Letter to an Ex-Member of the Mafia

by The Mad Preacher                                                                                                       Rod Davis

NOTE: Henry Hill, was a New York City mobster. Between 1955 and 1980, Hill was Goodfellowsassociated with the Lucchese crime family. In 1980, Hill became an FBI informant and his testimony helped secure fifty convictions, including that of mob capo (captain) Paul Vario and James Burke on multiple charges. Hill’s life story was documented in the true crime book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi. Wiseguy was subsequently adapted by Martin Scorsese into the critically acclaimed film GoodFellas, in which Hill was portrayed by Ray Liotta.1 He passed away on June 12, 2012

Henry and I became acquainted with one another through email. For several months I talked him about Jesus and he responded often asking questions. He became was ill for a while and his girlfriend, Lisa, responded to my emails with updates about his condition. In one email she told me that Henry trusted me. That was rare for him, she said.

At the time I was the chaplain for a Christian Radio Station and he would call me “Chapy”. He told me that’s what they call the prison chaplain. This was the last email I sent to Henry. He didn’t respond. I believe the reason is that the Holy Spirit was dealing with him and the conversation got a little too hot for him. So he bailed. I prayed for Henry over the years until I heard of his death. I was very saddened. I hope he was ready.

Hello my friend!

How are you? I pray for you often, Henry. I know from personal experience what it’s like to feel dirty and sinful, but I also know what it’s like to be forgiven and the wonderful sense of cleanliness and peace I now feel. I’m constantly overwhelmed and brought to tears when I consider what Jesus did for me. The friendship that He offers is free to all those who will call out to Him in repentance and faith. I just wanted to share that with you

I saw you on TV the other night. You looked good. You looked well. I pray that you are well, my friend. I was touched by your comments about not being proud of your past, but rather, you’re proud of what you are now. That’s good, buddy. I’m proud of you too.

However, may I make an observation? You see, Henry, simply reforming yourself and trying to do the right thing may make one a model citizen but it doesn’t erase sin. It doesn’t change the past with God. In fact, there is nothing that we can do for ourselves that will change our sinful condition. It takes something outside us. It takes more then the good works that we try to offer God. We personally can’t make amends to God for our past.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Henry, the best right living that we can offer Holy God is compared to something filthy and disgusting. Therefore, God is not impressed with how much we reform ourselves, nor is He impressed by the good works we do. Something else gets his attention, and that something else is surrendering to His Son, Jesus, and accepting His sacrifice for our sins.

I love you, Henry, and I wouldn’t offend you for the world, but I’m your friend and friends should be honest with one another. Indeed, true friends depend on one another to cut through the bull and get to the truth. Jesus stated that knowing the truth will “set you free.” (John 8:32) So, I try to be honest with people that I love, and I try to do so without being offensive. One day someone spoke truth to me, Henry. He told me about Jesus, how I could be born again and made brand new. Because of his boldness that day I was set free! So, please, don’t be offended at me when I do the same with you. I’m just trying to be your friend, Henry. I would expect the same honesty from you.

David Berkowitz2 is another friend of mine. We manage to stay in touch via letters. You may remember him as “The Son of Sam.” Well, now, he now calls himself “The Son of Hope” because David gave his life to Jesus many years ago. I told him that you and I were friends and asked him to pray for you. He sent you a message in his last letter that reads, “Please give Henry my regards and let him know that I’m praying for him. If God can forgive me, He can and will forgive anyone if they are willing to repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ. It was the best and most important decision I ever made.”

Henry, David and I want you to experience what we, and millions of others, have experienced. We want you to know the same truth that David so elegantly expressed. “If God can forgive me, He can and will forgive anyone…” It’s so true! He will forgive anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, even someone like David Berkowitz who was a serial killer. He can and will save anyone who comes to Him―even an ex-Mafioso type like you. My desire and prayer for you is that you will find what David, I and millions of others have found—new life, peace, hope, and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.

Look at God’s heart in this passage, Henry. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” —Jesus (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus is waiting for you, Henry, to cry out to Him in sincere repentance. In fact, even now He is reaching out to you, knocking on the door to your heart. Jesus wants you to open the door and invite Him in. Would you do that, Henry, right now? Is there any reason why you would not want to give your life to Him right now?

Please understand this, Henry. God’s not waiting for you to clean yourself up before you come to Him. That’s His job. Getting rid of sin and cleansing a guilty conscience is what God does best. After all, you don’t clean up in order to take a bath, do you? King David said “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2) That’s what Jesus does, Henry, but you must give Him the go-ahead.

“He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:10-13)

I love you, Henry, and I’m praying that you will give into the wooing of the Spirit of God, that you will open that door and invite Jesus into your life. Then, like my friend David Berkowitz, you too will say, “It was the best and most important decision I ever made.”

Your friend,                                                                                                                   Rod

1 Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on 07-27015

2 David Richard Berkowitz (born Richard David Falco, June 1, 1953), also known as the Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, is an American serial killer convicted of a series of shooting attacks that began in New York City in the summer of 1976. Perpetrated with a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver, he killed six victims and wounded seven others by July 1977. As the toll mounted, Berkowitz eluded a massive police manhunt while leaving brazen letters which mocked the police and promised further crimes. Highly publicized in the press, he terrorized New York and achieved worldwide notoriety. He was arrested by New York City police in August 1977, Berkowitz was indicted for eight shooting incidents. He confessed to all of them, and claimed to have been obeying the orders of a demon, manifested in the form of a dog (“Harvey”) who belonged to his neighbor (“Sam”). Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on 07-27015

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Unshaken

from the Mad Preacher

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2 NIVunshakable 2

As President George H.W. Bush mulled over what to do in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990—to repel the Iraqi leader militarily or not— Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Britain, told him, “Remember George, this is no time to go wobbly.”[1]

We’re living in some pretty scary times. The America I grew up in is not the America I see today. Those wicked ones, who are in power in our nation’s capital, are destroying the fundamental principles that this nation was founded upon. Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” [2] The father of our country, George Washington, said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.[3]  John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and second president of the US, said this, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”[4]

The world has turned into a powder keg. Therefore, many of us daily walk in fear over all that’s happening, not only here in the USA but all over the world. Distress is understandable but is it necessary? David said. “My soul finds rest in God alone.” The original Hebrew word translated “rest’ literally means “my soul is silent. It “trusts submissively and confidently as a servant would.” The English word translated “soul” from the original Hebrew word means “a living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite and emotion.”[5] It’s not the word for the human spirit. Rather, the word “soul” encompasses the whole being including one’s mind and attitudes. So, David was saying, “My mind is at rest, at peace, in God alone. Therefore, I will not wobble.” The word here for “salvation” is the Hebrew word “yeshu’ah”. It means salvation, welfare, prosperity, deliverance and victory. 4 It’s also the Hebrew equivalent of the name Jesus. He is all these things and much more to those who follow him.

The word “fortress” comes from the Hebrew word that means a “high place, refuge, secure height, a retreat, a stronghold.” The root of this Hebrew word means to be “inaccessibly high, too high for capture, to be set securely on high.”4 The Hebrew word translated “shaken”, in Psalm 62:2 “I will never be shaken.” means to totter, shake, slip, be moved or to be overthrown. It means to dislodge, to let fall, drop or to be greatly shaken.4 Simply put, in God the disciple of Christ is untouchable and cannot be overthrown. Wow! The only one that can cause harm to true followers of Jesus is us, when we chose to go it on our own, in our own strength, and not by trusting God. We, then, leave ourselves vulnerable to satanic attacks.

Psalm 62 (NIV)

5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. [The Hebrew word literally means a place to run for safety4] 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. 9 Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. 10 Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. 11 One thing God has spoken, [God has spoken this once for all and leaves

no room for debate] two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, 12 and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.  Here’s some promises to remember when the enemy tries us rob of our faith:

“I will never be shaken!”

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8 NIV)

For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.  (Psalm 21:7 NIV)  Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. (Psalm 66:8-9 NIV)

Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV)                                                                                                 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  (Psalm 125:1 NIV)  The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land. (Proverbs 10:30 NIV)

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel [The Church] will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (Psalm 62: 11-12)
[1] The Christian Science Monitor April 8, 2013 Partial quote retrieved on 07-05-15

[2] The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

[3] See more at: http://www.usachristianministries.com/us-history-quotes-about-god-and-the-bible/#sthash.88XYjsUM.dpuf

[4] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIII, p. 292-294. In a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813

[5] NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation All rights reserved Lockman.org