Persevering on the Right Road

steep pathThe Bible gives us a clear choice between two life directions. Because life often forks off in two directions, you must take the higher road, even though it looks more difficult and treacherous. That road gets steep in places. The climb takes a toll on your energy. It gets lonely. Not many people on it, but more than you imagined, and some because of your example. It gets slippery. Satan blows ice on the narrow passage. Despite its dangers, the higher road is bound for the peak, and you’ll make it – God has a lifeline around you.

This is prison in a nutshell. Two choices: to follow 90% of the inmate population, continuing to do wrong and making bad choices even in prison and fleeing from God, or to get God’s Word out to the 90% of the inmates, although knowing it will be hard, tiring and dangerous.

Perseverance is defined as patient endurance of hardship; persisting in a state or enterprise in spite of difficulties and discouragement.

God never said that getting His Word out would be easy. In fact, in prison, everyone knows everything already, or so they think. On a scale of of 1-10 on how stubborn the average inmate is, it’s an 11. I must say that I have lived a very sheltered life. I was surrounded by many loving and caring Christian family and friends my entire life. I have never been around difficult and scary situations. But living now in a federal prison, when hate, lies, and deceitfulness are around me every day, opens my eyes to the real life dangers of this world. But that cannot and should not stop anyone from sharing God’s Word. Yes, there will be suffering, and yes, there will be rejection. In the Bible, Paul tells us that in the future we will become all that God would have us be, but until then we must overcome. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character, and character hope.” We rejoice in suffering not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know that God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks to build our character. The problems we run into while sharing God’s love will develop our perseverance, which in turn will strengthen our character, deepen our trust in God, and give us greater confidence about the future.

God is your lifeline. When pressured to give up, remember the benefits of standing firm and continue to live for Christ. Perseverance is not a way to be saved but the evidence that you are really committed to Jesus. Keep focused on what He has done for you and what He offers in the future. Then keep climbing!

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Past Journal Entries

Portions of Craig’s journal which he began on Day 37 of his incarceration at a county detention center.

Entry # 146. 9/20/2013. Day 183
Attorneys came today and talked to me about my sentencing and the PSI Report. All went as planned and expected. I’m still praying for a miracle. They let me read some harsh letters from the family involved. I know they are hurting but the words that they used was shocking and very unchristian. I continue to pray for them every day. I know God is working in everyone. I trust Him and know He has my road paved out for me. I do want them to forgive me someday.

Entry #154. 9/28/2013. Day 191
Got a jailhouse haircut today. It was way cheaper than paying $15 for an actual haircut. Cost me $3. Our prayer group has been growing as of late. Thank you, Jesus. It’s kind of cool speaking to everyone, especially to inmates in jail. Never thought my life would be like this. I give God the glory!

Entry #156. 9/30/2013. Day 193
Crazy day today. Been locked down since 11:30am. Lot of stuff going on next door in the hole, so we were locked down till dinner for that. Then about 20 guys after dinner decided not to lock down and stand their ground. About 15 officers had to come in here to prevent a riot. Things settled down, but a bunch of people had to go the hole and we’ve been locked down all night. No showers, no commissary, no phone, nothing. It stinks. All of us innocent people have to suffer for the other’s decisions. There’s a reason I’m here God, but I don’t belong mixed up with some of these people; it’s all a game to them and they’ll be in and out of prison the rest of their lives. Why God? What are you telling me? What are you teaching me? Help me, Lord! I need that miracle! It’s all your will, though!

Entry #163. 10/7/2013. Day 200
Wow! 200 days in. Almost done. Well not really, but it gets closer and closer. God keeps refining me more and more each day. My faith is growing stronger as well. God is teaching me every day. Found out Cards won today to tie the series at 2 in a best of 5. It should be exciting. I wish I could listen to it. Oh well.

Entry #170. 10/14/2013. Day 207
Lord, I’m frustrated. Just when I thought I couldn’t receive any more time, the state DA is showing no remorse and wants me to plead to doing another year after I’m done with my 74 months of Federal time. It’s so frustrating. Why can’t things ever go my way, Lord? What are you teaching me? I want this nightmare to just go away. The pain and suffering I’m going through is enough. I’m praying, Lord, and putting my faith and trust in You and always will. I submit to you. Reveal Your will to me, Lord. Amen

Stories from the Crib – Part 2

Stories From the Crib – Part 2
Nick Bollea
Hopefully, you read Part 1 and if so, you may think that life in a 10’ x 10’ cell can be very humorous, exciting, and creative. The faucet you read about is one thing; the shower is another object that brings out your creative side in order to make it work. Every shower head does two things: It shoots out water so fast that if you are not careful it can rip your skin right off. And the nozzle shoots water outside the shower, hardly keeping any water in the shower itself which creates a huge mess.

shower headThe first day in the cell I learned that the shower was not going to work properly since it was shooting water all over the beds. We are have a half curtain around the shower so the officers can see what you are doing at all times. That’s why the water is able to shoot over the curtain. The engineer in me starts brainstorming ideas to make the shower work properly. With a very limited amount of supplies (meaning none) I came up with an idea. You empty out a small tube of toothpaste. You rip the tube in half, using the end with the hole in it. Then clean it out. Shove the tube over the nozzle of the shower as far up as it goes to make it stay without holding it. Just so you know the shower nozzles are pretty small here. You aim the hole of the toothpaste tube in the direction you want it to shoot. Use tape which I acquire from letters and toothpaste to hold up the tube to make it stick. Hardened toothpaste is like cement, as long as it doesn’t get wet. Of course, being in a shower, the chances of the make-shift cement not getting wet are slim to none. So after every shower more toothpaste has to be applied and dried over night.

Overall, this invention slows down the water pressure and doesn’t get our beds wet anymore. It seems like a lot of work, but all I got is time. SMILE! And it works wonderfully! (Crib is prison slang for Cell)

Up next: doing laundry and fishing. Yep, we fish in here too!

Biking Mt. Evans

The summer of 2008 my brother Kyle and I went to Colorado to visit my sister and brother-in-law. We were going to be out there for a week and were looking forward to do some “campin’, hikin’, water-parkin’, and most excted about ‘bikin’”! Kyle and I were determined to bike up Mt. Evans.mountain-biking-2

Mt. Evans is a 14,000-foot mountain, one of 53 in the United States. It has the highest paved road in North America that goes all the way to the top. We talked about conquering it and riding our bikes all the way to the top. The base from Idaho Springs to the summit is 28 miles. Because I’m no Tour De France rider, I had to persuade Kyle to start at Idaho Springs, the halfway point. Now Kyle was in training mode for the Tour, so he was gung-ho in starting at the base. But because of time constrictions, he agreed on starting at the 14-mile mark where there happened to be a picnic area and lake. Quite a nice place in itself.

Thankfully we started there. The gradient on the uphill climb was from 5% to 12% the entire time. So in other words, it was extremely steep. It was one of the most physical things I’ve ever done in my life. I felt like an ant climbing this tremendously large mountain with no end in sight. But we kept going and the miles slowly ticked away. My legs were burning the entire way. I think our average speed was somewhere between 5-6 miles per hour, with many breaks along the way. I liked to call them scenic breaks, even if all we could see were trees before passing the tree line. Once we passed the tree-line, the scenery was breath-taking. We passed mountain lakes and even mountain goats alone the way.

After four hours of some grueling pedaling, we submitted Mt. Evans! Unfortunately, our stay at the top was short-lived as an approaching storm was barreling down on us, and we didn’t want to be caught traveling down the mountain on slippery roads with no railings. After taking a short break we made our descent. And let me tell you, that was by far the best and most rewarding part of the ride. For the first two miles down, we were tailgaiting a car until finally he pulled over and let us pass him. See, we were in it for the scenery (we did that on the way up); and we were in it for the speed. So we passed the car. With a slight sprinkle and no rails to protect us from dropping thousands of feet to our deaths, I only was able to top out at 50 miles per hour. Relax! That was only on the straight-aways. On the hairpin turns, I had to drop my speed significantly or I would shoot off the mountain. We made it down in half an hour, stopping only one time. It was simply an amazing ride. One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. The view at the top was breath-taking and the ride down exhilarating! I thank God for giving me the ability and opportunity to do it, especially with my brother. Hopefully one day soon I can do it again (it’s on my bucket list).

Biking up Mt. Evans is a perfect analogy of your walk with Christ. Riding downhill at top speed is like falling away from God and into temptation. The speed of life and worldly pleasures compare to the pleasures of riding down a mountain. Anything can happen so quickly and, if you are not careful, the results could be devastating, like going off a cliff. The ride is thrilling but dangerous. Then when you hit the bottom of the mountain or hit rock bottom in life, God is waiting for you to turn back to Him. When you decide you need God back in your life, you start making that trek uphill for Him. It can be tough, long, and hard along the way like biking up a mountain, with temptations and sins wanting to pull you down. You may want to give up, but you know that if you want to reach your destination you must keep pedaling. The farther up you get, the more you mature and grow in your faith. When you reach the summit all the hurting sensations and weariness of the ride are worth it. Nothing compares to the top – nothing will compare to heaven! So keep pedaling!!

Father’s Day Prayer

fatherhoodDear God, thank you for being a Father to the fatherless. Unlike me, there are so many men here who have had no fathers as role models growing up. My Dad did everything right, but I messed up. Forgive me, God. I do look forward to being a father myself someday. Bless all fathers and help them realize that a good father is one of the most valuable assets in their family and in our society. Amen.

He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. Proverbs 14:26

Book Recommendation

May 29, 2014

voice in the windI just finished reading “A Voice in the Wind” by Francine Rivers which was recommended and sent to me by my aunt. It is truly an amazing book, one of the best I’ve ever read and one that everyone should read. Briefly, it’s about a Jewish Christian girl witnessing to non-Christians during the time Nero was persecuting the Christians. Times then were not so different than they are now and it helped me to learn how to handle similar situations today! It’s a novel but one that gave me the desire to be used by our Lord.

After finishing the book yesterday, I was on fire to tell everyone about God. But who could I tell, in solitary confinement? I got to thinking about how well I know my cellie? I’ve lived with him for 76 days and haven’t really taken the opportunity to ask him about his walk with Christ. I should say there’s been plenty of opportunities but I, unfortunately, passed on them. No time seemed to be the right time to bring up the subject…..and first I wanted to develop a relationship with him before I started preaching at him! And I wanted him to watch how my faith helped me get through each day. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I prayed that God would give me the right time to talk to my cellie about God. And then I started watching for opportunities.

The next day the topic of heaven came up between us, so I used this opportunity to find out more about his beliefs. I know he believes in God, but found out that he wasn’t sure if he was going to heaven or not. I was able to quote Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,you will be saved. I then shared about God’s forgiveness and love. He asked many questions. God provided me the answers, and I encouraged him to pray and think about our discussion. So please pray for David to find the Lord and to accept Him into his heart. God is most definitely good and I thank Him for allowing me the opportunity to share His love with my smelly cellie!!!