My wife just left. It’s probably not what you’re thinking though. She actually did just leave but it was to share Jesus with some female inmates in our local jail. She always wants me to pray with her before she goes and tonight was no different.

It’s funny how God speaks to you sometimes while you’re praying for someone else. One time as we prayed it dawned on me how the story of Jonah fit in with being in jail. Think about it for a minute. Jonah was running from what God had told him to do and he found himself in a dark, cramped, uncomfortable place. For Jonah it was the belly of a whale but for the men and women in jail and prison maybe it’s a cell full of people they don’t know or even like. Either way they are there and have no way of getting out until it’s time, just like Jonah. The hope is that, like Jonah, when the time comes for them to get out they will go and do what God tells them to do.

Tonight as we prayed Tracey prayed that the women would be receptive to God. As she said that what came to me was, “How could they not?” Of course we all have had our times when we didn’t want to hear about God or from God but I think it’s only because we hadn’t seen Him as He really is. The truth is if we get a clear picture of the loving God described to us in the scriptures we can’t resist. He’s irresistible! After Tracey finished praying I prayed and my prayer basically consisted of asking God to show Himself to these women in a clear and personal way because I know if He does that they will be drawn to Him like a moth to a flame.

The Bible tells us to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8a). Once you draw near to Him we are told to “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8a).

I realize not everyone is called to minister to men and women in jail and prison; but I challenge you to pray for them. I ask that you would simply pray that they would come to see Jesus Christ really is the answer to their problems no matter what their charges are or how long they have to be incarcerated. God can do miraculous things through them even though they are behind bars.




I have seen her cry before, but only for being in jail or when she found out she wasn’t going home after going to court. But this time was different; she sat across from me with tears falling from her eyes because she went to another girl in the cell, that she stole coffee from, while she wasn’t looking. She knew the girl was going home but before she left the cell, there was something inside her telling her to tell the girl she was sorry. She wiped the tears from her face as she told me that nobody would have known it was her that took the coffee, but she needed to ask her for her forgiveness. Tears started rolling down my eyes now; because I have listened to this girl a lot of times before and she has never admitted to stealing not to mention feeling bad enough about it to make it right.

Another surprise I got from this girl was that she said she was reading her Bible. Now that wasn’t the surprise, because she has read it before, but it was a self effort “the thing to do” reading of the Bible. She told me now she was pausing at the commas and stopping at the periods. She was listening to the Holy Spirit before moving on. Jesus is changing her heart from a religious spirit to a real receiver depending on the Spirit of God. She did talk about her children, but it was the way that she left it up to Jesus to show them the realness in her. They are mostly grown, and she has lied to and stolen from them their whole lives. Her marriage has been one that stems from fear and domination. She is no longer blaming her behavior on him, her childhood or her excuses about religion. These are real tears I witnessed, real remorse for her past, but awareness that only Jesus can vindicate her and time will tell the truth. She said the truth (Jesus) will set her free and she is free indeed.

There has been a lot of talk lately about the religious spirit, which means people trying in their own strength to please God by their behavior. I think there is a time we all experience this because the flesh is weak and is easily deceived. After trying and failing, we come to the place we seek a relationship with the one and only who can please God, which is Jesus Christ our Savior. We read the Bible because we want to hear from God, we pray because we seek a heart answer from Him. We do things for others because we love Jesus then it becomes something that we can’t, not do. I know for me it happened gradually. I started seeing people through the eyes of Jesus, I started to love them for no other reason, but because they are available to love. I can’t explain it, really, I just love people. Some it takes a little mustering, but hey, those are the ones God uses the most in our lives. My point is that it becomes a relationship with Jesus Christ and not a performance issue. It’s not by works that we are saved, but by grace are we saved, that is the free gift of God. He is the one who saves us and He is the one who keeps us.

I had the opportunity to talk about Romans 6:21 to the ladies tonight and how we are a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness, but we are always a slave. If you have been born again, then you are dead to sin. Sin no longer has dominion, or mastery, over you. I asked them to fill in the blank, “every time I do _____, (this) _____ happens. One girl spoke up and said, “every time I do drugs, I come to jail.” Another girl raised her hand and said, “every time I give my life to Jesus, things go easier.” In verse 21 it says “therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” In other words, why do we keep doing the things that bring us shame, pain and death? Verse 22 has the answer, it says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life.”

It is better to depend on Jesus and seek a relationship with Him and let Him live His life through your personality and that is exactly what I saw in this lady for the first time. She has been in and out of jail for a lot of her adult life. This time, though, I saw tears of joy because of the freedom she is experiencing by giving up and letting Jesus be who He is inside her. It’s a beautiful thing when you can cry tears of joy because of what Jesus is doing in your life and the life of others.



Desire of heart“I’m at the lowest in my life, yet I am the happiest I have ever been,” she said with a giggle. I was talking with “Jersey Girl” in jail the other night. She is looking at 10 years in the State Penitentiary. This is a young lady who came to jail never having a desire for a relationship with Jesus Christ. She and her boyfriend lived in the flesh and believed the lies about evolution among other things. The reason I know this is because she has a million questions about the Bible and Jesus. She asked me why Adam and Eve were so smart and then mankind turned into cavemen? You can imagine the look on my face; can’t say I have been asked that one before. I am not worried about untangling the mess; I point her to Jesus and let Him work out all that stuff. She is seeking Him; so she will find Him who is the Truth.

I started out my talk with the ladies telling them of the time I recently spent with my dad and family. He came to visit from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Raising us kids, my dad was a godly man and made sure we lived Jesus not just on Sunday. I am so thankful my dad showed me who love was.

There is trouble in every family and mine was no exception. I think there is unforgiveness that needs dealt with. Parents are not given an instruction manual to raise children unless they are using the Bible. Some parents leave God and the Bible out, which leaves scars and the things that hurt. When the children grow up, they find out for themselves how hard it really is. That is the case in my family as well. I am currently praying for insight from God and the forgiveness will follow.

I also felt lead to share with the ladies in jail about a promise I received from the Lord. I have been going through some trials and what I call, opportunities for faith. So, I prayed to Jesus asking Him to change my circumstances to the desire of my heart. He showed me, through a series of events in my life, where He had done just that. Once when I was a little girl, having surgery on my kidney and bladder, a newspaper man came to do a story on children missing the holiday because of illness. He came while I was in surgery and did the story on my roommate. After hearing the news, it broke my heart. As I grew older, I worked at a newspaper and have been in the newspaper lots of times for photo illustrations and stuff like that.

Another example the Lord showed me was when I was in a bad marriage, and I cried myself to sleep most nights begging the Lord to give me a Christian husband. There was a lot of pain and 2years of waiting before the Lord gave me the desire of my heart.

Having faith in something you can’t see is whole lot harder than it seems. Once you experience Jesus for yourself and His promise to you, you can know He won’t let you down. He hasn’t let me down yet, and He won’t start now. But I had to hear it from Him. That is exactly what happened about a trial I’m going through right now.

Are you going through something that you need to see Jesus? I’m telling you, you can trust in Him, He is right here, just whisper His name and share with Him the desire of your heart. Beware though, the pain comes first, but the glory is always greater!




optical illusionFor some reason most people look at Christians as if they have arrived or have got it all together. As if they never had a struggle or at least struggling like they struggle. Maybe there is a superman cape   under those clothes.

Paul instructed Titus to remind them to be subject to authorities, to be obedient and to be ready for every good deed. Most people are too busy looking at their sin and worried about their sin that they miss being ready for the good deed. He says to live peaceable, gentle and considerate of all men. Why? Because we were once foolish ourselves; we were disobedient, deceived, addicted to good pleasures, spending our lives in envy and hating one another.

Right here is when I told the ladies in jail about how I was addicted to marijuana, pills and drinking alcohol. I talked about other people and thought being mean was fun. I was “THAT” girl that nobody liked. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for all of us appeared in my life, He saved me. Eventually I realized that God not only gave us His Holy Spirit, He was poured out and it was for His use. God can do whatever He wants with my life and I don’t have to like it. I am justified by His grace, and I am being made an heir according to the hope of eternal life. It took me doing it wrong first and that’s how I got it right, not that I got it right, but I am trusting in the one who is right. He is the keeper of my salvation, and He is the keeper of my life everyday. We may have a will, but He is the power.

I also told those ladies about the time my husband and I were getting ready to divorce, but I was hanging on to the marriage as if I had some kind of control. I thought if I prayed with this preacher or that preacher about my marriage, my husband would be saved and we would live happy ever after. A Christian friend of mine came over one day and we took this cloth and cut it into 12 pieces, anointed and prayed over each piece as we strategically placed them in various places my husband spends time in. That didn’t work either, by the way, because it was in my so called power.

It wasn’t until I placed my trust in Jesus Christ as my redeemer and keeper that He did what I could not do for myself. My husband and I divorced and God called Him in His timing and I listened for when it was my turn to join in what God was already doing. Years later, my husband Louie and I were reconciled after he was born again.

The hard times are for His use, the good times are for His use. When we turn to Him and trust Him for our life, He can not fail us nor does He want to.

Finally, Titus 3:8, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

The three ladies I talked to tonight after the service were different in nature from one another. One lady said she was glad she came to the service to hear from God and was encouraged. Another lady couldn’t tell me what the service was about and continued to tell me how confused she is as to why she is in jail. The last lady was sincere in her commitment to live for God when she gets out and wants her boyfriend to also live for God. She was encouraged by what she heard, and she heard from the Lord.

I didn’t bring any notes from Titus tonight, because I wanted to trust in Jesus who lives in me and because I know that whatever happens, it’s going to be richly poured out for His use.



To a room full of ladies in orange, I asked how many of them were struggling with something in their life right now; many hands were raised. Mine went up as well. Through all the counseling that I go through each week, this is my most talked about issue. “But I’m struggling, Miss Tracey.” The other question I come across is “How do I get it right? My answer to that is “by messing it up.” I think these two things go together because we do things the wrong way first and then we learn how to get it right. This goes for a number of things in our life. But somehow we see someone else doing it right and we think they got it right the first time, which simply is not true.

1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you , which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.” Then James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Lets not forget what 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen for things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

So, I think what happens is that we struggle with decisions, situations, and people and can’t see God in them because we are looking for things we can see. But God is showing us faith for the things which we can’t see. If we didn’t have the struggle, we wouldn’t look for Him.

The enemy’s job is to get our focus off of Jesus and onto ourselves as if we could solve or make a situation better. The devils’ tactics have not changed; he seeks us to kill and destroy us and our witness for Jesus Christ.  The struggle is part of the victory because as we read in 2 Corinthians 1:2-7 “The God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” When we get comforted by God, we turn around and comfort somebody else who is going through something. It’s like it’s not our comfort to keep, but to give away.

When we are talking about Jesus and His love for us, He is always for the other person. Look in verse 9 of 2 Corinthians 1“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” This is the pathway in which we struggle. We may have a will, but Jesus is our power. He doesn’t give us power, He is the power in us, and He works it out in and through us, but it’s never us. God knows we are not giving up easily so He makes it a struggle for us so we will depend on Him. A lady asked us, “When will the struggle end?” The answer was “when they look down in the casket and say, doesn’t she look natural.” Our hope is in Jesus Christ and who He is. That’s our identity, and we trust Him to do what we can’t do for ourselves.



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.




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.