|ChristiansUnite.com | Freedom Within Index|
NEWSLETTER VOL. 1 No 4.
Breaking The Chains
""I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"(Philippians 4:13)
Freedom Within was designed to allow prisoners, who have accepted the Lord into their hearts, share with the world and other Christians, their testimonies of how the Lord has worked His miracles in their lives.
With Mother's Day and Father's Day right around the corner, I feel it is important to recognize all the good things our parents do for us, and express how important they truly are.
We depend on our parents to guide us, protect us, and to keep us warm and safe. It is good to know they will not desert us when we need them the most. We know that they will always help us, encourage us, and praise us. They give us confidence in ourselves to achieve the most out of life.
Our parents let us know that we are good enough to do anything. They let us know we have worth to ourselves, and to others. They give us the wisdom to be valuable to ourselves and everyone around us.
Parents are very important to us, as we are important to them. Looking back I realize I had parents who did their best to assure I had everything I needed. I realize I did not appreciate all they did for me, but even with all that has happened with my life, my mother and father always seem to meet me half-way. They never once turned their back on me.
My mother and father encourage and support everything I do to improve my life. I love my parents very much and I know they love me. So on that note, I want to wish all those mothers and fathers out there a 'VERY HAPPY DAY'.
Freedom Within would not be successful if I had not had the guidance given to me by the Lord. He has made it possible for me to work around all the obstacles here in prison...and there are many! I have been blessed to have family and friends who work so hard to help me distribute this letter. My thanks to my mother and father and my grand parents who have taken their time and helped me in bringing the Lord's work through 'Freedom Within' to you. I would also like to thank Richard O'Brien for his generous donation, and everyone else who has helped to keep this newsletter running.
If you have any comments or ideas that may help us with this newsletter, or if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing from you.
"As sure as ever God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them" CHARLES H. SPURGEON 1834-1892
Justin L. Martin
WHEN I LOOK BACK on all the things I have done in the past, good or bad, I wonder what it was that inspired me to do it. On some things I wonder, was it the cool thing to do? did it make me feel good? did it make me feel bad? or did my friend tell me to do it? did I see it on TV? All these questions seem to puzzle us when we are young, but as we get older we say, "What was I thinking?" I did a lot of dumb crazy things when growing up. Was I was looking for attention, the admiration of my peers, power, or just something I can't explain. There are so many things that teenagers go through, often times very destructive. Some learn from their mistakes, but some are less fortunate.
There was a guy his whole life who never thought about doing drugs. He drank sometimes but it never seem to affect any of his judgements. One day he made a decision to 'experiment' with drugs, just to see what they will like. The affects of this drug made him see snakes coming out of the walls, "like they were trying to get me" as he describes. He did all he could to get away from them, and his only apparent choice was diving through his bedroom window. He was treated for multiple lacerations to his face, stomach, and legs. By a stroke of luck he lived through this painful experience, and now he's probably looking back wondering, what made me set all my convictions aside to do something so stupid. It's a crazy thing but it is something that plagues our youth today.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I could change one thing in my past. If I could change one thing in my past,what would I change, would it make a difference? I think the thing I would change is to take my parents advice and not have moved out of their house when I was not ready. It is true, the day I went looking for a place of my own, I run into the guy that I would ultimately go on a crime spree with. I was blinded by all the dangers out there with the sparkle of quick money, fast motorcycles, and fancy restaurants. I had it set in my mind that I knew everything, without considering for a second I might not, and in the process I hurt many innocent people.
Some parents have a wisdom they've experienced as teenagers themselves. It's hard to picture your mother and father actually being young and hip once, but that's just because of the many differences one generation has to the next. Parents and teenagers need to find a way to tear down that barrier which causes us to be narrow-minded towards each others thoughts and feelings. One way of breaking down this barrier is to draft out a contract between you and your child.
Contracts are essential in any kind of relationship between an adult and a teenager, and I'll explain why. A contract in which each has had an opportunity to work out is more likely to succeed. It is a statement that you will do something, and the other person agrees to, and that they will, in turn, do something that is also acceptable to you. A good contract provides a basis for understanding each other. It sets the rules. If you have agreed to a set of rules, and each of you always follows your rules, you know you can depend on each other to do what you think he or she is supposed to do. If you don't have a contract, there is no agreement and no basis for getting along. If you frequently find yourself in conflict, fighting, or arguing, you may not have a clear contract. When people say, "You said" or "You promised" or "Your not fair" and so on, the trouble may be because of a lack of a contract. Without a contract, friends and family members often wind up with a lot of unpleasant and unhappy feelings.
To make this work, it takes both parent and child to be honest, autonomous (standing up on your own two feet and express exactly what you believe), having integrity, and being enthusiastic, and most importantly, a willingness to be open minded to each others ideas. Contracts are not orders, they are simply agreements drawn up by and between consenting people. If it's one sided, it's a dictated rule, and may not work. A contract is based on the understanding that you will (and you agree to this) keep the contract. Integrity is the basis for all trust between people and is built on conformity to mutually agreed upon rules of behaviour. Thus, you build integrity by following the rules to which you've agreed . If you don't like the rule, work on re-writing it and agreeing with it. But obey it until it's changed. That's integrity.
Try to follow these simple rules for making a contract:
Make sure that both people get something out of a contract, so it isn't all one-sided. If each person gives something because he or she cares about the other, the contract will work out well.
This is just one of many ideas to explore a new form of communication between children and adults. After these barriers are removed, a teenager may be more willing to discuss topics such as sex, drugs, and violence etc... too young.
What does the future hold for the generations to come? I strongly feel violence on T.V., and in other forms of entertainment play a big role in the violence that is played out from our streets, and our children's classroom. At some point someone's child watched a show, heard a song, or read some underground newsletter, that inspired him or her to do a minor, and in most cases, very violent crime.
What I'm asking from you is to share with myself and others, cases you know of where the media (i.e music-TV-literature etc...) has played a part in your sons or daughters, or friends' crimes ...or even your own. Knowledge is our tool against this rising epidemic. We need to teach our children the difference between fantasy and reality ...before it's too late!
Justin L. Martin
Arizona State Prison
|With Love To Mother!|
For all the things you've been to me,
|Being a Father!|
BEING A FATHER has to be one of the most enjoyable, challenging positions a man can be in. What a joy it is to hold in your arms a beautiful gift from God. To watch your baby grow and become a young man or woman with thoughts of his own, to invest time and love.
As a father you begin to better understand the true character of your heart with every passing day. If your character is selfish, that is what your child learns.On the other hand, if you are a giving and loving person, you will see the sme characteristics in your child. This is where the challenge begins.
On a daily basis I need to look at my heart to see if my motives are pure, and if not, I need to get my heart right with God, then with my children. I need to ask for their forgiveness, and tell them I am wrong. If I truly put on the nature of Christ and lead my children, then I can say, "I have done my best as a father".
IF YOUR PURSUIT IS that of happiness, then you must go after it with ethusiasm, identify what is stopping you from going after it. Then eliminate it. Of course with the pursuit of happiness there will be non-happy days, but these days are only lessons, days to make you appreciate the better days to come.
When looking for happiness, there must be love in your heart. Trying to make the best of the worst is the main component, not having anything but being content. Money and multitude doesn't mean you are happy, it only adds to the happiness you have acquired, and without money you will still have happiness... if you know where to find it.
To be a better person, you have to know yourself, and by whatever methods you have to grow into a better person. Use them, this will improve the quality of happiness and love you experience. See things how they are, and don't over-evaluate them, use simplicity as a tool for outlook. A problem is only as complicated as you make it.
The main strength you can have in your pursuit is God. There are rewards for hard work. Surround yourself by those whose goals are the same as yours because there is strength in numbers.
A WARM WELCOME to all our faithful and trusted readers to this fourth issue of 'Freedom Within'
We share in Justin's thanks to Mike O'Brien for his gracious donation. May God bless you Mike as you go on in your life for Christ. We also give thanks for the many inquiries we have had from all over the US and Canada for those wanting to receive a copy of 'Freedom Within' in its new printed format. God is good and has surely promised that "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11)
We do pray that you would find Justin's editor's letter an encouragement. Once again he freely shares himself with us and the ever 'wondering' of why, we as people do the things we do. I would also challenge those parents and teens to take up Justin's view on entering into a contract with each other. I personally think a 'contract' between parents and teens is a rather good and effective means of balancing out those differing outlooks we may have. I myself have decided to 'give it a go' with my 10 year old son David. In the next issue I will let you know how we are doing.
There also is a similarity here in the tool of using a contract with the covenant as the Bible calls it, or contract that God has also drawn up for us in our personal relationship with Him. He longs to bless us if we will be obedient to Him. (See Genesis 31:44, Exodus 2:24, Psalm 25:14, Psalm 89:28,34, Isaiah 54:10)
We know that God never faults on His part of upholding 'the contract' that He has made with man. We are the ones who falter. But praise be to God that there is recourse with the Lord.
To come back again and again if we are truly His children.
My husband and I were delighted to receive a letter from Bryan Anderson who resides in the same place as Justin. He has enjoyed 'Freedom Within' and this is a blessing to us as this is the intent of Justin's newsletter - to reach out to others in the hope and prayer that they too may come to saving faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We would ask our readers that you would continue in prayer for the financial support of Justin and 'Freedom Within' and we know all too well that God hears "the prayers of the righteous" and so will provide accordingly in His time and not ours. May He only be praised and have all glory. Amen.
"I will extol thee, my God, O King and bless thy name for ever and ever. Everyday will I bless thee I will and praise thy name for ever and ever" (Psalm 145:1-2)
Justin has asked me if I would write an article in this issue about 'Teens'. I humbly accept this challenge and pray that the Lord may use it for His glory and that I wrote according to His will. Although the article is directed to teens it is for all of us who will take and contemplate on what is written. Thank you.
Once again we acknowledge and give thanks to our Lord for all of you who pray for Justin and 'Freedom Within' and for all your encouraging e-mails to him. May God open the windows of heaven and pour out upon you all blessings in abundance that you shall not be be able to contain them. Amen.
In His Service and Yours
|Within or Without|
THOSE OF US who are past those teenage years can well remember what those few short years were like. For many of us, what we did or rather did not do has had an effect on the course our lives would ultimately take. I would like to share with you two true stories of how one can be seemingly within and seemingly without. What I mean by this, is that you are either a true child of God or you are not. But whether in the former or the latter group, God is Soverign and will continue to work in spite of the many destructive choices we make along the paths of our lives.
I would like to introduce you to Christina. A beautiful young girl, 15 years old. Raised in a solid Christian home with good morals and principles. Her father is a pastor of a rather large congregation and Christina has heard her father preach repentance and the good news that Jesus Christ died for her and indeed for all mankind. Christina has taught the little ones in Sunday school, and helped out in the nursery. She has memorized all the important verses. She sings in the choir, and many other 'works' has she done in church. What a blessing she is to every one especially to her dotting father and mother. Even in her school work she excels above all others. Is this child an angel or what?
But...then along comes puberty with it's onslaught of previously unknown feelings and thoughts and some how Christina, slowly at first, starts to see things a little more differently. The rush of hormones into her brain rather excite her, her body starts to change it's shape from a once lanky young girl to a now curvy vavacious looking young lady.. All to soon Christina finds her self wanting and seeing things as she had never known before and the thought comes to her that she has been 'missing out' on the so called good things the world has to offer. Her attitude towards her parents long denying her of these worldly pleasures annoys her. As God said to Cain, "If you do not do what is right then sin is waiting for you" (my paraphrase) as Cain did not listen to God so Christina did not listen and many others out there do not heed the word of God either until it is to late. But back to Christina...
Soon her remembrance of why Christ came and died is forgotten and pushed aside. This is replaced with thoughts of, "How can this be really true? and she doubts and ultimately disbelieves all she has been taught. Church is replaced by visiting the mall with friends and just "hanging out" going nowhere in particular and doing nothing constructive. Memorization of scripture is now replaced by memorizing the latest 'Back-Street Boys' song or Marilyn Manson song or a myriad of other so called music, if at all we can call it that. Simple jewelry Christina once wore is now replaced by a pierced naval and who knows what else is pierced? Her past Bible study is replaced by study in front of a mirror of herself just to make sure that every hair is in place and every eyelash curled and to make sure she is wearing what's in fashion, prancing and preening in front of the mirror for hours. So the decline into the 'so called good things of this world' continue to seduce her and continue to bring her more and more into the arms of a secular false and out of control world.
"Where are her parents in all this?" you may well ask. Well prostrate, (I would hope) before the Lord in interceding prayer for their wayward teen. They have lost control, indeed did they really ever have control, or rather was it just lip service Christina gave to her once dotting parents and to Christ who suffered for her.
Poor Christina, 15 going on 30. Her decline in the past 3 or so years is tragic indeed, and one wonders if she ever really took what she had heard so many times into her very heart. Was she ever within God's family? or was she always truly without?
Her so called 'new' friends of the past 3 or so years have been telling her "It's cool, it's hip and you only have one life to live so why not live it how you want now"
"Yes" she thinks to herself. 'Why not!......
Now let me introduce you to a young man named 'Christian'. He is 18 going on 30 also! Christian hated school and left when he was about 11 years old, not that he attended very often before that either. He stole everything he could get his greedy little hands on. He was abused in his early young life in every form by both his parents. Christian never stepped a foot in a church, let alone a Sunday School. He dreams of one day being a famous 'Rapper'. He has been in and out of boys homes and detention centers more than you and I could count, not to mention being shoved from one foster home to another, and with it came more abuse. His IQ level and reasoning are rather low and his education has been near non existent if not totally extinct. This is certainly reflected in the tragic life he has lived. The only thing that Christian ever read in written form was on neighbourhood and bathroom walls and such the like.
Let me point out that Christian is a very handsome young man, and boy does he know it. He can flick his fingers and the girls come swarming like bees to a honey pot. Best of all he has just commanded the ultimate respect of his fellow members and he is voted into the highest position that a member of his affiliation can have. He leans back, beer in hand, buzzing on crack and thinking to himself, "Well the future looks good. I have everything I have ever wanted and I keep nothing from myself. All's well with the world". Christian's flesh has raised up and he has fed it to overfilling. He has fulfilled his every desire and lust, "and it feeeels gooood! If this is puberty and what 'they' call the teenage years, then bring it on, it's downright exciting..."
But as the months go by...
Comes the inevitable day of reckoning. His buddies have just been busted and under pressure they 'rat him out'. His girlfriend (it would be good if he could remember which one and put a face to her name) has left a message to let him know she is pregnant and she is hysterical 'cause she's only 13.
And the long use of crack cocain is taking it's toll on this once vibrant and handsome young man. A myriad of other problems one by one, come home to roost. Eventually he finds himself in a small, cold, dirty cell with nothing but his own thoughts and reasonings.
Still desperately holding on to some of the honour and respect that he feels he has he says to himself, "Oh well this will make me look even better in the eye's of the 'brothers' But as time goes by, and by, and he sits alone night after night, then he starts to think to himself and talk with himself ever so secretly, (cause he does not want the others to know what's on his mind) "Is this really all worth it? all I ever really wanted was someone to love me and to belong somewhere" While he lays there alone and thinking he remembers a girl he met once. Her name was Christina, funny he thought how close their names were,...hmmm. Anyway he remembers Christina telling him one night at a party that she was raised in a Christian home, but she felt her parents had brain-washed her and kept her from all the exciting things that she was enjoying now.
Christian thought to himself, "Well not so exciting after all Christina, and what did she mean by 'Christian' he mused. There was a guy who came on a regular basis to the prison so Christian thought he may go to him secretly and ask him for a Bible. Anyway, he thought, it can't be that bad seeing it had the same cool name as his, and anyway what moron would ever name their son Christian! and then beat the 'hell' into him not out of him? Everyone called him Christian or Chris. He was not into all these other names that guys would call themselves, like 'Beefboy, Santos, Girlie, and all those other redundant gang names. No, Christian wanted a more civilized intelectual kinda name - not that he even knew what those two words meant - but still he figured Christian sounds a lot better than "Beefboy"! What a joke!
He finally got a Bible and some Christian books and a little devotional book for everyday reading called, "Our Daily Bread". As the days and weeks and months passed by, he read more and more, and he prayed, "Lord if you are really real and what I am reading is really true, then please God help me to understand what it is I am reading, especially the part about salvation, please help me to understand God if you can hear me, thank you."
In time Christian came to know the true meaning of salvation and his thinking now was, "O how good God is to such a sinner like me"......
"Well a little extreme" I hear some of you say. How can a 'good girl end up bad and a 'bad boy' end up good? Rather easily my dear friends, and is more common than you think. Christina and Christian are both extremes but nonetheless they are real and the sad reality is many of our teens are either a Christina or a Christian. Now notice I said, "many" not all thank God. All one has to do is look to the great ministry of Pastor Fletcher Brothers and he will show you the many Christians' and Christina's that reside at 'Freedom Village USA' which he founded and heads. He has a heart for youth and he sees their struggle and anguish and their need to belong and to be loved.
Our youth today are our responsibility and if they have failed then it is because we have failed, society has failed and the education of every country has failed, and more closer to home many parents have failed. Certainly it is not always the fault of the parents but it is the parents responsibility to exhaust every avenue they can to bring their confused and struggling teens to a perspective of life from God's veiwpoint and not of the world's. We as parents need to gently teach them that it is ok to have these changes that are happening in their teen years but with those changes needs to come reliance in Christ. He is the creator of our minds and desires and so forth He can then take them, if we will allow Him and direct them into a more useful and constructive way.
Even if you have never had a good Christian upbringing like Christina, there is still help for you. Go to God and open yourself up to Him and be yourself as Christian did and God will receive you and love you and take you as His own dear child and He will heal all those past hurts you have and He will take your life and clean it up. We all have choices to make, indeed God has given us the gift to make our own choices, but with that comes accountability and consequences.
If you are like Christina, do not be secure in your upbringing, thinking that will be enough for you to attain heaven and good favour with God Almighty, because once the temptation comes it will surely reveal where your true heart has laid all those years. Parents do not be satisfied just with the outside and think to yourself, all is well, but pray for your teen and ask God to reveal to you the true state of your child's heart and then pray accordingly.
And for any who are between these two extremes ...my answer to you is the same. Look to God trust Him and ask Him to reveal to you the state of your heart, and more importantly, ask Him to show you where your final destination will be once you expire from this fleeting life. Will you be within God's family and eternally reside in heaven? or will you be without and eternally reside in hell?
The choice is yours. Forget everything in the past that you have done, do not dwell there but rather right now at this very moment turn to God and ask Him to save you and receive you and He will.
May God touch every tender and precious teenager that is battling with the many thoughts and struggles that race through his/her mind. He understands, He really does. Run to Him and no other. He waits for you with longing and out stretched arms the love and comfort He longs to give you is like none you have ever known. Let Him wipe your many tears and sooth your anger and frustration. Let Him take all your fears and pain and rejection and lonleness. He loves you I know this for a fact and I would give my salvation as a wager if it were at all possible.
My prayer is that God may touch each one that reads this little article and that your eye's and ears and hearts may be open to His truth.
In Christ's Great Love
|The Psychology of Prayer - by Raymond May|
NOW DON"T GET ME WRONG, I am not saying that prayer is completely psycological, but God knows that it is in those times of prayer that we are more open to seeing our own faults and admitting our weaknesses.
If we are truly in communion with the Father, we will more quickly brush aside our wants and concentrate more on our needs and the needs of others. And in this praying for others, we should properly see their needs, softening our heart towards them and change our attitude from comdemnation to a spirit of love and compassion.
It is necessary to listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us in prayer. "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7). God knows that we are emotional people and can use our prayers to open our hearts and minds to His will.
God answers prayer. There is not doubt of this, but no prayer can be properly made without the compassion that comes from a heart that is right before the Lord. Even the confessing of our sins is of no use, and cannot ease our conscience, nor should we expect forgiveness, unless we are truly repentent.
Have you ever entered into prayer with a heart of condemnation toward others? I have! But God just as quickly turns this condemnation to compassion, and humbles me by pointing out my own sins and allowing me to focus on the hurts of others.
So let the Lord prepare your heart, and when your heart is properly prepared, He will "cause His ear to hear".
|Setting Your Focus|
WE ARE VERY excited to bring you in the next issue a new study that we will be starting. We feel so adamantly that it is imperitive that every child of God learn to memorize and hide God's word in His heart.
I myself have been very blessed by this for the past week or so that I have been doing it and it has brought me such a joy and blessing like none other. I have thought that reading theBbible has always been such a chore, but believe me with this new study you will never think that way ever again. I can promise you that.
So look out for the intruduction to memorization in issue 5 of Freedom Within and may God keep you all near His heart of Love. Amen
In His Humble Service and Yours
These are some of the letters sent since the third issue of this newsletter.
Subject: God forgives
Subject: BEEN THERE DONE THAT!
Subject: thank you
Subject: letter for Justin
Subject: Gods Mercy!!!!
From: "Danny and Pam"
From: "Lottie Jones"
Dear Brother/Sister in Christ.
Hello and greetings in Jesus,
Subject: saying hello
Subject: letter for Justin
I just finished reading about Justin and what a blessing it was. It is so inspiring to see the younger generation making such an impact with there faith in God. I can relate and agreee with his statements about the music and violence today's children are listening to. I myself grew up in Arizona so I know what that was like for him. I will continue to pray for him and his family. Our Lord is an Awesome God and you Justin are a true blessing for your work in his name. With his strength and mercy there is nothing you can't do. God bless you all.
Subject: Note to Justin
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