Adventure, Teaching, TravelsMay 11, 2022


The Tacumbu prison in Paraguay is in the top five of worst prisons in the world. Created for 800, now holding 4,000. Appoximately 18 people die there every year.


We had spent several days sharing Jesus throughout the third world city of Asuncian, Paraguay. We contacted the main prison there and were immediately welcomed in. Warden Luis opened the door for us to enter this huge prison yard. The sight of thousands of shattered men, openly crying, begging for help, or just talking into the air, hit me like the wave of a catastrophe. A few guys were actually climbing the walls on drain pipes. It was almost unbearable. I walked over and sat next to one brother, after another, trying to diffuse the internal anguish that ignites panic into such human frenzy.  

Five years of graduate studies never prepared me. It shook me to my core and haunts me to this day. This tragic scene was NOT due to it being an isolated jungle-prison in a 3rd world culture. These brothers were not from Mars. No antenna. No space ships. It is actually a similar scene in scores of places throughout America and the entire world.  The torture of feeling you are a reject or unfit for society is a lie and contradicts our God imparted conscience and reason. The fears, tears, and desperation of those brothers in Tacumbu arose out of the exact same stupidity we are all taught: happiness is determined by our individual ability to achieve it. Brother, this is a lie and a vicious scheme of Satan.  


Brother, we have been lied to all our lives. Since childhood we are told humanity is just wonderful. Really? Why then does evil dominate the world? It is a fact: God created Adam and Eve as perfect and wonderful. However,  they corrupted themselves, and through procreation, all mankind with SIN (Genesis 3/Romans 5). The greatest tragedy of human existence is not even considered, and no where mentioned in this world . You’ll never hear on the NEWS about sin as the reason for crime, suicide, drugs, homelessness, prison, war, even though it is the essence of all hell on earth every human being is tormented by 24/7. 

Despair makes us not only vulnerable, but also gullible to the debilitating lies and defiance of religion and society.  I know you’ve been bombarded with “answers” and are tired of being let down. Disillusionment takes a mighty toll on our soul. When you feel cold and angry being open can seem like a mountain range away. But it’s not. It’s right here. One choice away. 

Behind closed doors is the reality of inexplicable dark and fearful thoughts that we hide inside. Dark stuff  has no definition  in a Websters Dictionary or psycho babel. Yet it eats guys like you and I for lunch. It ain’t nice. No “diagnosis” for darkness. 

Like you, I was raised thinking there are good and bad people. I was a ‘bad people’. Feeling shame, guilt and condemnation hits us at an early age and never stops. It picks up momentum as we get older. Little bad things blow up in our face. We feel like a unique… monster. Dark streams of mental anguish trickle into our subconscious. Then, one day, you go to prison and are condemned by society. Like a steel ball bounced around, in one of those old pin ball machines, all you wonder is “What’s my next hit?Am I a pawn relegated to a destiny of chaos and hell, both mental and literal, by a Puppet Master in the sky?”  Brother, I know this feeling. 

Hopelessness is no little thing.  What purpose is there to live if you are locked into a destiny to do evil, because you are evil, and are evil because you do evil? Where can the mind go from there but down?

Brother, enough already with Mr. Macho. We’re at the bottom of life here, bro. A false sense of “Everything’s going to be okay” don’t help. It’s not going to be ok, if you don’t get a hold of TRUTH. This is not one of many options to have a nice day. 

I don’t mean to insult you bro, I love you, man to man, eye to eye. But no matter how old you may be, it’s time to open your eyes. Truth is kick ass. It automatically creates mental clarity. It’s like fire. Truth burns away lies and half truths and supplies the beauty of warm glow. The brain is wired to process truth not lies. If you force your mind to accept a lie as truth YOU WILL SUFFER A MENTAL WARP. Indeed, all men are created by God with the inner  “wiring”, in the conscience, to bring us into forgiveness and the interpersonal saving love of Jesus. This is provided a person comes into walk in THE LIGHT OF TRUTH. 

 If a person deals with God in transparency everything will flow as God intends; i.e. abundant life, joy, the fruits of the Spirit; Mental clarity.  But look, all men live in sin, all of us. Thus everyone deals with the mental conflict of the conscience as a self-warning, inbuilt mechanism, that troubles us with the mental condition of being out of fellowship with God,  separated from the Father. So, if you live, not in repentance, but according to the lying nature of man, innumerable ways will push you into mental anguish. Until we recognize, and learn to deal with our sinful state, according to the Word,  a “hypocrite” imposes the lie, of being “fine”, or a ‘good person’, upon his mind.He becomes diluted.  When a person insists he is following Jesus, but is not, he walks a mental tight rope and risks varying degrees of mental imbalance. There is an enormous amount of information that requires supreme accuracy of Spirit-tested motives so as to align and adhere to the living revelation of Jesus. It demands sharp, clear mental acuity. Imagine a baseball coach coming into a football team and using and imposing baseball terminology and strategy to define everything. Total chaos evolves in the mind when a person “comes to the Lord” while living according to the world.

 It is no little thing to discern between condemnation and conviction of the Holy Spirit. It can sometimes seem like walking a tight rope. A depth of spirit and truth  is required (John 4:24.

Condemnation is a raging monster wielding a club and beating a personal into despair and razing havoc due to a lack of  secure personal identity in Christ. When a man thinks of himself as a mere target for punishment, depression  discharges unbearable internal devastation. In low-tone mutterings of distress the mind whispers:  “Breakdown.”   Yet, there it is, front and center, for all to see: our mask.

We all face a twisted bondage to self-pride: “I’m ok. I’m fine. I’m together”. NO. You’re not. I’m not. Nobody is ok. And God cares and I care. A contrite heart learns to filter reality and welcomes the conviction of the Spirit because He leads one into actual security in the living Jesus. When you ‘bottom out’ in grief and anger; “If You exist God where are You, darn it all?” That’s ok. It’s real. It’s then when you are actually at your closest point to God (This is what Jesus is refereeing to in John 4:24). When we make a vertical drop, out of image,  into recognizing WE ARE IN our animal nature of basic human instinct: rage, it is called the transparency of repentance. 

Sometimes, way down deep, where even we won’t admit it, we curse God and ourselves. It is Adam in us. We feel the same sense of loneliness, isolation and sorrow that Adam incurred and it fills our mind with silent screams. Absolute darkness. Separated from our Creator. It doesn’t disappear but resides in our blood. We feel torn apart inside by an unseen “IT”.  Do you want to know the truth? Really? “What is truth?” Pilate asked Jesus. Not a concept… Jesus says “I am truth” (Jn.14:6). 

The living Jesus brings the truth of our individual sin to us by His Spirit.  He knows our agony, in our moments of the dark winds of sin,  as if a physical thing. Cancer ate  my mom alive  like a monster from the inside out. A perfect description of  “IT” within each of us. If we play games with IT, it will play games with you. You will fall off the wire of conscience into the abyss of darkness. Jesus says if His light becomes darkness “how great is that darkness” (Mt. 6:23). We think God can’t see this pain, or He is against us for it. That is a religious lie.  

Truth be told, all men are cut from the same cloth of a humanity… BORN into misery. The actual composition of our very body is explained in Scripture; nobody “better” than another due to “IT” (Rm.3:9-18). It is denounced by all societies yet obliterates us all. Why?  What is “IT?” 3 letters: S I N.

My friend, just like we need a doctor to diagnose our vast array of bodily functions, so too we must humble ourselves to resolve our darkness. God is not angry. God is love. He yearns to heal this very illness that killed Jesus: sin. This is the source that condemns us: sin.  It does not go away through warm fuzzies but is disabled by gut-wrenching truth.

When our humanity breaks down we see through our own frailty and have the golden opportunity to understand a hidden “mystery” that changes our lives completely (2 Thes.2:7). God enters our sinful flesh.  

Over 80,000 are currently in solitary. It is considered severe punishment because it forces a man to sit alone and ponder the darkness of his own nature. 

When you sit alone, you are forced to look within; what you see is not “wonderful humanity” but a dark enigma. “IT” is a hidden “mystery” that devours our life then prances off never to be caught or prosecuted for its crimes against humanity (2 Thes.2:7).  It is neither an animal or a monster.  Somehow it is intertwined with our very identity. 

I had no idea my inner torment was a direct result of a human phenomenon in my soul of the collision between sin and conscience. Not Michael, but human mechanics. I had nothing to do with “IT”. And my “pious” feelings of feeling “Sorry” wasn’t enough. Growing up Catholic, I went to confession. But after a million times, ya kinda figure “I can’t keep up. I’m going to hell anyways.”

The downside of this “upside” is the real side of ego. It is a revolving door into the abyss.  It’s where you wonder “Who the hell am I?”  It leaves you  spinning in dark space. Mental anguish festers mental distress and little bad thoughts explode into huge storm clouds. At any moment, in any place, you can float into “Tacumbu.”  

I had figured my life was awash,  didn’t count for crap, destined for No-wheres-ville. I had sat in isolation, wasting hours, days and months licking my wounds.  No one knows my pain. Left alone on the dance floor of life with the last ugly dame… Miss Selfpity pacified my mind but gave me no love. I think you might know her. She gets around.

I’d walk home, after my public appearances, to quite a different scenario than the flamboyant dude in public. There, all alone,  I’d  enter the ring of my 12 round bout with conscience. The spin-cycle of confusion and gut-wrenching truth: “THIS AIN’T ME” vs. “YES IT IS. NO IT AIN’T! WHAT AM I THEN? NOTHING?!” It was a mental Armageddon destined for the final act that occurred, not in a church prayer-service but Notre Dame football stadium.

My desperate heart  found precise articulation in a “violent” act of will. A final resolute choice that Jesus was worth me, if He would have me. I ran from,  laughed at, and betrayed Him for years. I said, ‘Don’t believe that stuff’. No more. Finally, I stood on the precipice of destiny. Defiant to defiance.  I chose to follow the One each of us hears calling and sees reflected in all creation:  “Come to Me… I love you” says the Lord Most High (Mt.11:28, Is.43:4). If you can silence the big-mouth ego long enough to ignite intelligence the heart  kicks in with  calculation of solemn purpose to tap into the love of the Father. 

Righteous Defiance (Ez.3:8/Matt. 11:12).

I’ve always felt sorry for the word Defiant. It’s a phenomenal word but always gets a bad rap cuz it was born on the wrong side of the tracks. It’s the only word with backbone.It’s what a man needs to be free; not to do dark but understand light.

Defiance to condemnation for forgiveness. Ever see anyone defiant for Jesus? Let me rephrase that. Ever see a real normal person? I don’t think so. They aren’t out there. 

It’s either be a religious-do gooder or hard cold pagan. From youth, we were NEVER schooled in sin. So it had full reign to build its castle of lies in our head. A  little more important than geography? But we were distracted, caught up in umpteen diversions; career; parties, booze, drugs, etc. It’s like soldiers sent to fight in a war only to learn it was all a diversion from the real battle. We never sat alone to ponder life and look within. So when all that  “fun stuff” faded, well, we were  forced to sit alone,  and what we see is not “wonderful” humanity. 

Some guys concede to the “bad boy” image cuz they just can’t put a finger on that hidden evil.  This pride blinds and takes a man into an out of control nightmare. It runs you wild but you never realize that this “IT” that is down there, is the  hostile source planted in us by Satan to kill us. No “Sinners Anonymous.” No buddies to help figure this. On your own.

I’ll never forget the face of the guy who killed his wife and family. In a world of hurt and tears he said “Darkness took control. I can never again make things right.”  Most “experts” would agree but Gods plan is specifically designed to redeem us from the conundrum of the secret world in us called SIN. I told him the following.

Check it out bro. Don’t lose me. Our outward display of evil can cause a 4-alarm fire in the eyes of society, in any number of ways. But its origin and potential is exactly the same in every man. It does not indicate, whatsoever, who YOU are as a person.  I thought this way for 30 yrs.

I watch so many brothers concede to a tag put on them because they just don’t understand that evil is strangely intertwined with our own desire. Stay with me. How can something we don’t want to do, be something we want to do? Lack of knowledge breeds confusion and makes us vulnerable to accept labels of being ‘abnormal’ and compelled to admit to some quirky “criminal” personality or DNA; as if you are a lower class of being. 

The “experts” affirm this cosmic lie in which “the bad” (us) are divided from “the good”(them). Such “therapy” magnifies already present despair. A ‘Tacumbu’ begins from over pressuring the mind to accept this lie as fact. It contradicts the witness in man’s God-created conscience of being loved by God and having beautiful potential.

Guilt, shame, and condemnation do not result from outward actions but an inward “principle” of sin (Read Rm.7:17ff). HOWEVER, THE SOURCE OF EVIL IS NOT INDIVIDUAL (Rm.5:12). Get that?! It means YOU didn’t come up with it. The source is a completely foreign entity within you. Ya, I know. It sounds like the ultimate ‘cop out’. But truth is truth. The reason Jesus comes to us in such profound unconditional love is because He knows this absolute reality: “I did not come to condemn but to save the world… not counting their evil against them” (John 3:19/2 Cor.5:19). 

This means, Jesus comes to you completely based on seeing you in His love for you, not on whatever you may have done.

Sin flows like a stream from the abyss into our conscious life (2 Pt.2:19 ). And we just sit there like a dummy letting it destroy us. It leads multitudes to question the significance of their own existence. What we think of, as some unexplainable evil coming upon us ‘out of nowhere’, in a certain time, or crime, has actually always been within us.  We don’t understand it and can’t get rid of it so we feel ashamed, guilty, and condemned. 

It is not YOU any more than a poison in blood. Man does not create darkness. It comes out of the ABYSS; the “bottomless pit” of hell. It is NOT a “mental issue”,  “personality flaw” or faulty DNA. (Eph.2:2/Rom. 10:7,3:10/Lk.8:31/Rev.20:3,17:8,11:7,9:11/Jn.12:31,14:30). Sin is a generational consequence of Adam’s rebellion. It is in the human nature he passed to us through procreation. It is 10,000 years old. We merely recycle its very predictable behavior. We see it demonstrated in every facet of life throughout past generations (hatred -murder-bitterness-pride-lust-rage). Paul understood this. He killed many people, yet, in the turn of his will says “I forget what lies behind” (Phil. 3:13/Lk.9:62). Sin is the same in us all, in its quantity and end “the wages of sin is death” (Rm.6:23).  


Where The Law Comes In:

God gave the 10 commandments to expose sin. So when we try to do them we see sin in us, that is, we see ourselves. Sin = pride, image, ego, self. It must die for us to be free in Christ (Rm.6:6). Sin renders us totally inadequate of “good behavior”. It may seem good on the outside but the motives of pride render it “filthy rags” (Is.64:6). “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin…” (Rm.3:20). We don’t see that we are good. We see that we are evil. Paul explains that “through the works of the law, no flesh is justified” (Gal.2:16-21, Rom.3:20).

Every Bible verse that defines sin: 2 Cor. 10:3-5/ James 4:17/ Rom.14:23, 3:10-18/1 Jn.3:4, 5:16/ Prov.21:4,9/Ps.14:1-3/ Jer.17:9/ Isaiah 59/ 2 Thes.2:7 

The Answer

So brother, here we go. Let’s take the horizontal road into the vertical climb. It is the road of the living Jesus, Who as God on High, became man, like us to meet us on our road and LIFT us beyond ourselves. Jesus is the answer to all this. So don’t jump this Bridge. Walk it.  God says He gives everyone a chance in life to “HEAR” the truth. This is your chance. It is your golden moment to “see” Him,  so He can help  you understand what the hell is going on inside you, that the majority reject. How does He come into you as you yet remain a wicked sinner (Col.1:27)?

The truth is: more evil thoughts don’t make you more evil bro. Thoughts are thoughts. Evil is evil. Sin is sin. No matter what level you experience,Jesus died for all.

It’s not Christian-lingo-sville, USA. It is not magical sinners prayers. You can’t pluck reality  like an apple off a tree. It’s about the grind of true grit, all about your individual  fight for sincerity. You are the master of a ship that can be lost at sea or come into an awesome understanding of a master helmsman. This is a personal journey, brother. It’s going to take time. But it’s more sure than night and day. 

Since we had nothing to do with Adam’s sin, we couldn’t stop it then, or now. So God created an easy way out. It is a mere ATTITUDE change. Repentance is called faith. Instant. No other requirements. Can you imagine if all the darkness you have accepted about yourself is a lie? Could you possibly deal with all the negativity as having nothing to do with YOU? Years of lies done away in a second. Sounds almost funny, hey bro? Certainly sounds crazy. 

It is a very sound, Biblical “craziness”, based on the death of One Who chose to give up His Godhood to become a fellow Brother and demonstrate unfathomable personal love to get you to heaven (Phil.2:7). Better than drugs or medical terminology wouldn’t you say, bro? Now how about that WILL of yours? It is closer to you than your hand. 

West Virgina has a massive cave system for mining coal. A guy starts ‘above ground’ then goes down into darker interconnecting tunnels. No matter how deep, the danger is the same, but the imagination causes panic. Like sin: The deeper you go, the more you start to panic. What if I can’t escape?  You have all these extremely dark and bizarre feelings. You think you are becoming far worse. Your mind starts to fry… but it’s all a LIE. 

We are God-created beings. Our brain functions at a mechanical level designed to process truth.

Truth is not a vague theory but the answer to all pain. Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free…” (Jn.8:32). Understanding disseminates freedom. The cure to “Tacumbu” is understanding how our Creator designed REDEMPTION. 

It is a substantial, documented, proven intelligent love of the living Jesus for YOU. Life-changing reality begins not with a “prayer service” but with sincere individual transparency. 

I got no problem admitting I AM wicked (1 Tim.1:15). Do you? It’s logical. We see our sin constantly. To deny it, is to force our mind to swallow insanity (Ecc.9:3). I’m thrilled God loves me, knowing I’m a scumbag. Not “WAS” but AM (1 Tim.1:15 ).This little morsel of reality highlights how to defy sin with the mental clarity of reality (Mt.11:27ff). 

If we force our brain to accept lies (that we are good), as being truth, we subject our mind to suffer subconscious stress. It’s illogical to think deception will not have substantial consequences in our mental state. 

JESUS DEFINES SIN as immaterial substance of darkness (John 15:25,1:3ff,3:20). Far beyond deeds. It is a dark wind that permeates all of life. Inescapable. It has no edges to grab and say, “Here, this is it.”  You can “see” it in the world but not in a microscope. It is hostile to us each day, as we battle emotional, mental, and physical conflict. 

No snap of a prayer or “good” behavior makes it disappear in a poof. Some religious guys brought a woman in the act of adultery to Jesus for Him to stone but He said they were more guilty of sin than her because of their pride (Jn.8:44). Sin is a conduit of demonic intelligence (Ecc.9:3/Eph.2:2). Satan “prowls about” our mind with his darkness of the Abyss. He comes like a lion to devour you in the night (1 Pt.5:8). 

Brother, it wasn’t a few wacko dudes, but all of us, in our “wonderful humanity”, that united in our depravity, through proxy of our human ancestors, who crucified Jesus. Anything evil we might do today could never equal what we did in those 3 hours (John 15:25). Our human family despises His light upon our darkness (Jn.3:19-21,15:25).  

Check out this Biblical definition of faith: 

Abraham was a warlord. Awesome dude. Pagan at heart. Yet he was “made righteous” WHILE he was a pagan. He merely looked at the stars and believed: “God, I see You there and believe You must be awesome. I trust You”. Don’t just think about Him… TALK TO HIM. God yearns to make you righteous. He will do it in a blink, as soon as you believe Him. Abraham became the father of this righteousness by faith because he was the first guy to believe (study Romans 4/Heb.11). God called him “My friend” (Is.41:8/Jm.2:23). 

Society defines what is “right” by cultural norms, but God doesn’t listen to a world that killed His Son to tell Him what’s right. All men are criminals in His sight: “Not one is righteous” (Rm.3:10). The ONLY thing God sees as RIGHT-EOUS is faith in the work of His Son. Redemption trumps rehabilitation. 

For God does not require good behavior over bad behavior but faith in the “finished” perfect behavior of Jesus. He didn’t die for a limited number of outward sinS but for the “whole 9 yards”; all ramifications. “He who knew no sin became sin… so we can become right-eous” (2 Cor.5:20). My brother, this gospel brings mental clarity. 

I am not a good man. I am a pagan believer like Abraham. Faith alone “credits” me the righteousness of Jesus. Like a hillbilly “reckoned” right, I cannot fulfill laws, so I believe in the living Jesus (Phil.3:9/Gal.2:16,20/Rm.1:17). Faith puts me in His Light which is the only thing darkness can not permeate. I live in eternal forgiveness (John 1:3-4/1 Jn. 1:5-10) . This is what it means to be “born from above” (Jn.3:3).

 “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” whether murder, rape, crimes against humanity, cannibalism etc. (Rm.8:1). 

 I have seen many rescued from a “Tacumbu”. Sometimes ‘authorities’ tell me I don’t grasp the magnitude of crimes by prisoners. I tell them they don’t grasp the magnitude of forgiveness credited by He Who became the greatest Prisoner of all time.  “Get behind me Satan” is what Jesus said to the “Accuser of the Brethren” who uses people to lie to us (Mt.16:23/Jam.4:7/Rev.12:10). 

Resistance works bro! All negative feelings and thoughts may seem very intense but the truth is;just ignore them.

Sound too simple? Righteous defiance requires not a period of time but a lifetime opposing lies of Satan. God promises Satan will flee (1 Pt.5:8-9/Eph.6:12). Since that June morning in the stadium of Notre Dame, I have seen victory despite ongoing failure. As a man of iron will I have learned to defy his lies and live in the joy of my sin dead with Christ (Ez.3:8/2 Cor.10-3/Rm.6:6). I threw all my ugliness upon His Ugliness on the cross. His love reigned down (“wounded more than any man”-Is.53). 

My friend, “How could I do, or think that?” is a man that lacks the heart to believe. Salvation is not an “experience” but a cold, resolute decision. I believe in what You did Jesus. Done (Rm.8:5-13). Give up and give in. Long after Jesus was crucified, Paul says “I have been crucified” (Gal.2:20) . To “take up your cross” is not some morbid self-flagellation but a joy of being rid of your greatest foe: the old self (Mt.16:24). Jesus gives His Word to bear all our ‘baggage’; past, present and future (Heb. 10:22,9:14). The Word of God is the ultimate weapon of truth (Lk.4:1/Heb.4:12). Some spurn this answer as too simplistic for their “complex” problems. They “work” hard trying to better themselves to appear “good” (Jn.8:5,9:44/Rom4:4/Jn.6:29/ 2 Pt.2:19 ). But you can’t hide the darkness in the eyes.

The answer is not fixing your past but faith in Jesus for a future.  Mental anguish starts early and ends either in dying with Christ, or facing death when it will be too late.  I love you my precious friend.