Spare Time

“Most of the world’s great men have achieved their true life work, not in the course of their needful occupations, but in their spare time.

A tired-out rail splitter, crouched over his tattered books by candlelight at the day’s end, preparing for his future, instead of snoring or sky-larking like his co-laborers—Lincoln cut out his path to later immortality in his spare time.

An underpaid and overworked telegraph clerk stole hours from sleep, or from play, at night, trying to crystallize into realities certain fantastic dreams in which he had faith. Today, the whole world is benefiting by what Edison did—in his spare time.

An instructor in an obscure college varied the drudgery he hated, by spending his evenings and holidays in tinkering with a queer device of his at which his fellow teachers laughed. But he invented the telephone—in his spare time.

You, too, have spare time. Why not use it in this kind of research which pays wonderful dividends in this life and the next?”

—“Research Unlimited,” Mr. Jones, Meet the Master: Sermons and Prayers of Peter Marshall.

Life is Busy

Amid all the college work, barn chores, and just general life I haven’t had much time to think let alone write! As much as I disliked doing it, I ended up diminishing the amount of livestock in the barnyard just so that I could keep up everything.

The busyness is a blessing in several ways: I’m learning a lot and I don’t have time to stew over things. Most single people around Valentines Day are in the dumps. I’m way too busy for that! I barely have time to do any hobbies, let alone be in a relationship!

But I have also found that the busier I get, the more I push God to the side. Bible study gets rushed through and prayer is skipped so that I can “get to school on time” or because “I just can’t seem to focus”. As I look at it though, I’m finding that my problem isn’t time management or focus. I can get to places on time and still get all the stuff I WANT to get done, done. My problem isn’t that I can’t focus. I can make myself focus on school when it needs to get done.

The bigger issue is that I have prioritized everything else above quiet time. As life got busier, I started cutting out and diminishing things I felt wasn’t important (like the ton of livestock I had in the barn). Unfortunately, I also cut into God’s time. And it took a while for me to realize it. I’ve missed out on so much wisdom, much more than I can ever learn on my own or through my teachers!

So as life gets busy, make sure to stop every once in a while and double check your priorities. Don’t be dismayed if you have slacked off like me. Even Jim Elliot struggled with “consistent thoughtlessness and careless neglect of prayer and Bible study” (The Journals of Jim Elliot, Feb 9, 1948). He was able to overcome and grow with Christ’s help and so can we! We just have to start with a quiet room and God’s listening ears. Life, in the mist of our busyness, can still be used by God. All we have to do is ask for another chance.

Aughts Against Any

“Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Matthew 18:18.

For a long time I was puzzled..about what ‘loosing’ and ‘binding’ meant. Then I found out: it means that by hanging onto my judgement of another I can bind him to the very conditions I’d like to see changed. By our unforgiveness, we stand between the other person and the Holy Spirit’s work in convicting him and then helping him…Forgiveness means that I’m no longer binding a certain person on earth. It means withholding judgement…
A couple of years ago I was going through one of those prayers-no-getting-beyond-the-ceiling periods and I prayed ‘Lord, I don’t have enough faith. Give me the gift of faith.’
‘It isn’t your faith,’ the reply came ‘I can see faith even if it is as small as a mustard seed. No, It’s something else. When you stand praying – forgive if you have aught against any. That’s your trouble. That’s why your prayers aren’t answered. You go about with a lot of aughts against a lot of anys.’

–David DuPlessis
Quoted in the book Something More by Cathrine Marshall.

Fixing the Prison System

*This is an essay I wrote last year for a college class and I thought you all might enjoy it*

The national debt crisis has reached a critical point. According to US Debt Clock.org, on 17 November 2011 at 9:07 AM, the United States owed more than $15,002,958,100,000[,] and the number is increasing tens of thousands by the second! There are several factors contributing to our national debt, and one is the prison system.

The current system has too many inmates.

An article in All Business, published in 2010, states the following:

In 1980, there were 1.84 million people in the U.S. under some form of correctional supervision, either incarcerated in a prison or jail or being supervised in the community by probation or parole agencies. Today, nearly 30 years later, more than 7.5 million people are incarcerated or being supervised in the community. This includes more than 1.5 million prisoners and another 780,000 jail inmates. Based on a U.S. population of 303 million, this means the U.S. incarceration rate is 762 inmates per 100,000 people in the population. By comparison, the most recent available estimates indicate that there are more than 9.8 million people incarcerated worldwide. Based on a world population of 6.7 billion people, the world incarceration rate is 145 inmates per 100,000 people worldwide. No other country, including many that have higher victimization rates, appears to have a higher incarceration rate than the U.S. (Innes 1)

The shocking fact is that“[w]ith 5% of the world’s population, the United States has close to a quarter of the world’s prisoners” (Lazare 1). The United States should be the ones to be an example, but she has a higher imprisonment number than any other country!

The current system is costing us too much. The United States is spending “$60 billion a year to imprison 2.2 million people” (Warren). According to this figure, we are spending about $30,000 to feed, clothe, guard, provide cable, provide a library, and provide a weight room to one inmate! This number does not include the millions of people in community prisons.

The current system has a high turnover rate. There are too many inmates returning to state  prison: “roughly 44% ” in Pennsylvania (“Looking for Ways”). It looks like 44% of criminals are not learning their lessons!

What the United States needs to do is to go back to God’s standard of punishing crimes—Restitution. Restitution, unlike punishment laws, “remind[s] the prisoner that ultimately he is responsible to God for his actions” (Godfather). People are, eventually,  responsible to God, not the government, for their actions. Government is what God works through “for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:14b).

Paul states in his letter to the Romans:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Romans 13:1-4)

The government should be a terror to the evil! Would not that be welcome to the law enforcement? People who break the law should be terrified of being punished.

In God’s system of Restitution, criminals would have to pay back at least double what they stole and/or damaged. Sometimes it would be more because the amount that criminals would pay back would be determined by the crime committed. God says that “all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, when another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor” (Exodus 22:9). God also says that “[i]f a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double” (Exodus 22:7).

If the convicted cannot pay, he/she would be made to work. In God’s law, it was stated that “a thief who was unable to make restitution for a property crime could be sold into servitude for his theft” (Godfather). This is found in Exodus where it states that “if [the thief] have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft” (Exodus 22:3). The Constitution of the United States confirms this by saying “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (13th Amendment, U.S. Constitution).

Jobs that criminals could do if they cannot pay restitution are cleaning and maintaining parks, cleaning roadsides and streets of debris, cleaning public restrooms, etc. If the convicted is not a threat to society, a tracking device could be placed on the person and he/she could work for a business that has volunteered to hire the convicted person. These businesses can be restaurants, malls, grocery stores, farm stores, carpenters, mines, foresters, colleges, and more. The business would treat the ciminal in work expectation and income the same as any other citizen.

Criminals would not be made comfortable. America should not be spending money to make life in prison more pleasant for people who have broken the laws of the land! Cable television would be one of the first things to go. Weight rooms would be eliminated because the inmates would be building muscles while working. A Bible and some character books are all that the convicted needs, so access to a library would not be needed. Computer and telephone access would be restricted to communication with the criminal’s family members.

The inmates would be required to pay for their care. Money would be taken out of an inmate’s income to pay for his/her food, clothes, tracking band, medical attention, etc. This would nearly eliminate the $60 million spent a year to house an inmate. Also, if an inmate will not cooperate and work, he/she should not be allowed to eat. The only exception is if the inmate is ill.

Thieves, drunkards, embezzlers, burglars, etc. would pay back at least double what they stole and/or damaged. Scripture says that “[i]f the theft be certainly found in [the thief’s] hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double” (Exodus 22:4). If the convicted cannot pay immediately, he/she would work under supervision until he/she has paid back double.

In federal prisons, “27% of all prisoners … are criminal illegal aliens and the majority (63%) of those are Mexican citizens” (Wagner). Illegal aliens would be put to work building the United States border for a specific amount of time—preferably five or more years. Only days that they spend working would count toward the five or more years. Any money, houses, cars, land, etc. that they owned would be sold and the money given to the government to pay for the transportation of the illegal aliens back to their home country after the years of servitude were done. If the illegal alien had committed a theft, he/she would work on the border until paid back double to the victim and then his/her five years or more of work for coming here illegally would start.

People who transport or are involved in illegal drugs would be put to work building the United States border or working at any other anti-drug-related job.

First Degree, Second Degree, and Voluntary murderers would be put to death. God says “[h]e that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exodus 21:12). Whereas involuntary, accidental, or murders done out of defense would not be punished by death. God puts it this way: “And if a man lie not in wait…I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee” (Exodus 21:13). These days, the place God has made as a safe heaven for innocent people is the government.

All rapists who forced their victims would be put to death. God touched on this subject when he commanded that if a man found a girl and “force[d] her, and l[ay] with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing” (Deuteronomy 22:25).

Kidnappers would be put to death. God commanded that “he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 21:16).

If a person fights and injures another person badly, but he/she can still walk and are not affected seriously, then the one who injured would pay for the medical expenses and the time the wounded was not paid for work. God puts it this way: “And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed” (Exodus 21:18-19).

So how is a prison system that has too many prisoners, costs too much, and has a high turnover rate fixed? Go back to God’s standard of restitution. Make prisoners work for food, clothes, and supplies. Enforce a stricter death penalty. Do not make prisoners comfortable Most of all, make potential law breakers terrified of even thinking of breaking the law!

Works Cited

Godfather, The. “A Simple Way to Reduce the Prison Population.” Godfather Politics 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

Holy Bible, The. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989. Print. King James Version.

Innes, Christopher A. “The Simple Solution for Reducing Correctional Costs.” All Business 1 Feb. 2010. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

Lazare, Daniel. “Jailing Nation: How Did Our Prison System Become Such a Nightmare?” AlterNet 20 Aug. 2007. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

“Looking for Ways to Reduce Pa. Prison Populations.” Daily Local News 6 Nov. 011. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

U.S. Constitution. Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation, 2008. Print.

Wagner, P. F. “Impacts of Illegal Immigration: Crime.” The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration. N. pag. US Illegal Aliens.com. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

Warren, Jenifer. “High Cost of Prisons Not Paying Off, Report Finds.” Common Dreams 8 June 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

Faith in James

James is known as the book about faith. It is also my favorite New Testament book. A couple of days ago, while reading various verses, I decided to find each time the word ‘faith’ was used.

Tested faith produces cheerful endurance. James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

Wisdom is given when asked for with non-doubting faith. James 1:5-6a  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and unbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. Notice that these verses are placed right in the middle of a discussion about trials. We must have God’s wisdom to get through the valleys of this world.

We should not show favoritism in people while having faith in Jesus Christ. James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. The following verses give the example of favoritism biased on the way a person is dress or how much money they have. There is an old saying that goes something like this: “You only love Jesus as much as the person you love the least.” If we do show favoritisim, we are not loving our neighbor as our self (James 2:8), but we “commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).

Just because a person says he believes (has faith) that God is there does not mean he is saved.James 2:14, 19 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Remember Matthew 7:21-27? Jesus is talking about the true way into the kingdom and He tells the parable of the two builders. Look it up; especially verses 21-23.

Faith without works is dead. James 2:17,20,26 Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone…But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works in dead?…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Faith is proven by her works. James 2:18,24 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without they works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works…Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. We know Abraham had faith because of what he did. James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wroght with [Abraham’s] works, and by works was faith made perfect? “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matt 12:34b).

Faith filled prayer can heals and protects; with the prayer of faith, our sins our forgiven. James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sin, they shall be forgiven.

Awake, My Soul, And With the Sun

Awake, my soul, and with the sun Thy daily stage of duty run; Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise, To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem, Each present day thy last esteem, Improve thy talent with due care; For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine Let thy own light to others shine. Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere; Keep conscience as the noontide clear; Think how all seeing God thy ways And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart, And with the angels bear thy part, Who all night long unwearied sing High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, who safe has kept And hast refreshed me while I slept Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art, O never then from me depart; For to my soul ’tis hell to be But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew; Disperse my sins as morning dew. Guard my first springs of thought and will, And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day, All I design, or do, or say, That all my powers, with all their might, In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again And Heaven itself I would disdain, Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed, And I in hymns to be employed.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 

Author: Thomas Ken for the boys at Winchester College 1695.

Sweet Savor

How many Christians remember that our prayers are a sweet savor to the LORD? Throughout the Old Testament, the ofers of incence were a picture of our prayers. God delights in hearing us pray! In Revelation 4:10-11, the twenty-four elders around The Throne were there to worship God. The Lamb enters in chapter 5 and is the only one worthy to open the book with seven seals (vrs 1-7). As soon as He does,  the twenty-four elders fall down before Him and worship him with harps and “golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints” (vr 8). Our prayers are so enjoyed by God that they are placed in golden bowls and used in the worship of Him! How much incence are you sending to heaven today? If prayers could be measured by weight, how much are you giving? A pound… an ounce…or nothing at all?