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Chapter 1

The Company you keep

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Chapter 1, Pages 16-19

1 Cor. 11:1 & 1 Cor. 15:33

We often pattern our lives after what we see in others. I wrestled with that thought after my arrest for the murder my cousin committed. My thoughts turned to that horrible summer night after my arrest as I share in my book Unshackled. Murder, robbery, prostitutes, pimps, drugs and fleeing the police were the consequences that followed my decisions to hangout out with cousin. I had no business being with him in a bar at seventeen, yet I valued my cousin’s attention, his athleticism, his confidence, how he cared about my family. I’m convinced we are drawn to what we hold as valuable. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize the difference between a good role models and a fake, until it was too late.

Today, my focus is on Jesus. The ultimate role model, and the one who died and rose again FOR ME and FOR YOU!! He thought I was worth His life and he gave it freely. The Bible teaches that we should pattern after those who pattern after Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Apostle Paul also stated, “Bad company corrupts good character.” I am excited that my worth comes from knowing Jesus and He thought I was worth his life. This gives me great motivation and courage to live for Him. Let this be our prayer this week, Father I want to glorify your name on earth so others will have an accurate view and believe in the one you sent. In Jesus name, amen.

Honor Your Parents

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Chapter 1, Pages 14-16

Ephesians 6:2

I’ve had the blessing of speaking to groups all around the county, where I share about the faithfulness of God, I witnessed during my thirty-five years in prison. From rebellion to accepting Christ, to learning the servant-leader paradigm, God was always faithful and patient with me. As I spent time reading my Bible, I learned the importance of being faithful in order to influence others to live for Jesus. Often when sharing, I’ll stop and tell parents, “When you say, No to your children, stick to it. Don’t allow kids to change your mind. You’re the parent, you’re the wiser one!” The response is often a room full of smiles.

In Chapter One of Unshackled, I share how I didn’t listen to my mother that fateful night in June of 1977. She told me I was too young to join my older cousin to a bar, but I argued and ultimately convinced her to let me go. You will read in my book the painful consequences of that decision. The Bibles says, “[Children] Honor your mother and father… [Parents] bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:2-4) obviously I didn’t do that. This week, let’s pray for parents that they will take a bold stand in raising their children in the ways of the Lord.

Chaos & Confusion

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Chapter 1, Pages 9-14

Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 119:105

In my book I write about wondering the streets of New York City aimlessly while my cousin shot drugs in various drug infested rooms with strangers. Chaos and confusion marked my steps and filled my mind. I was complete lost and had no plan. I still recall how nervous and uncertain I was feeling about the direction of my life. This week I have the privlege to visit Israel for the first time where we toured towns of Nazaerth, Jerusalem and even Bethlehem, which might surprise many to know it’s occupied by Palestinian Muslims and our Messianic Guide was not permitted to take us beyond the large wall at the checkpoint. Not only are seeing the historical places using our local guide, but in the evening we have used google maps and GPS to discover the heart beat of Jerusalem’s market, Mahane Yehuda. While seeing dozens of historical sites we are also visiting the local markets. Without clear direction by Elaina, Nicole and Liana, my new friends, we would have no clue how to get to our desired locations. It’s God’s will we walk by faith in His Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “My Word is like a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” While we are to walk by faith, He promises us His peace and His Word gives us plenty of light for the direction He leads us in.

A Father’s Love Overcomes our Past

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Chapter 1, Pages 7-9

1 John 3:1

As a child I remember my family attended Catholic Mass each week. Sundays were spritual, but the remainder of the week we sat in bars playing video games while my parents drank and entertained themselves. My parents would eventually divorce, and for years I longed for a father figure. My older cousin Bobby would temperarily filled that void. As I mentioned in Chapter One of my book – Unshackled, Bobby was always there for me and my mother in the absence of my father, and I respected that! But there was always something missing.
After accepting Jesus into my heart I couldn’t wait to learn more about Him. I committed myself to daily bible study where I learned more about His Love for me. He quickly filled that void I had been longing for all those years. God placed Pastor Larry Titus into my life who mentored and disciple me while I was in Prison. So I had the best of both worlds, Pastor Larry as my earthly father figure and God my Heavenly Father. I love what 1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God!” If you are hurting today or stumbling over a dysfuctional history like I did, know that there is a God in Heaven who loves you. I want to encourage you to read God’s Word every day. Spending time with Himm will create an atmosphere of knowing God’s perfect will for your life. Pray with me this week that we have an accurate view of our Heavenly Father. If you know somone that is hurting, please share this with them that they may also find encouragment in know their Heavenly Father loves them. Talk to Y’all next week.

A Choice to Follow

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Chapter 1, Pages 3-7

Mark 8:34-35

I would have never imagined my decision to follow someone could turn so selfish and deadly, creating years of shame and pain that followed many. In chapter one of my book Unshackled, I begin to share the consequences I made at seventeen to follow my favorite yet older cousin to a bar to drink and play a few games of pool. In Mark 8:34-35 Jesus reminds me that to follow Him, still the worlds most influential leader, begins with denying self and embracing my cross. There is no room for my selfish desires when embracing the will of God. The results I have discovered in doing His will over mine, is my life begins to influence others to also follow Jesus and to personally know our heavenly Father.