“As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;

your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

For evils have encompassed me beyond number;

my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see;

they are more than the hairs of my head;

my heart fails me.”

Psalm 40:11, 12



Your Mercy will find me.

He’s unrestrained.

A person, a power,

A force, not contained.

Alive, not dead.

You severed the leash

When You opened the grave

And Your Son was released

To enter my heart

And open my eyes

And erase all my sins

And expose every lie.

He is the Love that wants me free

That rolls up His sleeves and comes after me

To loose my chains and lead me out

“You dare me to turn away?” He shouts!




 “Nothing can ever at all restrain

My strong love for you.

Your fears, your pride, your shame, your sins—

 They merely block your view.

My gaze is set

So lift up your eyes.

I want you, Child…

For you, I died.”



Between the Cross and The Resurrection by Richard Forton

Have you ever considered what it must have been like to be a disciple of Christ the day after he was crucified, that lonely Saturday after Jesus breathed his last, his body broken and blood-soaked after hanging on a cross?

On Good Friday some 2,000 years ago, our Lord was beaten and excoriated, the stress upon his mind and body so great that He exhibited two rare medical conditions: The water flowing from His side revealed hypovolemic shock and hematidrosis, showing that His body was under such extreme stress that capillaries under the skin burst and blood broke forth in Gethsemane before his scourging had even begun.

From his followers’ perspective, imagine the horror of watching the man you followed and loved for three years, nailed to a wooden cross, hoisted in the air and hanging in agony.

Imagine the fear that would take hold, forcing you to consider hiding in your house before the Roman soldiers came to give you the same treatment.

Imagine the overwhelming feeling of defeat and thinking that all your hopes and dreams died with Jesus on that tree.

That Saturday between the Cross and the Resurrection must have been indescribably terrifying for the followers of Jesus.

But what Glory they found on Sunday morning!

Our world is suffering a different kind of terror these days, and while our dreaded consequence may not result in hanging on a cross, the fear of death is palpable for some. For others, forced confinement in the time of COVID-19 may have allowed a bitter root to set in, leaving even believers in fear and dismay over their circumstances.

But let me assure you, just as Sunday morning came nearly to thousand years ago, it will come again tomorrow. Our Lord is ALIVE!

And God is with us. What is happening in our day may well lead to a powerful renewal for which we have been praying for many years!

The oppressive rule of Big Government is being exposed as unworthy of our confidence, exactly as the Founders warned. They knew where our faith should lie – in God, not in a government of men.

This Easter, perhaps more than any Easter we have witnessed in our lifetimes, truly exemplifies the meaning of the observance. For Easter is about hope and deliverance from this world’s crushing burdens.

Roughly 2,000 years ago, at a Passover dinner, our Lord gave us a new commandment, “love one another as I have loved you.” In this time of trials, confinement and leanness, it would be easy to let anxiety or fear take hold.

But my friend, I encourage you during this time of waiting between the Cross and the Resurrection, to keep your eyes on our Savior — the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I encourage you to take this time to pray for the soul of our nation, for the weak, the hurting, the exhausted, the ill and the fearful. Pray for our leaders, that they would know the love of Christ. Pray for strength for yourself and your family to endure this trial and know that joy still comes in the morning!

For tomorrow is Easter, the day God fulfilled His promise and sealed a New Covenant, a covenant that blankets believers with the saving grace and blood of Christ. A covenant that defeats Satan and all his wiles, a covenant that offers all who believe an eternal place in His Kingdom!

Praise the Lord! Joy comes in the morning and may His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

In His Service,

Richard Forton,

Keys to Freedom Ministries  Board of Trustees



Give the gift of time this year!



He shuffled through the doorway, his visit proved a n unexpected one. I’m not sure how the boy surfaced at our house, but he was known to canvas the neighborhood in search of a playmate from time to time. However, he’d been missing lately.

We noticed.

My oldest son was similar in age, so it was natural

to invite the young boy to our table. A few other children, cutout cookies, and sugary yuletide adornments waited.

As the boy took his seat, our annual Christmas cookie decorating session officially began. Our young neighbor embraced the task at hand, unaware of the fun wi

th which he was about to tangle.

The children iced. They tossed sprinkles. They even taste-tested. The boys and girls giggled and repeated the pattern, over and over. The sight was pure joy.

What would happen if we gifted our time this season?

It’s easy to be wrapped tightly in a package of busyness, tied with a ribbon of hustle and bustle during the Christmas season. Falling prey is possible for any of us. After all, there are parties to attend, shopping to complete, and cards to sign, seal, and deliver. But is there room to give the beautiful gift of time, wrapped with love?

Our Father so loved us that He gave. But He didn’t give the season’s most popular store-bought ditty. It’s a little hard to visualize God walking out of XYZ store with the latest remote control favorite in hand, isn’t it? (But I imagine He and the throng in heaven would have a blast playing with it!)

God didn’t ask for our long or short Christmas list. No, He knew what we needed – even before we did.

He gave a treasure that gold or silver can never buy, a gift wrapped in love: Jesus. The end result was salvation and hope for you and me.

There’s another pertinent gift I see that Jesus gave. It has an aroma similar to our friend’s visit and the cookie decorating party, albeit Jesus-style. He gave the gift of time to people. He gave love.

“I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51 WEB

Jesus came down to earth. He spent time with people. Conversations, healing, and deliverance are peppered throughout the gospels as a result. I’m amazed how a man with leprosy was cured (Matt. 8:1-4) or how a paralytic stood and walked home (Matt. 9:1-7) after a simple visit with Jesus. He took time for people.

What about us? Are we offering our time to people? How about gifting a generous portion this Christmas season?

Although the possibilities are many, here are 15 ways to give the beautiful gift of time this season:

1. Pray “right then and there” with that someone who mentions a need

2. Send a thought-filled note

3. Host a cookie decorating session for neighborhood kids

4. Sit and converse with a widow or widower

5. Volunteer at the children’s school or retirement home Christmas party

6. Deliver baked goods to local emergency personnel

7. Volunteer at a nearby homeless shelter

8. Attend an event in support of a child whose parents are absent or can’t attend their events

9. Babysit (for free) a mother’s children for 2 hours so mom can get a reprieve or go shopping

10. Help a military spouse or single parent of young children decorate the family Christmas tree

11. Open the dining table to a young couple, orphan, or military member whose family is far away

12. Take a fruit basket to a neighbor and visit for a short bit

13. Blow snow, rake leaves, or mow the lawn of a neighbor in need

14. Text or private message words of encouragement

15. Drive an elderly friend or others without means to view Christmas lights or invite them to the church Christmas service
16.  Visit or write someone who is in jail.

Feel free to put one of these ideas into action or gather your own and give it a go. Like Jesus, let’s love on others, generously offering the gift of time this Christmas season.


SEE ALSO: How to Understand the True Gift of Christmas

They stuffed their bellies with sweet, sugary holiday goodness. Their hearts, meanwhile, seemed to overflow with love as they spent time together. I was glad to establish this tradition; relieved I took time to offer the icing plop, taste-testing sit-down amid a busy mothering day.

After a few hours of cookie fun, our young visitor bid farewell. We waved from the porch steps, watching him round the corner. That was the last time we ever saw him.

The young boy was a foster child. His gift of time spent with us was a final farewell overflowing with love. I’d like to think the cookie session was an important ingredient in the mix.

It’s Christmas cookie time once again. Remembering our visitor causes me to consider how impactful a simple visit proves, how a gift of time can pour such love.


Keys to Freedom Ministries Christmas Program

Image result for images of giving christmas gifts to kids 

Gifts for Kids

-(formerly, Gods Love Tree)


Gifts for Kids is and extension of Keys to Freedom ministries aftercare programs.  Our goal is to make contact with the families of those in our local jails in an effort to provide a Christmas gift from them to their children.  This includes offering families an opportunity to come face to face with people who have the desire to make a compassionate connection that ideally will show them they are not alone in their journey! 

For inmates wishing to be involved in the Keys to Freedom Gifts for Kids program, beginning in October, Keys to Freedom Chaplains will begin collecting information from inmates in our local jails that have children they will not be spending Christmas with.  The information gathered will be used to collect gifts for the children.  Once the gifts are collected the Children and their families will be invited to participate in a Christmas event allowing them to come and “shop”, fellowship and share a meal with people that want to share the love of Jesus Christ!

Our goal is to have local churches share in this outreach by having trees in their church to collect gifts and to raise up volunteers to meet with our families at the Christmas gathering! WLJN will also have a Tree as they have done for the past 17 years!   More details will be shared as we finalize the process.   If you would like to help with this event we need many hands.  Volunteers will be needed at the event to greet…to assist with wrapping presents….help with the meal….love on the children…and donation of gifts.  Monetary donations are always welcome as well and you can do that right  her on our website!  

If you would like to help with this aspect of our ministry, please leave a comment or contact our Chaplains office at the Grand Traverse County Jail.

Details of this Christmas ministry as it approaches will be on WLJN as well.

Contact  Tina McCalley:  232-922-4545 or 231-590-0633.-

Chaplains Corner

This is the Heart of our Mission!

To Bind Up The Brokenhearted….From Ransomed Heart Ministries Daily Reading.

     Christ did not die for an idea. He died for a person, and that person is you. But there again, we have been led astray. Ask any number of people why Christ came, and you’ll receive any number of answers, but rarely the real one. “He came to bring world peace.” “He came to teach us the way of love.” “He came to die so that we might go to heaven.” “He came to bring economic justice.” On and on it goes, much of it based in a partial truth. But wouldn’t it be better to let him speak for himself ?
Jesus steps into the scene. He reaches back to a four-hundred-year-old prophecy to tell us why he’s come. He quotes from Isaiah 61:1, which goes like this:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
The meaning of this quotation has been clouded by years of religious language and ceremonial draping. What is he saying? It has something to do with good news, with healing hearts, with setting someone free.
Christ could have chosen any one of a thousand other passages to explain his life purpose. But he did not. He chose this one; this is the heart of his mission. Everything else he says and does finds its place under this banner: “I am here to give you back your heart and set you free.” That is why the glory of God is man fully alive: it’s what he said he came to do. But of course. The opposite can’t be true. “The glory of God is man barely making it, a person hardly alive.” How can it bring God glory for his very image, his own children, to remain so badly marred, broken, captive?




Spring...God’s gift of renewal

ONE thing I love most about Spring is the feeling of beginning anew! For a season, cold and bitter winds and squalling white dust forces the trees and shrubs into a quiet hibernation . The above ground parts of plants, the leaves and stalks, will die off, but underneath those leaves and stalks life remains living off stored food until their internal calling forth of blooming reminders of Gods’ creation!

Funny how this component of God’s work can be a reminder in our own lives of how God can renew a Spring in us. I have had many bitter, cold times in my life where, on the surface, I may feel or even appear dead. Not really doing much of anything for the Kingdom….my prayer life stagnant… No figs…only leaves and maybe broken at that! But then comes that internal call of the Holy Spirit that brings forth the life that only He can sustain during those seasons of Winter! And when He does, our Faith once again blooms with beautiful fruit! Why? Well, that brings me to another reason I love Spring…EASTER! When we recall the fulfillment of the greatest love….the ultimate sacrifice…a garden full of promises that adorn our faith journey and fertilize it and keep it strong so it survives even the most bitter of Winters!
Jesus survived His Winter and He is alive! One day to return and take those that put their faith and trust in Him to that new Garden of the tree of eternal LIFE!

Put your faith in Jesus Christ!





 It’s Not About the Ministry  John 1:1-40  

Ministry is a huge part of my life. It always has been. From the earliest days of my childhood I remember a sense of empathy for the hurting…for those in need. From the earliest days of my adulthood, I remember a desire to help those same people. I truly believe this is nothing more or nothing less than a gift from God. This gift has been through many hills and valleys of the refining process. Thus eventually ending up in Ministry synonymous with the journey of Jesus’ ministry as described in the first chapter of the gospel of John.   There is a witness to the needs of the ministry.  Those whom God has called to witness to you the call.  Then there is the encounter with Jesus!  There is the time in the desert spent searching for nothing else but the voice of the Holy Spirit that speaks the word of confirmation.  We can’t nor does God expect us to go it alone. God provides the members of the body of His church to walk the ministry sojourn with you.  You will find that the few,  but very faithful God has brought in your midst will help you stand.  These people will be unmistakable and invaluable to you.  God has placed them strategically in your life to bring glory to His work!  Do not be afraid to depend on them…and pray for them because they are praying for you!  Just like you, they are not perfect.  And there may be disappointments, but God has a purpose for them too!  They are not chosen because of any attraction they have for you or your talents or your faith!  They are present for the same reason you are…obedience to God.  When it comes time to carry your cross some may desert you, for a season…but guess what?  This is that time for you to be totally dependent on Him!  And when you take a step back and look at what just happened….you will figure out that it was never about the ministry.  God does not need the “Ministry”!  Your relationship with God is what it’s about!  You see Jesus walked this earth, He had a ministry…He had a call…He had those to help Him.  But in the end who was there?  It was just Him and His obedience to the will of His Father!  It’s not all about the’s about obedience, it’s about you and HIM! To the Glory of God the Father!  Amen!