OPEN THE STOREHOUSES

By Judy Owens

April 24, 2020

Joseph was raised up to transact one of the greatest exchanges of wealth the world has ever seen. The world brought its grain to Joseph to be placed in storehouses for the coming famine. And when that famine came Joseph exchanged that grain for the wealth of the nations. The wealth was not in the grain but in the people. In order to live the people exchanged themselves for grain. They were the wealth. Perhaps we have forgotten that the people are the wealth of the earth. Our friends, our family, our neighbors are the wealth of the nations—not silver or gold or property. Holy Spirit has been storing up grain in me for 66 years. I am a storehouse of His goodness and love! It is time to open the storehouses to pour out food for the nations. The transfer of wealth is coming to the nations. God is opening the storehouses of heaven. Those who desire to live, to truly live will make the exchange of their lives for the bread of life. We are sick unto death of all the dead things of the world. We are ready to make the exchange for the transfer of the wealth of heaven into the earth. Jesus transferred all the wealth of heaven into us. Have we just built more storehouses to hoard it for ourselves? Or are we opening the storehouses to pour out our blessing into the earth. We are storehouses of our rich inheritance we have in Jesus. As He is so are we in the earth. He is love, life, light, peace, joy, wisdom and more and more and more. It’s time to open the storehouses of our hearts to pour out our inheritance into the world.

We are in the midst of a famine, a famine of all the things the world has to offer. What are we willing to give in exchange for our souls? Domestic violence calls have increased 40%. People are dying, families are grieving. What are our storehouses filled with? Your heart is your storehouse; for out of your inward parts flow the issues of life. What is flowing? What are you exchanging for the lives being brought to you? People are coming with empty sacks. They need food, real food. They need love and hope and faith and purpose. What are you transferring to them? There are those who come to buy with silver and gold. There are some who come who have spent all they have and now only have themselves to offer. They hardly realize they are the most valuable treasure of all. What will a man give in exchange for his soul? We must be the grain of heaven to feed the starving. What does it look like to give them living water and living bread? Do I have any? Have I made an exchange to receive the transfer of the wealth of the heavens. His words are spirit and life. What meaningful interactions and exchanges am I making? In Malachi God says He will open the windows of heaven. But have I brought my whole tithe into the storehouse? Is there food in me for the hungry? Is there oil in my lamp to shine in the darkness? Am I that window through which His blessings may pour unto overflowing?

Genesis 41:57 The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe in all the earth.

Malachi 3:10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

The Unconventional Way

During these unconventional times, perhaps we should consider an unconventional way!

Photo by Amy Barton

TEAR OFF THE ROOF

Taking the Unconventional Way

Judy Owens

And when He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. And being unable to get to Him on account of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven….I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” Mark 2:1-5

Lord, thank you for causing me to consider these four men who brought the paralytic to You. What a radical love that would empower them to take such an unconventional way.  The conventional way was blocked so they took another way. You ask me to consider what would compel them to discomfit themselves, to sweat and strain, to risk their reputations, to risk mockery and disapproval in order to bring this paralyzed man to You for healing, for help. Lord, they climbed to the top of Your house, they removed the roof of Your house, they dug an opening in the roof of Your house, and then they bore the full weight of this man to lower Him into Your midst.  What would compel them?  Most of us would not even go out of our own way to seek You for ourselves, much less someone as seemingly hopeless as a paralytic. We expect You to be easily found, to be readily found, to be at our beck and call, and then when it is difficult for us to find You, when You seemingly are hidden by the crowd, blocked by the crowding of our very own lives, blocked by the coverings of our own heart, we give up, we go our own way, we don’t dig to find You. And then we whine that You hide Yourself, that You don’t love us, that You don’t care. When what You really desire is to be truly desired by us at all cost. What You truly desire is a pure and spotless bride, a bride with a pure heart. What You truly want to know is, do we really love You. Lord, it was obvious what was and is in Your heart for us, for Your church, for Your bride. You tore a hole in the roof of the universe to bring us to You.  You descended from Your throne in the heavens to climb up Golgotha.  You bore the full weight of our sins on Your sinless body. You created in Yourself that eternal Holy of Holies where all may enter into the Father’s presence.  Lord, strengthen my heart to love You, to love Your body, my fellow men, my brothers and sisters, as You love—with a love that is willing to take an unconventional way, with a love that will climb onto rooftops, dig openings, and bear the weight of a person paralyzed by fear, by sin, by doubt just to bring them into Your living presence. Thank you, Lord, for the ones you sent to me, for the ones who went the extra measure, for the ones who saw me wounded, afraid, and paralyzed, for the ones who picked up my pallet and carried me into Your presence to hear You say, “My daughter, your sins are forgiven, take up your pallet and come home.” Now, Lord, strengthen me to pick up the pallet of others, of the ones You have given me to bring them into Your presence no matter the cost. Lord, strengthen me to tear through the coverings of my own heart to come to you fully and completely every day.  Strengthen me to uncover the Christ, the living word, the living bread who makes His home now in my heart. Lord, what else is there? What more could there possibly be?  What other way could there ever be? Paul said this was his stewardship; this is the mystery hidden from past ages. This is the gospel, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ is at home, no longer in Capernaum, but in us, His living tabernacle, not made with human hands. For some of us, or maybe all of us, an unconventional way is required.  If all the conventional ways are not working to release the presence of God, to release this river of life in our innermost being; if every other way is blocked, then take the unconventional. “The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters!” (Romans 8: 19-22) Tear off the roof!!! 

Justice


There is a dark place in our prisons. It is aptly called the hole. But God is creating life and goodness in the people there. He is filling the void with His life and declaring, “it is good” just as He did at creation.

The following information may be found in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Fiscal Year 2017 Statistical Report:


G/J5 – Offenders in this custody have one or more disciplinary convictions for an assault with a weapon on staff or offenders within the past 24 months; two or more disciplinary convictions resulting in a major penalty for offender or staff assault without a weapon within the past 12 months; one or more disciplinary convictions resulting in major penalties for extortion or sexual abuse with the past 24 months; primarily Line Class I, II, or III time- earning status (prison offenders only) if the offender is assaultive or aggressive in nature; or escaped from a TDCJ secure adult correctional facility within the past five years.

As of August 2017, TDCJ kept 1,326 inmates in restrictive housing — defined by the report as at least 22 hours a day in a prison cell — for six years or longer.

TDCJ inmates in so-called administrative segregation, the official term for isolated housing, spend nearly all their time inside a cell about the size of a walk-in closet. The only physical contact they experience is when corrections officers shackle them for brief trips outside their cells — either for showering, medical appointments, to exercise alone inside a cage or to visit with family while separated by a glass window.

There are volunteer ministries who go into these areas of the prison to bring hope to these men. They take inmates with them, usually, men who were once assigned to G5 themselves. We once asked the 6 facilitators in our school at that time if they had ever lived in G5. As they called out their time there, we added up a total of 60 years in solitary confinement. Four of those men at that time were going back into G5 to bring hope to the men there.

However, this is not a report on solitary confinement or its effects. The above information is to paint the setting for the miracle that transpired. This is a testimony of how God is transforming the justice system from the inside out.

One of the men currently living in G5 recounted this testimony to one of the ministers there. He said, “I love to draw, and I’m good at it. I was working on a drawing of Martin Luther King for a friend. It was an important drawing for me, and I had been working on it a long time. I needed to go shower, but I hate to because sometimes when we go, the officers will use that time to tear up our cells. And that’s just what happened; an officer “tossed” my cell. When I got back, my bunk was turned over on my drawing. It was ruined. I was in a rage. My insides burned. My head pounded. I wanted to tear into him. The two men in the cells on each side of me, who are also in my Bible class, began to call out to me, “Don’t do it, man, that’s not who you are anymore.” I thought I would explode, and I yelled, “Right now, I am!” But then I began to cry, and I knew that I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I didn’t want to be filled with hate and anger. So, I said to the officer, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have acted like that. I’m going to pray for you. The officer responded, “Why are you apologizing to me? I did that on purpose because I don’t like you.” The man responded, “Now, I’m going to pray for you even more.” Later, the officer returned to apologize. Good was returned for evil, and life won. Now, there is peace between them. This is a miracle. Peace in the midst of chaos is God’s justice. People are experiencing heaven in solitary confinement, in the hole. In the darkest place in our city God’s justice is reigning.

How is this God’s justice? Biblically, justice means to make things right. How did God make things right? God’s justice was an innocent man on the cross for the guilty. God’s justice is beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. How is that justice? How is it just that I pray for my enemies and do good to those who deliberately wrong me and use me? Why should I not seek my own vengeance? Why should I not repay evil with evil? Perhaps because to do good in the face of evil is the greatest form of love. It is the precious and powerful commodity that cancels debt, absolves guilt and fills the void of loss. It is the power that sets all captives free and destroys the work of the destroyer. It is our mission to fill the world with this love, to bring heaven into the earth. That is justice. That is making all things right. That is the justice that will transform the Justice System from the inside out.

A Great and Terrifying Grace

In watching “The Heart of Man’ I wasn’t expecting much. As a man incarcerated for a sexual offense, I have struggled with sexual addiction since I was a preteen. I have been through a sex offender treatment program and have viewed dozens of films on sexual addiction. None of them impacted me like “The Heart of Man.”

I found myself relating strongly to the testimonies. I saw that the struggles I believed were unique to me were actually shared struggles. In the video Jackie Hill Perry described that as a child, she didn’t know what happened to her was wrong, but somehow knew that it must be kept secret, knowing instinctively that it was shameful.  I hated what I was doing but felt strongly compelled to keep doing it until I was finally caught. Getting caught truly was, as William P. Young testified, “a great and terrifying grace.”

When we assembled in our groups the next week, I witnessed a group of men in prison openly and honestly discussing their struggles with sexual addiction and overcoming sexual abuse on a level I never saw before even in treatment. This encouraged me to tell my story to the group and ask for help. I had been bound by this for so long I couldn’t remember what it was like to be free. It has ruled my life so thoroughly that its absence would leave a terrifyingly large hole to fill. I don’t know where I am going when I leave here, but it has to be gone before I get there.

As my group gathered to lay hands on me and pray, I spoke to whatever spirit ruled that stronghold. I told it that I wasn’t giving up this time until it was gone. For the first time in years I have hope of winning this fight. For the first time ever I have a support group of spirit-filled prayer warriors, and I know I have the Lord on my side.

OUT FROM THE TOMBS

My name is Joe. I’m 55 years old. I grew up with a single mother. My father was in prison all the years I was growing up. I didn’t really get to know him until I, myself, was coming to prison. I’ve been in prison 36 years now, since I was 19 years old. I have a 50-year sentence for murder. My whole life I was a hardcore gang member. I grew up in street gangs, sold drugs and did all kinds of drugs. I was a heroin addict. I was involved in all kinds of illegal activities, like gun running, prostitution, extortion. You name it; I’ve done it. I came to prison for killing a man in a gang fight. Once in prison, I went back to what I knew, “gangs.” I was a member and a recruiter of a Texas prison gang. I did 15 years in Administrative Segregation (solitary confinement).

All my life I’ve had this underlying belief that in order to receive love and acceptance I had to be a part of a gang with other people just like me, alone, broken and abandoned by everyone we let get close to us. Gang life was my security blanket to be loved and accepted. But it came with a big price. I lived in the dark world of Satan, who had me enslaved and doing his dirty work to steal, rob, kill and destroy everything in my path. My mother often talked to me about Jesus Christ and never stopped praying for me. Once when I was in a mental ward for setting one of my cell partners on fire and for cutting myself, my mother came to see me. For three weekends in a row the prison officials told her she couldn’t see me because I was a danger to myself and to others. Well, Mom wasn’t leaving until she saw me. They suited up a 10-man team and chained me up and put me in a protective metal cage. When my mother saw me she said, “Oh, my God, who are you? You don’t even look like my son; where is my son?” I was full of demons. She put her hands on the cage and started to pray. No one understood her, but the demons knew every word she was saying. I had 14 seizures back to back and woke-up in a free-world hospital. I didn’t know what had happened to me. Let me tell you, God answers prayers! He answered my mother’s prayer and freed me of all those demons. I was dead in sin; I was like the man who hung around the tombs always hurting myself. I felt unworthy, unlovable, with no purpose, no hope and no direction until one day I broke down and cried out to Jesus. I said, “Lord, am I so messed up that you don’t want me? Am I so messed up that you can’t do anything with me? Am I so messed up that you won’t take me back? As I saw there in that dirty cell, crying on the floor, crying like I’ve never cried before; the Lord answered me. He said, “I never left you! You left me! I love you, son, and I’ve been waiting for you to come back home.” Accepting Jesus is my biggest accomplishment in life! Jesus has transformed my life and I have an awesome relationship with him. Now I am able to love others and love myself.

I’m still in the recruiting business, but now I recruit people for God’s kingdom. Today I have a vision that Jesus has given me. I want to reach out to people who are sick, broken, oppressed and struggling with addiction. I want to go to college to become a chemical co-dependency counselor. I am helped and strengthened by the volunteers and ministries who have poured into me. I am encouraged by all of you and want to be a part of this family to help the lost and destroy the works of the devil. You may ask, “Does God still do miracles?” You bet! Today you are looking at one!