “What’s my part?” Ultimately our part is to let Christ do his part. It is somewhat tricky to explain I guess, but Jesus’ analogy about he being the vine and we being the branch is about as good as it gets. Without the vine the branch is good for nothing, and yet without a branch the vine has no way to express its life to the outer world.

While Christ himself is the life, and the only one that can live the Christian life, he didn’t create us as robots but as beings with a will so we might freely choose him over anything else. While he does place his Spirit in us to lead, guide and inspire us he leaves the final say up to us and never overrides our choosing.

Apparently when pagan priests or prophets, if you will, were speaking or acting on behalf of their “gods” they were taken over in such a way as to be controlled and unable to choose otherwise. This of course sounds a lot like some of the incidents Jesus encountered with demon possession. The unclean spirits would throw a young man into a fire or water or make a man cut himself. Our God, the only true God that is, doesn’t treat us that way rather he inspires and prompts, but he doesn’t force his way in.

Since we live in a world filled with temptation, or opportunities to rebel, we are thankful God has offered us his Spirit. While it must have been quite the experience to walk beside Jesus; think about how much more spectacular it is to have him dwelling within us. Just as he told his disciples “It’s better for you that I go away”, he’s saying to us today “I’m right here. I am always available for you to find wisdom in time of need all you have to do is ask.”

This reminds me of Revelation 3:20 when Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.” So there you have it. Our job is to open the door and let him in. Once he comes in he will make sure we know our part.

Written by Louie


When Jesus went to the cross he went there fully man and died as a man. The Bible tells us he was made sin so we would become the righteousness of God in him. What a deal! The question is what really happened on the cross?

We can read elsewhere that Jesus came in the flesh and if anyone denies this they are a deceiver and the Antichrist. Some pretty harsh words but they show us how serious it is that Jesus Christ was in fact a human being. As a human, like us, he was a vessel or temple that housed the Spirit of God. On the cross he said, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.” There are many differing opinions about whether or not God really left Jesus but for me it seems this was the moment he became sin which is why the Father seemed to be forsaking him.

Let me give you a bit of background to what I’m saying here. It is my belief that when our first human parents sinned in the Garden the spirit of error entered the human race. This is why we are all born sinful. We are all born indwelt by the “prince of the power of the air…the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.” This means salvation is more than just having our sins washed away it means having a brand new Spirit placed in us. Its God’s out with the old and in with the new Spirit program. It is the ultimate in exorcism’s; our sinful nature is replaced with God’s Divine nature. Our formerly dead human spirit is resurrected, and we are joined to God in a union of his Holy Spirit and our human spirit.

When Jesus hung on the cross we were there. According to Romans six we were crucified, buried and raised with Christ. God took us out of Adam and placed us into Christ. We now walk in newness of life according to the Spirit of God in us.

Even though Jesus had no sin of his own he died as a sinner that day. He became sin. “He condemned sin in the flesh, so the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…” He took the prince of the power of the air, the spirit of error, (Sin) into himself and died in the flesh. His body was placed in a tomb for three days and the spirit of error came out of him. Without a body the spirit had to go and it did, but the good news is God sent the Holy Spirit to enter Jesus and raised him back to life. When we, by faith, are joined to the Lord we are one spirit with him.

Not only did Jesus shed his blood to forgive us of our sins; he gave his body too. While many understand the blood washes away our sins, most still don’t see that he now lives in them. This is pictured in the first Passover. The Children of Israel were instructed to kill a lamb, put its blood on the doorposts and eat the whole lamb inside. The blood on the doorposts of course is showing us we are protected from the destroyer, but it’s the eating of the lamb that gives us the life and energy to live. Without eating the Lamb, the Children of Israel would have never made it on their exodus from Egypt. Jesus is the Lamb of God, and he told us if we don’t eat and drink of him we have no life in us. His life in us is the source of power and life whereby our journey is made possible also.

Written by Louie