Reflecting on the Defendants

I can’t share much about the defendants now at their request, also, there’s just things I plain don’t want to at this juncture, but I’ll share ….. God is so alive! I prophesied couple years back about what will happen in the future, and that’s enough for now.

I’ll also share why I’m involved in their lives …..

  1. The circumstances surrounding my son’s murder case were pretty typical for youthful offenders I gather, just some nice enough young men out late, who didn’t know each other and got angry over some tiny thing. It wasn’t a premeditated crime, or drug or sex crime, but a ‘stupid tragic’ crime.
  2. The two young men were very remorseful.

Marc on vacation –

Knowing it wasn’t a premeditated crime I think was a huge blessing. I don’t know how I’d feel if it was premeditated? I don’t entertain ‘what if’s’. Knowing the defendants were so young also made me feel okay about reaching out to them. It was more likely they were just caught up innocently and weren’t career criminals.

I’d been around my sons and their friends, I knew about the crazy antics, goofy innocence and the sweet smiles of confusion they might display at the moment they were found out. The defendants didn’t give off menacing vibes to me, so I felt okay bout reaching out. I also noticed they didn’t have family at the hearings, so I felt they maybe were needing some adult confirmation.

I don’t live in the state the crime was committed in so I had to go out of my way at times to get info on them. I spent intensive months getting all the resources I could to understand prison or probation protocol. I called prison ministries, and searched online. I spoke with some in ministry at church and those who’ve been incarcerated. I contacted the D.A., the lead detective, defense attorneys, Probation Officers and the State of Oregon Corrections Dept. to get info so I could understand what the protocols were before I contacted them. Sometimes it felt I was taking on the whole State of Oregon  or something.

I was on one hand afraid of street people, certain homeless and felons scared me …. but when I saw or heard the boys in court hearings they seemed either so fearful or lost, like a normal overwhelmed youth would be, so I had to go by my instincts too to guide me. To my astonishment they both responded pretty readily to my writing them.

The incident happened in Portland, OR

I also wanted to stay in contact as I found I needed to know them and hear their remorse again. Talking about the pain of the crime was important to me with them. I could see and hear how it helped not just me but them as well. The healing oil just flowed over me when we dealt on that level. Indescribable how comforting!

Thru them I was strengthened because of research into homeless statistics, shelters, facilities. I’ve researched prisons. On this journey I’ve re-discovered some things about youth and our culture that are so important to keep in mind. God gave me a heart for the boys as they’d been homeless for a couple months and when I spoke with or wrote them they were like so many previously normal youth ….. trying to be strong after a tragic event, trying to recover something normal, and …. thinking of their families or friends and missing them. They sounded like my friends children in that respect, who’re battling anti-Christian comments, drug and peer pressures.

I’d been assessing people wrong! I used to think that homeless were either jovial or scary, but I could totally relate to these young men as people, they weren’t too far gone. Their minds not confused, their hearts not seared from years of abuse on the streets or mental illness.

Another important reason I’m making an effort to know them is that they aren’t social misfits per se, not anti-government radicals or alt-right guys who’ve lost their identity and believe they are political creatures. They never blamed society for their problems to me! These guys communicate with me with their feelings and aren’t into arguing with me or feeding me some political jargon. They are direct, don’t curse and I saw immediately they were sorta clueless about all the attention a murder case entails. So it gave me confidence to approach them. They’ve always  shown me respect, and considered my loss and Marc’s memory in our discussions. It takes two, I’m not on a one-man road.

Peter cried bitter tears after he refuted knowing Jesus. How wretched he must have felt, that must have been a wake up call to him. Under duress so many of us can be tempted to do wrong things, even fatal things. None of us is above tragedy, I’ve found …. but God is able to meet every mistake we make with blessings we never knew could happen –

 

Immigration Policies, Drug & Weapon Wars

There’s so much going on at the Mexican border with the U.S. every day. If you aren’t familiar with how government works you might be wondering what’s going on with all the news coverage of separated families this week? There was every kind of opinion possible, and some outrageous threats as well.

Even tho the Flores Amendment of ’97 created the border arrangement for families we now have, and no prior President has corrected, supposedly the current battle in Congress over the immigration bill caused political parties to hurl accusations at each other and this hysterical issue was born. Instead of making some progress in their negotiations over the bill, there’s been pandemonium created over children being separated, and it deflects attention from the real need which is passing the bill and makes it seem like separating families is a new policy.

Car draped with Mexican flag near my home –

There’s a big picture out there! If you live in a border state and know how law enforcement works at the border or watch TV shows like ‘Border Wars’, you’d know about the huge war the U.S. is waging daily along our Mexican border. Drugs and weapons are being smuggled at mind boggling pace. There’s drug sniffing dogs working round the clock, cars being taken apart to locate drugs. There are people swimming or rafting across the Rio Grande all seasons, of course mostly at night. Some are caught, fingerprinted and  immediately returned. But the majority of people coming across the desert heat of sometimes 100-120 degrees aren’t children, but men mostly, sometimes youth 14 or 15 years old who are forced, or family threatened, to bring contraband.

The amount of drugs carried, shipped or driven to the U.S. would stagger your mind. Weapons also are shipped, driven over. This is going on while we have an opioid epidemic in the U.S. which is unprecedented!  People from every walk of life, economic strata are being affected. We’re seeing some families, even whole towns devastated by opioid addiction in the U.S.!

I don’t know what’s in the bill in Congress now but it seems there needs to be better transition at the Southern border for asylum seekers. Asylum seekers have 21 days to be checked out but in most cases it’s taking longer to be processed and re-united. It’s not like Border Patrol Marshalls don’t have enough to do, but from what I hear the influx of people seeking asylum is increasing so fast that more judges are needed to get people cleared faster.

We have to watch where we’re going –

I hurt for the Mexicans near the border who live in some pretty violent towns. The cartels are threatening their police, officials. But I hurt for the U.S. too! Many families here are being ripped apart by drugs on our own soil. I hope to God Mexican and Central American governments can get a better grip on the violent drug cartels there, there’s a great human tragedy going on that can be corrected if good people, good leaders would take charge in their countries and imprison cartel leaders so people can return to their lives.

Our country has an immigration policy to help ensure that people coming into our country do not have contagious diseases, aren’t criminals, are not coming across to make bombs or promote a political agenda against the U.S. The rise in slave and sex trafficking is just another hurdle to deal with in vetting people. We don’t like to see adults or children being marketed, that’s not who we are.

Government has a side that sorta sucks, it can be tedious to wait and work for what we want …. but it’s the best government we’ve ever had. Our country is a far cry from Venezuela, Russia, China, Myanmar ….  thank God?

 

 

Another Homicide in Portland & Strong Editorial

I heard some sad news couple nights ago right after reading the best ‘opinion’ on the predators in the homeless population in Portland.

One of Marc’s instructors at OCI was murdered at the school last Saturday! Chilling, harrowing news! We don’t know yet if the homicide was a personal dispute, robbery or an armed homeless person? I’m still very fond of and in contact with a few at the school, as they were over and above in giving the best care to every student …. to Marc and I. It hurts alot that they have to go thru the horrific process of being in shock and being investigated too.

The school is in a nice, yet busy part of downtown Portland, not too far from where Marc’s incident took place. In the murder above, like with Marc’s case, I can’t help but remember how it’s easy to startle a homeless person and cause a fatal incident. What’s happening in Portland is that the criminal elements are commingling more and more with the truly needy homeless and vets causing increased danger for individuals & the city! I’ve witnessed some encounters with homeless in downtown on my recent trip … it’s alarming how degraded it’s becoming there. The ‘Portland experience’ is changing, and it’s a shame as it’s the downtown area that many travelers go to visit.

I learned about the criminal element firsthand when dealing with Wesley, one of the defendants in Marc’s case. It pained me when he described how repulsed and fearful he was of the criminal element who at times beat him up, stole from him or threatened him. He was even stolen from in shelters, which you’d think would be safe. So he liked to be by himself to keep safe. he had to move so often just to stay away from the bad bums.

Here’s an article on this issue written by ‘5’ individuals who’ve worked as advocates for the homeless in Portland. They nailed it! It’s refreshing to read their compassionate, yet informed consensus on what’s going on. They don’t just site a problem but give facts and offer genuine solutions!

Portland must stand up to predators: Guest opinion

(File photo)

By David Kline, Lourdes Gonzales and Maura White

We are five residents of Northeast Portland who have all worked in homeless advocacy or other progressive causes. But we are motivated to speak out about a growing problem following the attempted murder of Portland father Kasey Lebechuck, who was stabbed 17 times after confronting a homeless person trying to set up a tent camp in his neighborhood.

The opioid epidemic and over-tolerant city policing policies have enabled a whole new population of grifters and predators to insinuate themselves amongst Portland’s homeless. They prowl our streets and neighborhoods, break into our homes and cars, assault us on the streets, lurk in our backyards, prey upon anyone they can, defecate on the sidewalks, shoot up on the street or in Starbucks bathrooms and harass local businesses and their customers.

These criminals are not the innocent homeless families or veterans trapped by economic circumstance or mental illness, with whom we all empathize. They are what social workers call “service resistant.” That means even if free housing and services were offered, they would choose to live on the streets and prey on people, including those who live in homeless camps. They are dangerous, and will do whatever they need to do to feed their drug habits or their criminal lifestyle.

It’s time for Portland’s leaders to step up and protect both the homed and the homeless, and get these predators out of our neighborhoods and into jails where they belong.

How bad have things gotten? The postings on the online community network Nextdoor spotlight the daily threats we face:

“I had a guy threaten to kill me while waving a machete,” reported someone at the children’s playground in Laurelhurst Park, once considered “the most beautiful park” on the West Coast.

“My daughter and her teenage friend were chased by a guy on SE Water Street after their dance class,” recounted another. “They don’t go there anymore.”

Trash behind local Los Angeles market where homeless rummage – D.D.

“My neighbor’s house on 35th and Hancock was just broken into,” wrote someone else. “A person on some kind of substance crashed thru their glass door, but was thwarted by the occupants.”

As one frustrated citizen put it, “We have no right to feel safe in our homes anymore. I have moved three times because [my neighborhood] was overrun with homeless.”

This rampant criminality has sparked a profound shift in public opinion in the last year. People have begun to realize that this new population of predatory homeless is very different from the innocent homeless — and that defending ourselves from the former does not mean attacking the latter. If anything, it means uniting with innocent homeless families to protect us all from such criminals.

The police do the best they can, but they are constrained by inadequate budgets to police these so-called “quality of life” crimes. Even when police make arrests for narcotic use, breaking and entering, defecating in the street, aggressive panhandling, burglary or car theft, the perpetrators are often quickly back on the street.

The irony is that it is precisely these “livability crimes” that erode the economic vitality and stability of neighborhoods and foster more violent criminal activity. This fact led New York City in the 1990s to adopt a “broken windows” policing policy that aggressively enforced “livability” crimes and transformed the city from a cesspool of crime into the infinitely more livable place that it is today.

But things are getting worse here in Portland. As Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded, there has been “a 97 percent increase in stolen vehicle calls, 64 percent increase in unwanted persons calls and a 32 percent increase in disorder calls.”

Yet despite this, our city has fewer police officers than it did a decade ago. The number of officers assigned to the Neighborhood Response Team responsible for livability issues has gone from 16 in 2013 to four today.

This must change. Portland residents demand that the city hire more police and bolster their Neighborhood Response Teams; aggressively enforce and prosecute “livability” crimes; remove all tent encampments from residential neighborhoods; enforce loitering-free safe zones around local businesses; and increase funding for both homeless services and neighborhood safety.

If the city fails to act, people (and the city’s tax base) will start moving out of the city. Each of us already knows neighbors who are thinking of moving out of Portland to escape the worsening filth and crime festering in our neighborhoods.

Portlanders rightly take pride in their acceptance of all lifestyles. But predatory criminal behavior is not an “alternative lifestyle.” It’s a cancer on the city and a threat to us all, and it’s time for the city to do something about it.

David Kline, Lourdes Gonzales, Maura White, Diane Zhitlovsky and Bethany Lemoine live in Northeast Portland.

(Published in the Oregonain online edition and found on Google’s Portland News.)

‘The 3 Reasons Students Kill’, by a Homicide Detective

School shootings will thankfully be down in the summer, but mull this over …. have you noticed any similarities in the recent school shootings? Will you be making any changes in the school life of the youths you care about based on this or other articles?

I attended a great in-service training seminar last week held by a local Los Angeles Police officer. I later on found this following article in my new Twitter feed.  It’s written by J. Warner Wallace, a former Los Angeles Homicide/Cold Case Detective.  He made extensive notes on cases in our area to understand why people murder, and chronicled his findings in books, articles. He’s right on the mark –

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(Re: the recent Santa Fe, TX school shooting) …. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pointed out that unlike other recent mass shootings, “there were not those types of warning signs. The red-flag warnings were either nonexistent or very imperceptible.”

The accused shooter’s parents said the media reports of the shooting seemed “incompatible with the boy (they) love,” and the 17-year-old boy’s best friend said he was “one of the most responsible people I knew. He didn’t drink or do drugs, to my knowledge … he was academically proactive, making all A’s.”

Given the profile that is emerging, investigators have not yet identified the motive for the shooting.

I, however, know precisely why this latest killer did what he did. And I also know what will motivate the next killer to act in a similar way.

Many years ago, as I began investigating high-profile murders in Los Angeles County, I carefully chronicled the motives for every homicide that occurred in our region. You might think there are a million reasons why someone would commit a murder, but there are only three possibilities.

At least one of these three motives is the driving force behind every homicide, theft, burglary and robbery. In fact, these three motives lie at the heart of every conceivable crime or misdeed.

Human misbehavior is motivated by: financial greed, sexual – or relational – lust, and the pursuit of power.

You might be wondering if there is a fourth category. There isn’t. What about jealousy? What about anger? Ask yourself the question: What is causing the jealousy or anger? There are only three answers to this question, and now you know them.

The notorious gang, MS-13, inadvertently confirmed these three motives when leaders chose the motto for their criminal organization: Kill, Steal, Rape, Control.

All murders (kill) are motivated by financial greed (steal), sexual lust (rape) or the pursuit of power (control). Sometimes only one of these motives is the driving force behind a crime. Sometimes two or more are involved.

The latest school shooting is a good example. While there doesn’t appear to be any financial motive, the killer does appear to have been driven by the other two motivations I’ve described:

Sexual Lust – A 16-year-old girl killed in the Santa Fe shooting, Shana Fischer, was apparently pursued by the accused killer in the days and weeks prior to the shooting. Her mother said the accused shooter “kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.” According to Shana’s father, she “told her mother two weeks ago he was going to come and kill her.”

The Pursuit of Power – This form of motivation can be very nuanced and includes one’s sense of respect, authority, embarrassment, prestige or control. For example, as the accused killer became “more aggressive” in his advances toward Shana (approximately one week prior to the shooting), Shana eventually “stood up to him” and “embarrassed him in class.”

In addition, several news organization have reported that the accused shooter was bullied and “mistreated at school.” Episodes of perceived disrespect and embarrassment are often the motive for murder. This would also explain why some of the accused killer’s friends said that he recently “started wearing a trench coat” and telling students he was “buying knives off Amazon.”

The accused shooter incrementally sought the respect (and fear) of others, a classic example of the pursuit of power. During the attack, the killer even selectively spared students he liked “so he could have his story told.” This effort to elevate his fame and prestige after the fact is consistent with the motive I’ve described.

Since only three motives lie behind school shootings like the ones we’ve seen recently, I sadly expect to see more shootings in the future.

Unless we, as a nation, are willing to embrace and promote a worldview that helps us understand the proper role of money and financial stewardship, promotes sexual purity and restraint, and helps us place the needs of others ahead of our own desires, we can expect more of the same.

Those restorative values may sound familiar to you; they used to be part of our collective heritage and our common worldview. They are also our last and greatest hope if we ever expect to minimize and contain the only three reasons anyone commits a crime.

(Article taken from a Twitter article of J Warner Wallace)

Some Legal Stuff

This blog is pretty much the telling of victory over personal tragedy, but it’s also a commentary on faith and culture as seen by a mom who’s still deeply missing her son –

As sad as it is to lose a child, I still have to remember it’s important to write a blog correctly ….. with the right tone, respect and rules that any publication should follow.

When I started the blog it was a very emotional time in my life, but I think very spiritually charged up. I didn’t know what I was writing part of the time! The blog at first was meant to relay facts on the case to family and friends as I wanted justice for Marc more than life itself. But then it saved my life by becoming a place to share my grief, depression, good memories of Marc. Later on I shared about faith and culture, as I could not have survived without God.

The blog’s course shifted to include the defendants and traced their progress thru letters or visits with them. I’ve written that their remorse has made a great impact on my heart. Healing with broken, humbled offenders is a vital part of recovery after a homicide.

I’ve read, watched many true crime stories and observed all kinds of criminals, crimes …. researched the backgrounds of criminals and the circumstances of crimes. I looked at youthful crimes, crimes committed for all kinds of reasons. I even reflected on knowing relatives who were either many times deceptive or mostly very truthful while writing about the defendants. I shared how much I felt the defendants life circumstances were such a great factor in what happened that sad October night. They are paying for the crime in many ways, but to me it’s not only them that’s to blame but part of the problem was Marc’s making, a huge part is our mixed up families, fallen world.

In order to continue doing a blog in an ethical manner, I have to keep up with certain legal and audience preferences, so I want to make sure it’s understood:

  1. This blog is a non-profit production of my own reflections, but I sometimes share ideas or articles by others, and give them credit.
  2. Just because I’ve written about some true life events/people, it doesn’t mean all names are real. I may not be necessarily writing about you personally. I share some names, titles and have permission. The defendants gave me permission to write of them at times. I also frequently edit, delete after I publish if I think I’m not getting my point across or wrote in error.
  3. IMAGES: I photograph travels to Portland or use family photos, but sometimes shoot images from a newspaper, a TV news story. They are presented solely to bring credibility to my journey, or enhance a topic.
  4. PRIVACY POLICY – Marcsjustice.com does not share your personal info.
  5. If anyone wishes to informally share my posts with friends, a class, or in a blog article …. feel free. If you wish to use any text from a blog for commercial purposes please request permission. Thank you.

Thanks and may the God who’s watched over Marc and I, watch over your lives as well!

 Loving relationships are …. everything! ‘Things’ will fade, blogs will die out, people will be fickle but real love never dies – D. De Han

 

Update On CNN Documentary

I never thought I’d be writing about ‘crime’, ‘criminals’ …. I always wanted to reflect on the happier side of life! Yes, I knew good and evil existed, that people hurt others sometimes, but you never think you’ll suffer such a horrendous hit.

When I found out about forgiveness in relation to the crime against my son, it opened up a whole new perception of life. Dealing with the defendants helped me walk thru some struggles my sons had and that are so prevalent in our nation. So, accepting the offer to make a documentary on a very painful memory was something I hardly thought twice about! You feel you’re sorta on top of the world once you can conquer and share about death, murder. I think my blog gives me that sense I can ‘fight back’, that I don’t have to just stand and take the pain!

So when the offer to take part in a documentary came along, I remembered how I LIKE sharing about Marc!  And I LIKED the idea of working on a ‘Restorative Justice’ theme that may help some people see a way out of their pain, or confusion over crime, criminals. There are increasing school shootings, mass murders …. who will the victims and families turn to for comfort, understanding …. besides their pastor?

There are some criminals we can have compassion for, and some it’s hard to imagine have a soul. Some are remorseful, some in denial or boastful of their crimes. Some are in prison for a solitary crime, like Marc’s attacker …. some are constantly in and out of jail. If my part in a documentary could help a few people see how rewarding it is to speak with the youth who took Marc’s life, if the documentary could soften the harsh reality of violence in our country, then I’d be pleased.

Pulling into PDX airport on last trip –

I still don’t know if we will be able to take part in the documentary as doing something like this involves the approval of several people, different agencies ODOC mainly, (Oregon Dept. of Corrections). In Marc’s case the state of Oregon has to be agreeable, the prison open to filming. There are issues still unresolved at this moment.

I just want to say it’s been a surprise and blessing to meet and know one of the producers. Angela has been such a beacon of ‘hope’ to me in the sea of life where so many have forgotten about Marc. I was kinda leery in some ways if she would really grasp the issue with the defendants, but she’s so cognizant of what healing can achieve. She’s such a ‘sister’ in this effort. Completely present with my thoughts, questions and anxieties. She never brushes me off and has this expertise that is assuring, cause it IS sorta nerve wracking to go this route!

She’s been out at prisons around the U.S., filming recently but always has time to get back. She actually likes getting my blog, even when I blog about Pres. Trump. She’s never made me feel she’s only interested in a story, she doesn’t put words in my mouth so things please her perspective, but she lets me know she’s genuinely on a mission for healing.

I never wanted the documentary to seem like a ‘show’, or some glossy take on violence, that was a real fear of mine. There are different types of crimes, offenders and it’s a sensitive issue to film, so things have to line up just right. There’s no interest in filming rape victims, other super sensitive victims/crimes, some things are too risky.

It’s interesting to me as a Christian to see who cares, who’s on board for healing, who walks along with me? I tend to look to the people who call themselves Christian to give the most comfort, but that’s not always the case on this journey. Sometimes we don’t know the heart of someone, we don’t know their life search or how God’s pricking their conscience ….. but we can tell something is right in them by their compassion, their continual ability to hear our heart. I’m very appreciative of this experience.

I know I’m lucky with Marc’s offenders, Angela knows it too. One of my contacts son was murdered by 2 ‘gang’ type members and at their arraignment they were so smug, their families joking, snearing, never apologizing to the stricken mother. Another dear friend was raped and she and her children almost murdered but her attacker (a man of a different race) never repented, or was remorseful. So how can you make a journey with someone who doesn’t care, laughs in the face of law and order? There goes part of your future down the tubes! No testimony of healing, no one to write to in prison, no forgiveness to work it’s magic in a heart. I could have it alot worse, if not for God’s hand in this. I could be just one of those mom’s out there living in ‘limbo’, feeling her child’s case is half solved, semi-completed.

That’s why I like to deal with violence, crime in that it brings people into discussion about things they otherwise would never share, things they keep hidden and let slide, until it’s sometimes too late. God uses all kinds of avenues to search every man’s heart, to find those He can work His ways in –

 

Brief Description Of Prophecy – Ken Hagin

The prophetic has been a part of our human experience since time immemorial. I’ve had some prophetic experiences in my life, and they’ve been increasing, so I made a point of finding out more about prophecy this past year.

I’ve had events or circumstances in life where I knew beforehand what would happen. It was just a secret, intuitive side of me I couldn’t put my finger on. I understood that Joseph had a prophetic dream, that Jesus’ birth was prophesied thru out the bible, but I also listened to people describe how God spoke to them in a time of danger or huge decision in life and God’s Spirit gave them a word or caused them to intercede in prayer. Many parents exhibit that ‘6th sense’ re: their children.

Many centuries ago the Bible predicted Christ would be born, would save us and be our King. God helped Joseph survive by giving him a prophetic image of his destiny thru a dream. David was a prophetic leader for Israel, not just Samuel. He’d ask God for direction often, and many of his Psalms are full of the prophetic. God’s always been working in peoples lives thru the ages, preparing us for certain events, both personally and as nations, giving us destinies, protecting us in danger, providing us with a way out of our troubles.

For years I mainly heard the term prophecy refer to the many scriptures foretelling Jesus birth, but prophecies have also been given re: the return of the Jews to Israel or the Second Coming of Christ & End Times. I’ve listened to many on these subjects, both in churches and on TV or read books. I’ve listened to Perry Stone unravel scripture on the End Times and John Hagee share on the revival of Israel.

So, there’s prophecy about people groups, i.e. the Jews, Gentiles, etc There’s prophecy about God’s Son. Prophecy about God’s plan for redemption to all men …. and prophecy for individuals. We understand prophecy in the natural world many times but we don’t think of it as important to us as an individuals many times. It was very important to me to understand what was going on in my life since Marc was taken away so early and suddenly. And once I started investigating the personal side of prophecy the more it triggered memories about my early life and how I’d had experiences where I felt God was sharing about my life direction and giving me a word of knowledge about my identity in His Kingdom. I realized my early life had indications of my life as it is now, my own special calling that is different from my family, others.

Kenneth E. Hagin shares in his book ‘How You Can Be Led By The Spirit Of God’ that there’s, 1) The gift of prophecy; which we all can have as believers, and 2) The ministry of prophecy. He also shares about the use of ‘words of knowledge’, ‘words of wisdom’ and the ‘discerning of spirits’.

In his chapter called ‘Guidance Through Prophecy’, he states that while all can operate in the gift of prophecy …. not all are called to be a prophetic minister. The gift of prophecy operates to ‘edify, exhort and comfort’. The gift doesn’t use ‘foretelling, prediction. The ministry of a prophet however is another issue, and it uses foretelling, prediction thru ‘revelation gifts’, as well as operating with words of wisdom & knowledge, and/or the discerning of spirits. The prophetic operates he says, in the tongue of our everyday language, not in an unknown tongue.

I’ve been a part of some prophetic ministries this last year, it was an adventure to seek knowledge in that spiritual realm but I really needed answers for my life. Some ministries I felt were totally credible, very balanced in their gifting and personal life, demonstrating love and healing towards others. Some I felt were lop-sided, trying to teach a gift without any training or understanding rather than share God’s encouragement and comfort. Some you can tell are going off the deep end stressing signs all the time, making huge promises they can’t fulfill or asking for money too much.

One thing Hagin warns of alot is not to look for signs and wonders as your normal prophetic experience. He says not to keep asking for ‘voices’ as the dominant factor in our faith walk. Some people are so confused about what’s the voice of God, the voice of their flesh and the voice of the enemy. Hagin says it’s not scriptural to keep pressing for voices as it can ‘ruin’ people. Some people cue their fleshly understanding of a faulty spirit in someone to put someone down but that’s not scriptural he says. He wrote that Jesus visited him and told him to test the word given him from others by checking in his spirit if it confirmed what God was already working. If it seems right then accept the prophecy, if it doesn’t seem to answer what God’s been directing you to do, reject it.

He says in the chapter not to build your life on prophecy, but let the Word of God be your main guide! He said, ‘let the other things be secondary, and put the Word first.’ I love the simplicity with which he writes. He’s lived his words out and is a tested Christian apologist, faith teacher.

I don’t know anyone in my everyday life who understands prophecy, perhaps this may edify you as God speaks to you in these troubling times. It’s a crazy world out there with all kinds of forces, spirits vying for our attention in the spirit realm. Real godly prophecy doesn’t rely on any crystal ball, props or huge exchanges of money. We don’t need to see a visual trick while we wait and pray for answers to our hearts requests. Big miracles are once in awhile, Hagin says, but the little gifts of the spirit of prophecy operate daily in our spirits if we listen to Him and keep His Word in our hearts.

Family Murdered, A Pastor’s New Life, ‘Still Wrestling’

Life after the murder of a loved one doesn’t have to mean …. ‘there’s no reason to live’, ‘God doesn’t exist’! One of the most stunning things God showed me after Marc was taken is that having love ripped from me didn’t mean life would not have purpose again or Marc’s life purpose was over. Death doesn’t have to produce a vacuum of love so much as a chance to expand our capacity to love.

Pastor Ferguson shares his ‘take’ on life after murder, and his surprise at finding renewed love and purpose. His reflections are close to the heart, a truly good story!

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Article from Clarion Ledger – Billy Watkins                                                                     Oct. 2, 2017

It’s all there, in 53,000 words that took Les Ferguson four years to write and revise.

His journey to becoming a Church of Christ minister, just like his father. His life as a husband, father of three and leader of Orange Grove Church of Christ in Gulfport.

Yes, his real-life nightmare is in there, too: The slaying in 2011 of his wife, Karen, and their 21-year-old special-needs son, Cole, by a congregation member. Their assailant, Paul Buckman, 70, had been arrested and charged with molesting Cole weekly for about three months and was out on bond until a grand jury could hear the case.

It happened on the couple’s 24th wedding anniversary.

Ferguson wrote about his scuffles with God, how he suddenly doubted every sermon he had preached, how he privately vowed to never set foot in a pulpit again.

And he writes of his new life as pastor of Lake Harbour Church of Christ in Ridgeland since 2014, his marriage to Becki — “my miracle,” he calls her — and his renewed faith that has led him to become a more passionate teacher of the Scripture than ever before.

His book “Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokenness” (Leafwood Publishers, $14.99) can be found at amazon.com.

“Writing this book really was like giving birth,” says Ferguson, a contributing faith columnist for The Clarion-Ledger. “It was pulled out of me, kicking and screaming.

“It was harder to write about than I ever imagined.”

‘Until you’ve suffered that loss …’

I interviewed Ferguson several times in 2014 for my story about the loss of Karen and Cole. He was writing the book then, and I kept wondering: Why would he put himself through reliving such tragedy over and over again?

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I finally asked him the other day.

“I realized that I had a story that could maybe help someone who has lost a spouse, lost a child … suffered loss, period,” he says. “Until you’ve suffered that loss, especially in such a violent way, it’s hard to imagine everything that goes through your mind. You suddenly question everything, at least I did. My faith. God’s love. You name it, I questioned it.

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“But time has a way of allowing you to sort through things. It’s not easy. It’s still not. People can be so traumatized by life events, they never have another adventure, never take a chance to be happy again. I thought I would be one of those people.

“Thank God, I’m on a new adventure now.”

Ferguson had known Becki for years. She was friends with one of his sisters decades ago. He married Becki in 2012, and they have a blended family of five boys, from ages 11 to 30. They also have a daughter-in-law and a 23-month-old grandson.

“I love my life, and I think it’s showing in a lot of ways,” he says. “It’s definitely showing up in my sermons. I’m preaching now from a place of vulnerability. Dealing with trauma forced me to delve deeper into trying to understand God and his word.

“That’s transformative. It’s sort of like going off into the deep end of the pool. When you’re there, you’re there and you’d better deal with it.”

He says God’s love “is more real than ever” and explains: “In my old life, I think my view of God was shallow. I saw him more as a fix-it God, a bargain God. ‘I’ll do this and this, and you’ll do that and that and everything will be hunky dory.’ Well, God wasn’t the one writing those contracts. I was. He does take care of me, but he does so in ways that I wasn’t necessarily looking for or understanding.”

Ferguson becomes emotional when I ask for an example of what he means by that.

He begins talking about Cole, who used a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, a disease that attacks one’s motor skills and movement.

“All those years when Cole was still alive, I prayed for God to fix him,” he says. “He did. It just didn’t happen the way I envisioned it. Cole has his alternative healing now. He’s whole. Me? I was looking for then and there.

“That’s where a lot of tension comes from in Christianity. We want everything now. We want a Burger King world where we can have it our way. It simply doesn’t work like that, and I’ve finally accepted it.”

He still has trouble answering one question: Has he forgiven Paul Buckman, who took his own life shortly after killing Karen and Cole?

“It’s ongoing,” he says. “I’ve told people that I’ve forgiven the man who did this to my family, but there’s a good chance I’ll have to forgive him again next week.”

I ask if he is certain it will ever happen.

 “Absolutely,” he says. “In eternity.”

Putting words to paper

Ferguson learned other lessons while writing the book, ones that authors and aspiring authors might find interesting.

He wrote in longhand and also by “two-finger pecking on a computer.” He wrote all hours of the day and night. “Whenever I could find spare time,” he says.

He wrote at his kitchen table, dining room table, in his living room, at his subdivision’s pool. “I even straddled a hope chest Becki’s dad made for her,” he says, laughing.

Ferguson learned the power of the subconscious, that writing and arranging stories and chapters don’t always occur with pen in hand or at a keyboard.

“Ideas or notes would pop into my head, and I’d have to scramble to find a pen and write it down right then,” he says. “Or I would talk into my phone recorder and save them like that.”

His most powerful writing lesson occurred when his final draft was completed: He wouldn’t accept “no” from Leafwood Publishers, part of Abilene Christian University Press.

 “They have a history with the Church of Christ, and their books always look good, are high quality,” he says. “So I submitted it to them. Submitted it again. Called them. Submitted it again. Nothing,” he says.

He finally sent it to several other publishers and received three firm offers.

“I called Leafwood again,” he says. “I said, ‘I can do this book with someone else, but y’all really are my first choice.’ The editor called me back and said he was swamped but to send it to him and give him a week to look over it.”

They soon struck a deal.

“I don’t even remember it, but Becki says I told her when were dating that I wanted to become an author,” says Ferguson, who already is working on a second book that will begin with his first date with Becki. “And I guess I am, though it feels sorta strange.

“But I had some new business cards made up. They list me as ‘Les Ferguson, minister/author.’ I like the sound of that.”

     (Clarion Ledger article used with permission)

You Wanna Write A Book?

There are at least 7 people on my marcsjustice.com email list who are book authors. They’re heaven-sent as I needed other writers at times to verify what I was trying to communicate on my winding journey after Marc left earth.

I’ve been so appreciative of writers as they’ve shared their own journey’s of victory over death, victory after abuse or just victory making sense of life in this sometimes crazy world. Their stories are proof that God is alive and on the front lines in any issue that man or woman can go thru. Their stories have been so personal, brave and beyond what most experience or are willing to share. They’ve helped to bear me up as I drink my bitter pill each morning.

Writing a blog is similar to writing a book. I used to think a blog was for moms on some parenting website, or for support groups. When I lost Marc in such a horrific way something deep within automatically took over and started learning to blog.

I’ve read enough fiction, watched enough news or PBS specials or listened to testimonies on Christian TV and know a legitimate human struggle can find an outlet. I’ve written a journal for over 20 years so writing often was not a new adventure, but the new part was revealing fearful, painful things that I was currently going thru with the public weekly. As unsure as I was in revealing things … It was liberating to do it …. and it saved my life!

Sometimes we hear people say they want to write a book so I’m sharing a few pointers …. to confirm, encourage or disparage. I think specific ideas will help you best. All of the following relates to writers on any subject, but some of this relates to the godly minded writer mainly:

                   You have to get beyond the ‘hype’ and do some soul searching!

Part of Marc’s library –

All people have a unique story that’s known only to them and God. But …. just because someone tells you ‘you could write a book’, or just because you suffered a deep loss, doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. You have to write cause you ‘want’ to deeply, not because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do, or want to prove a point. Some people will flatter you cause they know you have an experience worth sharing and they want to know you when you’re famous. They’re interested in your glory, not you or your story. It can be tricky navigating around those people. You have to get beyond the ‘hype’ and do some soul-searching!

Most people live lives of ‘quiet desperation’ and it’s that side of life that many times makes the best story. Maybe you saved a plane load of people, climbed the highest peak in Mongolia but most books, even songs, are about our inner battles. And it’s in our private struggles where we find the real fabric of who we are, what we stand for, live for or will die for. People are so ignorant of the Bible, or history …. and we don’t share great plays like we once did, so now we have blogs, vlogs or books to share the human condition. And people will watch or read your journey if you have a genuine story. So what’s your on-going view of life?

I know I’ve had some rants of sorts at times, but ‘rants’ don’t make a lengthy read or sell well. Rants are good for FB. Tweets. Some recent political personalities have written books and they came out as mostly a complaint, a ranting against offense to them, not the telling of history, not the dealing with a public problem and solution. No one really has the time to get inside anyone’s mind to understand his or her anger over some issue. How did ‘Da Vinci Code’ really help the public? That was a rant inside fiction. The Sunday talk shows shared about the recent political books but they didn’t cause any public chatter.

Not everyone’s life story needs to be read in a book, some people can channel their passion, their ‘story’ to lift up others thru some kind of service to society, and believe me …. it’s something many people really appreciate in others. Many things benefit society, not just books (or songs, etc.) Every life has value, every good service that comes out of a grateful heart, a desire for peace or justice means so much!! We need good teachers, Dr’s, police …. any worker who puts love in their profession, who thinks of others first.

Some pragmatic things to consider when writing a book. Unless you plan on hiring a ghost writer, ask yourself if you have any experience writing? It requires so much discipline on various levels, daily work. Writers work in the realm of art, the mind or life experience where they learned alot about human nature, the joys and pain of life. Your life story or reflections may be better used in some other fashion if you’re not into the long hours and discipline of writing. God knows what you’ve gone thru, He will bring your story out in the long run, even in heaven you’ll share it. It won’t be forgotten. But don’t spend endless hours or days trying to contact some writing guru or whatever when you already have a gift that’s better.

Some of us writers don’t go to the moon and back, we go to ‘hell and back’ ….. we dig deep into our hearts and thoughts. It’s no journey to ‘La La Land’. There are so many moments of doubt about this or that aspect, the public feedback can be traumatic. It’s not an easy ride. Good writers aren’t better than some leader, general or whomever, it just means they put their service to others and God into their writing.

There has to be an end purpose to what you write, what you stand for. For me, God has to get the glory. The greatest part of my walk maybe has been the refusal to accept murder, death as a final say-so and to slug it out every day till there’s a legacy for Marc. I just trusted the God who’s been with me all along. I had to subject myself to His sovereign authority on earth, as much as it hurt.  I could not have gone on without Him helping me with the burden …. no one on earth could carry it for me.

Sharing A Beautiful City With a Tough Memory

Looking across the Willamette River – D.D.

It’s a bitter pill sometimes to think of Marc being in another time and space. Yet some things hold good memories despite the pain.

Marc loved Portland, and it took me many years to come to my own conclusions about that city after having lived in So. California most of my life. My other son lives in AZ, which I love, so the rainy, damp weather in OR./WA, where Marc lived for some years was not on my ‘desirable’ list. I’m really glad he ended up in Portland rather than WA.

Marc’s last residence was a family friends condo downtown, so I got to know that part of PDX somewhat. He lived 30 stories high and when I first visited the lofty place I was so humbled. The view was breathtaking …. I couldn’t help but feel some compassion for all the tiny ‘specks’ down there going about their business. They were people like me, like Marc once lived …. traveling to work, raising kids, warding off colds, crying alone at night over some inner struggle.

Baby seal sculpture on downtown Portland sidewalk – D.D.

Then came the murder incident and instead of becoming a fearful place to me like you’d normally expect, Portland surprisingly became a refuge. Dealing with court, Marc’s places of work and study, his memorabilia all held heavy memories but they gave me a sense of rootedness in that city.

Marc and I loved the outdoorsy feel, change of seasons in PDX. He helped me get acquainted with certain streets, stores, sections of town so I felt somewhat comfortable finding my way around when I went up for the case, his affairs. Instead of giving me pain, the familiar areas we went to gave me joy. Can’t explain it. I guess I just wanted to relish his memory, talk to the trees, anything he may have enjoyed daily or we shared.

Portland is so different from Los Angeles. L.A. is in many ways one big wasteland ….. a huge cement city without any real seasons and …. very self-centered. There’s more diversity in So Cal, but the sheer contact with nature in PDX, breaks up the monotony of the sometimes large, stony buildings from bygone years. And having these huge rivers intersect just adds to the beauty, interest of the city.

Sculpture across the street from Starbucks. What is it? (D.D.)

I still read some of Portland’s papers, TV coverage at home in L.A.  One reason PDX appeals to me is it’s smaller population, and people are more interactive with each other compared to L.A. where everyone’s in their own world doing their own thing. I’ve cultivated some contacts there I don’t think would be possible in L.A. Obviously mostly due to Marc’s case or my blog and recovery but the quality of life in a smaller city is just better, more personal.

Another neat thing about Portland is that it has the best transportation system. Sure you can drive around town like in any city, but they encourage you to use the public system if you have to travel a distance …. and the light rail and streetcar services are so efficient and clean, and any day you’ll find grandparents taking the rail from the airport, college kids going to school or families going to a ballgame. I’ve traveled on other subways but the PDX MAX train is exceptional. Sadly, in L.A. ….. no such mass transit mind frame exists. It’s car, car, car … as communities are spread out and a bus transpo system is so beneath people, even gang members use cars. Everyone knows it’s not ‘cool’ to use the bus.

Portland leaders tend to be pretty liberal, but there’s still a conservative life style mentality to me. I’ve met a couple people from the City Council and visited Council sessions and there’s this transparency there you don’t find in L.A, and I find that so encouraging! In L.A we don’t really talk about our city government. We don’t know what the heck is going on most of the time with the City Council, Supervisors. In a city like Portland there’s immediate needs that have to be addressed all the time …. road or bridge conditions, problems with the school district or having enough decent housing for people … and you hear about it in the paper or TV news. And the Council, papers, TV share that news in a pretty proactive way, which is good to see.

The news up there in papers and TV is not as politicized like in L.A. or other major cities …. such a relief! They have enough immediate needs to deal with all their traffic, bridge, weather, lead in water, homeless and environmental issues and oh, protests ….. so they are not obsessed about what’s going on in D.C. I’m still in contact with a couple reporters from Marc’s case and they are normal people, not interested in writing, reporting a politically correct spin on Marc’s case or their other stories.

Finally, the city has these public art works around town that are so interesting, unexpected! It’s not like they are statues of old war vets, or business magnates …. but they reflect sometimes very charming or sometimes very unique images. In the local Star Bucks I visit I look out on a huge metal sculpture of I don’t what, but I’ve grown to appreciate the attempt to bring joy or beauty to the older city facade and rainy conditions of downtown Portland.

Some people or places you never believe will ever touch your heart but …. we have to be open to the unexpected all the time –