Geezer Up (Part 2)

 

Any syrupy ideas I might have had about jail were quickly erased when the door banged shut to my holding cell. The five young men who sat on the bolted down metal benches, which lined both sides of the cell, followed me with their dark eyes as I sat down in the far right corner. A stainless steel toilet without a lid and a sink stood in the middle of the back wall. No privacy here, I thought.

“Hey, old white man, what terrible crime have you committed that the police would lock you up with five MS-13 homies charged with murder?” asked a young man covered with tattoos and wearing a white tank top.

My ears perked up with the mention of MS-13, also known as the Mara Salvatrucha. It’s the most violent gang in the United States with its members known for their cruel murders and merciless revenge.

“I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the LGBT parade watchers down in the Castro District. Some became angry and kicked me around like an old football. I was charged with a hate crime.”

“Did you fight back, old man?” asked a short young man with teardrops tattooed under both eyes.

“No, of course, not,” I replied.

The five laughed and slapped each other on the back as if my words were the funniest ones ever spoken.

“Old man, that is so hilarious!” said the biggest youth with a large scar on his neck. “You preach the gospel to gays and lesbians. Then they beat and kick the crap out of you, but you don’t fight back. And you’re the one who gets charged with a hate crime. We MS-13 homies understand that type of justice. So, what happened to the gays who did this to you?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know, but I pray that God won’t hold their actions against them.”

The same youth leaned toward me. “Do you really think God cares about gays and lesbians?”

“Yes, and not only that, He cares and loves you, too.”

“Old white man, now you’ve gone too far.”

The five leaned back and closed their eyes, ignoring my presence.

I sat there, checking myself out. My broken nose hurt. My ribs were sore and all of the other bruises added to my suffering. Yet, in the midst of my pain, I wanted to jump and shout and praise God because He counted me worthy to suffer for His name.

“Lord,” I prayed softly, “thanks for giving a seventy-one year old geezer, like me, a second chance to be a part of the action and not allowing me to retire from Your kingdom work. And Lord, use me even more in the days ahead.”

The Lord reminded me of this prayer often in the days following it.

(A new sequel to my eBook, Unhitched Geezer.)

(Continued in Part 3…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Thursday’s Prayers for America (9/22/2016)

In 1994, I prophesied at an inner city church: “There is a voice crying out in the inner cities of America and it is saying, ‘I want to be free. I want to be free. Oh Lord, I want to be free.'”

As I prophesied, the voice of the inner cities reminded me of Israel’s sighing, groaning and crying out to God because of their bondage in Egypt. I also felt God had heard the inner city voice and was ready to move to set the captives free.

Not long after the prophecy, I had a vision in which I saw a black river flowing out of the inner cities of America. This black river streamed into the other cities and towns of our nation. As I watched on, the black river became magnified and I saw that the river consisted of African-American men. They were apostles and prophets, heading out to preach their message, “Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

These African-American men were not your normal preachers wearing dark suits and white shirts. But instead, they wore black Oakland Raider tee-shirts and baseball caps. Their bodies were scarred with needle marks, knife cuts, and gun wounds. The looks on their faces showed an inner resolve which said, “Get out of my way. I’m determined to do the will of God.” Yet, in their eyes, I saw the overwhelming love of Jesus.

Since the prophecy and vision, has life improved in America’s inner cities? Conditions have so deteriorated that the inner cities are now considered war zones.

For example, in Los Angeles, gang related homicides in areas like Compton and South LA account for over half of the city’s murders. If these murders were not figured into the total number of homicides, LA would be one of the safest cities in the world. But because of the gang related deaths, LA ranks as one of the ten worst cities for murder in America, along with Washington D.C., Detroit and Philadelphia.

To counter this, billions of dollars have been spent by government and charitable agencies to alleviate the suffering in the inner cities, but the money has had little effect. Misery and anguish continues unabated and little girls still hope and say, “Can I come and live with you at your house?”

And yet, I feel the inner cities are the exact places where God will create His golden vessels to be our Paul prototypes. How can this happen? (America’s Hope: The Hopeless Inner Cities by Larry Who, 4/6/2011)

My prayer today:

Lord, help us American believers to walk by faith and not by sight when we look at the racial problems in our inner cities and help us to call forth those things that are not as though they are so we will see black rivers of godly men and women coming out of our inner cities to help set America free from the spirit of religion.

What do you think and has the Lord spoken to you today?

Join with me on Thursdays to fast and pray for America.

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Geezer Up (Part 1)

I hated phoning Jane, but there were no other options because she needed to know my situation. The long distance operator took my info in a business-like manner and connected the call as I sat there with my hands cuffed together. Sweat dripped off my forehead onto the plastic-covered information blotter in front of me. The police officer standing next to me belched, coating the air with his garlic and onion breath.

“Dylan, what’s wrong?” Jane shouted into her cellphone.

“Well, I have a little situation here in San Francisco, but don’t worry —”

“Don’t worry! Are you kidding? Where are you right now? And where’s your cellphone?”

“I’m at County Jail Number Four, on Bryant Street in San Francisco —”

“Is this one of your jokes? If it is, it’s not funny!”

“Honey, it’s not a joke. I’m being charged with a hate crime and will be arraigned tomorrow morning. You need to call our attorney, Jacob, and have him refer me to a criminal lawyer here in San Francisco. Tell him I’m in County Jail Number Four.”

A gasp could be heard through the receiver, followed by a few sniffles.

“Hate crime? What’d you do?”

“It’s really no big deal. I just preached a short message to the gays in the Castro District. That’s all…no big deal. So don’t worry, please.”

“Gunsmoke, no big deal! It’s Pride Week there, right? Did they rough you up?”

“There was a little fighting, maybe even a small riot. I have a few bruises, but my nose should be okay once a doctor  checks me out and sets it in place.”

BEEP!

“Sweetheart, don’t talk. That beep means we have thirty seconds left before we’re disconnected. Call Jacob and tell him I’m at County Jail Number Four.”

“Honey, I love you and —”

The officer tapped me on the shoulder as soon as my call finished. I stood up and he pointed toward the door, leading back to lockup.

Yikes, I thought as I walked through the door, Jane’s really upset because she called me by my college nickname –Gunsmoke – which she hates. Not only that, she’s probably wondering how my arrest will affect our forty-sixth wedding anniversary plans to travel to Tahoe for this upcoming weekend. What a jam you’re in, Dylan Matthews! I’d better geezer up and prepare my seventy-one year old body for what awaits me in the days ahead.

(A new sequel to Unhitched Geeser, which is free on Amazon today. Check it out here.)

(Continued in Part 2)

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Tuesday’s Prayers for Prisoners (9/20/2016)

The apostle Peter revealed the heart of God when he wrote:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

If this is one of the deepest desires of God, shouldn’t we feel the same way?

My prayer today:

Lord, help us American believers to see the people of Asia as You see them and then give us Your heart so that we are long-suffering in prayer and fasting for them.

Join with me on Tuesdays to fast and pray for  prisoners in Asia, according to Hebrews 13:3.

Why Asia?

1. 4.4 billion people live in Asia.

2.. 85.4% of world’s unevangelized people live in Asia. (Unevangelized means they may have heard the gospel but have no understanding on how to respond.)

3. The world’s three largest non-Christian religions – Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhists – are based in Asia.

4. Of the 37 countries of the world that are less than 10% Christian, 32 are in Asia. Of the 14 countries, that are less than 2% Christian, 12 are in Asia.

5. 600 million people live in abject poverty in the slums of Asia.

6. 85-90% of unreached people live in Asia. (Unreached means that they have never heard the name of Jesus.) (Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation)

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Why Prophesy if Hardly Anyone Listens? (Part 16)

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Dinner appeared at my cell at 6:30 p.m. Pepper-steak, macaroni and cheese, green beans, and chocolate cake. It looked okay, but my stomach felt queasy. I slid the tray over to the gang-banger in the next cell.

He grunted and mumbled a “thanks” in my direction.

The depression finally ran its course and I drifted off to sleep, listening to the prisoners talk about their sexual conquests.

Much later, another panic attack awakened me. Someone moved in my cell. What did he want?

“Jeremiah, stand up. Let’s go.”

Rolling over, I saw the same two guards again. The big one had his hand on his gun and the smaller one held leg irons and handcuffs in his hands.

I yawned and stood up.

“What now?”

“Shut up.”

I held my hands out as he put the handcuffs on. He stooped down and tightened the leg irons around my ankles.

“Okay, let’s go.”

“Where?” I said.

“Down the hallway toward the visitors’ room. And shut up. No talking.”

One of the gang-bangers woke up as we walked past his cell.

“Hey man, where you taking him at 1 a.m. in the morning?”

The big guard looked at him, his eyes seething.

“Shut up, if you don’t want to end up in lockdown.”

The gang-banger mumbled something and then pulled the blanket back over his head.

Just before we reached the visitors’ room, the big guard grabbed my shoulder.

“Stop here.”

He opened a door with a key and held it open for me. I duck-walked past him into an interrogation room with a white iron table bolted to the floor. There were two metal chairs, one on each side of the table. Three walls were painted pale green and the fourth wall had a large one-way mirror. I supposed people watched me through the mirror.

“Sit down.”

As I did, Mayor Streyer walked into the room, carrying two cups of coffee. He wore jeans, a blue chambray work shirt, and a pair of Italian loafers. His famous million-dollar smile perched itself under his nose. He sat down opposite me.

“Remove his handcuffs, Jeremiah’s not going anywhere. Then, leave us alone. I’ll call you when we’re done. Thanks,” he said in rapid fire staccato.

The small guard took the handcuffs off. The two left.

The mayor handed me a cup.

“Starbucks,” he whispered. “Your favorite, right?”

I smiled and sipped some coffee. It tasted great.

“Wondering why you’re here?”

I nodded, but did not say a word.

“My wife, Dina, is worried sick by your prophecies. She can’t sleep. Can’t eat. Wants our two children to stay in Phoenix with her parents until this blows over,” he said, sipping coffee.

“Tonight, she begged me to talk with you,” he went on. “She hopes I can persuade you to ask God not to destroy San Francisco.”

I looked at him as if he came from another planet.

“Let me get this straight, okay?” I said in a measured tone. “She believes I’m a prophet?”

The question embarrassed him. His eyes dropped to his coffee cup.

“Yeah,” he whispered under his breath.

“What about you?”

He shrugged and showed off his million-dollar smile.

“I’m a politician with a capital P. If a pollster can prove believing you’re a prophet will add fifty thousand votes to my tally, then I’ll believe you’re a prophet. But I don’t see that happening. You’ve alienated the gay community, which is twenty-five percent of the voters in San Francisco. That’s a tough nut to crack.”

“What about people? Don’t you care what happens to them?”

His blue eyes opened wide.

“Well, it’s obvious I care about Dina and my two children. I’m here, aren’t I?” he said, leaning back in his chair. “But the people, whether they’re gays, feminists, peaceniks, liberals, straights, conservatives, fall into specific voting blocks. I just need the blocks to add up to fifty-one percent at the end of every battle on my side of the ledger. Sounds easy, right? Let me tell you, it’s not. You have to kiss butts and gargle Lewis Lye to make it work.”

I stared at him and shook my head.

“Shocked at my candor?” he said with a grin. “Don’t be. I’m just laying my cards on the table. If you think church leaders are any different, you’re wrong. They’re just as pragmatic as politicians and maybe even worse!”

A strange look flashed across his eyes. I got the sense there was a lot under the surface he was not saying about church leaders.

“The Freedom Riders had a favorite Gandhi quote, describing politicians and leaders like you,” I said. “There goes my people, I must run and catch up with them, for I am their leader.”

“Great quote. It sums up the art of politics in one sentence.”

We both took a break and drank coffee.

He leaned forward with his eyes staring full bore into mine.

“So what’s your answer?”

“San Francisco must repent.”

He slapped the table and stood up.

“That’s probably not happening, but who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. If I am, I’ll make a quick change and run to the front of the group. After all,” he said with eyebrows raised, “I’m their leader.”

He pivoted around and left the room.

Two minutes later, the two guards escorted me back to the cell.

The mayor’s words aggravated me when I was alone again. I paced back and forth from one wall to another. My spirit was stirred up. I was upset. Tears and sweat rolled down my cheeks. Politicians care about one thing: power. I thought. How can politicians be our answers? And church leaders, many of them suffer the same problems, right? What hope do we have?

I knelt on the cold floor and leaned my elbows on the bed. I began weeping. Every square inch of me ached for San Francisco. For my parents. For Kari and her family. For my relatives. For my friends. For the people. I wailed so hard I retched on the floor. Dry heaves then consumed me. I gasped for breath.

A prayer forced its way out of my mouth.

“Lord, bypass the politicians, and if You need to, bypass every church leader who stands in Your way. Go directly to the people and awaken them. Have them proclaim, ‘Lord, remove the stumbling blocks in San Francisco which might stop Your mercy from triumphing over judgment in San Francisco.”

Perfect peace consumed me and swallowed up my depression and fear as I rested against the bed. I knew that sink or swim, live or die, my assignment was finished in San Francisco.

It was now up to the Holy Spirit and the people.

Excerpt from Jonah by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2012, Amazon eNovel.

(Conclusion…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.) 

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Why Prophesy if Hardly Anyone Pays Attention? (Part 15)

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Judah at the time of Jeremiah was the most godly nation in the world. Its godliness may have been just an inch deep, but no other nation even approached that spiritual depth and awareness of God.

Yet, God was upset with Judah.

You see, God chose Israel (and Judah) as His special people, made His covenant with them, and gave them His roadmap (Law or Torah) on how to live and walk in holiness under His leadership and reign. Not only that, God sent His messengers – the prophets – because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.

But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the LORD’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done. (2 Chronicles 36:16)

Judah was guilty of committing treason against the Lord God of Israel, which carried a death penalty. But in Judah’s case, it was a God-imposed seventy-year death penalty as prophesied by Jeremiah.

America is certainly not Judah (or Israel), but no other nation has had the favor of God on it like our nation has enjoyed for the last two hundred and forty years. We have enjoyed prosperity, awakenings, revivals, spiritual freedoms, and have sent out hundreds of thousands of missionaries to foreign lands (127,000 in 2010), and given billions of dollars in offerings to back missionary efforts. And also, we are the most Christian nation in the world right now.

Thus, how could God possibly be upset with America?

Because of our wealth and works, we American Christians do not realize we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  And like Judah, we believe God wouldn’t judge America because He needs us and our wealth.

Sadly, this is a recipe for disaster.

The Lord will rise up early and send Jeremiah-type prophets to various cities. The words will be tough and considered harsh by the religious leaders and most believers. They will proclaim in unison, “God wouldn’t do that. He loves us just the way we are!”

And of course, the god they know wouldn’t do that, but the God they don’t know – the God of the Bible – would do that because He honors His Word.

The people in cities will most likely react the same way the people of Judah reacted to Jeremiah and the other prophets in the Bible.

So, why prophesy if hardly anyone will listen?

A few people in Judah and Jerusalem did listen to Jeremiah and obeyed his prophecies. They lived and stayed in Judah, but the majority were slaughtered, with a small group being led off into captivity to Babylon.

Who knows? Maybe more will listen in the near future. Let’s pray they do!

(Continued in Part 16…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)

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Why Prophesy if Hardly Anyone Pays Attention? (Part 14)

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Jeremiah’s career cresendoed in intensity until an aide came from King Zedikiah to beg for the prophet’s help. “Ask the Lord to help us. Maybe God will do a mighty miracle for Judah like He has done in the past.”

Jeremiah’s answer has to be one of the all-time, end-of-argument answers from the Lord:

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless…I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and powerful arm…I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar…He will slaughter and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.

“Tell all the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: Take your choice of life or death! Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the LORD. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’” (Jeremiah 21:4-10)

King Zedekiah and his men considered Jeremiah’s words as an act of treason. They threw him into a muddy cistern where eventually an Ethiopian, Ebed-melech, rescued him and placed him in protective custody.

A little later, a so-called prophet named Hananiah disagreed with Jeremiah’s judgment prophecies. He prophesied peace for Judah and that all of the Temple’s vessels and the people would be returned to Judah from Babylon within two years.

Jeremiah listened to Hananiah’s words and said, “That would be great if it happens, but it won’t because God is bringing judgment on Judah. And if you are going to prophesy peace for our nation, it had better come to pass because then the people will know you are a prophet of the Lord.”

Then, Hananiah broke the yoke that Jeremiah wore around his neck as a sign to other nations about King Nebuchadnezzar’s strength. “Just as this yoke was broken off Jeremiah’s neck so will the Lord break the yoke of Babylon off Judah,” said Hananiah.

Jeremiah replied that the Lord had replaced the wooden yoke with a stronger iron one and he prophesied:

“Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 28:15-16)

Hananiah died two months later.

Is today’s America like backslidden Judah? If so, where are the Jeremiahs?

(Continued in Part 15…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)

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