Welcome! Fifty years ago this month, I came into agreement with the voice of a madman. Becoming one myself, that pact created massive pain, death and sorrow. Regretfully, the effects of the crimes resonate around the world to this day in the hearts and minds of society.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” 1
A First Responder…
A detective and crime-scene technician named Mark, wrote:
“While not in the habit of writing strangers, I felt compelled to write you. I am 49 years old, born the same year and just two months after the awful incident for which you are serving your sentence. Subsequently, I have heard your story literally my whole life. I have seen the television specials and read the books. Having been a police officer for the last 26 years, 10 of which were as a detective and crime-scene technician, it fascinated me on a professional level. I tried to learn from it; what to do and – even more importantly – what not to do when working crime scenes. Indeed, I have seen my share of death, and have been one standing behind the yellow tape with the camera and notepad.
“However, it is not that which compels me to write you today. It was instead learning that you have since devoted your life to Christ. I too am a Christian, and God has graced me with many blessings I do not deserve. For 20 years, I pursued a dream of being a writer, and just this year (2018), he granted that wish, and I got to see my name up on the big screen in movie theaters on a faith-based movie called Beautifully Broken. He will share that blessing again in 2019 when a film called Fearless Faith is released. When I finally retire from police work in two years, I hope to spend my free time pecking away at the keyboard. We shall see… His will be done.
“As for you, I really just want to say how touched, pleased, proud, humbled, and delighted I am to see what you have done with your life. I pray that God uses you and touches many, many people. The apostle Paul wrote some pretty fine material while incarcerated, and affected many, many people. May you do the same. I will pray for you and encourage you. I will also tell others about you as I finish up my remaining years in law enforcement. It has certainly inspired me, and I know it will inspire others. Keep the faith, brother, and God bless. Mark, AR.”
What Does God Require?
It was so refreshing to hear from Mark, who stands for justice, yet understands mercy, kindness and compassion. He is an example of Christ, which reminds me of what the Lord requires of us, that is, “…to do justly [what is right], to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 2
If justice had been served in my case, I would have been put to death, but God had a different plan and purpose for my life. He loves mercy [withholding His wrath, not giving me what I deserved], and for this reason, He is “…not willing that any should perish but that all should some to repentance.” 3
God requires repentance before anyone can walk humbly with our God. We must repent of our sins before we can be saved by grace [unmerited, unearned and undeserved favor], through faith. It is God’s goodness that leads us to repentance. Then, there is an inward change of mind, heart and will, as we turn to God from sin through the convincing power of the Holy Spirit when the Word of God is proclaimed. The result is “…repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” 4
My Denial for Years…
After the crimes, I lived in denial for several years, not of my participation, but for emotional protection, until I had the ability to deal with guilt and shame through Christ. Instead of doing what is right, I was consumed with “…the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” 5 I knew I needed help, but I didn’t know where to find it, although I sought it in several ways.
In 1975, the Lord began to open my heart to the Gospel, using many of His children, including my mom and dad. I was drawn to the prison chapel in repentance where faith was sparked by God’s word. Though I had sinned against God, I heard about His goodness; how Jesus died for my sin and rose from the dead to give me eternal life, plus it was free! But what stood out most was His love and forgiveness, enabling me to deal with my sin, guilt and shame. I found that God “…is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” 6
Without His power, I could have never dealt with the nagging regret I felt within my heart. Not only the sorrow for the lives I took to mercilessly, but for the choices and decisions I made during my life leading up to the crimes. As a prodigal son, I left a Godly family in Texas, for a surrogate-delusional one in California, which I deeply regret. It was only because of God’s mercy, love and grace that I awoke to my salvation, responsibility and empathy.
“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.” 7
Surrender is a good quality if it’s to the only true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of my unbelief, I allowed the devil to disrupt God’s plan for my life with his disruptions and temptations, “…the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 8 He used my misplaced loyalty to carry out his plan, but without my consent, he no longer has authority in my life.
I’m concerned about your surrender to God’s plan for your life, knowing that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 9 Salvation means to deliver, heal, liberate, make whole, prosper and so much more for you, that can’t be figured out without Jesus Christ in this secular world. You will always come short of God’s best and glory, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 10 He is your Salvation, “…for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 11
Jesus surrendered all at the cross, taking upon Himself our griefs and sorrows – the consequences of sin. He said, “…if I am lifted up from the earth [crucified], [I] will draw all peoples [sin, sickness and pain], to Myself.”12 He did this to save [deliver and make whole], so we don’t have to be enslaved with the pain of our past.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” 13
A Prayer for You…
Lord Jesus, I don’t want to live this way anymore. Today, I release all my griefs, sorrows, sickness and pain into Your loving hands. And I receive Your healing into my heart. Thank You for Your precious blood that washes me whiter than snow. I confess with my mouth, You, Jesus Christ, and I believe in my heart that God raised You from the dead. Right now, I receive Your righteousness, favor, joy and peace. In Your Name, Amen!
Scripture References (NKJV):
1) Eph. 2:4,5, NLT
2) Mic. 6:8
3) 2 Pet. 3:9
4) Acts 20:21
5) 1 Jn. 2:16
6) Eph. 3:20
7) Isa. 12:2
8) 2 Cor. 4:4, KJV
9 1 Pet. 5:5c
10) Rom. 3:23
11) Acts 4:12
12 Jn. 12:32
13) Isa. 53:4,5