"An Inside Perspective"

June 2004


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! In Trenton State Prison, the inside of the jail is divided up by wings. On each wing there are anywhere from 24 to 130 prisoners. On my wing, there are 84 men. Each wing has 2 officers assigned to it for each 8 hour shift. Therefore, from 6:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. we have 2 officers and then from 2:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. we have 2 different officers. We have the same officers on our wing everyday and they are called our “regulars.” The officers put in bids to work on which wing they desire and their bid is based on their seniority. So, whoever has the most time in gets to work on the best wings.

The regular officers work 5 days a week but when they are on a vacation or sick a substitute officer, usually a rookie (new officer) will fill in for them. Over a period of time, the regular officers develop relationships with the prisoners on their wings. The regulars know who is who among the prisoners, who is doing what, and who can be trusted or not. At the same time, from our prisoners’ perspective, we get to know the officers relationally. We discern what it is that they require of us and how they individually choose to run their wing. It can be run quite different according to which officer is in charge. We, as prisoners, learn when we can come in and out of our cells, when to take showers, wash dishes, fellowship with our other brothers in other cells, etc. We learn where to draw the line in accordance with what officer is on duty.

The regulars have a system and we know exactly what we can and can not do. When the regular officer is on duty the wing is run “decently and in order”. On the contrary, when a regular officer is sick and a rookie is running the wing... “madness prevails!” The prisoners are running all over the place doing this and that illegal thing that they could not normally do with a regular officer on duty. So, with a regular officer things are done “decently and in order” and with a rookie the wing is hay—wire and “madness prevails!”

I want to ask you, what is the difference between these two officers? They both have the same boss, the same uniform, and the same authority. So, why the difference in how the wing is run?

The answer is that one knows who he is and the other does not. The regular officer knows the authority that he has and he knows how to use it. All he has to do is yell one time, “Let’s clear it up,” and everybody goes right to where they are supposed to be, “dec~nLey and in on~de~.” Interestingly, the rookie has the same boss, the same uniform, and the same authority. He does not yet really understand who he is and how to exercise his authority. He will, if he is smart, quickly learn who he is, probably the hard way, and then he will eventually gain the prisoners respect. Otherwise, his wing will always be hay—wire where only “madne~&.s pitevai~5!”

Allow me to share how the Holy Spirit applied these truths to our Christian lives. Some of us are “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” we know who we are “in Christ” and we know our Boss personally. Our uniform is “the full armor of God,” we live the Truth of the Scriptures, and we see to it that the wing of our Christian walk is run “decently and in order.” It is written, “Behold, I give you power & authority to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Others of us seem to have a Christian walk where perpetual “madnei~5 p~tevaifl!” Everything always seems to be hay-wire! The flesh is always trampling the spirit and the forces of evil are giving us no respect. It is written, “Neither give place to the devil...”

One of the greatest affirmations that Christ ever gave to anyone was to the Roman centurion who understood the spiritual reality of the chain of authority and its application to Christ and His kingdom. It is written, “When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that follow, ‘Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.’”

It is written, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to Me, go ye therefore...” Do you know who you are in Christ? Unlike the rookie, “Are you exercising your authority?” What do you do, when because of satan and his minions, “uzadne~ puwaifl” in your life? Are you utilizing that authority in your household, your marriage, with your children, and in your church? Is your walk in Christ running “decently and in order” or is it a place where “madned.a p~u~vaifl?”

As a Christian, are you a “regular” or a “rookie?” They both have the same authority you know. The only difference is that one person knows how to use it and the other does not. I wonder...