Be A Voice For Change

Little did I know, writing a novel would have such an impact on me.

It all began with an idea. An idea which lead me to research on mass incarceration and correspond with prison inmates.

Courtesy of Creative Commons ~ Torture ~ Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi

Never realizing, it would lead me to want to become an activist and lobby for change in our prison system.

In my research and corresponding with inmates, I have come to learn about the gross injustice that exists in their world.

Some would say, if not most, “You do the crime, you do the time.” This is true, however, God doesn’t punish us to the degree that humans do.

Yes, I am aware there are consequences to our choices. However, I also know throwing people in prison to rot and die isn’t exactly helping them or solving the issue at hand.

Currently, funding has been cut to such a degree that there is a scarcity of rehabilitation programs being offered within our prison system. As a matter of fact, most will say, people coming out of prison are far worse than when they went in. Obviously, something is wrong with this picture.

Not only that, our government is making an exorbitant amount of money off of those who they incarcerate.

There is a large number of mentally ill people in prison, who are also in solitary confinement and not receiving the help or proper medication they require to get better.

As it stands, the prison system is broken and needs to be fixed.

The only way this is going to happen is if we advocate for it. It is not going to magically change on its own.

I don’t believe you have to have a family member who is or was in prison to care or have compassion. Personally, I have not experienced a parent, family member or friend who is or was incarcerated when I was growing up. I have never stepped foot inside a prison my entire life, yet I do care, have compassion and want to make a difference.

I feel compelled to try and do something. I just can’t stand by and watch, knowing all that I know and not do anything about it. I have a responsibility to get the word out, and to be about the change, not just talk or write about it.

Which is why I will be joining hundreds of people on May 5th to lobby against solitary confinement in Albany. I want to be a voice for the voiceless and advocate for change in our laws to help stop the torture of solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement is torture. Trust me, prison is bad enough than to add the isolation and poor conditions of solitary confinement on a human being. We treat our animals better in this country than we do humans. This is a sad testament to the state of affairs and it needs to change.

If you are interested in joining us on May 5th, please click here for the details and sign up.

Has writing brought awareness on a particular cause in your life? If so, please share in the comment section below.

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The Making Of A Prophet by Jennifer LeClaire

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Chosen Books (February 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800795628
ISBN-13: 978-0800795627
Price: $12.99
Purchase: Amazon | CBD | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Now what?

In this book, leading prophetic voice Jennifer LeClaire guides readers along the journey of a prophet– from the initial call all the way through to maturity.

This process is anything but easy. But LeClaire offers honest, accessible counsel to help you move into your prophetic call. Her spiritual insights will help you overcome the fear of man, identify and eliminate wrong motives and, above all, pursue intimacy with God.

Many prophets are called . . . but not everyone endures the making process; to his or her prophetic destiny.

God is looking for people to entrust with the secrets of His heart.

Embrace the journey toward your call with this comprehensive, practical guide, and experience the awesome process of being formed into a mouthpiece for the God of the universe.

Review

I have read many books on this topic and The Making of a Prophet was the best I’ve read thus far.

When I first selected this book to review, I was on the fence about it. Since the other books I read were a disappointment. This book was different than all the other books I’ve read on this subject.

The Making of a Prophet is a practical and biblical guide to what it truly is to be used of God as a prophet and also, the great responsibility and cost that is associated with this office.

LeClaire does not sugar coat anything. She tells it like it is. She derives and shares from her own personal experiences; the mistakes as well as the victories.

Her writing style is honest, down to earth and real which I find refreshing in this day and age.

Especially with so many today in the prophetic ministry, who call themselves “prophets” and go around using, abusing and exploiting their so-called gift for their own personal gain, status or recognition.

If you want to read a sound and no nonsense book on this subject, I highly recommend you read, The Making of a Prophet.*

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.

Jennifer LeClaire is a prophetic voice and teacher with a growing media ministry. She directs IHOP-Fort Lauderdale and serves as news editor of Charisma magazine. In addition, she writes one of Charisma‘s most popular prophetic columns, “The Plumb Line,” and frequently contributes to Charisma‘s Prophetic Insight newsletter. Her media ministry includes her website, 40,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a growing newsletter list. She lives in south Florida. Learn more at www.jenniferleclaire.org.

 

 

 

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Jesus Isn’t A Racist or A Murderer

A few weeks ago, I read this letter by Ray Jasper who was executed last Wednesday night in Texas.

Ray Jasper

Ray Jasper was 18 years old when he murdered David Alejandro.

David Alejandro

At the age of 33, David Alejandro was a lead singer of a Christian band besides running his own recording studio. Before Ray Jasper, an aspiring rapper, killed him.

Jasper had previous sessions in Alejandro’s recording studio prior to the attack. He devised a plan with two others to steal Alejandro’s studio equipment.

I’m not sure what possessed Jasper to make a tragic mistake in taking the life of someone he considered one of the nicest people he ever met.

But what I do know is that his final letter evidenced a changed man prior to his execution last Wednesday night.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, which is why I consider the death penalty unethical. I know there are Christians who don’t agree with me.

They quote bible verses in the Old Testament as their justification and reason for why they believe capital punishment is allowed by God. However, when I look at the New Testament, the new covenant, Jesus didn’t go around killing anyone.

Saul (before his name was changed to Paul) persecuted and killed Christians. If Jesus was in favor of the death penalty, he would have killed Paul on the road to Damascus. Yet, Jesus didn’t kill him, He showed him mercy, grace, love and forgiveness.

There are thirty-two states in the USA supporting the death penalty. Meanwhile, there are many on death row (or serving life sentences in solitary confinement) who are innocent.

Currently, there is a series on CNN called Death Row Stories, which is revealing a few of the many cases of those who were on death row and are now exonerated.

I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be those who are killing people by lethal injection, and have innocent blood on my hands the day I see Jesus.

In my humble opinion, the prison system is modern day slavery and the death penalty is a modern day genocide, where whites still lynch blacks by lethal injection.

Yes, I’m white and writing this. I refuse to pretend or turn a blind eye on the reality of racism in this country.

Jesus isn’t a racist, so therefore, neither am I.

As Christians, I believe we shouldn’t be in agreement or in favor of the death penalty. My heart grieves for all those who are innocent and sitting on death row or serving life sentences in solitary confinement.

Christians need to take a stand for change and be a voice for the voiceless. The death penalty is antiquated, inhumane, unethical, barbaric, and needs to be abolished.

Human beings do not have a right to dictate who lives and who dies; only God reserves that right.

What are some of the ways which we can advocate to abolish the death penalty?

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My Writing Journey

I apologize for not blogging in awhile. One day runs into the next and before you know it, a month has passed.

I need to get better about blogging at least once a week. I have been writing a lot, just not blogging.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned I’m working on a novel.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

It all began last October when I decided to participate in NanoWriMo without ever writing a piece of fiction in my life. I know it sounds crazy. It was hard, but I felt the most alive.

I am glad I pushed through the fear and took the dive, because I’ve discovered I enjoy writing fiction.

Thus, my focus has been more on my novel and less on blogging.

I began this blog a couple of years ago with the focus on book reviews. I still enjoy writing book reviews, however, recently my reading has been exclusive to research.

I’m learning a great deal about the discipline and art of fiction writing. It’s been an interesting journey to say the least.

I just wanted to take the time to update you, since I didn’t want any of you to think I fell off the map.

There has been so much on my heart I’ve wanted to share. But each time I tried, I would choke up and not write anything at all.

For me, good writing is like eating a gourmet meal and not fast food. I want to be able to write something of substance and quality; and not regurgitate the same ole, same ole.

I want to thank all of you for hanging in there with me as I find my way on this writing journey.

Do you struggle to write when your heart and mind are full? What do you do to push past it?

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Are You Playing The “Game”?

It is said, life is a game.

The pieces on a chessboard are people maneuvering themselves into strategic positions to win.

The “game” is played on the streets as well as on the internet.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I’ve worked in Corporate America for almost 30 years, and there are unspoken rules there too.

You play the “game” right, you win.

You play it wrong, you lose.

Truth be told, I hate playing games.

I’ve always had a difficult time following a crowd or being part of a clique. I’ve never participated, and still don’t.

I’m not antisocial. I’m just not into pretenses.

Which is probably why I frown upon words like, “community” and “tribe”. It reminds me of a gang mentality.

Gangs are racist and discriminatory. They only accept people who are like them.

If you follow, you are accepted. If you say and do all the right things, you are in. If you don’t, you are cut off.

Social media is a slippery slope.

Most try to climb the ranks like a gangster.

They become friends with you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter, with an agenda. In the hopes that you will help them, but never with the intention of getting to know you.

It’s all about what you can do for them. How you can help them succeed or get ahead.

You see, it’s hardly about “community”.

Everyone follows and joins the bandwagon. They jump in head first to climb the ladder of fame.

The second you say “no” to something they want, you can best believe, they will unfriend or unfollow you in a heartbeat.

You no longer have any use for them, because you were just a “tool” to begin with.

Eventually, word gets around in the so-called “community” and you are exiled.

I don’t know about you, but I am not interested in following the sheep or rather, herd mentality.

I don’t need people’s favors to get ahead. If God has something for me, then it’s for me.

As with everything in my life, nothing was handed to me on a silver platter. I had to work hard and earn the right to have whatever I have today.

There are no political hand-outs or favors in my world.

I’m glad because I don’t have an “entitlement” mentality that most people have. I don’t walk around looking for ways on how people can help me or ask for favors.

Half of these people, who are in the same “community”, are landing positions they aren’t even qualified for. They got it by playing the “game”, rubbing elbows and doing favors.

When it comes to art, homie don’t play that.

My creativity came from God and I won’t be exploiting it any time soon.

I don’t subscribe to the “I’ll scratch your back, if you’ll scratch mine” mentality.

You can call it pride if you’d like, but I’m not stooping that low to get ahead, even if it means walking alone.

If I get anywhere with anything I pursue, it will be by the grace of God mixed with my sacrifice, effort and hard work.

Where do you stand on this matter? Are you buying into the dream their selling you?

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A Forgotten Ministry

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them;and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Hebrews 13:3

Courtesy of Creative Commons

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article about a new book that was released, Black is the Day, Black is the Night by Amy Elkins.

This article fascinated me. Amy Elkins corresponded with five male inmates on death row, which lead to her book of remarkable photographs. She expresses their story in an artistic way.

I have been studying about solitary confinement and prison life for awhile now.

Our entire prison and justice system baffles and troubles me. I have a burden for those who are incarcerated.

Those who have been locked up, forgotten about by family and so-called friends as if they no longer exist.

Let me share an excerpt by Amy Elkins:

“A system that uses long-term solitary confinement and capital punishment is broken. Housing someone in infinite isolation has been proven to be hugely damaging to one’s psychological and physical state. This type of isolation breeds behavioral and emotional imbalances that are bound to cause most to remain in a perpetual state of anxiety, depression and anger. Which means they are set up for failure. There is absolutely no way to rehabilitate in such conditions.  But clearly rehabilitation isn’t what they have in mind.

I have written with one man in particular who has served 20 years in solitary confinement as part of a Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentence for a non-murder related crime he committed aged 16. He has written about going years talking through concrete walls without ever seeing the men he holds daily conversations with. He spends nearly 23 hours a day in a small cell by himself and when he is let out, he is shackled and permitted to exercise in a slightly larger room by himself for an hour. How he’s gone 20 years in these conditions and not gone completely mad is mind blowing.”

I have been writing to inmates off and on now for years. You have no idea how happy it makes them to receive letters.

While sitting in their 6 x 9 to 8 x 10 feet cell, day in and day out, for 22 or 23 hours a day, with no hope of physical contact with anyone other than a correctional officer.

They describe solitary confinement or death row as hell on earth.

You may be thinking, these prisoners are criminals, they deserve what they get. They took a life or whatever, so they need to pay for what they did.

But think about it, how will they ever rehabilitate in a barbaric system like solitary confinement or capital punishment?

The system is flawed.

The Bible admonishes us not to forget about those who are in prison.

Perhaps you don’t want to visit a prison. That is understandable. It’s not for everyone.

But, if you have a burden, you could write to an inmate or two.

Some churches even have a prison ministry. If you a part of or member of a church, you may be able to get involved in their pen pal ministry.

If not, you can do it on your own; just Google inmate pen pal sites and choose an inmate to write to.

It’s best to write to the same sex, however, you may discover you identify and have a burden for someone of the opposite sex.

It is important to be clear about your position and intention in your first letter to them, so they know where you stand. Setting boundaries from the beginning is vital.

They will respect your wishes because all they desire is to be able to communicate with someone, anyone.

Believe it or not, the majority do not receive letters from anyone.

If you are concerned about your safety or of your family, you can always use an alias and rent a P.O. Box.

I highly suggest only using a P.O. Box.

If you are going to begin writing to an inmate, the most important thing to remember is consistency is key.

If you believe you won’t be able to be consistent for whatever reason, it is best not to start.

The reason why I say this, is because it will only result in another let down and disappointment for them.

They are already at a loss and suffer from hopelessness.

The only thing they look forward to is receiving letters.

If you decide to start, please make sure you can stick with it.

Writing to those in prison is a forgotten ministry, but is one of the best ways to demonstrate God’s love in action.

Is this something you would be interested in doing? Do you have any questions or concerns? If so, please comment below.

 

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By The Word Of Our Testimony

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the Word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11

Courtesy of Creative Commons

What makes Jesus real to others? Is it what we say? What we do? How do the unsaved come to believe Jesus is real?

Revelation 12:11 says, it is by our testimony.

When I think about my testimony, I cringe.

Do I really want to tell others what I have done and been through?

Truth be told, I never share my testimony. I may share bits and pieces of it, here and there, but I never get around to actually telling people what God has delivered me from.

I remember when a close friend of mine who is a missionary introduced me to other missionaries. She began telling them a little bit about my testimony and I was mortified. She saw the expression on my face and pulled me aside to apologize. I told her I wasn’t comfortable sharing my story with others, whether they are Christians or not.

I am not comfortable sharing my past, which is why I don’t share my testimony.

Recently, I listened to a message where a pastor said, “God did not deliver you for yourself. He did not deliver you, so that you could live a comfortable life, sitting on your sofa, eating popcorn. He delivered you so that you can go tell others about what Jesus has done for you, so that others may believe.”

Boy, did I feel convicted.

All these years, I have been sitting on my testimony because I don’t want to be judged and criticized by others.

Yes, God has delivered me of much, but yet, I want to tuck it away somewhere, go on with my life and forget about it.

We can continue to use prescriptions and formulas to bring others to Christ. We can also act like we have it figured out and attempt to do everything with our own reasoning.

However, as you can see from the above verse, it isn’t by our logical antidotes or persuasive words that brings others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

It is by the Holy Spirit, the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony.

This is God’s prescription.

The real question is, will we continue to follow our own way or do it His way?

Do you also find it hard to share you testimony?

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He Loves To Hear Our Hearts

Life is busy. We are constantly running and trying keep up with the clock.

At end of the day, we are exhausted. We head to sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day.

When do we stop and spend time with God?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The other day I was speaking to a close friend of mine. I asked her this question, “How do we develop intimacy with God?”

My friend is in full time ministry and has been following the Lord consistently for many years.

She responded, “By spending time with Him. It’s in having a relationship with Him, that intimacy grows.”

It’s the same as any earthly relationship. If we don’t spend time with a friend or spouse, we won’t get to know them.

The same applies to our Heavenly Father. If we don’t stop and spend time with Him, we won’t get to know Him.

There was a time I tried to build my faith by reading books, attending every church service, going to conferences and serving in ministry.

I thought by “doing” all these things, my faith and intimacy would somehow grow.

I was wrong.

It is not by our might or power, it is by His Spirit. It is God who changes us from the inside out by spending time and getting to know Him.

It’s by setting aside time every day to read His Word, pray and wait on Him.

When we develop this discipline, we begin to grow in intimacy with Him.

It isn’t by our doing, works or ministry that changes us or develops our faith. It is God who does the work in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

He doesn’t want us doing anything for Him, He wants us and our time.

He loves to hear our hearts.

Has He been hearing from yours lately?

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Mad Faith

You’re probably wondering why am I using the word “mad” in connection to “faith”.

The word “mad” is commonly used in New York City. The urban dictionary defines “mad” as “extreme” or “a lot”.

I decided to connect the two; mad faith.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I’ve been thinking madly about faith. What makes one have more faith than another, and that sort of thing.

It’s a mystery.

My desire has been ever increasing for my faith to be authentic.

In Christendom, I see many chasing after signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations, to the point of idolatry.

I’m not judging, but merely making an observation.

Truthfully, I used to be one of those people. I would chase after God here, there and everywhere.

I was seeking some kind of sign or experience and chasing after Him as if He couldn’t be found.

Frankly, I had it all wrong.

It sort of reminds me of Moses, when He went up to the mountain to get the Ten Commandments and left the people behind. In time, they all started making physical idols to worship instead of worshipping the God who miraculously parted the Red Sea and delivered them from the Egyptians.

What is it in us that inclines us to chase after other gods, instead of Him? Why are we restless and unsettled in our faith? Why must we chase after experiences? Why isn’t Jesus enough?

These are the questions which gnaw at me daily. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that I’ve already tried it all. I’ve traveled around the world in search of Him.

I am certain of this, it is not by signs and wonders that our faith increases, not in the least. I tell you this from personal experience. This doesn’t deepen our faith.

One thing that does though, is adversity.

My faith was strengthened, when I shook with fear, felt hopeless, thinking God wasn’t going to deliver me out of something, and He did.

To me, that’s miraculous. Not manifestations of angel feathers, gems or gold dust appearing at some gathering, where the attention turns to man and not God.

This is where the confusion begins. Everyone starts worshiping and idolizing the creation instead of the Creator. The credit for these so-called manifestations becomes attributed to man, instead of God. If something is going to take the focus or pull you away from God, you should run the other direction and don’t look back.

I’m sharing what I’ve gleaned from all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life.

I’m not claiming to be an expert or have it right. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t have all the answers. All I know is my heart longs for the authentic. For the living God of this universe to be real and present in my life.

I don’t want my desire for signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations to take precedence over Him. He already gave and did it all by dying on the Cross for me, what more do I want?

I want to have mad faith which is undeniable and unshakeable. I want to experience more of His love and presence in my life. Not experiences, sensations, imitations or cheap substitutes. The real deal.

What about you?

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Bobbing and Weaving

After taking a few boxing classes for fun at NYSC from an instructor named Santana. One day I looked him in the eye and said, “I’m going to become a professional boxer now, goodbye.” He stood there dumbfounded.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I remember the day I walked into Gleason’s Boxing gym for the first time. It was in 1998 and at the time, the majority of boxers were male.

They all gawked at me as I strode in wearing my leopard print tights which matched my wild and untamed hair. I was quite a sight.

I walked holding my head high and ready to conquer the boxing world.

Back then Gleason’s was different than it is today. The air was musky and hung with sweat, the windows were foggy, everything seemed old and worn.

It was an environment I was neither familiar with or exposed to in my life.

So there I was, Ms. Middle Class amongst those who were rough and lived in underprivileged neighborhoods.

However, nothing was going to stop me. I was determined to prove myself as a female boxer.

I remember the day my trainer decided to have me spar with some dude. There were no female boxers around.

I got in the ring, started moving around and practicing my jab. My trainer yelling for me to bob and weave. So I started bobbing and weaving. Then I tried doing an uppercut. I loved those upper cuts, but I wasn’t able to get in close enough to do it.

I began feeling winded. Thankfully, the bell rang because I was dying of thirst. I opened my mouth, for my trainer to give me water. He squirts a little water and tells me to spit it out. I looked at him as if he was out of his mind. There was no way I was going to spit it out. I swallowed it.

The bell rang again. I hesitated. I was exhausted and wanted to stop. The next thing I know, I was keeling over.

I didn’t have my guard up and the guy landed a punch to my liver. There are no words to describe the level of pain.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. One I will never forget. Defense is everything. In the ring and in life. When my guard was down, there was an opening for him to hit me.

I was out of breath, thirsty and my movements were sluggish. My opponent took complete advantage of the situation.

While reflecting back on this incident, I realized the enemy of our souls does the same. He waits for an opening to lodge his onslaughts and attacks on us. If we’re are open, tired or unguarded, he will catch us by surprise which will leave us reeling.

In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” and Luke 21:34 says, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”

We can’t let him catch us off guard. We have to keep our defenses up by reading the Word and praying. We need to practice bobbing and weaving daily.

Thankfully, we have the best trainer, the Holy Spirit and the best corner man, Jesus Christ.

We are guaranteed to win and promised the victory!

Have you been bobbing and weaving lately?

 

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Every Action Has A Reaction

A long time ago, I used to think my actions didn’t effect others. I was single, living in my own world and doing my own thing.

Unfortunately, being single didn’t allow me the ability to see myself clearly. It was when I got married, I was able to see choices, decisions and actions have repercussions and consequences, not only to myself, but to others as well.

Courtesy of Creative Commons – alicemariedesign

This was a huge pill for me to swallow and accept. We go along with our lives when we are alone, thinking we can do whatever we want, say whatever we want and it’s nobody else’s business or concern.

The world is our oyster.

However, this is living in a bubble or fantasy world, which is self-centered and self-absorbed.

The truth is every action has a reaction.

There is no getting around it, whether you are married or single, whether you want to believe it or not, your actions and choices effect everyone around you.

It’s like a pebble hitting the surface of water, you see the ripple effect. The same occurs with us; our choices are like pebbles and our actions cause rippling effects.

This is why we have to be careful to choose wisely because some actions are irreversible. The damaging effects of one wrong choice can destroy more than you bargained for.

For instance, a family member who continually betrays you by speaking negatively about you behind your back with other family members, thinking it will never get back to you.

But it always does, doesn’t it? Some way, somehow, the information finds its way back to the person.

Once this occurs, the damage is done, because you can never look at that family member the same way again. A seed of distrust is planted and with each repetitive instance, the seed of distrust continues to germinate and grow.

Yes, one can forgive and move on, but the trust and respect needed for a good and healthy relationship is broken and lost.

Has this ever been your experience? Can you recall a time when this applied in your life?

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