This Man’s Schizophrenia Gone!

I met Tom while he was in the medical unit at the county jail. He had attempted suicide several times, was on medication for schizophrenia and heard voices telling him to kill himself.

We met weekly, speaking through the small pass-through opening in his door. I discovered Tom was highly intelligent.  He prayed to receive Christ and was eager to study the Bible. We would pray together and I urged him to memorize and meditate on Scripture, and he did.

I once said, “There is no mental condition that God cannot heal. Medication could be God’s way of controlling the voices for now, but someday that may change.”  I said it,  but did I believe it?

Tom was transferred to a state prison and I gave him the address to my PO Box so we could keep in touch. He soon wrote that they were keeping him so heavily medicated he had double vision and was unable to stay awake during the day. They refused to cut his dose so he decided he’d refuse his medication.  “I’m going to meditate on Scripture and trust God to remove the voices.”

I wrote, “That is not a good idea. You need to speak with your doctor. Request a different medication or a lower dose.”

I was wrong.  Two months later he wrote and said it was working!  No medication—and no voices!  He was meditating on Scripture instead.  Moreover, he had started leading a Bible study for other inmates.

I began sending him materials to share with his Bible study group. I urged him to enroll with Crossroad Bible Institute, a ministry that sends free Bible study lessons to prisoners. He did.  That was six years ago.

Today he still takes no medication, still hears no voices and still memorizes and meditates on Scripture. He continues to lead a Bible study and is thankful that God is using him to change lives inside prison walls.  Last Easter he sent me the Easter message he’d written to share with inmates. It brought tears to my eyes. It was scholarly, yet simple.  I praise God for what He is doing in and through Tom.

Do I believe memorizing and meditating on Scripture is a cure for Schizophrenia?  Not at all.  Perhaps Tom’s case was mild.  Perhaps it was demonic and his coming to Christ caused the demons to flee.   I don’t know.  However, I do believe memorizing and meditating on Scripture is beneficial to all.

  • For no word from God will ever fail.    Luke 1:37
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.     2 Corinthians 12:9
  • He sent out his word and healed them.    Psalm 107:20a
  • SONG: AT THE FEET OF JESUS Lyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen

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Surrendered Your Life to Jesus? Did it Change You?

One night at the juvenile facility I asked Francisco if he’d noticed a change since he surrendered his life to Jesus.

He said, “Ever since that night I feel more relaxed.  I don’t have stress like before.  I have a desire to read my Bible because I want to know God better. I find myself praying a lot and thanking God even for my problems.”

Jose arrived late, asking if he could join us. He had listened to Francisco share how God had changed him. Then said, “God hasn’t changed me at all!   Well, just a little.  I had some peace at first, but not anymore.  I sure don’t feel like reading my Bible OR praying!” Then, after a couple of minutes, “I hate to be rude, but would you excuse me?”

Jose walked away and Francisco said, “I don’t believe Jose has really given his life to Jesus. I don’t even know why he came to Bible study tonight.  He came late and left early—that was rude. When you’re not here, he doesn’t act like a Christian at all. He’s trying to make you think he’s something he’s not.”

“Francisco, we don’t know what’s in his heart. The fact that he came, even for a little while, means that God is tugging at his heart. Will you pray for him this week? God loves him. We need to love him too.”

  • Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.      1 John 4:7-8
  •  SONG:  THESE INWARD TRIALS
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A Tour of Hell

I dreamed I was on a bus tour—a tour into the bowels of hell.

The bus entered a cavern and descended a rugged mountain road. The air became warm and humid. As we progressed downward I began to smell sulfur.  The heat soon turned from warm to hot, to intense.

When we arrived at the bottom, the bus continued on a narrow dirt road. I could see in the distance a lake, but instead of water, it appeared to be roiling lava.

The bus stopped and we were permitted to take a brief walking tour.  For some reason, I don’t remember staying with the group. I seemed to be walking by myself, feeling the oppression of the awfulness surrounding me. My eyes and my entire body were burning from the heat. The smell of sulfur made it difficult to breathe, but I kept walking.

There were many people. Some were cave dwellers, others were living in small huts made of dirt or clay adobe. Some dwellings had short walls and no roofs, like small corrals for animals. Yet, there were people living there—grotesque, wretched people.

Some were headless, yet very much alive and walking.  Some had boils and oozing sores. They were like monsters, yet harmless and too miserable to be a threat.

They did not talk among themselves, nor were they silent. They moaned, cursed and shrieked in pain. None called out for help,  as if they knew it was useless. I don’t recall hearing anyone take the Lord’s name in vain. By now they knew who HE was and did not dare.  No, their situation was beyond hope and they could do no more than just exist in their hideous predicament.

Suddenly I realized I was due back at the bus!  Panic gripped me as I began to hurry, then run, toward our meeting place.  I arrived in time to watch the bus ascend the mountain road without me!  I began running after the bus, hysterically screaming and waving my arms. The bus continued unhindered, up the grade.

I stared in disbelief.  I felt revulsion and fear as never before.

Without hesitating, I knew there was one source whose name brought hope. With all my strength I called out one time,  in the loudest voice I could muster, “JESUS!”

Instantly, a uniformed guard appeared and led me by the hand a short distance to the exit.

I awoke. It was over. I was breathing hard. My heart was racing. I remained motionless for a while, thanking God for delivering me, and considering the significance of the dream.

“Thank you Father, for confirming to me even in a dream, that all the devils of hell are no challenge to the matchless name of Jesus.”

  • Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7
  • But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.    Revelation 21:8
  • Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    Philippians 2:9-11
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College Exam

It was in the spring of Gavin’s freshman year in college. He lived in the dorm and had just finished studying for an important 11:30 AM exam.

At 11:00 he decided to sit in the lounge to clear his mind before walking to the far side of campus for the exam.  Just then Brad from the dorm came in and began asking him questions about his Christian beliefs.  Brad had never been interested before!

Gavin talked to him while keeping an eye on the clock.  Soon it was 11:15 and he wondered, “Should I tell Brad I have a test?  All year I’ve been hoping for this chance. If I leave now, I may not get another opportunity.”  So they continued the discussion and didn’t wrap it up until 11:40!  Gavin then took off running across campus.

He knew the material and knew he could get an “A.”  Sadly, he arrived so late he couldn’t finish on time and only received a “C” grade.  Now he realized the best he could expect for the course was a “B.”

Yet he told himself, “It’s okay, because the big thing I wanted to do for God this year was make a difference for Him. I needed to take that time to talk with Brad.

Later thinking about it, he realized nobody would’ve criticized him for excusing himself to take the test. Brad would’ve understood. Yet Gavin knew that talking to Brad was something God wanted him to do.  He needed to obey.

To his surprise, Gavin received an “A” for the course.  He thought to himself, “God has rewarded me for being obedient!  He has let me know I did the right thing.  Thank You, Lord!”

Today Gavin is a medical doctor and continues to share Christ at every opportunity.

Are there things you know God wants you to do that you are not doing? What do you think God thinks of that?  How would you like to respond to Him?

  • If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.  James 4:17
  •  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.     John 14:21
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God’s Word Speaks to Teens

I started something new with the incarcerated teens. In addition to our regular lesson, I brought an envelope filled with small pieces of paper with Bible verses on one side.  The verses were either a promise from God’s Word, or something instructional/ informational.

I turned the papers upside down on the table and the kids mixed them up. Then we prayed that God would allow each one to choose the verse He wanted them to have for the week—their very own message from God—to meditate on and to memorize.

I watched as each one picked his verse and read it aloud. Marcus went first, reading Luke 24:36-42, about Jesus appearing to His friends after His resurrection.  As he read it aloud I thought to myself, “Oh dear. I should not have included that one—it’s lengthy and I don’t think it’ll speak to Marcus.”

When he finished reading he had tears in his eyes. He said, “Wow! God knew exactly what I needed. This is the very thing I was having doubts about.”

All the boys were pleased with the verses they received, except James. When James read his verse he said he did not understand it. I explained the meaning and then asked if he’d like to choose a different verse.

“No. Now that I know what it means, I’m keeping it. This is definitely the verse God wanted me to have.”

“Precious Father, Thank You for knowing far better than I, exactly what these boys needed from Your Word.”

  • Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.    Luke 24:36-42
  • SONG: ONLY ONE LIFE

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Stinky Cigarettes!

When our kids were small I did what my mother did with us—I talked to them about cigarettes.

We’d drive past the nearby high school and see a group of teenagers on the corner smoking. I’d say, “Look, kids! Do you see what I see? Do you see what those big kids are holding in their hands? Look! Those are stinky cigarettes!

“Do you know why they are smoking them? It’s because they think it makes them look cool. Do you think they look cool? Noooooo! They look silly!

“Do you know what those stinky cigarettes are going to do to their teeth? After awhile their teeth will get stained a yucky brown color. Right now, their breath already smells stinky. Their clothes smell stinky and their cars and houses all smell like stinky cigarettes. I’m sure glad I don’t smoke stinky cigarettes. They’re gross!”

Talking to them in this way, early on, began to mold their thoughts about cigarettes. One day I met a friend in the mall who was holding a cigarette in her hand. Our four-year-old daughter kept pulling at me to leave. When I asked her why, she said, “That lady has a stinky cigarette!”

I remember as teenagers, from time to time, they would report to me their disappointment when certain friends had succumbed to this terrible habit. It didn’t surprise me that smoking was never something they wanted to try.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.        Proverbs 22:6

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Group Home Teaching at the Beach

There was a great deal of activity around our Bible table today. But the highlight was the precious group of teenage girls from a group home.

One said she rarely sees her parents. When they’re together she feels angry. When she’s at the group home she becomes anxious just thinking about them.

I asked if any of them had problems forgiving someone in their past.  They all nodded.  I explained that an unforgiving attitude can cause their anxiety to increase.  I explained that Jesus once said, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I suggested, “If it’s difficult for you to forgive someone, ask God to help you forgive. He will do that and you will have peace.”

I read Philippians 4:6-7 to them:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I explained that when they give thanks, even for the difficulties in their lives, they are showing God they are trusting Him by obeying Him.  He will reward them with a supernatural kind of peace that passes understanding.  That peace with guard and protect their minds and their hearts. The girls listened with interest.

The girls said they don’t attend church, nor do they know anything about the Bible.   I asked them who Jesus Christ was to them.  Only one said He was her Savior, but she wasn’t sure what that meant.  The other six didn’t know anything about Him.

I talked to them about sin and salvation and the necessity of making Jesus their Savior and Lord.  They all admitted they were sinners in need of a Savior. I gave them two booklets, both written by Dr. Bill Bright:  Would You Like to Know God Personally?  and Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life?  I told them to read both of them and then pray the prayer at the end. They said they would.

I asked if they would be interested in learning more about God and the Bible.  They said they would. I told them about a church near their group home, that has an active high school youth group. Would they like me to call the youth pastor and ask him to invite them?   Yes! They all were eager to attend!  They gave me their phone number so I could give it to the youth pastor.  I plan to call first thing in the morning.

  • But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7
  • http://www.cru.org/how-to-know-god/would-you-like-to-know-god-personally.html
  • http://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/the-spirit-filled-life.html
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The Sign of the Cross and the Holy Spirit

Many incarcerated minors call themselves Catholic, even though they may be unchurched. They are proud to show their tattoos of rosary beads, the Virgin Mary or the crucifix.

They are quick to make the sign of the cross when we pray—and often they’ll do it rapidly three times, kissing their thumb each time. I believe with many, it’s an obsessive-compulsive habit. I’m told that some gangs make the sign of the cross for good luck before participating in a criminal activity.

Unfortunately for most of these teens, the sign of the cross is the extent of their Catholicism, because they have little or no knowledge of the Bible or of Catholic doctrine.

Often when I see my entire group make the sign of the cross I’ll suggest we do it together. Then I’ll talk about what it means:

“When we touch our forehead we say, ‘In the name of the Father.’  Who is the Father?”
The most common response is “Jesus!”
I’ll say, “If the Father is Jesus Christ, then who is the Son?”
Then they’ll say, with a little less confidence, “Jesus?”
I’ll explain that God the Father is the father of Jesus the Son.
“Next we touch each shoulder and say ‘Holy Spirit.’ Who is the Holy Spirit?”
The usual answer, “The Virgin Mary!”

One confused teen thought the Father referred to his dad, the Son referred to himself, and the Holy Spirit referred to his mom!

I like to explain that the Holy Spirit is the part of God that will actually come and indwell us when we give our lives to Jesus. When He comes in He brings all the fruit of the Spirit with Him, so that we can have the power to live a life that is pleasing to God. Without the Holy Spirit it’s pretty much impossible.

So what is the fruit of the Spirit? We read in Galatians 5:22-23 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we receive the Holy Spirit we receive ALL the fruit, not just some of it. That means we have the love and the self-control, etc. We just need to exercise it.

The Bible also tells us that when the Holy Spirit comes in He becomes our comforter and teacher. He will begin to show us new things. Our desires will change as He opens our eyes and gives us a better understanding of Scripture and life.

  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.     Galatians 5:22-23
  • But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.      John 14:16
  • SONG: I KNOW HIMby Kathleen 
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Please Pray! They Want to Kill Me!

One morning on the college campus a female student came to our table asking for prayer. She was afraid for her life.  She said some girls hated her and had threatened to kill her!

We immediately gathered around her and prayed in Jesus’ name for her safety and for God’s intervention. We also prayed for the girls who hated her, that God would change their attitudes and soften their hearts.

A week later she came skipping to our table with a big smile, eager to tell us that God had answered our prayer!

She said, “The girls no longer hate me. In fact, now we’re all best friends!  Thank you for your prayers!  Thank you! Thank you!”

  • Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.    Psalm 107:28
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The Prince

Do you know about Bright Lights?  A 12-year-old girl attended a Bright Lights Radiant Purity Conference for preteen and teenage girls.  She retold the following story upon her return:

“Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a castle high on a hill.  She began to feel lonely and asked her father, the king,  when she could find a husband to keep her company.

“The king told her to wait for the perfect prince who will come for her riding on a white horse. He also explained that there was much evil down the hill in the village and warned her never to go there. The castle was her place of safety until the prince came.

“The princess waited and waited and no prince came. She became bored in the castle and wanted to move on with her life. One day a handsome young man from the village below came to the castle. The princess saw him and instantly they liked each other. The young man asked her if she would like to come to the village with him and have a good time. She explained that she would like to go, but her father would not allow it, because the village was a sinful place.

“The young man suggested that her father will never know, if she sneaks out of the castle and meets him at midnight.  The princess again said that her father would not allow it.  But the young man explained, “Down in the village we just play games, have parties and have fun.”

“The princess was finally coaxed into going and agreed to meet the young man at the bridge at midnight.  Once he left she began to have second thoughts. Yet she told herself, “I’ll just go once and have a good time.”

“That night when she had her nightly talk with the king, she did not mention the young man who had visited. She stayed up until midnight and then left to meet the man at the bridge. She had a wonderful time and told the young man she’d like to go again.  So the following evening she went to meet him again. This happened several times.  They fell in love and decided to get married.  After their marriage they went to live down in the village.  The king was very sad.

“One day after a few months of marriage they began to argue and fight. The princess became discouraged and disappointed.

“While she was feeling unhappy she noticed a prince on a white horse galloping up to the castle. Inside the castle the king told the prince there was no longer a princess here for him. So the prince sadly rode down the hill.  As he rode through the village their eyes met and she was full of sadness.  She knew it was too late.  The prince went on without her.

“Lesson:  God has a plan for your life. It’s important that you trust Him, obey Him, and wait for the godly husband who will share your faith and love for Christ.”

  • Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
     Psalm 27:14
  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
     in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.             Proverbs 3:5-7
  • Story adapted from “Stay in the Castle” by Jerry Ross, www.stayinthecastle.com
  • Learn more about Bright Lights:  http://www.brightlightsministry.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=68
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