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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

567% increase in only 35 years is good, right?

I am going to be revealing some personal things here that you may not be aware of.  I hid from my personal testimony for many years.  In the last couple years or so, I've come to realize that I'm only a "pilgrim" in this world.  This place is not my home, and I look toward that home, who's builder and maker is God.  I will therefore use whatever means I can to reach others for Christ and that Kingdom to come.  This means I will no longer run from what I've done...and what Christ has done for me. I am not proud of my past, but I am immensely grateful for my future.

In 1977, I was sentenced to "life and 30" and sent to the Texas Department of Corrections where I began doing my "time" on the Coffield Unit, and then later on the Wynne Farm.  Upon entering the system, I was given the TDC number of 268067, which is a number I will have for the rest of my life.  For my purposes here, I want to think about that TDC number and what it means.

Since the beginning of the state of Texas' inmate numbering system to the point I entered TDC, 268,067 people had been incarcerated in the state of Texas.  The question may be asked, when did Texas start numbering their inmates?  All I've been able to find so far is that October 1, 1849 is the day that "The Walls" unit in Huntsville opened it's doors for business and accepted it's first inmate.  So, until I find out otherwise, I will assume that this is when the numbering system began.

Fast forward to 1977.  128 years have passed, and in that amount of time, 268,067 people have been incarcerated in Texas.  That works out to 2,094 people per year, on average, for 128 years.

We are now living in the year 2012.  35 years have passed since I went to prison.  I am active in prison ministry and know that Texas is now bringing in inmates numbered in the 1,790,000's.  A recent arrival into TDCJ will receive a TDCJ number 1,790,000+ (the + is there because this isn't a static system. The number is increased with each individual incarcerated.)  Maybe you can see where I'm going with this.  In the last 35 years since I received my TDC number, 1,521,933+  people have been enrolled in club TDC..  That's 1.5+ MILLION people in 35 years! (43,483 people per year, on average, for 35 years, roughly the size of San Marcos or Texas City, every year)  This is a 567.74 % 35 years!  This is an amazing number!

Some things that would affect the change would be population growth, but I seriously doubt Texas has grown 567% in the last 35 years.  There is also the idea that people are getting locked up for many more reasons now than before, and there's validity to that argument...but not to this degree.

What are some things that have occurred in the last 40-50 years?  I remember the 60's and 70's pretty well.  It was the beginning of "free love", drugs and rock 'n' roll.  More American leaders were assassinated than ever before (Kennedy's, MLK).  Some were caught in crimes (Nixon).  Americans could no longer trust their leaders, because they were fallible, just like the rest of us.  And how can we forget that God was taken out of the public schools, and is currently not welcomed anywhere else in the public domain!

But I'm thinking that something else occurred, that people seldom think about, which had a direct impact upon all of the above.  During the last 40-50 years, the Church began to change it's teachings and evangelism techniques.  Many churches got away from literal interpretations and headed off in allegory-land.  Evangelism left the Law at the door and moved on to "modern" techniques.  The "Law" had become such a foul word in their mouths, that it was dropped altogether.  In doing so, they removed the only legitimate method of conversion (Ps 19:7).  What I'm saying is that with the Law, I know I'm a sinner.  Without the Law, sin is gone, and we are left trying to convert people using "feel good", "Jesus has got a great plan for your life" techniques, and thereby bringing about many false conversions.  I say "false" because without the knowledge of sin (which comes through the Law), there can be no salvation (Ro 7:7-9, 1 Jh 3:4).

When the Church began to evangelize by promoting a Jesus Who'd give you "love, joy, peace, happiness" (which is a result of salvation, not a reason for it) and the Jesus Who has "the perfect plan" or "a wonderful plan" for your life, they removed sin from the picture, relegating it to some minor annoyance that could "separate" us from God, rather than causing us to suffer for eternity in the fires of hell.  If sin is removed, or pushed to the side, then repentance follows, for why should I repent if I have no sin?

I could, of course, go on and on, but you catch my drift.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tell Me The Dream!

If you don't tell me the dream, there is one decree for you. You have conspired to tell me something false or fraudulent until the situation changes. So tell me the dream and I will know you can give me its interpretation." (Dan 2:9)

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be a wise man, or to have all the knowledge of the land.  Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him so much that he called all the wise men of the land, all those who had knowledge and practiced sorcery, spoke to ghosts, read tea leaves, and told them to tell him not only the interpretation of his dream...but what the dream was itself.

Can you imagine the incredulity, the fear and horror that must have been present?  How could anyone expect to be told what went on in their own heads as they lay on their bed at night?  Uh, King, ole' boy, we can maybe tell you what it means...but the dream itself?  Impossible.

The more I think about this story, and what must have been going through the minds of all the actors, I'm becoming convinced that Nebuchadnezzar knew what his dream was all along.  He also knew that if they really had an "inside track" with the gods, this shouldn't be too big of a deal for them to tell him what his dream was.  He said, "You have conspired...until the situation changes" , "tell me the dream...and I will know..."  You're not getting out of this guys because I'm not going to forget about tell me the dream...and I'll know if it's correct.  How could he know if what they said was true if he didn't remember what it was to begin with?  They could have made up something really cool, with a lot of action (smashing cars, explosions, etc.), told it with great flare and pageantry, and maybe have gotten away with it.  But of course, they couldn't do as requested and had to admit it.

Most of you know the rest of the story.  God reveals it to Daniel (after prayer), who in turn tells the King and is then made a ruler in the whole land of Babylon.  (Very similar to the story of Joseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dream and what happened afterward.)  The Lord had designed this whole situation in order to reveal Himself to Nebuchadnezzar (as He does several times throughout Nebuchadnezzar's life).  Everyone involved, even Daniel himself, had to admit that only God could do such a thing as reveal the thoughts and intents of the heart.  He is not only the Giver of the dream, but also the Revealer of it and the Interpreter of it.  No other god could do such a thing--only the One True God, Jehovah.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Accumulating Evil

As I was reading about King Manasseh of Judah (2 Kings, chapter 21) this morning, I was struck with the idea that sin, or evil, accumulates in a land.  Like the medicine one takes that has no immediate effect on the body, but has to accumulate in the body, or build up it's effectiveness, evil also accumulates, or builds up in a land and will eventually come to a point where it must be dealt with.

Manasseh was an evil king of Judah. Judah, like Israel, had their share of evil kings, but Manasseh was probably right up there with "the worst" of the bunch.  He had done some things in the land that hadn't been done before, and according to the scripture, was even "greater" than what the nations who were in the land before Israel had done (21:9).  He rebuilt the high places, re-established altars for Baal, made an Asherah, worshipped the heavenly host (stars, planets, etc.) and served them.  He even built altars in the Lord's temple to Baal and the heavenly hosts!  He practiced witchcraft, divination, consulted with mediums and spiritists, and he made his son to "pass through the fire" (which was a burnt sacrifice to Molech).  Verse 19 tells us that Manasseh also murdered so many innocent that their blood filled Jerusalem from one end to the other.

As always, the Lord tried to warn Manasseh that a day of reckoning will come, but like so many of us, he didn't listen and continued his evil practices.  So God tells him that He's going to use the same tools He used in judging Israel to judge Judah also.  The same measuring line He used on Samaria...the same mason's level He used on Ahab...He will use on Judah, all because they have done evil and provoked the Lord, "...from the day their ancestors came out of Egypt until today." (v. 15)

From the very day the Lord rescued the people from Egypt, they had done evil and continued to do so right up to the present time.  Their evil had so accumulated that now it must be dealt with.  It didn't matter how many good Kings they had.  It didn't matter how many times they had "repented".  It didn't matter anymore that there had been times of revival and restoration during the reigns of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah (Uzziah), Hezekiah, and after Manasseh, Josiah.  There had been so much evil had built up to such a point...that now it had to be accounted for. (Check out God's warning to His people in Leviticus 18:24, 27-28)

This is what's occurring in our own land.  Evil is accumulating to such a degree that the question is no longer "Will we suffer God's judgment?", but, "When will God's judgment fall on us?"  We too have innocent blood running through our much that it "fills" our land from one end to the other.  The countless murders that are committed...the thousands upon thousands of babies murdered each and every day through abortion.  The sexual sins that caused the inhabitants of Israel to be vomited out are also prevalent in our society.  Homosexuals have gotten such a loud voice now, that "acceptance" of that abominable lifestyle is around the bend and homosexual "so called" marriage will eventually become the law of the land.  Marriage is a 50/50 crap shoot now.  Prevalent thought now is that "God wants me to be happy", so therefore I can divorce my wife and go with someone who "makes me happy".  A young lady from my church the other day posted on her Facebook account that "you can't control who you fall in love with" (the same argument homosexuals use, by the way).  It's precisely this reasoning that is a major cause of divorce today.  This type of "love" is sexual attraction and/or's not love at all.  Once the infatuation fades, there's no reason to stick it out.  True love is a choice, not a feeling. (There is feeling in love, of course, but love is primarily a choice we make to stick it out, come hell or high water, etc.)

Judgment is coming folks!  Of that there is no doubt.  The question then is...are you ready?  There is only one way to escape God's judgment, and that's through faith in Jesus Christ.  He took our sins upon Himself, that we might become His righteousness before the Father.  Place your trust in Him and what He did for you on Calvary.