Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marion/Harrison Street Prayer walk 5-29-8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Chris Nord and I went walking and praying tonight in the Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood. Terry Wallin was sick. Melissa Wolfinger was, to man's way of thinking late, but right on time with God's plan. . . more about that later.

Chris and I had a really good evening. We talked with a large number of people all up and down both streets. Many children really like the fliers and the Bible verse cards.

We stopped and talked and prayed with Cigar Bob (This for my Dad, his last name is Smith). He really seemed to enjoy our sitting and chatting with him on his front porch for a while. As old as Cigar Bob is, he had a friend sitting maybe 10 feet away from him, on the other end of the porch, who was even older than Bob. His name was George. All I know is his first name. Bob chews on cigars. George chain smokes cigarettes and doesn't talk much at all unless you speak to him. Bob told us of the events of his week. Still having troubles with his checks and with his shoulder. Bob wanted to know where this church was that we are from and the service times. Bob gets around town somehow. It will not surprise me if he shows up at church. We again anointed him and prayed with him. He greatly appreciates our prayers. I do not rush when sitting on Bob's porch. This is something I've had to learn. There may be a week where that is all I do is just talk to Bob. . .my purpose is not to hand out a certain number of fliers. . . my purpose is to pray and to minister to people as God leads me. There is no greater thing to do, nothing more important than to talk and pray with Bob. . .

I stopped in the little grocery store and bought water for Chris and I and dropped off fliers and Bible verse cards. We've not been hitting the side streets, but the little street the store is on always seems to be full of people, so the past two weeks we've been taking a little detour up that street. I think it's Sixth Street. This week was like the last couple and there were lots of people out to talk to.

Toward the northern end of the street a lone lady was sitting on her porch. We had not seen her before. She was just taking in the evening air and watching the activity of the street. I'm not sure who began talking to her first. It might have been Chris, but this lady was so so very hungry and so in tune with what we had to say, she finished most of our sentences for us, with the very words and scriptures that we were going to use. She told us that not more than an hour ago or so she had been telling a friend who was sitting with her on the porch, that what this neighborhood needed was prayer. The neighborhood needed people to begin praying to bring down the strongholds and drive out the places of evil. She wanted to start praying and walking up and down the neighborhood streets. . . . Chris and I very nearly started jumping up and down (I guess I shouldn't speak for Chris. . ., but that's how I felt). Her friend for some reason was offended by this and got huffy and left her. . . and then we came walking up and praying for people.

We were just in awe. We asked her if she needed prayer for anything. She is disabled. I'm not exactly sure what her physical problems are, but she needs prayer. Her electricity is shut off. She and her sister had a disagreement of some kind and her sister had her utilities shut off. Her brother is in Elkhart General Hospital for heart surgery. She had been to see him today. I brought out my little bottle of anointing oil and a prayer cloth. She was so excited, "PRAYER CLOTHS???!!! AND HOLY OIL!!!" and she just smiled and smiled when she saw it. She had her own, I think she called it holiness oil. She dug around in her purse for a moment and brought out a little 3 or 4 ounce half empty bottle of Pompeii brand olive oil. She said that she often rubs it on her hands and then shakes hands with friends or lays her hand on family members anointing them without their even knowing it. . .It was just so cool. This is a praying praying lady. We anointed the cloth for her brother and prayed with her. Chris thought she was speaking in tongues. My hearing is so bad, lots of times everyone sounds like they are speaking in tongues. . . :) so I don't know. We anointed a cloth for her and prayed a wonderful prayer with her. It was just a blessing meeting this lady. She thought the crosses that Chris and I were wearing on our shirts were very nice. I had an extra one along and I gave it to her.

I told her that if she ever wanted to walk and pray with us that we would be honored to have her join with us, but in any respect we surely craved her prayers joining with ours for the tearing down of strongholds of wickedness and dark places. We said goodbye and told her that we would see her next Thursday night about the same time. This was such a cool thing. . .Thank you my God!!!!

We were well received all up and down the street, with one exception. The same lady who has rejected receiving a flier each week was again out on her front porch doing a jig saw puzzle. I don't know. . . maybe I shouldn't have gone to her porch. I always respect peoples requests not to leave literature, but I made eye contact. I just felt drawn to her and as I started up her steps she, not angrily or bitterly, but firmly said she did not want any literature. I tried to be as very pleasant and friendly as possible in her rejection. I said many prayers for this lady.

We go west on Marion down to Oakland Avenue and then back east on Marion up to Fourth Street, over Fourth to Harrison, west on Harrison down to Oakland and back east on Harrison to our little alley detour, up to Third Street, back down Harrison, across Fourth Street and back to the car on Marion.

We were making our way East on Marion, probably about three quarters the way back to fourth street when Chris began speaking to a man, obviously a workman of some kind, getting out of his truck and carrying a tool box. It looked like he had paint or drywall compound on his pants. I think Chris gave him a flier and a Bible verse card. We then paused and I think we spoke to someone for a minute or two and this man ended up following us up the sidewalk for a little bit. I commented on a house we were passing. It was an older attractive home, a little run down, but with brand new windows in the front. I commented on how someone was putting some money into that place, when the man behind us spoke up. He is the owner of that place and a few other places on the street. . . He began telling us how things are changing in the neighborhood. . .CHANGING FOR THE BETTER. . . Chris and I could hardly believe our ears. . .He talked about things are moving. . .things are improving. . .This man told us how happy he is for our prayers for the neighborhood. The area surely needs them and things are changing for the better. It was tremendous. I felt like God was speaking to us through him. I told him how we have been praying in the MIddlebury Street neighborhood for over two years now and how God had really been doing a wonderful work, how many drug houses have been closed and other good things that have been taking place.

Nothing too spectacular for a while. We finished Marion, went west on Harrison and back east. We were almost done with Harrison when I spotted someone several blocks away who looked a lot like Melissa walking towards us. It was Melissa! It was pretty cool she joined us in a few minutes. She had been walking all day pretty much. She had walked from Aspenwald over to her boyfriends on S.R. 19 and back. I think that must be 5 miles one way. She was just wearing her little flip flops. She showed us her feet and lower legs were almost black from the dust of her walking. She thanked me for letting her walk with us praying these last few weeks. She had had foot problems and this has helped her feet and toughened her up to where she can walk all over without getting tired or her feet sore. She took the fliers and Bible verse cards from me and began handing them out with enthusiasm.

Melissa had not been with us more than five minutes or so, when she asked a lady walking on the sidewalk if she needed prayer for anything. The lady struggled and quivered and fought it for a few moments before just bursting into tears and weeping in Melissa's arms. Her husband and her had recently lost their place to stay and were now living on the street. She just wept and wept. Melissa, Chris, and I joined together and prayed for this lady. We lifted her up to God and asked for Him to make a way, where no way seemed possible. . . .This lady did not ask us for anything. . .she left us to go look for her husband.

Like I said earlier in man's figuring of it, Melissa was quite late to the prayer walk, but she arrived absolutely when she was needed by that lady. . .what a tremendous thing that was to see, the awesome timing of God. . .

It was a wonderful night. Other things. . .other prayers. . .other people. . .Chris and Melissa talked and witnessed to, I don't know maybe 10 boys on bicycles in a backyard by our little alley jaunt. We prayed with a young man and witnessed to him about overcoming depression with worship. . . a little girl testified to us that her arm stopped hurting since we prayed for her last week. . .I can't remember everything, but it was a wonderful night. . .

Dave Stokely

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Middlebury Street Prayer walk 5/27/8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Hello All,

I started the walk alone this evening. My two regular companions, Melissa and Terry were both under the weather and had let me know that they would not be making it this evening. When I'd been out for maybe 30 minutes Terry called and told me he would be there in a little bit. He caught up with me down by Saleh's market.

I've been going into the market every chance I get and buying a bottle of water just to have an excuse to talk to the fellow who owns the store and his son and to give them one of our fliers and Bible verse cards. Tonight I gave the owner the flier (his son was not there) and he just started reading it. There were people waiting to make their purchases and he just kept reading and reading it. I was tickled. He was still reading when I walked out the door. That made me smile. Sometimes I wonder. . . I question. . .Sometimes I need a hug from God. He gave me one in that little grocery store.

Terry is a very good friend. He and I minister together three nights a week. Twice on the streets of Elkhart (Tuesdays & Thursdays) and once in the Elkhart County Jail (Wednesdays). He and I, I suppose like good friends always do, we encourage each other when the other is down. Terry was very down at the church picnic. . . I was feeling down tonight. I slept very little last night and I was just feeling a bit low. Terry very much lifted my spirits. It was very good to have him along.

It was very cool and not many people were out. I was really focused on praying to bring down strongholds in the neighborhood. The Bible says that we do not war against people:

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I was determined not to allow the lack of many people feel like a defeat to me. No matter the appearances, there can be no defeat when fighting God's fight. . . Prayer is very important to our attempts to win the world for Jesus. . . If I have spiritual eyes to see the effects of prayer against the places of wickedness in the areas where we walk and pray, they will see huge victories that have already been won in the spiritual realm. It may take longer for the victories to manifest themselves in the physical realm, but !!!!! The stage has been set through the foundation laid by prayers of the saints for great moves of God, for great revival and increase of His kingdom!!!

Actually Sister Ruby told me as I was leaving the church, that there would be more people out than I expected and she was right. One lady was waiting for me at her door. She knew who I was. I don't remember ever speaking to her before. She is a little older than me (maybe 60ish). She lives right next to the big church that is for sale. She is having problems in her family. Her mind is troubled and she desired prayer. I anointed her and we prayed for the peace of God to fill her mind, for God to move in a mighty way in her family, for her to have confidence that everything that was happening was going to work out for God's glory, for a hedge of protection to keep the dark one away. . . It was very good. She had tears coming down her cheeks when we finished. . .

I anointed and prayed for Melissa to be healed. She has a bad sinus infection. Her electricity has been cut off and she has food that is going to spoil. I offered to come back after the prayer walk and put her food in the Church's refrigerator. Melissa's uncle and Dan were cooking out, due to the lack of electricity. . .

Lots of kids were out in the low-income apartments. We gave out many Bible verse cards and fliers and talked to quite a number of people.

We saw and talked to Loretta (Tina's daughter) for a little bit. They will be moving this coming weekend to South Bend.

Terry and I always stop at the Penguin Point restaurant toward the end of our walk. We've gotten to know the counter help pretty well. We always give them fliers and Bible verse cards. We are part of their weekly routine. . .

I think through this street ministry in the neighborhood around the church, we are among other things, maybe helping to build a sense of community. We talk with everyone. We give people who don't otherwise know one another something in common to talk about. . .Things are really working very well. . .We see people with fliers all over the place. . .People are waiting for us, for prayer or numbers of people collect our little fliers, several have invited us in and shown us the fliers hanging in their homes with the pretty colored cords and beads that Sister Bowlin and Sister Chaney are putting together. . .

I plan on continuing the two street ministries through the end of October. I just looked and October 31st this year is on a Friday. It might be nice to have some kind of simple neighborhood fellowship/outreach finale on that night kind of wrapping up the prayer walk season. . . a fellowship/thank you for all the people from the church who have participated and an alternative for the neighborhood people to the normal October 31st celebrations. Maybe (weather permitting) we could make home made soup and bread, maybe donuts and hot cider or something like that for free out in the parking lot with Tiki lights or something similar, kind of like a neighborhood prayer walk finale/harvest party on that night. Just some thoughts I'm kicking around. . . reactions?

God is so good. Things are going so very well. . .

Dave Stokely

On a Scale of 1 to 10

Eight years ago I had open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. May 24th of 2000, I underwent a procedure to repair a congenitally malformed (called a bicuspid) aorta valve. I'm getting side tracted, but Dr. Cosgrove was one of the few surgeons in the world repairing rather than replacing the valve. Doctor Cosgrove is now the head of Cleveland Clinic. It was very much a miracle. If I had had the valve replaced I would have had to have the surgery repeated every 10-15 years and be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. As it is now, with my repaired valve, I am on no special medication and I should never have to have the surgery repeated. I feel better than I have since I was in my 20's.

Memories have surely faded over time, but I still remember the fog of pain of my first several days after surgery. My world revolved around the pain in my chest. That was my center. The sun rose and set about that pain. Other scales of time and place were meaningless. Every breath was very difficult. I needed to breathe and I needed to breathe deeply to prevent pneumonia, but every rise and fall of my chest was very difficult. It was as if the dagger point of a knife were pressed against my chest. It was unyielding. As my lungs filled with air, that blade met my rising chest with a stabbing tearing pain.

Every few hours I was able to escape for a time from that blade, through my IV or later a hypodermic syringe or still later through pills. I would press my call button and the nurse would enter my room, knowing by the elapsed time since my last dose what I probably wanted, but needing to check the intensity of my discomfort, she would ask how my pain measured on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst possible level of distress.

This question bothered me. I have always been a person who tries to speak as accurately as possible and I had no idea how to answer that question. I really wrestled with it. I knew the information she was seeking. I knew that she wanted to know what type and how much pain medication I required, but her question was one I could not find an accurate answer to.

Let me ask you: In units of lindys, how far is it to Momperville? No matter where you are, you can only be a maximum of 10 lindys away. You say that you don't know what a lindy is and you don't know where Momperville is. That is exactly my point. The nurse was asking how far I was away from an unknown destination in units that I had no way to calibrate with anything I knew.

We know the starting point on this scale is a zero, a place of no pain. Let's call that 'home'. We can only guess at the other end of this scale. Where is Momperville? It must truly be a horrible place, no one would go there voluntarily. It is a place of pure ,unremitting, unrepentant, absolute, total pain. Is it just a mile or a kilometer up the road? Then I can estimate and subtract how far I am from home and that will tell me how far I have to go to Momperville. If I'm half way there then I've gone 5 lindys, so my answer to the nurse would be a '5'.

But what if, and this is my suspicion, what if Momperville is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. . . what if Momperville is on the moon. . .I am sure that there are depths of pain that I cannot even begin to fathom. My desire is to speak accurately and I greatly suspect that my 5 or 6 or 7 on that pain scale, wasn't even the beginning of a 1 in comparison to what others have gone and are currently going through. I thank God that I do not know where Momperville is. I said these words to my nurse. Her eyes understood. In the busyness of her day, she did not have time for agonizing over philosophical questions about unknown destinations, but her eyes understood my words.

I have become more familiar with pain, the longer I live the more intimately I come to know him. The last few months our acquaintance has grown greatly. My mother died in February. I had never lost anyone close to me before. I am 53 and that is a blessed life to be able to say that I have had no loss before this point in my life, but her death taught me many things about pain and loss. I learned something about the location of Momperville. My dog died last week. I had 9 months to prepare for my Mother's death. The loss of my dog was a bolt from the blue. A very different pain, but extremely intense nonetheless. My wife and I at various times felt physically ill, nauseous at the intensity of feeling we experienced . . My body, as I age, greets me each morning, reminding me with dull aches and sharp pangs that things aren't working quite as well as they were decades ago. I am only on the beginning of that journey. The road ahead is veiled in the mist. . .where am I heading? What is the scale? How far do I have to go?

I met a man last week who suffered a pain beyond anything I can imagine. When he was 10 years old he suffered a searing pain that no child should ever know. For more than 40 years his life has been defined, he has been in orbit around a blazing center of agony and loss. . .He revolves around a point miles and miles beyond where I thought the center was. . . the horrors life holds that I cannot comprehend. . . the loss of a child. . . I spoke recently at a vigil for abused children. The organizers of the vigil had lost a grandchild in the most horrible way imaginable. . .my scale of a formerly measured 5 or 6 or 7 continues to shrink. . .

Look at Job, the Bible tells of his loss of all his seven children in one day:

Job 1:4
And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.

Job's sons had houses. They lived apart from Job. They had homes and lives of their own. It does not specifically say, but it is also quite possible that his daughters had homes of their own. Sons and daughters with houses, in those days before family planning as we call it today, surely imply spouses and families. Job lost all of his children on a black and desolate day. I think it also very likely that he and his wife lost many or all of their grandchildren in that terrible time. Possibly their loss was several times as many grandchildren as children. In that perspective, almost as a minor matter, Job then went on to lose his great possessions and his health. His friends came to taunt him. His wife, surely enduring her own terrible terrible grieving was of no support to him. . . Job and his wife would laugh in derision or maybe weep bitter tears at my estimation of my pain. . .

I am no expert. I have not begun to experience deeper levels of intimacy with the abode of pain, but whenever I have ventured closer to that place, God has been there. He has already been there. He is waiting, not as a tourist, not as a transient, not as someone only there for a brief moment to greet me, but but as a resident. He knows depth of pain beyond, staggeringly beyond where man can ever go. He knows and carries the pain of all mankind, of all creation upon His shoulders. He knows everything. . . He feels it all. . .the pain of all mankind from across all time is His to bear. . .He is there for you. . . call out for Him. . . .lose your pain in Him. . . give your pain to Him. In the midst of your darkness, keep reaching for Him. If you do not know where anything else is, if you are so blinded to anything else, be assured that He is at your side, going through, living through the agony with you. . .

I love you my God. . .

Thank you for sharing and bearing all my burdens. . .

Dave Stokely

Friday, May 23, 2008

Marion/Harrison Street Prayer walk 5-22-8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Hello All,

This was our second week in the Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood. Melissa Wolfinger, Chris Nord, Alex Barkley, Terry Wallin and I walked and prayed tonight. We had a wonderful evening. The weather still being cool kept many people indoors. I estimate that there were only about a half or a third of the number of people who will be out on warmer evenings, but even with that we talked and prayed with many many people. We are beginning to be recognized. The people are very friendly toward us.

Lots of people wanted prayer to help them find jobs.

An ancient old railroader sitting on his porch, Cigar Bob (he told us was his name), asked for healing of his broken shoulder and for his Social Security checks to be straightened out. Someone stole his identity and forged his name and his checks are all fouled up. He is having financial difficulties as a result. My dad retired from the railroad after 44 years of service (I think that was the number). Cigar Bob said he remembered my Dad. He told me railroad stories for 10 or 15 minutes from 50 years ago. He was very glad to have someone to talk to. I anointed him and prayed with him. He asks for the church's prayers. He told me with surprising determination in his voice, "I know Jesus. He is why I am alive today." He went on to give Terry and I a testimony on how the Lord had healed him on several occasions.

A young Hispanic boy, maybe 9 or 10 asked for us to pray for his father to come home from jail. He was very troubled. It about broke my heart. The five of us joined together prayed for the young boy as he sat on the sidewalk curb. Please hear his prayer Lord. . .

A lady just moved into the neighborhood. I think she had three children. She had been beaten severely several times in her old neighborhood. She has mental problems. We anointed her and prayed for healing for her. We also gave her a Bible.

Numbers of young people we joined with and prayed with. . . Lots of porches. . . Lots of people. . .

Two EPD squad cards were stopped at an apartment building on Harrison Street, the officers talking to two men on the porch. At the closely adjacent porch two men sat apparently just watching the street, not trying to pay too close attention to the police interviewing the men only a few feet away I didn't want to interfere with or distract and cause a problem for what the police were doing, so I just kind of quietly waved and told them we were walking through the neighborhood and praying for people. We then went to the same little back alley play ground that we had been to last week and handed out cards to the boys playing basketball. It was kind of funny. The boys kind of dispersed a bit when we came. I thought Chris and Alex were going to have to chase down the boys, but they were able to hand out the fliers and Bible verse cards.

On the way back from the basketball court, Chris and Alex had walked on ahead. . .Melissa stopped and asked the two men where the police cars had been, if they wanted prayer. The one man said, "Nah, I'll pass on that." The other man told us he had a need. . .He needed deliverance from drugs. The porch was behind about a 4 foot high concrete block wall along the sidewalk. He walked down to us and reached over the little wall. His friend kind of followed, but hung back a bit. Melissa, Terry, and I anointed him held his hands and just lifted up a wonderful powerful prayer to God for healing and for deliverance in the name above every other name. . . in the beautiful name of JESUS!!!! By the end of the prayer he was gripping my hands very tightly. . .

It was such a beautiful thing, to see that man crying out to God. . . It was so beautiful. . .If that had been the only thing we had seen all night it would have been well worth it.

This is only the second week in this neighborhood. We have been praying in the Middlebury Street neighborhood for more than two years. We started prayer walking there in March of 2006. . .We thank God for the great things in store for the Marion/Harrison Street neighborhood. . .

We are praying to tear down places of spiritual wickedness and strongholds of darkness. . .Praying to drive out spirits of deception, violence, and bondage. . . We are there show the people the love of God and His power to accomplish any good and righteous thing. . .We are there to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. . .

Thank you God!

Dave Stokely

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Middlebury Street Prayer walk 5/20/8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Melissa Wolfinger, Matt Yeater, Terry Wallin and I prayed and handed out fliers tonight. It was quite cool and relatively few people were out. Terry and I were in subdued spirits, for each with our own reasons, but Melissa and Matt were really pumped up. It was a nice counterbalance. This was Matt's first time with us. Melissa has been with us every time for the past couple of weeks.

I don't think we prayed with anyone, but Matt and Melissa especially talked with quite a few people.

I am looking forward to warmer evenings when more people are out.

Dave Stokely

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two Sides of the Coin. . .

Life is a battle. I grow impatient with myself. I wish for faster progress than I see within me. Sometimes it seems like I keep fighting the same battles over and over again. I make small victories, but I long for breaching the enemies walls and putting him on the run. . .I want to annihilate those deficiencies within me. . . I wonder if my strategy is wrong. I spend much of my time focused upon my failings. . . focused on the negatives, the shortcomings within me.

I surely can learn from the greatest teacher of all. What was His method? How did Jesus teach? When He was asked what was most important in the Law of Moses, He replied:

Mark 12:29-31
And Jesus answered him:

  1. The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
  2. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

100% of Jesus response is a positive statement.

Most of Christianity focuses upon the 10 commandments as the foundation of our religious belief:

From Exodus 20:3-17

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother:
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
  10. Thou shalt not covet

80% negative
20% positive

Look at the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:3-12

Jesus speaking:

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
for they shall be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful:
for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart:
for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers:
for they shall be called the children of God.
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
9. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

All positive teaching. Not a single negative word. Look again a little further on in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:21-24
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: (22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

(23) Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Note that the Old Testament words against killing and the penalty for killing, contain nothing within them to help prevent killings from taking place. Jesus sets a higher standard and a much lower threshold of action. If you are merely angry and say unkind words to someone you have violated the Law of Jesus. Now the focus is shifted from merely offering a penalty, to healing and reconciliation. Most of the time, if you can end the unkind words, and anger then killing or violence will not take place.

Jesus changed the focus from an Old Testament negative act of surgery, the cutting out of the cancer after the fact, to a New Testament focus upon a preventative, restorative positive healing before the violent offense took place.

Another example a few verses further on:

Matthew 5:43-44

(43) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.

(44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Verse 43 is the story of the Old Testament. Love your friends. Love your family, but of your enemies take no prisoners. Take no spoil. Kill your enemy. Completely destroy them. . .

Verse 44 is Jesus New Testament teaching plain and simple. . . Love everyone. . .especially those who hate you. . .turn your cheek 7 x 70 times. . .

I keep going. I keep looking and Jesus spends most of His time focused on the positive. Then why am I spending most of my time and energy focused on the negative?

There are at least two ways of looking at most problems:

I can focus on not smoking.
I can finding my relaxation in the Lord.

I can struggle to quit drinking to kill the pain.
I can seek the peace of God and truly heal.

I can try not to gossip.
I can fill my mouth with praising God and talk of godly things.

I can try not to worry.
I can rest under the protective wings of the Lord.

I can battle to lose weight and not to eat.
I can let the Lord be my sustenance and nourishment.

For every problem there is a worldly solution and a godly solution. The worldly solution always takes your focus off of God. The godly solution, the solution that works always involves keeping your focus entirely on God.

The men and women at the jail where I minister, will many times spend their period of being in prison figuring out how not to come back to jail the way they came in this time. This is how it goes. A man who is in for drinking and driving, spends his time resolving and figuring out ways not to drink and drive anymore. The next time I see him he's in for getting drunk and beating his wife. He gets out and I see him back in again for having a urine test with drugs in it and thereby violating probation.

A woman gets arrested for selling drugs to an undercover informant. She spends her time in jail thinking and she figures out where she made her mistake in selling to someone outside of her little circle of friends. She gets out and I don't see her for a while and she's back in for neglecting her children. She's gone for a while and then back in jail again for writing bad checks.

It's a very serious and very un-fun merry-go-round. Often times the violations get more and more severe every time they come back to jail. The Indiana legal code takes several feet of shelf space in a library. Every inch of every one of the thousands of pages of those many books, contain laws that if they are broken, you will be in trouble. Our present day legal system is very similar to the the Old Testament Law. It wasn't just the 10 commandments that we usually think of, I don't know who, but someone counted and there are reputedly 613 different rules or different laws set forth in the Law of Moses.

Just a few of the ones concerning eating:

Jews can't eat shrimp. . .
Jews can't eat pork. . .
Jews can't eat catfish. . .
Jews can't eat veal cooked in milk. . .
Jews can't eat creepy crawly things. . .
Jews can't eat fat. . .
Jews can't eat blood. . .
Jews can't eat owls. . .
Jews can't eat ravens. . .
Jews can't eat eagles. . .
Jews can't eat pelicans. . .
Jews can't eat storks. . .
Jews can't eat herons. . .

I'm only slightly scratching the surface of the mere eating rules. . .And all those restrictions still weren't enough to make the people holy. They still found ways to dishonor God and themselves. . .In the Mosaic Law, as in the law of Man, there are more negative rules, rules against things than we have lifetimes to learn how to avoid, if we do it one rule at a time. Jesus reversed it. Rather than negative, Jesus made it positive and said it's very simple: Love God with everything you've got and love your fellow man with everything you've got and you will not be in any further trouble with the law.

I speak these things to myself. . .I am talking to myself. . .I speak these things to my own battles. . . I sometimes forget the power I have within me. . .

I'm hungry. I'm lonely. I feel empty. I'm frustrated. I hurt. Rather than endlessly telling me (again I continue speaking to myself) all the things that I cannot have, rather than endlessly focusing on the negatives, change direction, turn my eyes to what I can fill up on. Keep my eyes on the positive. Keep my eyes on God . .THAT'S WHAT JESUS TAUGHT!!!! He made all the things you weren't supposed to do irrelevant. You can not-do lots of things, and still not-do the right things. Jesus spent very little time on the negative. He gave us himself. He is the living water, that we will never thirst again. He gave us His Spirit. He is the bread of Life. His Spirit will sustain us for ever. Keep your eye on the positive. . . Keep your focus on Jesus. . . at all times. . . in every circumstance. . .

I love you my Lord. . .
I love you all. . .


Friday, May 16, 2008

Marion/Harrison Street Prayer walk 5-15-8

This was our first night walking and praying in a new neighborhood in our city.We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Terry Wallin, Melissa Wolfinger, and I handed out fliers in the Marion/Harrison Streets neighborhood this evening. It was quite cool and overcast, but for the weather we still had a very very good response. I only made 200 fliers and we ran a little short, even with the few people out. I'm going to need 250 minimum here also just like Middlebury Street.

We prayed with numbers of people. At two different homes on Marion there were quite a large group, 8-10 teens playing catch, listening to rap music, etc. We handed out our fliers and Bible verse cards telling them we were going to be doing this regularly each Thursday evening. We were there to pray for the neighborhood and to pray for any individuals who had a request for something from God. At the first group a young man requested healing for his body and a young lady asked for God to make a way for her brother Duane to be able to come home from Milwaukee. At the second house two young men asked for the Lord to help them find jobs and one young man asked for God to give him direction for his life.

It is just amazing. To walk up to those groups of young people, you would not think there would be any positive response at all, but a number of them were very open, making deep sincere eye contact with me. . . there was/is a hunger.

I saw/met a number of people I know from the jail. Melissa just loves talking and giving Bible verse cards to the children. Terry really enjoys praying and pulling the wagon.

On Harrison we passed two grade school children maybe 4th & 5th graders, finishing their dinner on their porch steps, just really a mere foot or two from the sidewalk. I had kind of passed them by, going on to the next house when Melissa called me back. The young boy wanted prayer for his mother. I got a prayer cloth out and we anointed it and were praying over it with the young boy and his sister, when the mother came over from a neighbors house with some concern not knowing who we were or what we were doing. She wanted to know what church we were with and what faith, etc. I told her that we were Christians, Pentecostal and that her son had requested prayer for her herniated disk in her back. I think she was a little touched by that. You could tell that she very much felt uncomfortable with us, maybe not scared anymore, but still quite uncomfortable and she pretty quickly left back to the neighbors house. We finished praying for her and I made to leave and the little girl let me know she was a little miffed. She said something like, "Excuse me!. . . I have a request too!. . ." It was pretty cute. Anyway, her sister has scoliosis and she wanted a prayer cloth and prayer for her sister. We sent up wonderful prayers on behalf of this young boy and his sister for their Sister and Mom. We told them to put the prayer cloths in their pillow cases. . .

We passed one section of Harrison Street where the smell of burning marijuana was thick in the air. There were people doing drugs out in their back yard. I went and gave a flier to this lady who had just finished smoking a joint I'm pretty sure. Nearby, Melissa led us over to a basketball hoop on an alley south of Harrison where there were 10 or so young people tossing a basketball around and shooting. We were pretty much out of fliers by this time. Terry had some little tracts with him that we gave out to the young people.

We bought drinks in the little grocery store and ice cream from a man vending with a little cart. . .we gave fliers and Bible verse cards out in both places.

Anyway, it was a really grand night, especially for the first night out and such a cool night.

Melissa also wants to help make up the fliers. . .

Thank you my Lord for this abundance. . .

Dave Stokely

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Prayer Walk 5-13-8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

It was a very different evening last night. My grandfather loved Lake Michigan. He spent as much time as he could embracing and being embraced by that lake he loved so much. He said that the water of the Lake was never exactly the same color two days in a row. Differences in cloud cover, wind. . . I don't know what all else, if he told me I've forgotten, but according to him it was never the same on two different days. . . always a little different.

Last night was a good illustration of that principle in many other areas of our lives. I don't know what it was about last night, but it was just a very different night. To external appearances it looked the same as all the other Tuesday nights, but it wasn't. . . I started out alone. I had forgotten my cell phone at home on the charger, so I couldn't call Terry Wallin to see what was up with him and no one else had said anything about coming along, so I just headed out with the big red wagon :). . .

I hadn't gotten too far when Brother Ed, Sister Ruby and Kyle honked at me going down Middlebury street. They soon joined up with me. After we had gotten through the apartments we saw Terry walking toward us from way down Middlebury Street. A little while later on Aspenwald, Melissa (I'm not sure of her last name, the new lady who's been coming the past few weeks sitting on the front row) walked up to us, her arms full with little cold and refreshing fruit drink packets for us. That was very kind and surely was appreciated. And after the walk we went to Penguin Point where we were joined by Tommy Zimmer. So we ended up with a nice time of fellowship at Penguin Point. I think Terry, Melissa, and I were there for almost an hour talking about godly things. . . At one point I just was totally overcome with the Spirit of the Lord and prophesied to Melissa that the Lord was calling her and speaking to her. That she has it within her to be a mighty warrior in God's army. . . to do wonderful things for His kingdom. . . It was incredible, almost like being filled with God's Spirit for the first time again.

It was a little on the coolish side, but not at all cold. . . there was just something different about last night. Maybe it was my mood. I don't know. We didn't talk to an abundance of people and we only prayed with a couple of folks. People are really recognizing us all up and down the street. They seem to be quite comfortable talking to us. We met the little old lady again from last week and also her daughter, and her granddaughter. What a wonderfully nice lady. We anointed and prayed with David & Zoe. He is not doing well. His breathing is very labored. We anointed and prayed with one lady in the apartments who needs a job. We prayed for the Lord to open a door for her that can leave no question that it is Him. I stopped by Tina and Loretta's house. They were not home, but I spoke to the two ladies who were there. We talked with Ralph, an ex-biker guy. He is always out on his porch and wanting to talk. Had an awesome little time of talking with three generations of ladies (2 ladies & 1 young girl) by the old laundromat. The little grocery store is open again. They did indeed remodel. We went in and bought some snacks and water and left the owner and son some fliers, complimenting them on the new looking interior of the store. I very much enjoy talking with them. . . planting seeds.

Thank you Lord for allowing us to plant seed in your fields. . .

Dave Stokely

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Prayer Walk 5-6-8

We are praying and walking up and down the streets of our city. I am posting these reports of what happens on our evenings of street ministry. I bought a Radio Flyer Wagon to pull along behind us as we walk. That is kind of our trademark for people to recognize us by.

Terry and I just had a wonderful night tonight. Nothing spectacular, no burning bushes or anything like that, but we just talked and prayed with so so many people. Terry knows so many people. Every week we meet numbers of people from Terry's past.

A little 82 year old day. I don't know why, but every week with the fliers and even since we first started praying in the neighborhood two years ago, I've gone around to her back door and left a flier. I never do that to any other house, but tonight we met her as she was shutting her garage door. She and Terry hugged and talked for quite a little bit. They used to work together years ago.

Melissa the lady who was baptized a couple of weeks ago. She and Terry know each other quite well. We ran into her on Aspenwald.

Another fellow from Terry's past acquaintance, in the apartments we talked with for a long time. Terry gave him a Bible and he was so very very appreciate. This man has lived in institutions most of his life and you can just tell craves human contact. He's probably 60 years old. A simple man. . . a very sweet spirit.

I don't know it seems like there were a couple of others, that just popped up and Terry had known them from times past. Terry said that this street ministry is one of the high points of his week. . . I absolutely agree. It is mine too.

We ran into Randy Glick, the fellow who organizes the Child Abuse memorial at the Civic Plaza. He requested we pray for someone named Derrick who is slipping back into gang activity.

We talked to a mother and daughter on their porch about God and church. She loves our afternoon service times. She plans on coming this weekend.

There was just big group of maybe 10-12 teen aged young men on a porch on Aspenwald. I gave them each fliers. One young man asked which church we were from. I told him. He said, "Wow, I've heard that's a really cool church."

We stopped and talked for a bit with Tina, the lady whose husband died a week or so ago. She had a bunch of kids and friends in her house. She saw us and opened her door and invited me in to chat for a bit. She is looking very good, well rested and recovering from her husband's death.

We prayed with a young man sitting in a lawn chair in the apartments. He wants God to give him wisdom and to direct his life.

Last week I had a problem with the kids gathering up my fliers in the apartments, but we had no problems with them this week. I was not quite sure how to handle that situation. They showed up and I just told them I would only give them handouts and cards if they didn't gather up the ones I was leaving at the doors. . . and they just said, "OK" and they held to their word.

At a couple of houses I was invited to look in the door and there were the fliers hanging up in the house. . .numbers of other said how much they appreciate them each week.

Zoe's husband David is not doing well. We prayed with her about the situation. (She's been to church and prayer walks a couple of times.) He has diabetes, bad circulation problems and COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He had been hospitalized and just released. He insists on mowing his lawn. Zoe was very upset. He was almost done when he ran into a problem with the riding mower.. He had a little bit still to be done with the hand mower. I told Zoe I would take care of it in the next few days. I've got jail tomorrow night and something with the Sign Team Thursday night. I'll get to it Friday if I can. Any of the younger guys who happen to be doing yard work at LTC, if you have a chance, it's just a few doors down Middlebury ~ a brown shingle sided house with a crude ply-wood ramp leading up the front porch. I wouldn't think it would take more than 10-15 minutes to finish up the yard. Anyway, if anyone has a chance, it might minister to this family and maybe even save David's life. He surely has no business mowing.

A young woman walking requested prayer for her baby.

I met several ladies from the jail walking on Prairie Street. They wanted Bible verse cards and fliers.

Another lady, on Monroe, her brother has an addiction problem. Her husband was very negative toward us, but she followed me down the sidewalk a bit and asked if we could talk/minister to her brother. I told her to have him call the church and leave his number for me. I told her how Terry and I both had been delivered from a number of things and this type of request was exactly why we walked through the neighborhood.

I don't know lots of other stuff. . .a busy busy night. A wonderful night. . .

I ran out of fliers way before I usually do. We just talked to such a great number of people. I was just wonderful. . . a tremendous night.

Dave Stokely

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ever Wonder What It's Like to be God?

The premise of a recent movie was that somehow a man was made God for a day. Think about that. What would that be like? To have all power?. . .To know everything? and thereby to feel everything? The Bible is pretty clear, God has emotions:

Genesis 6:6
And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Mankind's actions hurt the heart of God. God knows everything. He sees everything. He feels everything. It is only the big things that God notices? Nothing on earth, nothing in the entire universe is too small for God. Nothing escapes His attention:

Luke 12:6-7
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Sin and death entered into this world through man. It is not just man, but all of creation that pays the price for the sin of Adam.

Romans 8:22
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

We have caused God grief without measure. We kill, torture, abuse one another and He is aware of it all. . . He is with every woman enduring a rape, every soldier laying on a lonely battlefield, every aborted fetus, every injured, misused, neglected person who has ever existed, He is the recipient of every unkind word, every act of selfishness. . . . you would like to be God for a day? I in no way can begin to imagine the pain and sorrow that He must endure. There is no way I could begin to tolerate it. . . as I drive down the road, I pray. . . I apologize for every dead animal I see. . . they are members of His creation. They are remembered by Him. . .Their deaths are laid at the foot of man as the result of his sinful ways. . . I bear responsibility for them. . .

Men also have it within their power to make God happy:

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

You have it in your power to make God rejoice over you with joy. Imagine making God dance and sing with happiness. With all the sin that humanity has brought into the world, God's emotions must be badly skewed to the negative. This earth is so filled with pain and sorrow and death. . .How much opportunity does God have to be happy? He deserves our praise. . . more than that. . . I believe He needs our praise. By worshiping and praising Him, you are ministering to God. You are tending to His needs. . .Cause God to sing. . . Lift Him up. . .Cause God to rejoice. . .praise Him all day long. . .

I worship You my God. . .
I praise You with all my heart. . .
I love You my God. . .
I am so sorry for all the painful things You must endure. . .


Sunday, May 4, 2008


Lord my Strength

Psalm 19:14 (H6697 )

rock 64, strength 5, sharp 2, God 2, beauty 1, edge 1, stones 1, mighty One 1, strong 1

Psalms 19:14
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

I have been struggling, seeking for the meaning of this compound name for months. It has been on my mind very very frequently. During prayer last night I felt release to write on this name. . .

Notice what this verse does not say. It does not say that the Lord is the source of my strength. It says that, the Lord is my strength. Jehovah-Tsori, my strength does not contain Him. All that I have that is strong is Him. All other strength is an illusion. The primary translation for this word is 'rock'. O LORD, my rock, and my redeemer. . .

A rock gives stability. There is no need for stability until a storm comes. Remember Jesus' parable:

Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (25) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. (26) And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: (27) And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.,

There was no apparent difference between the houses until the storm came. Until the house was tested, looking upon them when times were good, you could tell no difference between them. Sand will serve as a fine spot for a house as long as the sun shines. . . But let a storm come along. . . let your body be afflicted with cancer. . . lose a child. . .face a crisis in your job, in your marriage. . . face the death of your mother or father. . . then evaluate the strength of the construction of your house. . .

Do you think yourself strong? If you do not have God, where do you think your strength comes from? Without God there is nothing to anchor yourself to. Without God there is nothing permanent, nothing unchangeable, nothing stable. Without God when the flood comes, and please do not fool yourself, dark days. . .floods and storms do come into every one's lives. . . without God, when the flood comes you will be carried away by the force of the events in your life. For you to then have the appearance of strength, you must wall yourself off from the world. You must create for yourself a very hard shell with which to withstand the terrible buffeting that you endure, but you are not a self-contained unit. You carry a weakness inherent in having that very shell you created. It is a weakness of isolation, a weakness of your alone-ness, a weakness of loneliness, a weakness of not being able to be touched by those around you. Ultimately it becomes a shell of bitterness. . . By walling yourself off from the world, you place yourself in a prison cell of your own construction. You carry your weakness hidden from view of the world. You try to hide it, but your weakness is still very much there.

The only thing which prevents your reaching out to God is your pride. Your inability to admit your weakness. . .your desire to think of yourself as strong. . .your foolishness. . .all are as that of a very little boy who thinks not to need his parents. When faced with that situation, the parents withdraw support and comfort they would otherwise give, in an attempt to show the little boy the error of his ways.

I was a little boy for a very long time. . . within my weakness. . . I found His strength. . .

I love you my Lord. . .
You are my strength. . .
You are my Jehovah-Tsori. . .


Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Life & Death of a Biblical Addict. . .

It seems like a long lifetime ago, the days before I believed in God. . . in many ways it was a lifetime ago. . . . There was a time when I looked upon the Bible as a collection of writings of questionable authenticity thrown together by men. . . little different from any other collection of ancient writings. How foolish I was.

I now love studying the Bible. It is an amazing work. There are some 40 different authors, writing over some 17 centuries between the covers of the Holy Bible. There are no contradictions. It all fits and flows together far beyond any ability of a single man sitting in a single room to construct with such seamlessness , let alone all the writers from hugely different periods of time and greatly differing walks of life. The deeper I look into this mind boggling God breathed book the more amazed I become.

Again before I knew God, I questioned the relevance of the Bible to the issues of today. Recently I was called to speak at a man's memorial service. I went to prayer to discover the will of God for my words to the family. The fellow who we were memorializing had battled addictions of various forms throughout his life. What does the Bible say about addiction? Is there an addict in the Bible? The Lord brought an image of Samson to my mind. It did not take me long to discover just how appropriate Samson was to my upcoming talk. It came as a surprise to me, but I quickly realized after just a little study that Samson could accurately be described as an addict.

My definition of an addict is someone who continues in a behavior after it becomes clear that the behavior is causing a serious problem in their life. This cuts away lots of distractions and gets right to the core issue.

Are you an alcoholic? Using my definition, it doesn't matter if you drink alone, have blackouts, or hide bottles of liquor. There aren't any 10 questions and if you answer 'yes' to 4 of them then you are an alcoholic. If drinking is causing you problems in your life and you still continue to drink then I believe you are addicted to alcohol. It is not just drugs and alcohol that you can have an addiction to. You can surely be addicted to lottery tickets or other gambling. Is it causing a problem in your life? Have you had to skip lunch due to buying too many lottery tickets on pay day? Are the buying of lottery tickets causing a problem for you and you continue to buy them? If so, then I believe you have a problem with gambling. Gambling is an addiction for you.

Similarly, you can be addicted to a person. Does your boyfriend cheat on you, punch you, and/or emotionally abuse you and you still keep going back and going back for more? Is your relationship with him causing you severe emotional damage? You may in some way be dependent upon him, like an addict with his drug. It does not have to be only chemicals that an addict is addicted to.

Lots of other things can qualify as addictions: pornography and other sexual stimulation, chat rooms, video games, credit card spending, driving fast, food. . . lots of behaviors can cause big problems in a persons life and be considered addictive. You do not have to be using crack cocaine or meth or heroin to be an addict.

The Biblical account of Samson's life begins before he was born. His mother was instructed by the angel of the Lord, in other words by God Himself, before his birth that he would be the deliverer, the savior of Israel from the Philistines:

Judges 13:5
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

To be a Nazarite, was to take a strict oath regarding what you could eat, drink and touch. As a token or memorial of that vow, you could not cut your hair:

Numbers 6:1-8
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: 3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, . . .5 All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the consecration of his God is upon his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the LORD.

It is impossible to say exactly why, but from the first verses that we have concerning Samson, he has a very cocky impertinent attitude. It is possible that he may have gotten a big head from the foretold great things that he was prophesied to do. He does not do things the correct way. He takes chances and shortcuts:

Judges 14:1-3
And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman inTimnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. 3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

The Bible says that Samson's mother and father did not know that God was going to use Samson's misbehavior for the benefit of the Jewish people. but in any respect the Jewish people were to keep themselves separated from those unbelievers in the cultures surrounding them. Samson goes against every commandment of God for the Jewish people to not take wives for themselves from the Philistines and Canaanites.

Samson is very self centered and continues to show a disregard for other people and for the rules of God. Next he killed a lion with his bare hands:

Judges 14:5-6
Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. (6) And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

There is something wrong with this story. First of all, please tell me, what young man kills a lion with his bare hands and does not excitedly rush home to tell his father and mother about the adventure? Samson is sneaking around doing things behind his parents back. Secondly, it says that the lion roared against him. It doesn't say the lion attacked him. The lion gave Samson a warning roar. Lions on the hunt, do not roar. They do not roar when they are stalking someone. They might roar to protect a kill or to defend a territory from another lion. Something shamed Samson into not telling his parents about his killing the lion. I believe it likely that Samson killed the lion merely for the sake of killing. I believe that he recognized that there was no honor in what he did and that is why he did not tell his parents about his feat of strength.

Then some time later he finds a swarm of bees and honeycomb in the carcass of the same dead lion:

Judges 14:8
And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.

Samson not only sees the honeycomb in the body of the lion, gathers it eats it and then. . .

Judges 14:9
And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.

He has gone from just doing little secret things of small shame, keeping secret little things that do not put him in a good light, to doing things that are just not right at all. He takes the honeycomb home and gives it to his father and mother without their knowing where it came from. Samson's mother also took a vow of a Nazarite before Samson's birth:

Judges 13:3-4
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. (4) Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

I don't read that there was any limit to this vow and knowing the depth of gratitude of a formerly barren woman who has been given a child through an act of God, I would not at all be surprised to find her to be still holding to her vow. It is bad enough Samson eating something defiled by being in a dead animal, but he shows absolutely no regard, no respect for his parents in feeding them this defiled honey without their knowledge.

Think about it. I bring donuts over to your house and you eat them. And I didn't tell you that I found the box of donuts in amongst the bones of a dead dog laying along the side of the road. That's not a funny little joke is it? That's a pretty cruel trick. It's surely no way to treat your mother and father who are especially sensitive and have religious prohibitions against eating anything tainted in such a manner.

Samson is playing fast and loose with everything. Everything about him reeks of his high self opinion. He considers himself to be invincible and above all the rules of common decency.

Things seem to accelerate now. Samson then finds, what the KJV translates as 'new', but seems to be more properly translated as the 'rotting' jawbone of an ass and kills 1000 men with this putrid tool, again coming into contact with dead things. . . again using things that should be avoided. . . rapidly declining further:

Judges 16:1
Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her.

Not merely content to commit fornication. That surely would be bad enough, but he joined himself with a daughter of darkness, a woman of the uncircumcised enemies of his people, the blood enemies of his people, those afflicting his countrymen. Made himself one flesh with an idol worshiping whore. . .

We think ourselves invincible in our foolishness. Someone else will be caught, but not I. . .Samson comes closer and closer to the edge, playing with greater and greater fire. . .until he meets that which he cannot control. He begins doing very very foolish things. His addiction is now in full bloom.

How many of us have behaved very badly under the influence of our drug. How many have danced with lampshades on their heads? How many have gotten ourselves into situations where we have terribly embarrassed ourselves. . . or worse. . . a good friend of mine woke up one Sunday morning covered in blood, only having faint and fuzzy memories of a living three dimensional Saturday nightmare a few hours earlier. Under the influence of his drug, he slit a man's throat. He will spend the rest of his life remembering and regretting his actions of that terrible evening. My friend was/is one the nicest man you would ever want to meet. . . sober. He changed into something else, something monstrous when intoxicated. . .His behavior unexplainable if you only knew him sober. . .

You cannot read of Samson's actions and understand them without understanding that Delilah was his drug. He had to have her. He would do anything to have her. Crack addicts steal from their mothers, beat up and rob their fathers. . . they sell their children as sexual toys to utter strangers to feed their drug habits. . . morality. . . common sense are meaningless in the quest for your drug. They will do anything to get their drug. This was Samson in his addiction. Delilah was his drug.

Three times she asked for the secret of his strength. Three times he, the great judge of Israel, three times, the wise one who decided the weighty issues of the day told her the secret, three times only to have her test it and find he was lying. Three times she revealed that she would use the information to destroy him. You cannot comprehend it can you? How could anyone be so stupid. Delilah was his drug. He would do anything to have his fix. It makes no sense in any context outside of an addict and his drug. Finally his addiction takes him to the bottom, he reveals the symbol of his Nazarite oath to God. He tells her of his hair and how it must never be cut or he will be as other men. . . . Finally sated with her he falls asleep upon her lap:

Judges 16:18-20
And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. (19) And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. (20) And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he knew not that the LORD was departed from him.

Can anyone be surprised but Samson? Delilah taunts him. There should be no surprise, if you stay with it long enough the drug always wins. The drug is dead. It is not living. It is beyond you. The drug has nothing to lose. Oh that fateful day when we awake with the realization that we sold our soul for our drug. . . Somehow, someway. . . in that dark pit of blinded hell Samson regained his relationship with God. He regained his Nazarite vow. He regained his strength. . . His courage. . .

I do not have any idea how to unravel the theology and consequences of Samson's death. It clearly says that he committed suicide:

Judges 16:28-30
And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. (29) And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. (30) And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

I do not know exactly what lessons to take from this. Thoughts come to mind. . . First, God can use even an addict like Samson to accomplish a great work, to deliver his people. Second, even blinded, weak, treading grain like an animal, living in the dungeon of an idol's temple God remembers vows and will restore former gifts. . .I don't know. . . the darkness and despair of Samson fills my mind. . .

No further mention is made in the Old Testament of Samson, indeed only one mere mention made of Samson is found in the entire Bible outside of the book of Judges and that in the book of Hebrews. . . I am not sure that that silence does not say a great deal. . .

I know from personal experience the power, the lure, and the seductiveness of a drug. . .I know of the ability of a drug to lead you into doing crazy self-destructive things, but. . .but. . .but I also know of the power of God to deliver. . .

Thank you Jesus

He is my Deliverer. . .
He is my Savior. . .
He is my Lord and my God. . .

Thank you my God. . .