Linda's Cozy Mysteries

Growing Up Haunted, Hour-Long Special Radio Show

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What is Love? By Linda Kozar

Wondering what love really means? Single women often wonder if they are truly in love or if the man they love is truly in love with them. But God spells out the definition of love in His Word. Hold love up against God's metric for your answer.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Walk On The Wild Side--Part II--By Linda Kozar

To My Readers--This is a continuation of my previous post "A Walk On The Wild Side," detailing my first visits to strip clubs and modeling studios with the Jesus Loves Dancers ministry.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” 
Luke 5:32

We prepared the gift bags and headed out on the highway, the sky ribboned with streaks of pink and orange. The first club we visited was just gearing up. Our group arrived just as the sun slipped away. The young woman at the front desk of this particular club was no fan of the "church ladies." She answered our greeting and accepted the gift bag, but her face could not hide her distaste. I couldn't help thinking she'd been hurt or judged by Christians at some point. It was clear she didn't trust us or our motives for being there. But, thankfully, the dancers did not share this woman's opinion of us!

A barrel-chested DJ accepted one of our gift bags as we walked past, the loud bass of rap music drowning out every other sound. Except of course the small audience of men and one woman sitting near in front of the stage watching the dancer's every move. The lone woman in the audience clapped and hooted loudly, her voice slurred. As our little group walked through the dark club toward the dancer's communal dressing room, the tiny audience stared at us as if confused.

There were only two dancers in the dressing room when we walked in and they both wanted prayer. One in particular, for her young son. We joined hands with these two and prayed together as the music blared outside. Another two dancers walked in, but weren't interested in joining us. Not this time, anyway.

At one of the clubs we visited before (where the managers are so kind to our group), we talked at length in the dressing rooms, praying with whom ever wanted prayer. Some dancers avoided us, but others were open and willing to share their needs as well as their hopes and dreams. My favorite memory of this club is seeing one of the ladies on our team at a trio of poles. She called the three dancers together at the middle pole and they all huddled in prayer for the longest time. The three poles brought to mind the three crosses. Jesus was clearly in the midst of them!

The manager talked with us for a long time as well. We complimented him on all the remodeling he had done on the club. Lots of cleaning as well. He proudly recounted how they cleaned and stripped the floors, tables and each of the abundant wingback chairs in the place and how difficult it had been to clean years and years of gunk off all that.

No amount of cleaning however, would ever take away the stain of sin. I realized the man is clearly in transition! Before the group started praying for him and his family, he didn't notice how dirty things were around him, but now he does and is trying to clean things up. In time, he will discover that no amount of effort on his part will succeed. Please pray that God will reach this man's heart and reveal the truth to him. Only the cleansing blood of Jesus can take away the stain of sin.

We visiting many more clubs, the same ones as the previous visit, except for one that was closed for whatever reason. Sometimes their liquor licenses are randomly revoked. Or maybe their air-conditioning situation caused them to shut down. From what the others told me, they've had air-conditioning problems for a long time.

So we visited a modeling studio instead--a different one. The glass on the door and store front had the indigenous black tint treatment, blocking all outside light. Three of us walked in to offer the gift bags and we met at the door by a middle-aged lady dressed in what looked like a bikini of sorts with a beach towel wrapped around like she'd just come from the pool. She was hungry for conversation and talked on and on about a lot of cases on court TV and those in the current news. When she wasn't busy at work, it was evident this lady watched a lot television. We talked quite a while and then asked if we could pray with her. Like many of the others, this woman was a mother and wanted prayer for her son and for their finances.

As I feared, we paid another visit to the modeling studio with the interesting smells. Two women got off the bus right away and the others, with more sensitive noses stayed behind. But not me. I decided to get off the bus and push past my discomfort. This time I made sure to avoid the incense burners near the door. Instead I moved to the middle of the room. So did the other ladies. We talked with the madam for a while and she told us the top of her foot was hurting. I knelt down to the floor and laid hands on her foot and we all prayed that God would heal her foot. Pretty cool!

We hopped back on the bus, happy and filled with hope. But the other ladies covered their noses. The smell of that incense combined with other unidentifiable smells was overpowering. Again, the stickiness of it seeped into both hair and clothing. But I felt a sense of personal victory. Sin is the aroma of death to those who are alive in Christ. And we brought the fragrance of life into that dark place.

I believe if Jesus walked the earth today, He would surely be on that bus with us. He would minister to the dancers, the bartenders and bouncers in those clubs and pour out His love and Spirit upon them. When He walked the earth, Jesus was always in the company of those who were considered the outcasts of society. When confronted by His own disciples and those who considered themselves righteous, He answered, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance"--Luke 5:32. 

Jesus IS on that bus with us and in our hearts. He goes everywhere we go--sees what we see--hears what we hear and moves us to say what He wants to say. Every hand we extend, every prayer, every hug we offer, every gift bag we give is from Him.

Jesus loves us. And He loves people who are not like us. He wants us to love them too. He wants us to love them right into His kingdom!

"And He will cause the sheep to stand at His right hand, but the goats at His left.
Then the King will say to those at His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father you favored of God and appointed to eternal salvation, inherit (receive as your own) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you brought Me together with yourselves and welcomed and entertained and lodged Me,
I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me with help and ministering care, I was in prison and you came to see Me.
Then the just and upright will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You something to drink?
And when did we see You a stranger and welcomed and entertained You, or naked and clothed You?
And when did we see You sick or in prison and came to visit You?
And the King will reply to them, Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least (in the estimation of men) of these My brethren, you did it for Me"--Matt 25:31-46.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Walk On The Wild Side--By Linda Kozar

Three weeks ago I decided to get on a bus and visit six strip clubs in Houston.

Now before you say, "Linda Kozar is completely out of her mind," listen up! The bus was a church bus and I joined a ministry led by a good friend who founded the ministry over thirteen years ago to reach strippers and sex industry workers with the pure love of Christ.

My twenty-two year old daughter had already gone a couple of times and invited me to come along. But my friend has been inviting me for thirteen years. So it was quite understandable that she nearly fell over when I walked through the door!

These are some of the gift bags.

The first thing we all did was introduce ourselves. After that, we got right to work loading over eighty "gift bags" filled with scripture, chocolates, peppermints, a ministry card, and a personal fan with two fresh batteries taped to the package. The bag's contents vary each week, but there's always something fun or useful inside. With all the eager teamwork, we finished loading the bags in a short time.

Then we sat down to pray for the trip but also for individual prayer needs. All told, eight of us loaded onto the bus--four newbies and four veterans.

Was I nervous? You bet. I had no idea what I was in for, much less what I would see.

We pulled up to the first club and we each hurried to collect four or five bags. The bouncers welcomed us with smiles, especially when they received their gift bags. It seemed the "church ladies" their nickname for us, were welcomed, warmly into strip clubs! I followed the other ladies right into the stripper's dressing room, though it's more like an undressing room.

The dancers who knew the group smiled as we walked in. The new dancers stared back at us at first. I imagine they were confused about why church ladies were invading their space.  I listened to my friends ask if the dancers needed prayer for anything and they did! So right there in the middle of the janky-looking dressing room, we joined hands--all of us--and prayed.

Most of the dancers are mothers with young children, struggling to make ends meet. They're doing their best to support them, but losing more and more of their dignity as time goes on. The industry is soul-killing. Many turn to alcohol and drugs just to keep doing what they're doing.

The vibe at every club was different, but we had almost full access at each location. It's been years since I'd seen carpet on walls. And you can imagine all the bells an whistles going off if anyone dared to wave a black light around any of those places.

The veterans dove right in--greeting girls, bartenders and bouncers with hugs. It was clear they have established relationships with some of the workers over the years, but they treated new girls with the same regard. At one club I worked up enough nerve to ask a dancer if she had any prayer needs. She seemed a bit embarrassed and said, "No" at first.

But I pressed her a bit. "C'mon, everybody has prayer needs. How's your family? Do you need more money?"

She responded quickly. "Yes, pray for my children and my fiancé and so I can make more money."

I asked if I could lay hands on her and she told me I could. But I hesitated a moment because she was almost naked. I settled on her shoulder with her back to me. Another dancer and another "church lady" joined in and we prayed. Force of habit--I hugged them both after the prayer.

Afterwards, the Holy Spirit reminded me that Jesus hung naked on the tree for us, to pay the price for our sins. Stopped me in my tracks.

We are all naked before God, our sins and desires transparent to Him. He sees who we are inside. With that encouragement, I resolved to pray for the person inside the outer garment.

The managers met us in the hallway. My friend asked one about his son, born with a serious medical condition. The group had been praying for him for years. The other manager was intent on making us comfortable. He offered to give us water and Red Bulls. Though we politely declined, he disappeared and showed up a few minutes later, his arms full of refreshments. We thanked him and accepted his gracious offer.

The last place we visited will forever be the worst on my list. On the way there, the other girls warned us about the smell.

"Smell?" I asked.

They tried to describe it. "She has a lot of dogs and she burns incense and there are other smells as you might imagine. The place is a "modeling studio." I was to learn later that "Modeling Studios" and "Spas" are euphemisms for brothels.

Although we were only allowed in the foyer of the place, the smell hit me right away. I would say the olfactory assault was overpowering--smell on top of smell on top of odor on top of stench and all covered up with the scents of incense and baby powder.

The madam came out the office door to greet our group. A standard bank teller's type window predominated the room. A ceramic good luck kitty paw perpetually waving, enjoyed a predominant spot. The entry room was filled with beat-up furniture--a sofa, rug and coffee table and a credenza by the door. Three ceramic burners on top of the credenza, tiny candles lit, melted incense--the scent of which became distinctly unpleasant the longer you were exposed to it.

An older woman, the madam seemed genuinely happy to see us. She talked with us for quite some time. But I didn't talk much, or rather, could not. I was too busy dealing with the overwhelming odor of the place. In fact, I had difficulty fighting back the bile rising in my throat. When we first walked in, I tried not to pay attention to it. But it was truly a force to be reckoned with.

I realized later after talking with the veterans, that what we experienced there was more than just a physical smell. There was a spiritual aspect to it. The scent of sin and oppression, tangible and as real as any other. The smell of the place clung to hair and clothing and nestled inside our nostrils. It followed us back on the bus--a reminder that "... we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" Ephesians 6:12.

Next Week:  The Return