Beliefnet
Safe Place with Ruth Graham

The idea of prison has always given me the willies. People in cages, no freedom seems unbearable to me. I think that is the point…that if people thought about being in jail they wouldn’t do the crime  – it is to be a deterrent. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way – our prisons and jails are over-crowded. But, to be honest, I don’t know how to suggest a solution. Nor does, it seem, do the politicians.

The one person who seemed to have figured it out was Burl Cain, former warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary. But, like so much that is wrong with our government’s bureaucracy, not many listened to him.

But that is not what this blog is about.

I am acquainted with a young woman who was in a terrible car crash – she was intoxicated. Her 3 year-old son was killed. She was tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison – tell me what good that does!  She is under a life-sentence.  Knowing she was responsible for the death of her little boy is a terrible thing to carry for the rest of her life. But she will.

Wanting to be an encouragement to her I try to go each week to visit her in the jail before they transfer her to prison.  Because I am ordained I can go in regularly. She amazes me with her bright outlook and hope. We only have about 20 minutes each visit but she is ready with a laugh and sparkle in her eyes. We talk through a thick glass by telephone receiver – I am quite sure our conversations are monitored.

She had a copy of the KJV of the Bible so I sent her a paperback copy of the New Living Translation. (It had to be in paperback for jail to let her have it.) It is so very readable. Each week I try to find a particular Psalm then ask questions about it as it applies to her life.  It helps steer our conversations but sometimes I think she gets tired of my questions!

Anyway, I see so many mothers and father, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers waiting to go in to visit their loved one. I can’t help but wonder what their story is. No mother looks at their newborn baby and thinks one day she will visit him or her in prison. That is not part of their plans and dreams for this baby. But life went terribly wrong somewhere.

And that is certainly subject we don’t discuss in church. At least not churches that I know. We would never want people to know – so we hide behind our mask in fear that someone will find out our secret shame. How grateful I am that Carol Kent is open about her son’s conviction for murder and how she and her husband struggled to get their mind around it and their arms around him. Such a heartbreaking story – but God has redeemed it for Himself. What an encouragement she is to so many suffering in that way. You can read it in: I Lay My Isaac Down. I encourage you todo so. My sister is open about her two sons who have been incarcerated and I applaud her – she also talks about her arrest and night in jail.

Incarcerated is not an “acceptable” place to be and not a subject we talk about. How can we change the atmosphere in churches to be more welcoming to those that face such a trauma? Jesus understood there are those in prison…(Matthew 25:36) He encouraged us to visit them. Now, I realize it isn’t always possible because of regulations and credentials. But we can support those that do go into prisons: Prison Fellowship, Good News Ministry or local ministry teams. I am quite sure volunteers are always need to help drive, stuff envelops, encourage… Or we could come alongside of someone who has a loved one in jail or prison – just to be a friend, listening ear, hand to hold, wipe a tear… It all ministers greatly. No, we can’t fix it but we can help.

 

 

 

 

Some years ago there was a movie starring Jim Carey, I think, called God Almighty. Part of it was filmed not a ¼ mile from my daughter’s house. It was fascinating to get a close-up view of an ark! As they were building it, each day it got bigger. Then the animals began to arrive – elephants, giraffes, goats… Great fun. And when the filming for the movie was done, they tore it all down! What a shame. But they did recycle that which could be recycled.

About 3 years ago there was a movie about Noah staring Russell Crowe. I thought t was terrible and walked out of the movie. The one good thing it did was bring people’s attention to that marvelous story out of Genesis 6-9 but the story was so distorted and bazaar it was a very poor representation of the real story in Genesis. The real story is  wonderful picture of the salvation that God provides for those who love and honor Him.

Well, this year a life-size ark as been built in the Netherlands and will be brought to Brazil in time for the Olympics. They are eager to bring the Gospel message by bringing the Ark across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil. This is an enormous challenge but the folks responsible believe God has called them to do this.

This Ark of Noah, is larger than a football field, will be traveling the 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic. Stretching 410 feet long, 95 feet wide and 75 feet tall, weighing 2,500 tons, and having the ability to carry 5,000 people at a time, the Ark will be mounted and transported on top of a barge. It contains multiple floors that hold different exhibitions such as live and simulated animals, exhibited stories, a movie and Music Theater and a restaurant.
Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers built the Ark of Noah, four years ago as a religious attraction and now has partnered with The Ark of Noah Foundation 501(c)3. Based out of Pasadena, California, the foundation is raising money to fund the trip.

The Foundation is now asking the public to help with funding to enable the Ark of Noah Foundation to fulfill its mission to bring the Experience of Hope to Thousands in Brazil, South America, and the USA. David Rivera, President of the Ark of Noah said they still need to raise about $2 million dollars. They need help large and small. Everyone can make a difference today with their gift. www.arkofnoah.org/donate.

I am excited about the potential of this attraction! And I can’t wait for it to come to a port near me…maybe Norfolk, VA!

 

The is Memorial Day weekend…we’ll fire up the grill, drink our beer, mow the lawn, have some friends over and enjoy our family.

That’s all good. But while you are doing that don’t forget what this day is all about – remembering. Remembering those that have served our country so selflessly, some giving their lives to protect our freedoms. There are empty places at picnic tables all over this country – hearts aching to see their loved one “jut once more”.

Yes, let’s remember and not take for granted all that we enjoy because someone sacrificed their all for us.

Thank a veteran this weekend. And thank the Lord that we have a free country and patriots who love this land and what she stands for. We don’t have to apologize  – without an America where would the world be? Yes, it is in vogue to list our many failings – and there are – but no other nation can begin to match what America has done for the world. Maybe saying this is not politically correct…I could care less about PC. It has gone beyond the ridiculous.

I am a woman. I am white. I am getting older. I tear up when I sing or hear the nation anthem. I go to the ladies’ washroom and I do not want to find a man in there. I want my grandchildren to learn the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer. I think it is important to post the 10 Commandments on the courthouse wall. I don’t want people rioting the street or attacking the police. I want young men to stand and offer me their seat on a bus or hold the door for me. I like to hear “please” and “thank you”. And I really like it when you add a “ma’m” in there with it.

No I am not PC. But I am sick and tired of the lazy, entitled attitude of many today. I will give respect and ask for it in return. But just because you want soothing and won’t be bothered to earn it does  not give you the right impinge on my freedoms.

And why are Americans tolerating the dismantlement  of our country. Why is my Tide detergent bottle also in Spanish. And why do I have to push any button to hear English? This is America. We used to be a melting pot.

What happened? We began to capitulate and compromise and become afraid. I’m tired of it…

This weekend, I celebrate American heroes. I celebrate the American dream and way of life. I celebrate her great people.

Let’s celebrate before we no longer have our freedoms.

 

I am doing an article about forgiveness…I would like to enlist your help.

So often people say we must forgive ourselves? What does that mean? How can we do it? What does it look like? Do we have the right to do it?

Can you share with me about an experience you have had forgiving yourself – or the difficulty you faced trying? Did it work? Why or what not?

These seem like a lot of questions…I hope you will consider them and share your thoughts.  It is a real question of so many an die need to ferret out a solid answer. It will be most helpful…

Thank you in advance.