WRITING MY LEGACY
(The Paul Cummings Story)
Editor's Note: The following letter/testimony is a priceless tool to help others standing on the "outside" of God to see that until they "cross over the seemingly fearful line" . . . they will never come to understand that Jesus meant exactly what He said, when He proclaimed: "I have come that they might have life, and life more abundantly." (John 10:10)
(My daughter Shyla and me after my first term in prison)
I am thirty-three years old as I write this and am currently in prison serving a 14.8-year sentence for conspiracy, manufacturing, and sales of Methamphetamine. I grew up in So. California and my earliest memories are of my stepdad beating up the family in one of his drunken rages. I was the big brother to my two sisters, Jeanne and Holly. My mom was always sick with some sort of medical problem or another and after she and my stepdad divorced, so I grew up with one or another of my grandparents.
I met my real dad when I was nine years old. It all came about kind of quickly. The next thing I knew I was an a plane and unboarding in Tulsa, OK to some unfamiliar faces who said, "We're your family." My stay in Oklahoma lasted a little over a year and as I look back on my childhood, the days spent there were probably my happiest! My time there ended in a custody battle, which my mom won, so back to California I went.
A few years later I was back on a plane to Oklahoma but this time to see my dad who was in the hospital. I didn't even recognize him; he looked so awful... It turns out, my dad, when he was about seventeen or so had a short affair with heroin. Little did he know that the seemingly innocent experimentation he did then would one day cause him to leave his son without a dad; he died of hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.
In hindsight I can see how at around twelve years old I gravitated towards other kids who seemed to be wounded like me (See point 1 at end). Needless to say, we were the ones who were now experimenting with drugs. As I look back now I can see I lacked positive role models and latched unto what I knew - drugs and Hollywood's glamorized underworld figures. And it was just this mindset that has brought me to where I am physically today, Chino Institution for Men. But I am one of the few men who are glad they came to prison. Don' t get me wrong, I'm not glad I'm doing time, but I am glad I came to prison, because it was here that I came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord! But all I've written about is inconsequential compared to what has happened in my life since.
I have been a Christian for just under five years now. During my first term I didn't walk with God in the least nor did I try. When I was released, I had the best intentions in the world to do the right thing, but within eight months I was up to my neck in it all again, and back in jail. Needless to say, I as everyone who goes to jail finds himself perplexed. I had a high powered attorney who came to see me the day after my arrest, and I remember off handedly saying to him I was going to give my life to God. At the time I said it as a joke, or so I thought. Within a few weeks I was back here at Chino on a violation.
I was trying to stay busy, and keep those thoughts one has about their lives while in jail at bay, when a friend who I had been sharing cigarettes with throughout the last couple of days asked me if I wanted to go to church. I emphatically said, no! He asked me a couple more times and finally, I relented. That evening the speaker who came in began verbalizing the very emotions I had been trying to suppress for days! And I decided to invite Jesus into my life. I surely had no desire to live the life I had been living any longer... But at the time I didn't know exactly what it was that I was embarking on. Since that day not all has went as I have planned or hoped, but I can honestly say I am at that place of heart and mind I've been searching for my whole life!
Recently, I've been reading a book by St. Augustine. He lived about 1500 years ago. I've found he's not too different than I, he too loved the fast living of his time. Events transpired in his life and he made a decision for Jesus. He became one of the most profound writers as to the dilemma man faces in life that I have yet encountered. He wrote something I can fully identify with; "I was afraid to choose God, for I feared by choosing God, God would be all I would have..."
I recognize the struggle in his words; I've lived it! It comes from living in a certain fashion, in my case for 28 years, having set ideas as to what life is all about, thinking ever so feebly that in my experience of life, I held something that was worth holding on to! And setting before me a choice, a choice to choose something which I didn't know, something I couldn't hold or put into my hand, something I knew in the innermost part of me, was contrary to everything I had known before, and therefore, the former would have to be done away with! A tough decision, but one I'm ever so happy to have made! (See point 2 at end)
Augustine's quote had an end to it which is also marked with profundity; "Once I chose God, I found it was God I had always wanted!" I had always thought that Christianity was a set of rules, ones in which I would be forever bound, my desires caged. Like the plight of an animal that is held captive and wants to be free. But I found in choosing Christ, it is nothing of the kind! (See point 3 at end). Instead, it's what I've truly been searching for my whole life, becoming a man whom I can be proud of, a son my family can be proud of, a father my daughter can be proud of, and someday a husband my future wife can be proud of....
You see Jesus Christ has renewed my mind and cleared away those things that brought me to prison in the first place! He's made me a healing ointment to my family who are now coming to the Lord themselves. Now instead of leaving a legacy of pain and heartache I will be leaving a legacy of righteousness! (See point 4 at end).
Jesus said, "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly." I have found it to be nothing less! It took me a collective fifteen years in various jails to find this out!
St. Paul said, "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Sadly if all of us in this dorm planned to meet in one year somewhere not all of us would make it... Some of us will have passed into eternity -- our legacy forged and left behind....
Make your decision for Christ Today!
If you would like to be reconciled to God today, please click here to learn how you can do that.
c/o California Institution for Men
H-04407 A/H 131
Chino, CA 91708
JESUS DID IT! - or - JESUS DID IT!
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Closing Editor's Note: There are some very important insights that need to have light shed on them for anyone reading this who has not made a strong personal commitment to Jesus Christ:
Point 1: Teenagers who live in an environment where they are not nurtured in love and encouragement -- where a balanced relationship with Jesus Christ (God) is not shown to them by their parents -- these unfortunate souls will almost always seek out friendships where they feel accepted and needed, usually at any cost. Destructive evil thrives in the relationships that then get formed.
Prisons are full of people who are crying out for love, acceptance and encouragement. They are bitter at life's circumstances that have been handed to them, and in most cases, rightly so.
There are a few others behind prison walls who did come from a loving, stable home environment, yet because of UNWISE choices usually in the name of "excitement or fun" . . . they opened the door for evil to have it's ugly work, so not ALL are victims of bad home environments; just MOST are.
Point 2: Surrendering to ALL of what God asks us to - through our relationship with Jesus Christ, is WHY most people reject letting Jesus become fully LORD of their life. Asking Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sins so we can get to heaven when we die is easy. There is very little pain involved. But God never intended Christianity to be like grade school, whereas a person shows up for the first day of school --
goes home at the end of the day, and says, "There - I'm a full-fledged student." Those who REALLY have been reconciled back to God the Father in FULL STANDING through Jesus Christ are those who say to themselves: "I WILL finish my schooling, no matter how long it takes at whatever the cost!"
Anyone who settles for a commitment to God less than THAT fits into the goat category, rather than the SHEEP category.
TRUE Christianity -- true reconciliation with God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior with the help of the Holy Spirit working in us -- is the MOST DIFFICULT decision one can make in their lifetime. Yet from the promises of God's Word, by trusting in them, we believe our reward throughout eternity will be so much greater than what any of us can possibly conceive on this side of the veil.
But there is far more benefit than simply believing for maximized reward through eternity. An immediate benefit of "crossing over the scary line" brings inner PEACE that nothing else can bring:
PURPOSE when there was none before; SECURITY and VICTORY over fear of the hereafter; and the right and confidence to pray and receive prayers answered; DELIVERANCE from destructive habits: HEALING both emotional and physical . . . just to name a few of the immediate benefits.
We MUST remember something in standing on the "outside" of Christianity, looking at the "line" God is asking us to step over: Just because we don't BELIEVE Satan controls more of our thinking than we are aware of doesn't mean it isn't SO. Satan won LEGAL RIGHT to be your spiritual Father and Lord the moment you entered this world. He had legal claim to your soul and spirit the moment of your birth, because he WON that right in the battle he fought with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden many thousands of years ago.
NONE of us believe, or BELIEVED, Satan has that much control of us as we stand looking at the "line" we will have to step over to become TRUE Christians . . . but once we DO, and we grow in knowledge of good and evil . . . everyone of us who have crossed over the "line" can look back and remember the mind battles that took place inside us. Satan was being threatened by a "foreign" power stealing away one of his own . . . and he was doing all he could to keep what he believes is rightly his.
So he begins bombarding us with thoughts like: "If you cross over, life will be living hell from here on out!
You'll have to give up everything that is fun - that you enjoy! You'll have to give up your independent freethinking spirit, and become a religious mind-numb robot! You'll lose all your friends, and you'll have to start listening to all that idiot Christian music (which you know you can't stand)! You won't be able to drink and smoke and get high and have a little "sex" on the side like before if you DO!"
[And sadly, you know WHAT? If this person gets linked up with Christians who are being controlled by one of Satan's highest and most ruthless demons -- under the influence of LEGALISM (click here to read about EXPOSING THE LEGALISM MONSTER on this web site) -- Satan won't be completely LYING to this person.
What Satan won't BOTHER to tell this person is that cigarette smoking never sent one person to hell AFTER they turned their life over to Jesus Christ and purpose to mean BUSINESS with Him. Neither does drinking, taking drugs, committing crimes, sexual improprieties, and all the rest. WHY? Because NOW there is forgiveness for one's shortcomings. (1 John 1:9). Forgiveness . . . and God's Spirit working INSIDE of them to deliver them from sin's hold on them.
What we fail to realize is that IF sin WAS truly good for us, God would WANT us sinning and never to stop! On the contrary, continuation of sin is more deadly than a million nuclear bombs! A nuclear bomb at worse can only do ONE thing: destroy my body until the resurrection day. It CANNOT destroy my soul and spirit. Yet sin CAN, DOES and WILL destroy both my soul and spirit if it is allowed to gain a foothold and left untreated. As cancer eats away slowly at one's body until it drains the life from it to the point of ceasing to operate -- sin eats away slowly at the soul and spirit until it drains the life from it as well that God gave it at birth. Once all of God's life is drained out of the soul and spirit . . . it DOESN'T cease to exist. It goes to the place of the departed where evil is allowed to rule and rein WITHOUT constraints put on it. It goes where Satan and his demons hordes and departed evil men and women find satisfaction in doing only ONE thing: tormenting others to attempt to pacify the torment that rages inside of them.
Torment will never be satisfied, though it forever tries . . . by inflicting itself on others. SIN is what initially opens the door for torment to gain a foothold. Satan won't bother to tell you . . . that when he tempts you and I to sin . . . he REALLY is inviting us to attend his party of torment . . . that will last forever.
Jesus on the other hand invites us to His party of ETERNAL LIFE. He doesn't do it slyly or deceitfully either. He bangs loudly on the door and boldly shouts: "I'll get you into the party of ETERNAL LIFE if you follow me!"
He leaves the choice to us. He wants us to attend His party, but ONLY if we really want to do so by our own free will. Not because we have to, or should - simply because we WANT to].
(By the way, though he won the "temporary" legal right in the Garden of Eden to be "Lord" over the entire human race after that, Satan needs to be reminded of one little fact: He didn't CREATE you and I. Whom God created, HE has the right to OWN. So technically, though Satan won a "temporary" legal right to influence our thinking and often the events that happen in our lives . . . what he did in the Garden of Eden was actually ILLEGAL. He utilized DECEPTION to accomplish his purpose, which is all God the Judge needed to rip up the "contract" and render it "null and void". What was God's WAY of ripping up the contract? It was the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ on the cross).
God the Father doesn't just "rip up contracts" when, or how, you or I might rip them up: He rips them up WISELY!
Point 3): There is something that can neither be fully put into words nor explained completely to another human being about the SUPERNATURAL KNOWING that comes when a person has "sold out" to Jesus Christ. You can literally be a slave, or locked up in a concentration camp, but know that you have a connection to God and an eternal blessed inheritance that one's slave OWNER does not have, and cannot have, until that person "crosses over the line" as well.
Much of one's personal, daily relationship with God can never be coherently explained to another human being. It can ONLY be experienced. That's no coincidence. God designed it to be that way! It's part of the reward that comes from making the initial RIGHT choice.
Point 4): Ask yourself THIS question: 'What will people say about me after I'm dead? If your answer is:
"Who CARES!" . . . please . . . keep reading. If your answer is: "I was BAD -- a mean dude!" . . . please,
please keep reading.
Maybe if it is within your ability to make a lot of money, you'll want to be known as a person who succeeded to acquire a lot of wealth. Or, perhaps you want to be known as a great scholar, or great politician or businessman or athlete or musician. We can strive to be remembered for many different things . . . but THEN we have someone locked behind prison walls like Brother Cummings who is quite limited in succeeding in the things that those outside of prison walls are able to attain, and so he desires to be known to his friends and family as one who desired to "be pleasing to God." Is Brother Cummings a pathetic fool, or is he the wisest man to walk this earth? I believe GOD his Creator would say: "He is a man who fully possesses his soul, instead of his soul being possessed by cheap substitutes."
Jesus said, and I paraphrase: "What does it profit a man to possess ALL the world has to offer, yet lose His soul [in other words, remain disconnected from God for eternity]. (See Matthew 16:26)
Whether outside prison walls . . . or inside . . . everyone can come to THIS conclusion: 'It is within MY power to write my SPIRITUAL legacy. No man, no institution, no demon, not even Satan himself . . . can stop me from writing my SPIRITUAL legacy. It is solely within MY power to write it. The choice is MINE and mine ALONE to make, and I'm only deluding myself if I think "circumstances around me" can stop me.'
It can rightly be said that each of us was born into this world with God's BEST intentions.
Millions of babies are aborted each year and God's BEST intentions for them are thwarted. Thousands of children in impoverished countries are starving, sick, and in pain as we speak, without hope of anything better. God's BEST intentions for those children have been thwarted. Multitudes have been put unfairly (and some probably fairly) behind prison walls, and God's BEST intentions for them were thwarted.
To say that God is in full control of this planet at this time, and whatever happens was "meant to be," is demonically induced, twisted thinking. Truly, if God WERE given full control of this planet, not ONE baby would ever be aborted against its will. Not one person would be starving and constantly sick. Not one person would be locked behind prison walls unjustly, and not one politician would rule over the masses that are doing so with the wrong motives.
However, it is vitally important to understand WHY God isn't fully in control at this time of humanity, though He COULD be if He so chose. God IS love. Love means CHOICE. God in His expression of LOVE has purposely chosen NOT to make you and I mind-numbed robots to control. God's
Highest expression of LOVE was to give you and I FREE CHOICE. Evil men rule over nations and peoples because God has allowed them to exercise their free will. Dictators hoard all the wealth they can, at the expense of those they rule over to the point of sickness, starvation and poverty. Babies are aborted because he has given the mother the right to exercise her free will. People commit crimes because He has given them free will to commit them if they want.
Though God may at times regret He ever did so . . . He loved you and I enough to NOT force
us to follow Him and obey Him and do only that which is right.. It is up to US to decide what we want to do. That applies to leaders at every level as well. Entire nations suffer because of the greed and selfishness of ONE leader. When one selfish, greedy, lust for power leader dies, many just as evil fight to replace him or her. It has been the nature of man to do so every since the sin of Adam and Eve.
And to say that being a true Christian is hard is not how God would have us look at Christianity.
Being a sold-out Christian is HARD because we love sinning so much, pure and simple. We love the pleasures Satan provides humanity, and we need to constantly remind ourselves of this fact. It is not
God who makes Christianity hard: it is our own sinful natures, and Satan's demons constantly enticing us to gratify those sinful desires.
A time is coming that God WILL be given full control over this planet once again, like He had before Adam and Even fell to Satan's temptation and sinned . . . but in the wisdom of God . . . it will happen only WHEN and HOW He has decreed it will happen . . . not like we might want it NOW to happen.
This much I can tell you about God's WHEN's and HOW's. There is a whole lot more we DON'T know about Satan and his demon helpers than what we KNOW on this side of the veil. God has a plan in motion to do away with evil for eternity . . . but His plan won't be executed in an hour or a day. It spans across eons of time, (for reasons we can only speculate on, and still might not be quite correct in our understanding . . . until we pass beyond the veil into the next life).
God has told us in His spiritual contract with humanity (the Holy Bible) that the ULTIMATE victory will be His. He also told us in His Word that THIS life is going to bring a lot of heartache and pain AFTER we turn our lives over completely to Him. Satan will see to it! Whether God permits him to at times, or whether God is limited at times (enabling Satan to get away with things that God would rather he NOT get away with) . . . the battle of good and evil in the unseen, spirit world is not ours to overly concern ourselves with while we walk this planet.
Some evil we can't stop from happening in our lives, but what we CAN do while the evil presses in on us at every side is to keep saying THIS to ourselves: "I will glorify my Lord and my Savior through blessing and sorrow. No matter what state I find myself in, I PURPOSE to keep writing a God-glorifying legacy, because I have made THAT my one goal in life. Everything else is secondary."
- - Norm Rasmussen, Editor/Director
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"And this gospel of
the kingdom [Jesus died for
sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come."
(Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).
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JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT! JESUS DID IT!
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