A DAY APART

IMG_1726Some friends of ours, Brian and Tandy Coatney, open their home once in a while to spend a day apart from the world to focus on Jesus. We have such a good time, nobody wants to leave. This time was no different. The crowd was slim, but the stands were full. I invited two friends of mine to join me, Annastaja and Shanda and Shanda’s step-son, Antwan, who were all too eager to come. We start around ten in the morning, break for lunch and wind things down from there.

Tandy started us off by sharing with us with how she grew up in this house and since her mom and dad went to be with Jesus, the house became theirs to live in, and they wanted to carry on the tradition of having guests come to their house and share Jesus with others, which is something Mimi (Tandy’s mom) had always done.

Brian spoke next of how he came to know who he was in Christ and when his eyes were opened to being a real Christian. The verse that came alive for him was “I go to prepare a place for you, if it were not true, I would have told you.” After returning to college that summer, he was a changed man and his class mates knew this was not the same Brian they had known the year before.

Brian talked of Galatians 2:20 and being the vessel in which Jesus expresses His love to others. For me, my eyes were opened when he spoke of being changed from glory to glory through our mess-ups. Jesus uses them to show His glory. We get to do this over and over again throughout our life because it never ends. We could all relate to this because the enemy is always at work to drag us down.

Annastaja shared with us how she had to change the way she did things because she was going down the path of drugs and her siblings were following her. She is so worried that there are bad influences in her younger siblings’ lives and now wants to rescue them. Annastaja is doing things differently because she doesn’t want to go back to jail and wants good things in her life. I am really proud of her because there was a time she would not have called me after she got out and certainly would not have come to an all day Jesus party.

I just have to say the same thing about Shanda because in the past she would run from Jesus.  When I invited Shanda to come to this day apart, she said yes; but then she couldn’t find a sitter to stay with Antwan. I called her early that morning, and she asked Antwan if he wanted to go, and after explaining that it might get boring, he still said yes. Later I asked him why he wanted to come and he said, “I might learn something and to hear more about Jesus.” This is coming from an eleven year old boy. I think that he has seen a change in Shanda and wants to know more about what is making this change in her.

On the way over to the Coatney’s, I asked the Annastaja and Shanda if they smoked cigarettes, and they both answered yes. Shanda brought hers with her, but Annastaja left hers at home. I said, “You should have brought them, not to smoke in my car, but you know what I mean.” They laughed but were shocked that I would say that. Some people may not agree with the logic but see, when you fall in love with Jesus, He takes that desire away. It is yet another sign of grace and mercy God shows us.

After Brian talked, we took a little break for lunch. Tandy made us Quinoa with vegetables, copper pennies, which were really carrots, hummus with crackers, fruit, bread, and I made some peanut butter fudge. We all sat together in the dinning room like many meals before. Ide and Starr, Joseph, Brian and Tandy, Shanda, Antwan and Annastaja all had good conversation and later were met by Raymond.

Before our meal, Brian had asked if I could say a little something once we got back from lunch, which I was happy to do. The last couple of days I have been nursing a sore throat and wasn’t sure if things could be heard clearly. After starting in prayer, my voice seemed strong and I quoted Galatians 2:20 again because that verse means so much to me. I told of a recent experience in jail of how the enemy was throwing accusation and confusion into the room by way of an inmate. I recognized the tactics as one by the devil and am not blaming the person whom the devil used. This person was laughing at one of the ministers when she saw the karaoke machine with the microphone plugged in. Once the minister came up front to pick up the mic, the inmate asked if she was going to sing a song and then turned to the lady sitting next to her and they both began to laugh at her. The incident reminded all of us why we continue to go the jail to minister. There may only be one chance from them to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. I don’t want to waste any of those opportunities. We come there in love to minister love and show them that God is love. If they receive Jesus into their life, He will transform you into a new creature. He will reconcile relationships in their life and restore what the sin has eaten.

God uses even our mess ups to bring glory to Himself. What the enemy means for harm, God will use for His glory. He not only helps you get through, it’s really Jesus doing it because when you come out the other side, you give God the glory for doing it. It looks like you did it, but it’s really Him. We agree with God that I would doing that very sin, if it’s wasn’t for Christ in me, and I thank Him that He is keeping me.

For me, having Shanda and Annastaja there with me at the day apart meant more to me than anything. I love to see their hunger for Jesus and His righteousness. They both exclaimed their passion to have their men come next time we have one of these things. Although we wanted to stay longer, I had to take Annastaja home early. After we dropped her off, Shanda and Antwan and I continued to talk about the Lord and His goodness in our life. She continues to ask questions and seek the Lord in her life.

The day a part was so much fun and I never want to leave; always looking forward to the next one. Thank you, Jesus for this time together.

Tracey

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MY HEART IS BREAKING

lady in a cellI take going to the jail very seriously and am grateful for every opportunity the door opens for me to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. You can just imagine what happens to my heart when I see the enemy with his plots and deceptions to distract during such a time. Let me explain what I mean. On Thursday, as I was listening to the worship and singing of the Crabb Family on DVD, Miss Zander noticed a young lady in the back row tearing up so she handed her a tissue. The girl sitting two down from her shot her an ugly look as if to say, “What are you crying about?” The young lady blew her nose in the tissue and hid the tissue away. My heart just broke right then and there. I witnessed the enemy stealing a moment as Christ touched her. Later after telling this to a former inmate, she explained how this happens more times than I will ever know. She went on to tell me this is how the inmates get control when they have so little of it for themselves. She continued by encouraging me not to give up on this so called bully because she remembers when she was like that and look how God changed her life by something that was said in jail. I must say, that did encourage me.

The message I brought to the jail tonight was one found in John 11:1-4 about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The part I love about this story is when Jesus said “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified” Jesus could have come right away to heal Lazarus, but he waited for him to die. But I know it was for the glory of God to be displayed in him. It will break your heart at first, but hang on because the glory is coming. I saw it in this story, I saw it in a church member’s life this week when his wife left him and took the children. I saw it in the same week when another church member’s house caught fire. My heart just hurts for these dear people, but I know through this light affliction, there is an eternal weight of glory.

God does the impossible for us in our life. When there is no other way, when you have tried all you can try and done all that you can do, this is when Jesus steps in to do what you could never do but didn’t know it. If there was never a trial, a pain, a struggle, a temptation, or heartache, we would never depend on Jesus. If we could fix it ourselves, we would never need Jesus nor would He have to have died on the cross in our place. In our flesh, we are deceived into thinking we are independent from God and the flesh acts like a two year old. Throwing fits and tempter tantrums, we want our way, and we don’t want anyone to help us because we are going to do it on our own… Who can tame the two year old? It’s the discipline from the hand of our Father who loves us. He knows our hearts, but He wants us to know our heart. He loves us so much; He will not let us stay where we are in our childishness. He literally pries our fingers off the thing that is hurting us and believe me; this breaks the heart of our Father.

God is growing us up into mature Sons. One day He is handing over the family business to us and wants to know we have the Father’s passion and heart for the business. Do we love others when they don’t love us back? Have we forgiven others as we have been forgiven? Do we go out of our way or stop on our way to pay attention to others around us? It’s not about going to a building or how much money you give out of your pay check. He wants sons who are produced from Himself, little mini me’s for the Kingdom. God is always about the other person, always. But it takes a lot of heartache and pain to get to the place God will change you into that person. First it’s God’s heart breaking that He sees you when you were lost and being used by the enemy. Then your heart breaks when you see the enemy using others in that same way. The good news is He uses that hurt to grow us and them. I love to share the good news every chance I get, no matter how bad it aches.

Tracey 

ORIGAMI BUTTERFLIES

The morning after my visit to jail a fellow employee asked, “What’s been going on with you lately?” I couldn’t wait to tell her I was ministering to the ladies in jail last night. “What did you talk about,” she inquired. I told her about a woman who recently had a car accident and her passenger was killed. The woman was so distraught and unkempt and how sorry she was about the whole thing. She wished it was her that died instead of the passenger. There are several people who have been saying terrible things about this lady. I can understand their reasoning, but as I explained what I saw in the woman, my co-worker finished my sentence by saying, “she’s beating her self up and doesn’t need anyone’s help.” I quickly agreed with her as chills ran down my arm because she is telling the truth about it. We can’t go in there to the jail pointing our fingers at people. The woman and her passenger were both in the wrong, but that is no excuse to not show mercy and grace. That is exactly what we do because we know at any given time that could have been us. I would do that very sin if Jesus wasn’t keeping me and I thank Him that He is keeping me.

One of my favorite verses to talk about is Galatians 2:20. Which says; “for I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live. Yet, not I, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” There is a transformation that is taking place in this verse. First we have to die in order to have a new master, so that’s when we are crucified with Christ. We were actually placed into Jesus on the cross when He was crucified. But you say, “You are standing right here in front of me, you weren’t crucified.” I am talking about in the Spirit these things take place. Because the next part says, nevertheless I live. But see, it’s not my life, but Christ living on the inside. I am now in union with Him like a wife takes the name of her husband; they are one flesh with one name. Back to the verse; because of the transformation I get to live life through Jesus’ faith all because He loved me and laid down His life for me. Not only did He die for me, but He lives in me too.

The other transformation I talked about to the ladies in jail was the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We watched a video explaining the parts of the caterpillar that metamorphosized. One of the parts is the stomach; it liquefies and is absorbed to create a stomach that feeds on nectar instead of foliage. The next thing is the heart because it has to beat faster to fly instead of crawl. The third thing is the brain transforms into thinking of wings and flying. There are other things as well like antennae and obviously it gets wings. These are just a few of the miraculous things that happen when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. How much greater is it to see a person transformed into union with Christ?

The metamorphic phenomenon happens in a dark, tight, lonely place but the out come is amazing and can only be attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit when you ask Him to come into your life and trust Him for your keeping. Before we left the service in jail, we passed out origami butterflies that a dear sister folded for each inmate with prayer. We also passed out papers to further describe the miracle that takes place during the metamorphosis process of a butterfly. I told my co-worker of the miracles that happen as we minister and she kept asking me more questions about these ladies as they give their life to Jesus. “I loved being a part of the move of God in our local jail”, and she told me I was anointed.

Tracey

TEMPTATION AND TRIALS

        

June 30, 2011 Thursday Deanna uses her teeth to move puppy over.Faith and love in a person can not be hidden. Others may not recognize what it is about you, but soon faith and love reveal itself for others to see. Faith sees Jesus in people; we see lost people as Jesus knocking on their heart. Love means that God puts me where He can love through me, not to pester, not to judge, not to drive people, but freely give myself. Loving others unconditionally means I am giving them the right to hurt me. “But Miss Tracey, I can’t do that,” one might say. My answer is, “that’s right you can’t, but Jesus in you can and will do that.” When Jesus was on the cross He said to the Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He is still saying that inside the believer today. This is what I explained to 21 women in orange, who looked at me as if I was speaking another language. This is one of the root problems in our flesh that tempts us to lash out against others, to suppress angry and hurt feelings, and is the hardest part to face. We need to understand that by forgiving the ones who hurt or use us, doesn’t mean we are okay with what they did. We have been forgiven by The Lord and therefore, it is not ours to keep. Forgiveness is meant to be given away.

Trials are on the outside for others to see, but temptations are on the inside in order to press me into Jesus. When I am weak, then I am strong. Temptation establishes us in sanctification. If we were never tempted we wouldn’t know what was inside us to push us into Christ. You know Adam was tempted before he sinned and Hebrews 4:15&16 tells us Jesus was tempted and did not sin. Being tempted is not a sin and what a relief that is. It turns into sin when we act on the thought. The world can only push from the outside of us, but Jesus made a way for us to live from the inside, the spirit.

Through the fall of Adam, the spirit of error tempts us; he wants us to view ourselves as independent of God. Temptation isn’t only toward evil it can also be a temptation to do good as though an independent self even can. Nobody thinks being good is bad, do they? That’s where the enemy gets us, by making us think we can do whatever it is, by ourselves. He knows he can’t have the inner you, so he pulls on the outer. The way of escape is always Spirit. 1 John 4:1-6, the last verse says, “we are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” The question remains, what do I do when temptation pulls at me? The answer is a spontaneous response through faith.

For example, when you start a new job maybe as a cashier, a construction worker, a teacher, or whatever, you have to be trained to do the job because you’ve never done it before but after a while, you don’t think about the steps, or the tools it takes to complete the task, you just do it. Our spontaneous response will look like that, through faith as we rely on the Holy Spirit.

There is a young woman in jail who shaved the sides of her head to look like a boy and asked to talk, because she wanted to tell me she has been praying three times a day now. She has changed her mind about looking like a boy or trying to get with girls in there. Tears stream down my face to hear Jesus speaking to her and her response to Him. She would never have known the love of the Father if it wasn’t for the truth being spoken to her.

The other two ladies I had the privilege to hear from have been encouraging to me. I love to see them bringing their bibles into our talks so they can ask questions and seek the Lord. It’s by the trials and a temptation that we are able to know who God is and what He is doing in our life. Thank you, Lord for loving us so much to meet us where we are but not leaving us there.

Tracey

                     

LOVE IS MORE THAN A WORD

I met a girl, who looks like a boy and is afraid to love. I told her about the love of Jesus, and she said that was a strong word. “You’re right, it is a strong word,” I told her. She has been coming to jail-church for quite a while, but has never asked to talk, until now. One of the first things she declares to me is that she is gay. I asked her, “What makes you think you are gay?” She shares with me that she was abused as a child by a man. I understand the hurt is real, but that reason alone does not make a person gay. She talked of how her grandma died and her grandfather remarried a year after her death; it bothered her so much and sent her into a life of rebellion. The grandfather’s wife was able to make things right with her, and her relationship with her grandfather was restored. He is the one person in her life in which she sees the love of God. He has never given up on her, even when he is disappointed in her choice of lifestyle. He doesn’t support her dressing like a boy, but he loves without condition.

The thing that I found so special about her and the reason she asked to speak to me was to ask me about salvation. Our conversation was interesting and truthful. I am encouraged by her question because I know anytime we seek the Lord and open our heart to Him; He comes in and changes us. Before we left the law box, she had one more question; “next week, if we can talk, I’d like to know how you know when God is speaking to you.” I can’t wait to see what she says next time I see her. We hugged and I told her I loved her and would be praying for her, “I like you too,” she said. (She can’t say the word love)

Tonight being Thanksgiving was appropriate to say what we are thankful for. Margo started out and had paper turkeys’ with one letter on each spelling out THANKFUL. She asked 8 ladies to say 2 things for each letter they were thankful for, one earthly and one spirit. I thought that was a perfect segway into what the Lord showed me to share with them.

Every Thanksgiving our focus turns to what we are going to make for dinner and whose going to bring what. In John 4 Jesus talks to the woman at the well about drinking the eternal water that brings life. Then in John 6 Jesus says to eat his flesh and drink his blood. But he is not talking about cannibalism, He’s talking Spirit. He who eats and drinks of Him will live forever. These other things are a picture of what He is really talking about, but they couldn’t understand what He was saying. The same things happen to us today, we don’t understand what He is saying to us, until He uses pictures to show us.

For example, there were 2 trees in the garden, one was earthy and one was heavenly. We ate of the wrong tree and now we are always worried whether we are doing the right thing or the wrong thing, but the point is that are we alive or dead? I heard it said once, “Jesus didn’t come here to make bad people good, but He came here to make dead people live.” Jesus is the life, He is the Way. We take Him into us; we have life, eternal life.

I had a great time with the ladies here for Thanksgiving, hearing them be thankful to God for the Truth, for family and for being free on the inside. God is love and He gives Himself, and I am thankful for the opportunities He gives me to minister and to be ministered to.

Pray for this lady who is afraid to love, be loved and to say the word love. She is in for the biggest blessing and healing she has ever known; she is getting ready to meet the healer and the lover.

Tracey

WHAT THE ENEMY DIDN’T TELL US

Just don't tell anyoneI was reading in Genesis 3 one day and it struck me that one of the questions God asked Adam after they had eaten of the forbidden fruit was, “who told you that you were naked?” God knew there was someone outside of Adam and Eve who had to tell them they were naked. That got me to thinking about how the enemy is still doing that to all of us today.

Satan convinced Eve in a sneaky way to question God’s motives and to make her own decisions, which weren’t her decision because Satan just now enticed her to do something that wasn’t her idea in the first place. That is exactly how I started smoking, someone asked me if I smoked, I said no, my boss at the time said, “Oh, you could have had a smoke break.” That was my journey to smoking cigarettes. It wasn’t my idea, until he made it appealing to me. After that, it was my idea.

Just like Eve, she didn’t surely die after she sinned, not in the physical sense, but neither did I after my first cigarette. The enemy didn’t tell me after years of this behavior, I would be short of breath, dependant on cigarettes, and later in life could develop cancer. Maybe we were told, but we didn’t believe it or we wouldn’t keep doing it.

The enemy didn’t tell us there would be a price for sin, he didn’t tell us it would be after long term use. He tells us stuff like, “you can handle it”, “It won’t happen to you”, and “just one won’t hurt”. At the end of the line we think to ourselves, “This is not what I expected my life to be,” because we bit into the lie Satan told us.

2Cor. 4:3&4 “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” In this passage of scripture it describes Satan as the god (little g) of this world. I began to joke with the inmates about how everyone wants to be a gangster, we call that being “G” in this case little “g” is a lie, don’t listen to the little “g”.

Little “g” didn’t tell us when we were doing drugs that there was going to be cramping, diarrhea, sweating and running nose when we couldn’t get the next “fix”. He didn’t tell us that. There are a few other things he didn’t tell us either, like, If we get born again, we are in Christ and Christ is in us.

Satan didn’t tell us

we are loved by God and we are the in the beloved,

he didn’t tell us the life of Christ is in me.

He also didn’t tell us we are a holy one in Christ, a saint.

he didn’t want us to know we are completely forgiven and alive in Christ.

He didn’t tell us we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing

chosen by God,

made the righteousness of God,

adopted into His family,

raised up and seated with Christ in heaven, and

have been made complete and are a new creation.

He tried to hide the fact that we have been sealed eternally by the Holy Spirit,

we have the mind of Christ,

we are God’s handiwork created for good works, and

we are free from sin’s power.

He certainly didn’t want us to know that we have been delivered from darkness into light and have peace with God because we have the power of Christ in us through Jesus.

The good news is that we can know the truth because Jesus said He is the Truth. The devil is a lie and he is exposed for what he is. We know this because of the Word and love of Jesus. I had so much fun telling this to the ladies incarcerated this week because we can be free on the inside. We are always going to need Jesus because we will have temptations and struggles in our life, but we need to remember Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He lives in us, and in Him we live and move and have our being. Praise be to God that what the enemy didn’t tell us, Jesus told us by His love.

Tracey  

THE RESURRECTION OF A DEADHEAD

new life old life(1)Hair is probably important to everyone and says a lot about a person. You can look at them and determine several things about them by their hair. A couple of weeks ago, I met a young woman in jail who had dreadlocks. Most of the time you would think of a Rasta person, but this lady was white and very rough around the edges. She didn’t seem like the type you could easily approach. When my friend and fellow minister met with her during a counseling session, she discovered how confused she was. She had questions in how a person could believe in a Jesus who would die for her. Where does the faith come from and how do you use faith to believe? These are very good questions coming from a lost person learning of the love of Jesus.

I recently learned that she originally asked to talk with me, but got Tammy instead. She was nervous with palms sweating and heart pounding due to the tremendous amount of fear that came with talking with new people. We also learned that she had been a drug dealer and follower of the band “The Grateful Dead” for the past several years. In other words she was what is known as a “Deadhead.” She told us she has had dreadlocks for nine years and her daughter had never seen her without them. Tonight, we were looking at a brand new person because her dreads were gone but they had been replaced with a smile.

At the end of the service she was asked what had happened to her. “I was driving on I24 and ended up here in ChristianCounty Jail,” she began. “While I was here, I got saved (insert applause here) …I was changed on the inside and it manifested on the outside.” Later she confessed she had never used the word, “manifested” before and blamed Jesus for that word. We were bragging on the change Jesus made in her and how the countenance of her whole face had transformed. She seemed soft and feminine and pleasant to listen to. She was no longer fearful of speaking to people, considering she spoke to a whole room of people and the four of us afterward. I would have to say I witnessed eternal life flowing through a truly “Grateful Deadhead.”

Each minister who spoke tonight had the anointing of the Holy Spirit who spoke to each lady in the room. None left without feeling like Jesus had said something personal to them. I opened us up in Deuteronomy by reading the whole eighth chapter. It said, “you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” God took care of them, provided food, clothes, shelter, they lacked nothing. They were delivered from slavery and yet, when they had eaten and were satisfied, in their hearts became proud and forgot the Lord. Is that what we are still doing today?

I know of a woman who got out of jail recently, went to her home and made jail food to eat. She has forgotten what she was delivered from. But verse 18 says, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

I don’t know about you, but I have been delivered, freed, and redeemed; I never want to go back, I can’t go back to my old life. Once you have been changed, you never want things to be the way it used to be. It’s not about good or bad, it’s about life and death. Jesus brought us out of death into life. He is the life, take Him in and you will have life eternal.

I counseled two ladies and both were a blessing to me. We talked about how God lives outside of time, and He says it is finished. We rest in His power to overcome and trust He has us in His powerful hands. We don’t have to fuss and carry on because we know who He is therefore, we know who we are. In Him, we live and move and exist as even some of you own poets have said, “For we also are His children.” Acts 17:28

Tracey