“Good morning,” I greeted the female inmate worker yesterday morning. I had not seen an inmate worker in a very long time, inside our Clinic.
Long ago, a unit would send one worker to help maintain the cleanliness inside the busy Infirmary. They emptied trash bags, mopped the floors, cleaned the restrooms, or put some paperworks together and other things that didn’t disclose any valuable information to them.
She slightly paused. A middle-aged woman, dressed up in dark blue uniform. Her eyes with dark circles around them, revealing her being up all night. Her left hand holding a big plastic bag as her gloved right hand was picking up trash from all the bins inside the Clinic. She was picking up the trash from a bin near me, when I spoke with her. She was not expecting someone to talk with her. As conversations with staff was usually not allowed, not unless it was necessary.
“Good morning,” I repeated.
“Good morning, Ma’am,” as she managed to put a wry smile on her weary face.
“I haven’t seen anyone come here and clean the Clinic. Thank you for picking up our trash,” I uttered.
The smile grew wider, with a sense of relief and appreciation for being noticed, she replied back, “You’re welcome. I don’t know but they told me to come here today.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Thanks again anyway and you try to have a good day.”
“No, thank you, Ma’am. Have a good day, too,” she answered as she took her steps to go out the door, leading to the female side of the Clinic.
Yes, she was an inmate. Yet, she worked inside the prison as told. She was up working all night and just did what she was supposed to do. She might not like it at times, but she still followed what was assigned to her, knowing that it would help her, too if she didn’t cause any problems.
It would never be easy to be known as an “inmate”. But at least she tried. To improve herself. To do her task well. To obey. Even if it means that at times, her effort might not be noticed nor be praised. But when her review comes, her actions and attitudes at work, would be brought up and be determined as a cause for her being released early, a nice possibility. How sad it would be, for those who never wanted to obey. For those who didn’t want to follow what must be done.
As a Christian, we may be insulted as being such. Labeled as such as if it is a horrible thing to be. Faced with suffering, the only way to go is to feel privileged of being called by His wonderful Name, instead. We don’t need to seek out to suffer but we must also not try to avoid it. Instead, we must keep on doing what is right whether or not it brings suffering.
It is not shameful to be a Christian, especially to suffer for being one. And when our own review comes, it begins with His children. If we, Christians must be judged, how terrible it would be for those who have never believed! [1 Peter 4:17].
“So, if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” ~ 1Peter4:19
Please visit Spiritual Sundays for other encouraging posts and even to join if you want to. This is a special place hosted by sisters Ginger and Charlotte where you can be rejuvenated with God's love and wisdom.
I woke up early yesterday. My body was just used to having that self, built-in alarm, that roused me at every 3 or 4 am. I did my devotion at that time. As the dawn ended, and the tiny rays of the bright sun peeked through the lingering darkness of the night, I started cooking.
Out of the blue, my husband and son and I just agreed to go near the ocean and whatever I would cook, we’d take and enjoy lunch there.
Sometimes, this family is like that. We don’t plan. Sometimes, it’s better that way for us, having 3 different schedules sometimes to make it agree with each other’s at times. But with all our plans, there is always the 4th Person involved, Who happens to always have time though for us.
We all felt renewed yesterday. A feeling of gratitude just blanketed the Rcubes’ household. I had my hubby read Psalm 100 out loud after we prayed together. He is so good! The Lord is so good. All the time.
So, I peeled sweet potatoes as I boiled some wild rice and stuck the small piece of prime rib in the oven, the size which was enough for the three of us. As I started brewing coffee in the pot and made a heavy breakfast of potato hash browns and cracked eggs on top. The toaster was busy accommodating 4 slices that day at the same time. Let’s say in about 3 hours, I had the prime rib cut up in slices, gravy packed. With the side dishes of sweet potatoes sweetened with brown sugar and butter and wild rice with corn.
My husband, the whole time, readied the small RV we have. I love Roadtreks. Just the perfect size for us and it consumes gas like an SUV. [Attention: This is not a paid advertisement].
My son started preparing all the drinks and the other gadgets we needed.
With everyone working, we made it possible to leave the house by 9:30am.
The road was busy, filled with different kinds of vehicles trying to perhaps make it to their Thanksgiving lunch or dinner with their loved ones in another destination. We got to our favorite spot in no time. The wind was still. The skies were so blue and clear! The water was still. The little boats were docked in their slips, slightly dancing rhythmically with the little waves that occasionally rocked them. Some people were walking. Others were biking. Oh what a calming, peaceful place to be and enjoy His goodness!
After a few hours of enjoying everything we prepared, we decided to go home a little early. We took the back roads as we neared our place. It was fun to see the other things we otherwise, would have missed if we didn’t take that opportunity to see and slow down with this pace of everyday living.
As my husband parked the RV, he saw me sweeping the leaves in the front yard and called out loud, “Thank God! If we didn’t go out, I wouldn’t have discovered that the hose connected to the sewer line had a big hole now and would need to be replaced.”
This was a big help for us because we were planning to take a trip next month. Can you imagine the big mess if my hubby didn’t discover that problem? “Thank God is just right!”
I loved that I heard him spoke with gratefulness despite that minor problem he encountered. Because that would always be the right attitude to have. To be thankful no matter what circumstances we’re in. Whether we are faced with sicknesses, even death, financial problems, losing our homes, divorce, losing loved ones…..We, as Christians, learn to endure. Our view must be focused toward God and with the eye of developing godliness.
Because that’s what our God says. We are not to tough it out through life because that’s the good thing to do, nor are we called to perseverance just to save face, to avoid embarrassment, or to escape ridicule.
We are called to endurance so that we can follow God, show trust in God, draw near to God, imitate God, please no one but God and reflect God to others.
So, this day post-Thanksgiving, may we all remain joyful and thankful because we are all called to a relationship with God. We are called to conform to the character of God. We are called to walk with God as Christ did. We are called to live by the power of God!
Psalm 95:6-7 -”Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God.”
[Please silence my playlist first...]
“Can’t stuff this?” Yes, you can be…
In this competitive world, nobody wants to be a loser! Same with Jesus, He wants us all to be winners! Yes, it’s true! We all can be “winners” in Christ, not “turkeys!”…Just repent for your sins, trust in Him and make Him Lord of your life. Just mean this prayer with all of your heart and pray it out loud:
“Dear God in heaven, I know that I have sinned against You and ask for Your forgiveness. I do believe that Jesus Christ died as payment for my sins. I believe He rose again to prove He is able to save. I place my faith in Him alone to save me. I now receive Him as my personal Savior. From now on, please help me to turn from my sin and live a life pleasing to You. I pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
If you sincerely prayed this, congratulations to you for being a winner in Christ! But it doesn’t stop there. Join a church who glorifies no one but only Jesus. So you can be more knowledgeable about His true and faithful love for you. Read the Bible.
The song was singing “can’t stuff this!” Yes…don’t stuff yourself anymore with worldly things but stuff yourself with things of Christ!
“Be filled with the Spirit!” - Ephesians 5:18
Some of the “turkeys” who became WINNERS in Christ:
~ Paul - converted through a light and the voice of Jesus; became a Christian missionary and theologian [his story is in the Book of Acts and he was the one who wrote letters to different churches].
~ Augustine - converted through a voice and reading Romans 13:13-14 “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
~John Bunyan - converted through waking dreams - “A voice did suddenly dart from heaven into my soul, which said, ‘Will you leave your sins and go to heaven, or have your sins and go to hell?’… “Oh, me thought, Christ! Christ! There was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes…Now Christ was all; all my wisdom, all my righteousness, all my sanctification and all my redemption.”
~ Blaise Pascal - converted through a spiritual experience of God.
And there are many, many more!!! So, do you want to be a WINNER or a TURKEY?
Oh, Lord in heaven, thank You for making me be a winner in Jesus. If He didn’t die on that cross, I would forever be a “turkey” with no sense of hope, of freedom, of true love, of everything that Your love offers. I pray that many more “turkeys” out there will come to know Your faithful love and gift of forgiveness and may their hearts be opened and choose to become winners in Christ. Let it start with my own loved ones, who are getting filled with all the empty stuffing this world offers.
Help them Lord to yield their lives to Jesus and be stuffed with the Holy Spirit instead.
Remove any unwanted seasonings in me, except salt that with that distinct flavor, people around me can taste Your everlasting kindness and faithful and true love.
I love You Lord. Thank You for being Who You are. Thank You for Your unconditional love. Thank You for making me feel worthy living this life and as I wait to go home to Yours. I love You Lord! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Happy Thanksgiving you all! God bless you abundantly!
"When a Christian shuns fellowship with other
Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the
Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil
shouts for joy." ~ Corrie Ten Boom
The unit deputy sent him to the Clinic, complaining of feeling like he just had a stroke. But he was able to walk in that long passageway. He came in, complaining of left arm pain, some headache on his right side of head.
As the other nurse allowed him to sit to be evaluated, he asked me to go along with him. I helped the other nurse by taking the patient’s vital signs so he could just concentrate on asking him questions regarding his medical and mental health. This was a big, muscular guy, his sculpted chest visible through the orange prison uniform.
All of a sudden, his eyes welled up with tears.
“Why are you crying?” asked the other nurse.
“I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m not an emotional kind of guy and my eyes just got watery just like that. I got scared. This was something new,” he replied.
But listening to him and watching his eyes turned red and weepy, I sensed something else. I didn’t say anything yet and out of respect, just let the other nurse did his thing.
All the vital signs were normal, except for a racy pulse. Despite the lack of chest pain, both of us decided to do an EKG to make sure that there was nothing going on with this inmate’s heart. 2 recorded readings came back normal.
He sat up, still with concerned look. This time, I interrogated him after the other nurse allowed me to.
“Sir, there is something you are not telling us. You have been denying any medical or mental problems so there is no reason why your eyes would weep just like that. I saw that worried look in your eyes. Is there anything at home or in your unit bothering you?” I softly queried.
“Ma’am, I told you. I have no problems from home. Everything is okay and in my unit. I’m a tough guy! I’m a Christian!” he firmly stated.
“You’re a Christian?” I asked…”Then, pray!”
I usually don’t mention spiritual things in front of co-workers but this time, as the inmate initiated it, I felt the need as I prayed in my mind for the Lord’s guidance:
“If you are undergoing spiritual attacks, pray! There is nothing to be afraid of,” I calmly replied as the deputy and the other nurse just laughed it off.
The inmate said, “Ma’am, I have no demons!”
“I didn’t say you’re possessed or something. But you were the one who initiated it by saying you’re a Christian. If you are a true follower of Christ, then, you must know that demons are all around us, trying to scare you, intimidate you, and stop anything good you want to do,” I continued. “Pray!” I repeated.
He grew silent but still didn’t want to say if there was anything bothering him. There was nothing else we could do. As he got up and left to go back to his unit, the worrisome look on that face came back all over again.
“I’ll call you guys again. If this happens. I’m scared,” he uttered.
As the other nurse and I went back inside the clinic and spoke with the charge nurse, the other nurse had this to say:
“I don’t know about nurse Rcubes, I was just more on the physical symptoms. But every time she would talk to him and asked him questions, he calmed down. But when I started asking him, he became more agitated.”
“There is something he’s not telling us,” I added. “I just know it. I can’t forget that fearful, weepy eyes. He is a big guy and to see him get teary like that, there was just something eating his heart out.”
This inmate was incarcerated many, many times for burglary, rape, and use of controlled substances. Trapped in that habit of using illegal substances, it drove him to steal to provide for that need. His minds not in the right state, drove him to commit more crimes like rape and physical abuse to his spouse.
In the prison, other inmates don’t like those who commit child abuse or other abuses like spousal abuse. When they hear that someone comes in with those kinds of acts, they wait for an opportunity to hurt and even kill that inmate.
I can only wonder what is eating that man’s heart. But he is up against two possible enemies: humans and spiritual.
“Pray” like what I told him. Was all I could do at that moment.
How about you? What is eating your heart out? Turn to God and PRAY!
“Nurse Rcubes, what are you doing here? Why don’t you just rest and sleep there [unit 15]?,” asked the medical secretary.
I was scheduled to be the nurse in a unit  that housed inmates with special medical and mental health needs. On a Saturday night, it was typically quiet and there were not many things to do as no one would be going to court on Sunday mornings. The day medications were usually given by the day shift nurse. Pulling the meds was not necessary anymore as our facility has a million-dollar worth machine that pulls all the inmates’ meds in a shorter span of time than by doing it manually by the LVN’s or medication nurses.
If there was anything to be done, it was only to take a history if there was any admission from the prison’s Intake or if there were any discharges in the middle of the night, to make sure that if inmates have a mental health problem, that there would be a designated person to pick them up, either from their own family members or a board and care type of facility.
After preparing the treatments scheduled for the day shift nurse, there was nothing to do anymore. I cleaned up the station. But still, I had 7 hours remaining. I knew a lot of nurses who just slept during that time. But not me…
I don’t like to sit around nor waste time. And I am grateful for this job that the Lord had given me. I called the charge nurse and asked for her permission if I could go over the Infirmary and help them out. She was thankful because it was busy with some doctor’s orders remaining in our bins.
When I walked into the door, that was when that secretary asked me that question.
But I felt good doing so. Knowing that I wasn’t pleasing anyone but Someone Who doesn’t sleep Himself. The night was young but it felt good to be productive and be able to be of help with my co-workers.
The Lord truly is the only One Who can change our hearts. And I am still a big work in that department. But I know that I can never repay what He did for me. Serving Him is the least that I can do.
If there are areas in my life that are not necessary, I want to cut them and be done with them. They just slow me down with the way I serve the Lord. I know I still have much to learn but I pray that the Lord will prune whatever is not pleasing Him, one by one. And that I would remain alert at all times, to not let anything choke my growth in Him.
Pruning is not a pleasant process but doing so, makes my Christian walk to flourish. Thanks be to God for His Word that is sharp that can remove the unwanted branches in my life.
John 15:1-2 - “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
John 15:4 - “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.”
John 15:5-8 - “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you stay joined with me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings glory to my Father.”
Apart from Christ, our efforts are unfruitful…
I just got done filling my car with gas this morning, tired after a busy night’s work. To my surprise, when my engine wouldn’t start! There was no indication of the battery being low. But it just didn’t have enough power it seemed every time I turned on the ignition.
Our car had only been 2 years old and for the battery to run out of juice, that was just too soon! Of all days to happen, my husband was many miles away, leaving home early to go to an important appointment. I called my teenage son to let him know that I was already near home, except that I was stuck at the gas station. At that point, I had already called our insurance’s roadside assistance… just waiting for the tow truck to either try to give me a “jump-start” or worse, just to tow the car.
The roadside assistance was great, updating me how soon the tow truck would arrive. After 30 minutes of patiently waiting as I sipped my morning caffeine to keep me up, the big man arrived and parked right next to my car. He tried giving me a “jump-start” right away and barely I turned the ignition and the car started right away!
To my relief! As I was already getting exhausted at that time. He gave me an advice to check the warranty as he felt, too that it was too soon for the battery to be depleted with power.
Driving back to the familiar roads, my son, after praying for me, told me that it could be the use of power doors, too that could be one of the reasons why it happened as using them for over 10 times, used just more power.
Thinking about this incident as I headed home, another incident came to my mind. Of how often we use the power doors in our hearts and minds as we battle with making decisions daily. What stays? Good or bad things? As we choose to keep those things that can harm us spiritually, we deplete the Holy Spirit’s power in us. The very power that makes us, His vessel move!
We often have that choice. To choose to yield or not yield control of our lives to the Holy Spirit. Poor choices quench the Spirit of God. They grieve Him. They feed our old nature. Thus, they prevent us from being filled.
It is not by “praying” for the Holy Spirit’s filling that accomplishes the filling. It is our obedience to God that maintain that filling. When we discover the ill choices that we let in through those power doors in our hearts and minds, we must be quick to immediately confess it to God and renew our commitment with Him to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.
Lord, give me a “jump-start” starting today!
“No! Stay there, nurse Rcubes!” uttered the other nurse. “I’ll take care of both of them. You already did too much.”
“It’s okay. It would be faster if we took one of each,” I replied.
She was already seeing one of the inmates. I looked at the other inmate’s chart. I hardly glanced at the discharge papers the other nurse crammed inside that chart. I just focused on the discharge orders from the ER doctor and after taking the inmate’s vital signs, I started giving him the discharge orders:
“Sir, it also helps if you wet your towel with cold water and apply it to your broken nose for at least 20 minutes, to prevent swelling,” I stated.
Barely done with the sentence, the transportation deputy [the one who brought these inmates to ER] interrupted me, “Are you sure you got the right inmate? He doesn’t have a broken nose [though a deviated septum was visible]. It could be the other guy.”
I believed the deputy’s statement, her, being the one present as these inmates were being treated in ER. I looked at the printed name on that discharge papers I had. Much to my embarrassment! The other nurse had grabbed the wrong discharge papers, too [my patient’s] and crammed the ones I had which belonged to the other inmate [she was seeing].
I approached the other nurse quietly as she prepared some antibiotics and stopped her in the exam room. I told her about the switch with the discharge orders, which could have been dangerous had we both given the wrong medications to the wrong inmates. She apologized.
I thanked the deputy for stepping in and gave the antibiotics the other nurse got for my patient.
I was thinking if only I looked, I would have caught the error right away! How devastating it would be that because we both didn’t look, we could have given the wrong orders to both of those inmates. And ended up harming them. Instead of helping them..
If only you look…JUST LOOK! Closely. Intently. Carefully…
With open heart and mind…How devastating it would be if you don’t see…and believe…
18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20 [NIV]
“He’s back!!! What’s wrong with him now?,” exclaimed the medication nurses who recognized him from his previous incarceration, which was not long ago. I walked into the jail’s pharmacy to check if there was any medication already given to this young patient. He requested to be seen, complaining of nausea and vomiting and inability to sleep.
A chorus of opinions continued to flood the tiny room, filled with many different kinds of medications in different forms.
“Remember him, nurse Rcubes? He was just released. He looks like a walking zombie now,” added one medication nurse.
“He learned his drug use from his own mom. She’s also an addict,” joined another one.
“He told me though that he learned it initially from a friend, not his mom,” I uttered.
“No! He’s lying! It was from his mom,” insisted that particular commenter.
“I don’t know. But I know in my heart that he told me the truth. That’s not important anyway. I just hope that he’ll still get out of this nasty trap so he can live,” I answered.
Sadly, I discovered that there was no other medications to be given to him as everything was already initiated the day he entered the jail.
“Thank you Ma’am for checking,” he uttered in a soft, whisper-like voice.
“Sir, as someone who believes in you, I just want you to know that there are resources outside, when you get released, to help you get out of this bad habit. You are still young. Only 18. It doesn’t matter even if you’re using heroin for 2 years now. There is a way out. But the change to become a better person has to come from you. I believed what you told me, that you learned it from a friend. And even if there are influences around you, you don’t have to go with that flow. If you don’t stop, you will end your life because of this…”
Waiting for a nasty response and attitude, he replied, “Thank you, Ma’am. I will try. You’re right. I want to live some more…,” as his sad gaze pierced my own vision and felt some gratitude with his expression. He got up and went back to his unit.
As I stood still and in my mind prayed, “Lord, You are the One Who can make that change possible in this young man who has so many potential. Despite that no one believes in him anymore, You do. I do…Because You made the changes in my stubborn heart long time ago, too…”
The dictionary describes the word “stifle” with the following:
~ to quell, crush, or end by force: to stifle a revolt; to stifle free expression.
~ to suppress, curb, or withhold: to stifle a yawn
~ to kill by impeding respiration; smother.
Paul had reminded us in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 not to stifle the Holy Spirit. He went on to verse 20 by adding not to scoff at prophecies. We should not ignore or toss aside the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. V.21 - but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.
In 1 Corinthians 14:39, he talked about “speaking in tongues”. Sometimes, spiritual gifts become controversial and may cause a division in the church. Instead of trying to solve a problem, some Christians prefer to smother the gifts. But it impoverishes the church. We should not stifle the Holy Spirit’s work in anyone’s life but encourage the full expression of these gifts to benefit the whole body of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Nobody from my co-workers wanted to believe that inmate. But what if he’s telling the truth? He may have a long history of being a drug addict, a menace to this society…but we don’t have to be famous, rich, nor good looking to be used by God. He uses common, ordinary people from all walks of life to make His glory known. Look at some of the people God used in the Bible:
~ Sarah was barren but gave birth to Isaac in her old age
~ Moses was an ordinary guy God used to deliver the people from the crushing hand of the Pharaoh
~ Joshua who had faith in God was used by the Lord and who led God’s people to defeat Jericho
~ Rahab was a common prostitute, but she believed God and saved Joshua’s spies.
~ Paul, who was an angry man, a strict Jew, who persecuted Christians. He was a Pharisee who approved the stoning of Stephen. Yet, he was seen by God as a man for a special job. He met Jesus through a vision and his conversion started from there [Acts 9:1-19]. His journeys, sufferings, works are all in “Acts of the Apostles” and he also wrote letters to churches at Rome, Corinth, and others.
I can go on and on but the point is God used ordinary people whose weaknesses He turned into strength. If Christ, himself was ordinary being a carpenter’s son, why would we think or expect that God would just use special people for His purposes?
When it seems that things are impossible, don’t forget that God’s glory shines through the weakest vessels….
“But God told Samuel, "Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart." - 1Samuel 16:7 [The Message]
I just barely started my shift when a call broke on the radio from one of the units, needing a nurse to go there and assess 2 inmates involved in a big fight.
I was requested to do a sick call, so it was the other nurse who responded. She ended up sending both of them to the county’s ER to be treated. One was punched really hard on his face and had massive swelling and a fractured nose. The other [the hitter] sustained a minor laceration on his right hand, yet still needed some suturing.
When they came back from the hospital, we needed to still take their vital signs and would review the ER doctor’s orders so we could give them the medications he ordered. I saw the one who punched the other inmate.
With the deputy’s permission, they sat only 3 chairs apart, both with handcuffs and chains on their ankles to limit their movement. 2 deputies stood nearby as the other nurse and I examined them. The one with the broken nose was not looking and looked afraid. The one I was seeing had a slightly sheepish smile as if saying, “I got him sooo good!” as he took a quick glance at the previous opponent.
The other inmate with a swollen face and fractured nose attempted to hurt him when they were in that cell. He had an intention to kill the “puncher”. But quick to react, this inmate kept the attacker’s head with his legs in a locked position, held the head with his left hand and with the right hand, just kept punching numerous, hard blows.
“What’s up with your nose?” I asked probingly. “Why do you have a severely deviated septum?” “Were you in an accident or previous fight?”
“Ma’am, I am a boxer, boxing for 10 years,” as he smiled at me slightly.
I also took a glance in one corner of my eye at the other inmate who was the predator. No wonder, he got him so well. That other inmate didn’t even know he was a boxer. All for intimidation and power struggle, he wanted to prey on him. But he chose the wrong “would-never-be” a victim. The attacker was the one who ended up getting hurt severely. He would surely be in pain for many days, possibly weeks.
Worst of all, though hurt, he would be staying longer inside the prison because his assault would be added to his previous sentence, since this inmate I was talking to was about to press charges against his assault and intention to commit murder.
Followers of Christ are being prowled upon by both humans and spiritual enemies. But the God Who doesn't change is our strength in winning these battles. Like that inmate who trained to be a boxer, it would be hard for us to win if we never have a complete knowledge of using God’s weapons. James 4:7 truly is the biggest help in this fight we are engaged in.
James 4:7 - “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Note that our first step is to have a complete, willful surrender to the Lord before we can even begin to fight back against the enemy. If we want God’s maximum protection, we must completely give Him our all in order to get His all…
After that, we “resist the devil”. We don’t just sit around and don’t do anything during the enemy’s attacks. To resist means we are to fight. We don’t let him beat us down.
With complete surrender and obedience, we surely have His guarantee that He is there, fighting for us. Whether we like it or not, we become soldiers of Christ, once we give our hearts to Him. This battle is real and drawing near to the Lord will have us always prepared and ready to fight back.
Luke 10:19 - “And I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.”
Matthew 10:1 - “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.”
Isaiah 54:17 - “But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. And everyone who tells lies in court will be brought to justice. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me, I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Psalm 44:5 - “Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.”
Daniel 11:32 - “…but the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.”
Zechariah 4:6 - “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.”
Either the Lord will battle for us or He sends His angels to help us:
Psalm 34:7 - “The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
Psalm 91:11 - “For He shall give His angels charge over you , to keep you in all your ways.”
Friends, let us pray for each other for us to be closer with the Lord and more knowledgeable of His Word, the sWORD, that we can use to battle against the enemies. We have that powerful punches from Him against diseases, illnesses or spiritual attacks. Know them and use them…
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." - Ephesians 6:10-18 [NIV]
But when you win, stay humble. Don’t feel good nor smile sheepishly…Like the judge who will hear that attacker’s case and who will give him the appropriate penalty, let the One and only Judge take care of this battle up to the end:
Proverbs 24:17 - “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall into trouble. Don’t be happy when they stumble.”
They had different reasons why they were brought here. But it all came down to one: they committed a crime.
After being collected in a holding cell for a few hours, the jail’s classification system would try to house them in appropriate units, being careful not to place them where they could be hurt or where problems could arise if they were mistakenly housed with a wrong group of people.
If you have time, please silence my play list and watch this:
Romans 14:1-12 [The Message]:
1 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
2-4For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
6-9What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
10-12So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture: "As I live and breathe," God says, "every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God."So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.
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This happened with a co-worker who had passed away few years ago…
She was our charge nurse that night. Frail from her weakened body, plagued by a disease she never truly disclosed, she still tried hard to perform her duty.
One deputy brought a male inmate who obviously had mental health needs. He looked afraid and had a very unpredictable behavior. His appearance was unkempt and he was threatening to hurt himself that night.
This charge nurse walked over to him while he was sitting on one of the blue chairs used for sick calls. His hands handcuffed behind him. For some reason that was not clear to the rest of us, the charge nurse started examining the inmate’s inside part of his mouth.
All of a sudden, he bit her hard. Her scream of pain echoed in all corners of the Infirmary.
That was the worst thing an inmate could do in a prison: to hurt one of the staff.
Within seconds, after the radio call for help, more deputies swarmed that area and that inmate was taken down and held on the floor, unable to move but at the same time, bloodied from punches that came from many fists. He wouldn’t stop biting and trying to spit on some of them.
That charge nurse was fortunate….to have a deputy nearby. Or else, she would have been hurt big time by that inmate who wasn’t thinking of any consequences with his behavior. Her finger was saved. It wasn’t that bad of a bite.
But that incident continued to harbor pain in some of us. Because we couldn’t find any valid reason why she examined that suicidal inmate’s mouth in the first place. We would never know…If there was no protection that night from the deputy, that nurse would have been severely hurt, because of her unwise action, too.
The days are evil. We must keep our standards high, act wisely, and do good whenever we can.
Ephesians 5:15 - “So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.”
“Can we have more coffee, deputy?” asked one inmate as he managed to slide his small cup through the metal bars in his unit.
The deputy told one of the inmate workers who brought the early chow [breakfasts] if he could pour some coffee into that inmate’s cup, as others followed.
As chow time got done and inmates started giving their trays back, the deputy led the other inmate workers in, into that particular cell so they could start collecting and counting the plastic spoons used.
“What the?….What’s this?” exclaimed the deputy, as he saw many cups with coffee under some of the inmates’ bunk beds. They belonged to those who had asked for extra servings. They didn’t drink the coffee but instead, hoarded them…Just because…
This was their way of stealing items so that the county would end up spending more. Sometimes, upset with being incarcerated, and feeling that they didn’t deserve that jail time, this was what they would do.
The deputy was upset and started taking names of those who were responsible for the wasted cups of java.
As he left to collect the other trays from other cells with the inmate workers, one inmate in that cell uttered, “So what? It’s our right to have that cup of coffee and whatever we want to do with it, should be okay.”
Some of us are like those inmates. We often excuse our own selfishness, pride and other bad things we do by claiming our rights. Some will say:
“Well, I can have abortion if I want to. This is my body and I can do anything I want to with it.”
“I have no choice but to lie. If others can get away, why can’t I, too?”
But as believers and followers of Christ, these attitudes do not apply anymore to us. We should have that kind of attitude that enables us to lay aside our rights in order to serve others or think highly of others than ourselves.. If we truly want to follow Christ, we must reflect his character, his humility as we serve. To the point that it may mean that our efforts are not recognized at times.
So, are you clinging to your rights or are you willing to serve and think others higher than yourself?
[Philippians 2:5-11; The Message]:
5-8Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
9-11Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
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“You have to tell me now. This is your chance to really make yourself away from harm. If you didn’t understand me the first time, I want to ask you again, is there someone in your unit threatening you or wanting to hurt you in any way?” I repeated.
“Sir, this is the last time I’m going to ask you. I can’t find anything wrong with you medical-wise. You complained of pain here and there. But there were not enough symptoms to pinpoint the cause…,”
“Yes, there is someone threatening me,” his words cutting off what I was saying above.
“I’m glad you finally told me. I can’t help you with that but I can have the deputy help you by having you leave that unit and be moved to another safer unit,” I replied.
I pulled over the deputy to one corner and let him know what the inmate told me. He nodded and thanked me. He made the inmate get up and he said “thank you” to me.
I knew he wouldn’t worry anymore. At least for the meantime. The threats would always be there somewhere. But it would be devastating not to be able to leave that situation if he didn’t become honest with my queries.
Prisoners who had been there in the jail sometimes try to intimidate newer ones. Sometimes, they threaten these weak ones so they can use them for their own selfish agenda. Like delivering illegal things, shanks, even drugs. They might use them to steal other inmates’ stuff for their own supply or use. They threaten the weaklings because they know they are too weak to avoid them and if they ever tell anyone from custody staff, the predators instill fear in them that they would end up getting hurt if they don‘t listen to their demands.
After a few minutes, I checked the housing location for that inmate I saw. He was already moved. I could only pray…for his safety and temporary refuge.
Our spiritual enemies are constantly bombarding us with his wily threats. He is so active in throwing those darts of temptations and they all come in subtle ways. However, if we are not careful and are not able to stay away from them, it could be costly with our own spiritual walks with the Lord.
[Please silence my playlist]:
Proverbs 3:25-26 - “You need not be afraid of disaster or destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 - “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”
1 Timothy 6:9 - “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.”
Hebrews 2:18 - “Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.”
James 4:7 - “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Long time ago, when I was assigned in another facility, I used to do sick calls prior to the end of my shift in the morning. I tried to be fast by doing the treatments first, like dressing changes, blood pressure checks, footsoaks [yeah, sounds like spa treatment!]…
Prior to doing my sick call, I usually reviewed the charts and tried to prepare the medications I anticipated to give. For instance, if an inmate was complaining of coughs and cold, I would prepare the pain reliever and cold pills. It made my sick call more organized. Thus, everyone got seen and I finished my list, instead of passing it on for the next day’s sick call.
I asked the inmates direct to the point kind of questions. I tried not to give them more time inside my little office. They would tend to look around and would get familiar with what things were in a particular place. Also, I tried not to be distracted. That was for my own safety and for safe keeping of things around us.
One time, as I was in the middle of my sick call and had probably just 3 inmates left, I was thinking I would have a lot of time left for my charting. When a well-sculpted inmate walked in. I remembered reading his chart and his sick call request, complaining of cold symptoms.
I looked at him once and greeted him a good morning. He sat down on the chair against the table I was using. He flexed his arms. But I didn’t say anything. I knew right away that he wanted me to give him a compliment. He flexed it some more. No response from this nurse.
“Sir, what brings you here today?”
“Uhmmm…I don’t feel good.”
“I know you don’t feel good. Can you be more specific?”
He lifted the sleeves on both of his arms. And flexed his muscles. Every muscle was well-built from using the bars to lift themselves up or do hundreds of push-ups.
“Look at these,” he said, making his muscles move as if he was Hercules.
“What about it, Sir?” I asked, still with the same stoic face.
“Can’t you see?”
“See what? If you came here to just display your muscles, obviously, you’re not sick. Kindly step out of my office now and you may go,” as I called the deputy at the same time and told him about the situation.
The inmate was surprised. Surprised that I didn’t compliment him and that I ended his sick call just like that. But he wasn’t upset with my latter gesture. He went back to his cell. Turned around really quick and said to me, “I’m sorry, Ma’am.”
“It’s okay. But if you’re really, really sick, you can come see us anytime,” I replied.
We can feel good about a job we did so well and there’s nothing wrong with that. But what God hates is the kind of pride that arises from self-righteousness. He hates it because it stops us from seeking Him.
Because of pride, many people do not accept Jesus as their Savior. Pride is a sin that God hates because we are giving credit to ourselves, instead of giving it to God, Who accomplishes things. It is bragging about the glory that truly belongs to Him. It is worshipping ourselves, instead of the Lord Who deserves our worship.
Next time you parade your muscles to anyone, think about Who enabled and sustained you to have those in the first place.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ~ James 4:6 [ESV]
18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. ~ Proverbs 16:18-19
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:3
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. ~Psalm 10:4
7For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? ~ 1 Corinthians 4:7
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. ~ Proverbs 8:13
“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.” ~ C. S. Lewis
But what would I do if the Lord was bringing me here? I would rather trust the One Who knew what was best for me at that time. And He would be my Protector!
Turned out to be, I even felt safer working in that environment.
There are many deputies who would be there in a heartbeat if something goes wrong. And of all the impossible.....there are those times, when some inmates themselves, step in to protect the staff....
From the moment I started working there, I knew that if I wanted to be respected, you had to treat everyone with respect..."You reap what you sow..." [Galatians 6:7].
[Please silence my playlist before watching]...
A new broom sweeps clean.
We may change our methods but we don't change the basic principles.
If you're not changed, you don't have Jesus, because He changes people! No matter how good you are, He'll make you better!
Lord help me to change the things that need to be changed, & not to change the things that don't need to be changed, & especially Lord, help me to know the difference!
Just because we did it that way yesterday, doesn't mean we have to do it that way today! If you can find some easier, quicker, shorter, better, faster way to do it, do it!
All changes are difficult & sometimes costly, but if they're good changes, in the long run they pay off!
[Quotes from Word of Love]
He had two bumps up on top of his head. One bigger bump started bleeding and the Intake Nurse phoned me and asked me what needed to be done as she didn’t remember that particular inmate going through her to be asked with medical questions.
“Let’s take care of the bleeding first. Then, we’ll find out if he’s already booked, we can ask the Sergeant if we can have our transportation deputy bring him to the hospital, since it looks like his cut needs suturing. For now, let’s control that bleeding,” I stated.
The man was not too drunk. His face was red and a slight alcohol smelling breath was exhaled every time. He was in a bar at the wee hours of that morning and ended up having a fight with a woman. He didn’t remember much, except that she hit his head with her high-heeled shoe that caused those two bumps and that bleeding cut in one of them. He seemed nervous, being new to the jail.
“Sir, just follow the rules here, whatever they tell you. In a few hours, just be patient and remain cooperative, and you’ll be released. When they do, our deputy will bring you to the county hospital and give you a ride. That way, the doctor in ER can suture your bleeding cut,” as I reassured him.
After the bandage was put with pressure, he was told to go back to the holding cell. Unfamiliar with the rules, he wasn’t sure what to do next.
“Cross your hands in front of you and stay on that red line!,” hollered a deputy.
He said something back to the deputy that was not clear for the Intake Nurse and I to hear. As I was making my way back to the Clinic to resume to my duty, next thing we saw, he was pushed against the wall and few deputies had pinned him down on the floor.
The Intake Nurse called me few minutes later and told me that this inmate ended up having a bump on his right eyebrow and some more blood spilled on that cold floor. He was immediately sent out to the ER since he sustained another bleeding cut from his eyebrow and somewhere inside the mouth.
When he came back from the hospital, he told the Intake Nurse that he didn’t deserve that. The Intake Nurse told him that, that was the reason why I told him in the first place, to listen and just follow the rules. When he said something to the deputy and did not obey what he was telling him, that would be taken as being disrespectful. He finally understood and started listening more. That saved him from further troubles.
What repercussions disobedience brings! Cain ended up killing his own brother. King Saul lost his kingship because he didn’t listen to what God wanted him to do. And many more stories.
God desires for us to show Him our love by being obedient to His Word.
In contrast to being disobedient, Noah’s obedience saved humanity from being destroyed. Abraham’s faith and obedience resulted to a great nation promised to him: lots of descendants. Joseph saved his family from famine, despite the abuses he had to endure from his siblings. And Jesus….obeyed what was willed for Him: to die on the cross to be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity’s sins.
Jesus said in John 14:15- “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Jesus always strived to please no one else but the Father when He was here. He remained obedient, to the point of giving his life on the cross.
Man’s disobedience always leads to DEATH…But Jesus’ obedience leads to ETERNAL LIFE.
True scenes from Female Intake [female side of the jail where they receive female arrestees from the streets, as told by the Intake nurse that night] on the eve of Halloween:
One drunk female was brought in, screaming and melted mascara from her tears, smeared her face.
Drunk Woman: “What kind of nurse are you? Can’t you see?! I can’t breathe!”
Nurse: “Ma’am, I’m sorry. But if you can yell at me at the top of your lungs like this, then, I know that you are breathing fine.”
Drunk Woman: “Well….long pause…my doctor said that I can talk but it doesn’t mean that I’m breathing fine.”
After signing her medical questionnaire and ticket, she was placed in one cell. Once sober, she would be released in a few hours.
An hour later, an older, drunk, heavy set woman was brought in. Her hair was sticking up in different directions. Nice jewelries visible as the precious stones shone from her fingers. Cooperative at first, but when the Intake Nurse and the arresting cops wanted her to sign the needed documents, she became uncooperative. Turning her face into another direction, she stated:
“I’m not signing anything until my lawyer gets here.”
She started fighting, too with the female deputies. Being uncooperative, the deputies put her immediately to where the first woman was placed. You could just imagine some scenarios that could happen between a yelling woman placed along with a snobbish, older woman…Both potential for being combative.
Few minutes passed and the nurse and the deputies were wondering why it got quieter in that cell. Checking up on the women to make sure they were both okay, they saw the yeller [who was complaining of difficulty breathing] sleeping on the cold, cement floor…When all of a sudden, the older, heavy-set woman [the one who didn’t want to sign her ticket and medical history] straddled herself on top of the sleeping woman and acted like she was going to suffocate her.
The other woman woke up and started screaming again while turning red on her face, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!”
Intake Nurse: “Now, I believe you.” As she was saying that, the female deputies rushed to rescue her from the other woman.
All these craziness resulted from their foolish actions being intoxicated. They were both not even fully aware of what they were saying and doing. Everyone from work could not imagine what they would think and feel once they would be more sober.
It was amusing to watch all that drama unfolded. But the consequences of their actions were not fun at all. They would both realize that, once the alcohol was out of their system.
Some warnings from the Bible about drinking alcohol:
Genesis 9:20-26 - Noah became drunk; the result was immorality and family trouble.
Genesis 19:30-38 - Lot was so drunk he did not know what he was doing; this led to
Leviticus 10:9-11 - God commanded priests not to drink so that they could tell the difference between the holy and the unholy.
Deuteronomy 32:33 - Intoxicating wine is like the poison of serpents, the cruel venom of asps.
Proverbs 4:17 - Alcoholic drink is called the wine of violence.
Proverbs 20:1 - Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.
Proverbs 23:19-20 - A wise person will not be among the drinkers of alcoholic beverages.
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himself and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: NLT Bible ]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].