“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
That is some strong words. Let me try to put that in my vernacular. “If you don’t know God you don’t know how to love and if you know God you are going to show genuine love because God is love.”
Do you think perhaps we have distorted the word LOVE. I cannot help but notice all the advertisements focusing on Valentine’s Day. Does how we behave and what we do on this particular day really describe love?
The kid was asked “what about broccoli” and she said “I love broccoli”. When the broccoli was passed at the table she did not take any out on her plate. The hostess reminded her that she had said she loved broccoli. The kid said “I love broccoli but I sure as heck don’t eat it.”
This Valentine’s Day I challenge you to think about it when you say “I love you” to the one you consider to be your valentine. And especially when you tell God you love Him.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!
God is good all the time…
…all the time God is good!!!
Do you remember one of the first prayers we learned as kids? “God is great, God is GOOD, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.”
Then we were introduced to the song “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He is so good to me.”
In Psalm 100:5 -we read, “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Throughout the Bible we are reminded of the goodness of God. As we study the attributes of God we realize it is His very nature to be good.
Because God is good and full of mercy we receive the benefits of His goodness. Upon our repentance we are not only forgiven but we are granted a pardon, “old things pass away all things become new”. Our pastor recently stated that a born again believer has no past.
In His goodness we have access to Him. We can pray to God and He not only hears our prayers He answers each prayer. Oftentimes we consider a prayer unanswered because God does not do exactly what we ask Him to do.
For me at times the reason He doesn‘t give me the answer I desire is because of His goodness. He has something better. He see the whole picture from the “beginning to the end“.
Another great benefit of His goodness is the gift of His Holy Spirit to live in us that we may have fellowship with God at all times. The fellowship is realized as a result of His presence. It is a trust relationship that assures us that regardless of what happens the results will reveal His goodness.
The goodness of God is not always visible to us. Difficult times come and bad situations cause bad things to happen to us. In these times we face problems. Disappointments come and we find ourselves in a deep valley. We question the goodness of God. If God is good why am I experiencing bad times?
If God is good why did my mother die of a heart attack at the young age of 63? If God is good why are so many people being tortured and beheaded today because of their allegiance to their faith in God?
If God is good why are we facing such tragedies across our state, our nation our world? Why are bad things happening to good people? Again I am reminded that when God created this world He said “It is good”.
Could it be that God allows valleys so He can build mountains in our lives? Yes, God is in charge. In fact the Bible teaches us that He is the Sovereign God.
The little boy was lying on the floor and he looked up to see what Grandma had in her lap. She was sewing away doing a cross stitch design. The grandson said to his grandma “that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.”
Grandma invited him to stand up and look over her shoulder. As he looked at the design of the cross-stitching from the top view he did not see the knots and the hanging strands of thread. He quickly stated “Grandma that is one of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen.”
I am not trying to be pious or pharisaical but it takes some knots and hanging threads, the good and bad things that happens, for God to create the person He knew would make the best person you could ever be. I know it is hard for some of us to believe that God is creating a beautiful person but He is.
If it is not good it did not come from our good God. He alone is the source for good not bad. In His wisdom He allows situations that seem to be bad and from that experience we are molded into an individual that exhibits the goodness of God.
The main problem is we use the wrong standard for goodness. We adhere to the standard of goodness set by the world. Goodness today is measured by what is good for me.
Let me encourage you to submit to and trust the One that is the source of all goodness. He will never let you down. It does not mean that you will never experience bad things. It simply means that He is able to take the bad things and demonstrate His power to cause the bad to become eternally good.
God is good all the time…
All the time God is good!!!
Happy New Year. 2015 is here. As I review events of the past 12 months I am challenged to make 2015 twelve months of serving the Bethlehem Baby who went to the Cross, came out of the tomb and became my living Redeemer. Jesus makes all the difference in the world.
Jesus turns sadness into gladness, defeat into victory, depression into joy, rejection into acceptance, bitterness into sweetness, unforgiveness into forgiveness, darkness into light, and on and on I could go. How does He do it? From the manger to the resurrection He defeated satan and every enemy even death itself to give to us abundant life.
There is nothing logical about how He changes things. He told his disciples that we gain life by dying. We gain by losing and to follow Him we give up everything to have unexplainable abundance. It sure doesn’t make sense to me but that is exactly what He tells us in His Word.
I listened to the message of Nick Vujicic at the Hour of Power broadcast this weekend, a man born without arms and legs. You can visit his webpage Life Without Limbs and hear his testimony. He shared how he had prayed for the miracle of God giving him arms and legs until God revealed to him that he was the miracle.
Too often I allow myself to be caught up in the memories of the past, remembering the difficult times I have faced. For the most part the valleys of the past are the consequences of the choices I made outside of the will of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I remind you as I often must remind myself that He told us we will reap what we sow. Praying for crop failure does not work.
Then I hear the message of Nick Vujicic, a person with no arms and legs, by no fault of his own or the consequences of choices he has made and He shares the message of seeking a miracle from God to give him legs and arms and God tells him he is the miracle. I was showered with conviction. How often I consider my past as an obstacle for God to do with my life what He would choose to do.
It isn’t my past that forfeit’s the manifestation of the power of God. It is me continually praying for forgiveness when God took care of that on the Cross centuries ago. The miracle God desires to perform in my life is me simply surrendering everything I have to Him. Yes that means the terrible choices I have made in the past. Even through the consequences of disobedient choices, reaping what I have sown, a spiritual law that God Himself made, He desires through my dying to self to make me His living miracle.
As we enter 2015 would you join me in surrendering everything to God and allow Him to make you the miracle He desires you to be. I commit myself to quit asking God to take away this and add that but simply ask Him to make me the miracle that He can use to proclaim His message of hope. Let me share the abundant life that comes in a total surrender to His Will by becoming His miracle.
Christmas is here and we are asking what can I give to the people on my gift list? The greatest gift was given to us on the day Jesus Christ was born. He in turn has given us the greatest gift. He has given us salvation. Let me share with you the gift He gives that is often overlooked. He gives salvation which involves changing lives and through forgiveness and restoration.
Yesterday I went to Lake Butler and picked up a young man that was released from prison. As I drove into the prison I was reminded of my arrival there many years ago to be processed in as an inmate. It brought back many memories of the hurt and pain I had caused so many by my wrong choices. As we walked in I passed 3 young men working away serving as trustees. I stopped and shared with them my testimony of the change Jesus has brought into my life when I fully surrendered my life to Him. Jesus has given me forgiveness and restoration.
As we sat there waiting for the young man to be released to us I observed a number of men in the blue prison uniform fulfilling numerous duties as trustees. I began to think about the future of these young men and the paths they would travel. I asked one of the inmates when he could possibly face freedom and he responded by saying it would be several years.
What a waste. Or is it a waste? I am convinced being confined to a correctional facility often times becomes the seminary training for future ministers of the Gospel. I remind you that know me I received my Master’s of Theology degree from the New Orleans Baptist Seminary then I went to prison and received The MASTER’S Degree for service to my Lord and my King.
I have witnessed so many lives being claimed for Jesus to share the Gospel in these 11 years with Christian 12 Step Ministry. In Wildwood we have a pastor of a great church who came from the jail cell to the pulpit. A church in Belleview recently ordained a man as elder after his recovery from addiction and he also serves the church as youth director.
Another young man directs a transitional house in Titusville for recovering addicts. He was ordained to the Gospel Ministry a few weeks past. We received news of another young man who began a recovery ministry in another state after his release from prison and several months of victorious sobriety.
I could go on and on. How do I know about these men? They came to the door of Christian 12 Step Ministry and asked for help. We simply took the time to tell them about a Savior named Jesus. What a glorious opportunity is ours daily to share the good news of the Great Physician who heals addicts and brings to them genuine and not tolerable recovery.
Many of you reading this are partners with Christian 12 Step Ministry, Inc. Without your prayers, financial support and hours of volunteering we could never accomplish what God is able to do through this ministry. Your faithful support allowed me to go to Lake Butler and pick up this young man and share with him the good news of Jesus Christ.
Something amazing happened in the office when mom and grandma brought in the little son. He climbed in the chair at the reception desk and said “I am going to work for God”. The future perhaps will be filled with the witness of this young man and his son resulting in the salvation of many souls. I get excited when I am privileged to witness the power of God at work. The day of miracles has not passed. I see them in my office everyday.
God bless you and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
…THANKS…..GIVING… two words combined to identify a holiday that is celebrated throughout our great USA. I am confident that a heart of gratitude makes the difference in a person’s attitude and in his or her relationship to others.
Perhaps we should have named the holiday …GIVING…THANKS… We are a very blessed nation. Let me suggest that we consider making it a day of …GIVING….as well as a day of …THANKS.
In the ministry to which God has called me I meet hurting, wounded and broken people every day. Their circumstances are often brought on by wrong choices leading them down the path of addictions with innumerable consequences.
And yes I can actually say I THANK God for allowing me to be part of their lives. God has so blessed me and I have the experience of His Grace in times in my life when I have made wrong choices and faced and continue to face the consequences of hurting myself while hurting others.
Today God has placed me in a position to …GIVE… His Love, Grace, and Mercy in a spirit of …THANKS… for what He has done for me. I have nothing to give apart from God’s Grace. Yet, because of His Grace I have become His reservoir through which He can spill out His healing to all the hurting people He places in my life daily.
I take no credit for what God is doing. It is my desire to challenge you to …GIVE…today with …THANKS…and honor the ONE who has given so much, giving HIS life that we might be made alive. You can become His reservoir as well.
Jesus healed 10 lepers. One returned to say thanks. “Where are the other 9? Jesus asked. Let’s join together and be the one that returns to say thanks and today through our …GIVING… we say …THANKS…
God bless you and “HAPPY THANKSGIVING…GIVING…THANKS…
I had thought about opening my remarks with the comment “another loss”. Brother Bud Gillett made his journey to heaven this past Sunday. We have known each other for 50 years. I was thinking that now I have lost another person that is so dear to me. Then I was reminded in my devotional time that I have lost nothing.
The fact is that my Brother Bud just got ahead of me and has entered eternity with Jesus and I will be reunited with him and it will not be long as I have reached the ripe old age of 70. In the past few months in addition to Brother Bud I have witnessed the passing from this life of Bob Gregory, a brother who provided me a job and a place to live when I was released from prison nearly 30 years ago.
And then I lost Brother Ray Geisel the founder of Christian 12 Step Ministry, the ministry where God has placed me to serve. Brother Ray challenged me to come out of retirement and join the staff at Christian 12 Step. The news came following his passing of grandma Mary at Dunklin making her journey to heaven.
A few months another of my dearest brothers, Brother Mickey Evans, founder of Dunklin was called to his heavenly home. Brother Mickey was the greatest example of Jesus that I have ever known. He was the reference of unconditional love to literally thousands of men who graduated from the faith based recovery program at Dunklin.
Soon after Brother Mickey’s passing my dear Aunt Julia who became my mother after the passing of my mother in 1983. Aunt Julia was 3 weeks away from her 99th birthday. She and my Uncle had 4 girls and she said to me many times that I was the son she never had. Uncle E. E., as he was fondly known, and Aunt Julia were consistently showering me with encouraging words inspiring me to fulfill the call God had placed on my life.
And now Brother Bud, one of the most caring and loving individuals I have ever known, made his departure to the streets of Glory. In my time of crying out to God for comfort He gently reminded me that I have lost no one. Brother Bob Gregory, Brother Ray Geisel, Grandma Mary, Brother Mickey, Aunt Julia, and Brother Bud are now at home having entered heaven and seeing Jesus face to face.
It is the same home Jesus stated that He has prepared for me and for everyone who trust Him as Savior. In days, weeks, months, or years will pass and I too will be reunited with each of these. I will be privileged to spend Eternity with Jesus and reunited with those I was tempted to say “I have lost” but it was not a loss. It was a temporary separation.
It is only when we forget that we are aliens in a foreign land and fail to focus our attention on an Eternity with Jesus that we need to be reminded that we are headed home and some have gotten ahead of us. There was a glorious day this past Sunday when my brother, William A. “Bud” Gillett entered his eternal home to be reunited with his mother, his dad, Velma’s mother and dad, my mother and dad, and a host of others.
Then he was privileged to gaze upon a large host of folks gathered to welcome him and they placed on his head a crown of thanks for having been the person God sent to earth decades ago to share the gospel with them that they might be saved. Bud is now singing but changing a few words, “When I got to heaven, It was a day, glorious day for me, and when I saw Jesus I cried out and shouted what a victory”. And then he sang as never before, “IT IS WELL,IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL”.
Thanks to the many faithful friends of the ministry we are now debt free. The mortgage of $60,000 has been retired. God is so good and continues to bless us in so many ways.
That is good news and I in no way diminish the significance of such an achievement made possible by so many faithful financial sponsors of the ministry. However, let me share with you some news that is most significant.
Lance came to this office a few years ago totally wasted as a result of his drug addiction. He came with his father and the family was desperate and his wife and daughters had lost their husband and father. We were able to assist Lance through the ministry and he was recently ordained to the ministry and is now on staff with a Christian transitional house for men coming out of addiction.
Ken was brought to this office by a youth pastor several years ago to seek help from the ministry. Ken was homeless and his family had totally rejected him due to his drug addiction. Ken is now serving as an elder in his church as well as the youth pastor. He and his family has been reunited and he was privileged to baptize his wife, daughter and son.
Mike was serving time in jail once again and came across the study guide “Walking the 12 Steps with Jesus Christ“, a book provided free to inmates through the Christian 12 Step Ministry. Mike was born addicted to cocaine as a result of his mother’s addiction. He was raised by his grandparents who took him to church. However he had turned away from what he had been taught about Jesus.
Today Mike is pastor of a thriving church and is on staff of a neighboring church serving in the recovery ministry. He has been reunited with his children and married a beautiful lady who has become a most supportive wife and mother to his children. He graduated from college at the top of his class and will soon complete seminary studies for a master’s degree in theology.
I could go on and on and share many more success stories. It is my desire to share with you my belief that God is honoring this ministry as we reach out to so many hurting and wounded addicts. And we could not do it without the support of our faithful donors and volunteers. Thanks for being so faithful in your commitment to Christian 12 Step Ministry. We will continue to serve and honor the One who is the Life Changer and our Great Physician.
Last Friday I was able to witness a miracle. A very supportive volunteer of the Christian 12 Step Ministry stopped by the office for a visit. She asked the question, “What is the balance on the mortgage on the Christian 12 Step office building?”. I gave her the figure and she presented me with a check to pay off the mortgage. GOD is so GOOD!!!
We borrowed $60,000 in July of 2011 and today we are debt free. It has been such a blessing to see how God has used so many of you who are so faithful in sharing that in just over 3 years the mortgage is now retired. We will have a note burning March 7, 2015, at our 11th annual celebration banquet. We will now have an additional $478 a month to spend in ministry to hurting and wounded addicts.
There was another greater miracle that took place Friday. A lady that was brought to this office a week ago Friday called and shared with me that she was 1 week sober. We invited her to our home Sunday afternoon and she shared with us the beautiful experience she had at church that very morning. Abbie and I both talked to her about being a child of God and she assured us that she has asked Jesus into her heart and will be baptized very soon.
Abbie and I had a great time this past Sunday. I preached at the First Baptist Church Webster and Abbie sang the solo. A couple from the church took us out for a nice lunch. We had a wonderful time of fellowship. It always amazes me that you meet people you have never physically seen and yet the common denominator of faith in Jesus Christ creates an instant bond. God is to be thanked for how He orchestrates all things.
Hope you are having a blessed day and that your week will be a week of praising God for His Goodness!!
I just returned from an all day prayer meeting at Dunklin Regeneration Camp in Okeechobee, a place for addicts to find genuine recovery through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was a day of celebration, praise and worship. Every staff member is a graduate of the Dunklin program.
My friend Mickey Evans, the founder of Dunklin, went home to be with Jesus last month and I was privileged to attend the celebration of his life with more than 2,000 others in the Agri-Center in Okeechobee. The wisdom of this man is exhibited in his plans for his departure to heaven for the ministry to continue.
Tears moistened my cheeks as I heard 20 plus men read their journals for the day, prayed and took communion. I was allowed to share words of encouragement and to recognize some of the men that God has allowed me to refer to the ministry and become their mentor upon their graduation after successfully completing the program.
I am leaving today to share with a group of over comers through Jesus in Titusville at their meeting tonight. I will be preaching at a church in Titusville on Sunday. The assistant director of the program met me in Dunklin this week to attend the prayer meeting and the NET meeting the following day. His dad brought him to my office a few years back.
This man was totally bankrupt and at the end of his rope. The drug dealer was threatening to kill him if he didn’t pay up and he had no money to pay him. We referred him to Dunklin; he graduated the program and is now giving away his recovery as he directs the program in Titusville. What a joy it is to see God at work and continuing to perform miracles in so many lives.
I was also privileged to attend the NET meeting the day following the prayer meeting. Fifteen men representing a number of ministries shared their heart and gave a report of what God is doing through their lives individually and through the ministries to which God has called them. What a joy to know that God is alive and well and doing a great work among His people.
A great blessing was mine to have the privilege of spending some time with Laura Maye Evans, the widow of my late friend Mickey Evans. She is rejoicing in his home going even in the midst of her loss but heaven’s gain. Laura Maye is a great witness for God and His Kingdom. Following a visit with her I stopped by and visited with Fred Beason and his gracious wife.
Fred who served as a board member at Dunklin felt the call of God on his life to begin a regeneration program for female addicts. He and his wife are blessing the lives of many women at The Refuge Ranch across the road from Dunklin. The two of them are an inspiration and what a joy to visit with them and share the miracles that God is bringing to pass in the lives of those we have been called to serve.
This has been a time of renewal for me as I have been made aware that all the bad news that the devil is throwing at us is absolutely no threat to the mercy and grace of a God who loved us enough to send His Son to the Cross that we might have the Gospel, the “Good News”, to share with the world. I was greatly encouraged and I wish to encourage you that God loves all the people He has created. We have the “Good News”. Don’t miss any opportunity to share it.
Tribute to Brother Mickey Evans, Dunklin Memorial Church, Okeechobee, Florida
My Mentor and Friend: Mickey Evans
January 8, 1932- August 22, 2014
The following was written by Joan Warren
“Has anybody told you today?”
“Well, just in case, I’m telling you again: I love you.”
It was his trademark; his brand, calling card. If you saw Mickey, you could count on hearing these words. You could count on a hug and a smile. If not from him directly, from many around you, as he facilitated groups and classes to “get up, tell someone you love them, hug a neck.”
He was the Cowboy Preacher. The Drunk Preacher, some called him. He’d chuckle. I doubt he’d ever had a drop of alcohol in his life.
He sought out drunks, with a purpose, to share God’s amazing love.
(That was back in the day, before political correctness and biochemical studies taught us to call drunks “people with alcoholism,” which, yes, is a gentler, kinder term, no harm ever intended by using the old word.)
In 1962, Mickey ventured into the snake- and alligator-infested backwoods, near the deep south’s Lake Okeechobee, cleared some land about ten miles down a bumpy dirt road, hauled in some used rustic cabins and created a place for drunks to sober up. His idea, to provide not just a bed to sleep it off, but a place where hard work meets prayer, and confrontational truth-speaking-in-love results in changed men. A City of Refuge. His hard work had just begun.
His idea grew. Today, Dunklin Memorial is an internationally-renowned center for people overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. It can boast recidivism rates far better than those of centers catering to the rich and famous. It is also a place where families of people with addiction can recover and transform. It is a ministry training and retreat center. It is a church, where the body of Christ is people using their gifts and abilities to help one another, rather than a building sitting empty all week. It is the center hub of a circle of half-way houses, home and community support groups. Cottage industries, like cattle farming, orange groves, and pallet recycling, give residents hard work to do and help the program be self-supportive. It is a model center that is willing to share its success secrets freely to any who want to replicate it in their part of the world. Its curriculum is translated into several languages.
That says a little something about this man, the Drunk Preacher, Mickey Evans. There is so much more to say. Words are inadequate, but in an attempt to describe him, I would choose words like
and, most importantly,
loving, honest, and relational.
He continued to grow and adapt throughout his life, deepening his understanding of the recovery process and the need for transformation for leaders, helpers and addicts alike. He was the guru of the Daily Moral Inventory, a mirror to check and accept responsibility for your attitudes each day. He taught us to take the finger that so easily points at others (“but it’s all your fault”) and turn it (though it fights all the way) to point at ourselves (the only one we can change, after all). He taught us to use all of our capacities, including our senses, inner vision, imagination and even open eyes and ears when we pray, for God is in us, around us, and in our loved ones as well. God may speak to us from any of these sources. He worked toward responsibility in all areas, including sustainable agriculture, clean water, ecologically sound waste management and understanding cultural diversity.
“How old is that little boy?” –another trademark question. “Now take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” Only Mickey could get away with speaking this way to a defensive, angry man who needed to hear it. He could say it, with authority–a shocking blend of firmness and gentleness–and the hardest head would break down and listen.
When I met him, back in the eighties, I was a twenty-something transplant from Washington, D. C., all fired up for ministry training. I remember being amazed at Mickey’s servant-leadership style, but I was also a bit afraid of him! When his lip quivered and his grin bared his teeth, I held onto my seat, for someone was about to get a dose of truth. I had never witnessed a christian leader being confrontational before. It impressed me and scared me at the same time! Yet he was kind. And wise. Under his honest leadership, I learned to face my fears, and I grew up. By the time I graduated, I faced life with a new awareness, in large part due to Mickey Evans. I was aware of my ongoing need to heal and grow, aware of the value of relationships as a measure of recovery, aware of the complexities of life transformation. I was willing to be a facilitator of change for those who wanted to change. I learned to accept each person’s decisions as their own.
“I cannot change another person by direct action. I can only change myself, and that by the grace of God.”
This was Mickey’s mantra, which he lovingly entitled “The Bombshell Theory,” because “it’ll blow your mind.” It really does.
Mickey modeled health in family relationships. “This is my beloved wife, in whom I am well-pleased,” he would say, introducing his wife, Laura Maye. When families joined the men in the program each weekend, Mickey facilitated positivity, respect and appreciation for loved ones. Men responded to his example and held themselves accountable to making amends, to loving and respecting, where once they used, lied, stole and projected blame. Marriages rekindled.
As he aged, Mickey seemed at peace with gradually raising up leaders to take over his job. He used to quote Jesus, “greater works shall ye do. . .” His long-range planning to prepare others to carry on his work was nothing short of genius. It must have been challenging for him to let go of his baby, but he rested easy, trusting the One who had begun a good work to carry it through to completion. Mickey’s style of trust was practical, though: he planned, prepared, reeled in, and let loose, over and over again, until he knew he’d done all he could do.
Brother Mickey Evans passed this week, after a long life, shining brightly. His light stems from, and moves into, eternity. As one candle bows to light another, light spreads exponentially, filling the earth.
Brother Mickey, we will miss you here. We thank you for your amazing gifts and dedication. We are grateful to carry on this light; to be torch-bearers, humbly and quietly sharing life, transformed by love. Enjoy your new place; we’ll see you again soon.
Dear reader, has anybody told you today?
Well, just in case, I’m telling you again, I love you!
Pass it on ~
©Joan T. Warren
Heart to Heart in a Shielded World