A New Perspective

I like to read daily devotionals.  Here, in prison, they are readily available.  I see a great number of people reading them.  One I read is Daily Bread and a second is Living Faith which is Catholic based. 

In Living Faith I recently read a devotional that suggested reading, and contemplating, Christ’s miracles though His eyes; doing so would bring a new perspective claimed the write of that day’s devotional.  Coincidentally, I was reading about Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes (Mat 15:32-38) and I decided to give looking at that miracle though Jesus’ eyes a try.

My040 A New Perspective

I asked myself ‘How could I ever claim to know them mind of God?’  I couldn’t but I could attempt to know the human part of Jesus’ mind, right?  After all, Jesus was God and man in one person so He must have had human thoughts and relations to the situation.  Perhaps, I could tap into these thoughts and reactions and create in me a new perspective and/or a new understanding.

In (Mat 15:32-38) we read that Jesus had compassion for the thousands who had come to Him because they had been with Him there days and had nothing to eat.  So Jesus called His disciples to Him and instructed them to feed the people.  At this point the disciples explained there was little food left to eat, “seven loaves and a few little fish.” 

How did Jesus look at this problem and how did He look at the disciples?  Were it me, I’d feel some level of frustration with the disciples because they should have relied upon their faith to provide all the food necessary but instead they turned to Jesus with some expectation that either He would solve the problem or send the people away hungry.  Jesus didn’t hesitate to call upon His faith in His Father and He gave thanks for the bread and fish and told the disciples to distribute the food.  And all went away filled leaving seven baskets full of leftover fragments.

I think the man part of Jesus would have reacted with disappointment that so little food was available.  I also think He would have had some level of frustration with the disciples because He had shown multiple times that all was possible through faith.  Jesus must have thought, “Why haven’t they learned to exercise their faith?”  Matthew doesn’t record any of Jesus’ reactions, only His action which was to do what He wanted man to do.  He behaved in a human way; He took the loaves and fish, gave thanks and broke the food.  This was what He expected man to do.  He acted as a man.  In so doing He gave the disciples another lesson.

So what new perspectives did I gain?  That in every miracle Jesus behaved as He wanted man to behave even to the point of physical demonstration.  I also learned that life’s obstacles were meant to test our faith and through faith we can overcome.  Another perspective was to be patient with those who aren’t as far, as mature, in their walk into becoming true Christians.  And something else…

When I really thought about the lessons Jesus tried to teach the disciples in this miracle I saw an extension beyond faith in the moment;  I saw faith over time.  In this single miracle Jesus foretold of how the disciples would work to spread the Word of God.  How?

If we look at the miracle of the loaves and fishes as an allegory for spreading the good news of the living Messiah then the disciples are the messengers, the food becomes the Word, and the multitude becomes mankind hungry for eternal life.  Just as Jesus sent the disciples to fee the multitude hungry for food He would later send them to care for the spiritual hunger of tens of thousands.  The miracle of the loaves and fishes was a small lesson foretelling the true mission of the disciples.

And so it is with us.  We are asked to take our little bit of faith and feed those around us that don’t know Jesus as our Lord and Savior and to spread God’s Word.  And in so doing our ‘baskets’ will never go empty and in fact we will end up with more than when we started.

After trying to look at this miracle as if I were Jesus I can honestly say I do indeed have a new appreciation for His way of preparing the disciples for their future role and I will now attempt to look at other miracles in the same way.

Won’t you join me?

~jdoe

Make Room

My040 Make Room

As I cast about looking for the words to this Christmas post I found myself at a loss for what to say.  I  mean, everything I wrote down had been said before, and often by more insightful and wiser persons than I.  Instead I decided to write about how I wanted Christmas to be different for me this year.

Think about it … I can’t buy and send home a bunch of presents.  I can’t help my wife decorate the tree.  I can’t visit the local assisted living centers to sing carols.  In fact, the only things I can do are send out cards and call people with best wishes.  And while these things mean a great deal to me I still felt that they’re not quite what my heart was looking for.

Christmas for me has always been about family, and I feel good about that.  God blessed me with a wonderful family and I am truly thankful; yet I didn’t make Christmas about Christ really.  Christmas was something that, more or less, happened to me, for me, and around me and when I realized that I decided I wanted Christmas to happen with me as a full participant. 

How to do that?

I wasn’t sure how to even go about answering that question so I decided to sit down and start writing in the hope that the Holy Spirit would guide me to the words and thus my answer.  And I go exactly…

Nothing!

I walked the track thinking about it and again was rewarded with nothing.

So I turned to my last resort – meditation.  When I mediate I often hear the Holy Spirit and this time I was rewarded with …

“Listen to the radio.”

That’s it.

What was i to do with that?!

I took it literally and tuned into a local station that plays Christmas music 24/7 from Thanksgiving through Christmas day.  I listened for days and didn’t hear anything that felt like the answer.  I was expecting to hear some wisdom from a DJ or talk show host, but I got nothing;  until one night while falling asleep with the Christmas music playing in my head. 

Then I got it!

You see, more than a decade ago I heard a Christmas song that moved me deeply.  Thanks to the internet I was able to track down the artist and lyrics and I committed those lyrics to memory.  As I lay there going through the message of the song it dawned on me how Christmas could happen with me as a full participant.

Below are the lyrics to the song, “My Heart is Bethlehem.”  I hope you’ll find in it the same thing I do … that within you is the secret of how to bring Christ into your life not only on Christmas day but every day of every year.

May the joy of Christmas fill you every day and deliver to you all that is important in your life.  Please remember our Savior on Christmas day and commit some time in thanks to God the Father for His gift to all mankind.

Peace ~jdoe

Click and Listen to John Barry sing as you read the lyrics.

My Heart Is Bethlehem

Eternity stepped into time,
And drew a mortal breath.
Mystery so clearly seen
The world could not forget
That in the town of Bethlehem,
In the most unlikely place,
God, the father wore
A child’s face.

There’s something in the heart of God,
So purely meek and mild
That finds its best expression in
The longings of a child.

For every child’s heart is hungry,
To be found and loved and known
A someone who would make their heart a home.

My heart is Bethlehem
I will make room for him.
This humble dwelling place
Made worthy by his grace.

This child is still adored,
Because he still is born
Deep in the hearts of men,
(To love and not condemn)
My heart is Bethlehem

I wish for you this Christmas Eve,
That you would find true peace.
But silent nights are holy nights
And wonders never cease.

There’s no remembering,
The ghost of Christmas past
For God’s forgiveness finds your heart at last.

Locked

My040 Keys

Keys

We all have them.  Keys to: our car; our house; our desk; suitcases; diaries; the shed in the backyard; and the list goes on.  They are simple tools that we use to facilitate our lives.  They come in many sizes and shapes and even colors.

But have you ever really thought about what they also represent?

Authority.

Power.

Control.

Those in authority have the power and exert control.

If not, then everyone would have access to everything. 

Imagine total strangers walking into your home or office or other place you hold important and private.  All those places where you keep things that others are not to touch or use or read or or or…

And keys are things we can become sensitive to and develop envy of those who have them.  In prison, exile, the guards all have keys and exert their authority and power over we inmates by controlling our movements and access to things like showers, laundry, socialization rooms, exercise and even food.  And of course freedom.

With all this authority, power, and control comes all responsibility.  We don’t really think about keys giving us responsibility because we’re lulled into a sense of security, but what if you left your cleaning chemicals available to small children and an ‘accident’ were to occur – who would be responsible?  You.  So in reality you accepted the responsibility of keeping the child safe when you accepted the key to that cabinet of chemicals.  And so it is with every key we’re given – we assume, and accept, all the responsibility that ownership, possession, of any key we hold brings.  But there’s even more to owning keys…

Trust.

How do we come by most keys?  Someone of higher authority provides them; that someone places their trust in us to be responsible and cautious and careful and caring and and and…

When we are given a key we are entrusted to use our authority to exert our power and control justly and fairly and responsibly; because if we don’t, there are consequences.

So, what of Jesus’s words in Peter’s Confession of Christ?  [Matthew 16: 13-19]  Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”  Matthew 16:19

My040 Locked

Jesus is giving us the keys to His Kingdom; the keys to salvation and eternal life.  Jesus is giving us authority, power, and control.  Jesus is trusting us to be responsible, just, and fair.  Yet He’s also telling us there are consequences associated with possession of these keys.  This then, requires us to be cautious, careful, caring, and and and…  It’s a Big Deal to accept these keys because it’s a Big Deal that Jesus would entrust them to us – we humans who are so imperfect.   He knows we are likely to stumble and drop, or even lose, the keys He’s given.  That’s why He warns us of the consequences – what we bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and what we loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.  Matthew 16:19b

Accepting the keys is accepting, and assuming, a great deal of responsibility.  It can be scary though.

Why?

There are unspoken stipulations in Jesus’s offering of the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven:  that you give your life over to Him by accepting, and confessing, Him as the Christ, your Lord and Savior; the ultimate authority.

Giving our life over to Jesus isn’t something to be done lightly because it’s a huge step in one’s spiritual journey.  And it’s worrisome to give control of your life to Him because our path isn’t shown to us in its entirety but is instead revealed to us step by step.  This then, reveals that there’s yet one more stipulation to our accepting the keys Jesus offers us.

Faith.

Faith does not always come easily because it is believing with conviction and without evidence or proof.  (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).  Therefore, accepting the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven requires an act of faith on our part.

Give your life over to Jesus and have faith that He will lead you into the Kingdom of Heaven – these are the unspoken conditions, in Matthew 16:13-19, that are placed on us in order to receive the keys He offers – the keys to eternal life.

Where am I on this journey?  I’ve given myself over to Jesus and working on the outwardly confessing of Him as my Lord and Savior.  I stumble every day, dropping the keys and fumbling around looking for them and picking them up.  It’s comforting to know though that He is there offering me a new set of keys should I lose the ones I’ve already been given; of course they come with His warnings and stipulations – and it’s a daily, hourly, moment by moment challenge because I am but a man.

Yet He trusts me.

Which means I have to have faith in Him – and in myself.

I hope you’ll pick up your set of keys and join me on this journey; together is better than alone.  ~jdoe

Happy Father’s Day

“Who needs fathers?  We all do.  We especially need our Father in heaven, who forgives our parenting inadequacies for Jesus’ sake and who enables us each day with a fresh start.  Just as the loving father in Luke’s gospel welcomed home his lost son, our Father will one day welcome us into heaven together with all others who love and trust in Jesus.” 

~ Dr. Rodney Rathmann

My040 Fathers Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads

Happy Father’s Day to “My Old Man” 

Lyrics and Song by The Zac Brown Band

He was a giant
When I was just a kid
I was always trying
To do everything he did
I can still remember every lesson he taught me
Growing up learning how to be like my old man

He was a lion
We were our father’s pride
But I was defiant
When he made me walk the line
He knew how to lift me up
And when to let me fall
Looking back, he always had a plan
My old man

My old man
Feel the callous on his hands
And dusty overalls
My old man
Now I finally understand
I have a lot to learn
From my old man

Now I’m a giant
Got a son of my own
He’s always trying
To go everywhere I go
Do the best I can to raise him up the right way
Hoping that he someday wants to be
Like his old man

My old man
I know one day we’ll meet again
As he’s looking down
My old man
I hope he’s proud of who I am
I’m trying to fill the boots of my old man

My old man

 

“Live Like You’re Loved”

Because you are.

In a recent article Behind The Song: Hawk Nelson Shares The Heart Behind Their New Single “Live Like You’re Loved” written by FreeCCMAbby for FreeCCM we read these wise words from Hawk Nelson’s lead singer Jon Steingard:

“God’s love for us is not based on how good we are, it’s based on how good He is and what He has already done for us. This song is an encouragement to wake up everyday and take a hold of the truth of what Jesus means in your life. And live like you know that you’re loved, because you are.”

Lyrics to

“Live Like You’re Loved”

By Hawk Nelson

You’re not the only one that feels like this / Feeling like you lose more than you win
Like life is just an endless hill you climb / You try and try but never arrive

I’m telling / You something / This racin’ / This running
Ohhhh You’re workin’ way too hard
And this perfection you’re chasin’ / Is just energy wasted
‘Cuz He loves you like ya are

So go ahead and live like you’re loved / It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough / So go ahead and be who he made you to be
And live like you’re loved

Live like you know you’re valuable / Like you know the one who holds your soul
Cuz mercy has called you by your name / Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

Oh I’m telling you somethin’ / This God we believe in / Yeah He changed everything
No more guilt / No more shame
He took all that away / Gave us a reason to sing

So go ahead and live like you’re loved / It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough / So go ahead and be who he made you to be
And live like you’re loved

Live like you’re loved / Walk like you’re free
Stand like you know / Who you’re made to be
Live like you’re loved / Like you believe
His love is all / That you’ll ever need

At Calvary

my_040-at-calvary

Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified,
Knowing not it was for me He died
On Calvary.

By God’s Word at last my sin I learned;
Then I trembled at the law I’d spurned,
Till my guilty soul imploring turned
To Calvary.

There Your mercy and Your grace was free;
There Your Pardon multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.

Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing
Of Calvary!

There Your mercy and Your grace was free;
There Your Pardon multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty
At Calvary.

Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan!
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man!
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span
At Calvary!

William R. Newell, published 1895

Merry Christmas

To all I wish you a merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy this poem by JMAaron.

my040_your_ticket_by_jmaaron

Your Ticket

By: JMAaron

He stood outside the window,

Nose pressed against the glass

And told his Mommy, “Look, look, look!

Watch the ‘lectric train go past!

 

Can there be a greater gift

Than that beneath the tree?

Oh Mommy can I have one?

Please please please please please please?

“I’ve heard it said there’s a greater train,

We’ve only to climb on board

Its destination a wonderful place

And the Engineer, our Lord.

Oh Mommy, so we’ll go to church,

Tomorrow’s Christmas Day,

But this train is here, this train is now!

What’s your answer, won’t you say?

The answer’s not mine to give,

His train waits at the station.

It’s been that way, I’m sure

Since the beginning of creation.

Mommy you talk in riddles,

Besides, can’t you see?

This train puffs smoke and blows its horn

Going round the giant tree!”

That was years ago

The boy’s a full grown man

Standing at the window

Now holding his son’s hand

“Daddy! Please please Daddy!

I want the train so very very bad!

It’s the last gift that I’ll ask for

And the greatest I’ve ever had!

“See the Engineer my son?

It’s driven by the Lord.

He bought our tickets on Calvary

We need only climb on board.

Daddy this train says Li-o-nel

It hauls cows and little pink hogs.

There’s a bell that rings

And a flatbed full of logs!

God’s train is called Salvation

And we really can’t resist.

We need to work and pray my son

To stay on his good-little-boys list

The lesson I learned so long ago

As a boy then, only seven

Redemption’s His line, His Load our souls

And the destination Heaven.”

Don’t stand outside the window

With your nose against the glass,

Accept Him as your Savior

Or you’ll see the train go past.

 

Christmas Day’s but once a year

Use your ticket on any day

It leaves on time, it waits for YOU

Climb on, sit down, be on your way.

A Journey Begun

Hello and welcome to My-040.  If you were hoping to find a blog about turning 40 years old I’m sorry to say this ain’t it – However I invite you to stay and look around; you may find this to be what you need in times of tribulation.

The blog’s name, My-040, comes from the collision of three main themes: My incarceration (Exile), God’s punishment of the Israelites being sent into captivity (Exile), and the Federal District from which I come – 040.  I’m convinced these align for a reason.  I hope you’ll visit regularly to discover how I’m letting God lead me through my time in captivity, the wilderness, exile.

My040_Journey_Begun

This blog is for all those living in a prison of any type whether it be true incarceration, depression, an abusive relationship, addiction – especially addiction to pornography of any form, mental illness, childhood sexual abuse – such a long and sad list cut short.

This blog is also for anyone looking for new perspectives on how God touches us all.  I’ve found that my old self is not who I, or God, wants me to be and to find that self is a journey I hope you’ll take with me.

I ask very little of you:   1) Please do not post hate of any form, including foul language.  I have the support of a loved one, my sister, in managing this site and the postings.  She didn’t break the law, I did.  Please don’t make her suffer in her love for me;  2) If you have positive, constructive ideas on how I might improve this blog please post or email; 3) Feel free to post questions on any subject on this site (See my bio I am… John Doe, the purpose of this blog Joy In The Tribulation, and ASCSA) but please be patient in waiting for a response as I have to use the U.S. Mail and turn around time can be up to two weeks (Contact & How This Works).

It is one of my sincerest hopes that you will walk my journey with me and find your way out of whatever wilderness, prison, captivity, or exile you find yourself living.  I’ve begun and am already becoming renewed into a new life.  Unbelievably, I’m finding true freedom behind the razor wire topped fencing.  I hope you’ll enjoy your time here.

Again, Welcome.  John Doe