LIVING IN THE SPIRIT

Have you ever had one of those days when you just wanted to be somewhere else? It’s time to be there, you know you’re late, and there’s nothing you can do about it? That happened to me as I was on my way to the jail, but I had to work late. My flesh was throwing a fit, like a two-year-old. I was so mad. I knew there was nothing I could do about it so I started to focus on the fruit of the Spirit, knowing I already have the fruit of self control. Before I knew it, I was at the jail with a sigh of relief.

The Lord had prepared me to talk about Hebrews 4:12 and what it teaches us about soul and Spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intentions of the heart; it’s okay to have temptations and pulls. We talked about how our circumstances don’t have to rule how we behave, when Jesus lives on the inside, He exercises Spirit living inside us. I don’t understand it all, but I do know we can trust Him to do it.

Afterward I talked with a lady whom I have seen a bunch of times. Her note indicated that we haven’t talked in a while. She is leaving for rehab in a couple of weeks and wanted to let me know about it.

The next woman I chatted with had given her life to Jesus the week before. She had tears in her eyes as she poured out her heart about how it bothers her about the negativity from the other girls in her cell. I asked her if this was anything different than other times she was in jail. “It’s me that has changed this time,” she said. “That stuff never bothered me before, but now, I can’t wait to get out of here,” she continued. She proclaimed how she is never coming back to this place ever again. Her ex-husband, who is in prison has written to her and asked to be reconciled. I asked her if she was still in love with him and she said yes. He has also given his life to Jesus and wants to be the Christian husband he was intended to be.

It was getting late, so I looked for the other ministers to say good-bye. They invited me into the law box with them and an inmate who was struggling with anger and unforgiveness. Wait till you hear what happened next. She shared with us the hurts and anguish she has suffered throughout her life since she was 12 years old. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer, she began to let go of some horrific things. Each of the ministers were laying hands on her as she started to confess forgiveness for each person by naming them out loud. When it came time to forgive the man who sexually molested her as a child, she began to shake and her body temperature rose. I wanted to lay my hand on her head, but when she said this man’s name, God told me, “now”. When I put my hand on her head, the shaking immediately ceased and she became visibly calm. Everyone in the room knew a miracle had taken place. You should have seen the smile on her face once we left that room!

These are the very things that make my heart long to be where Jesus is, and this is one of the places He likes to manifest Himself for His glory.

Thank you, Jesus for who you are and what you are doing in the lives of people who seek your face. Thank you for you grace and mercy and love.

Tracey

 

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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

A LITTLE BIT OF COMPASSION GOES A LONG WAY

Back in August of 2012 I posted about an experience I had at our local jail. Approximately 18 yrs. ago a friend of mine was murdered during a drug deal. One night while sharing my testimony with a group I shared about my friend and how a 17 yr. old young man shot him and he died. Well the young man was charged and received a prison sentence of which he did a portion of and was released. Sometime after his release from prison he was picked up for another charge so he had to do some more time. This is where I came into this story.

We were sharing the Word and our testimony’s at the jail, and I told them about my friend and how he died. I said, “No one was in the right in this whole situation. My friend shouldn’t have been buying drugs and the 17 yr. old shouldn’t have been selling them, so I’m not pointing fingers at anyone.” I implored them, “What are we doing to each other?”

After the service was over a man stood waiting for me to finish talking with another guy so I asked, “Are you waiting for me?” With tears running down his face he said, “Yes, I need to ask you to forgive me.” I had never seen this guy before so I was a bit confused as to what he was talking about so I said, “For what?” He said, “I’m the guy who shot your friend.” I’m sure I had to have a stunned look on my face but I told him “Of course I forgive you,” and I put my arm on his shoulder and asked him if I could pray with him. He said, “Yes”, so I prayed with him and we parted ways. Apparently this guy has gotten out of jail since and our meeting back in August had a profound impact on his life.

There is this young lady Tracey spoke with for a full year while she was incarcerated who knows this guy. Tracey went to visit her the other day and she had quite the story to tell. Her children had several of their friends over visiting and one of them just so happened to be this guy’s daughter. When he came to pick her up they had a conversation that included me. You see this young lady, Tracey had talked with for so long, knew the story I just told you and somehow she mentioned “Louie” to the guy.

As they talked he said, “I gave my life to God that day.” He couldn’t remember that much about what I said but he told her, “That man had compassion on me!”   He said, “it’s strange because I was just thinking about him today, and every time I see a white guy with long hair I look to see if it’s Louie.”

As amazing as this story is, as it unfolds, the thing about this that really stuck with me was how he didn’t necessarily remember any specific thing that was said, but he remembered how I showed him compassion. So, if you’re one of those that worry about getting all your words correct or fearful you don’t know what to say, the answer is to show mercy and grace to others; oh yeah, and don’t forget a little bit of compassion goes a long way.

Louie