"An Inside Perspective"

September 2004


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! During the course of our day here in Trenton State Prison, anything can happen, at any given time. It could be an ordinary day, if there be such a thing in prison, or it could be a day full of "situations".

I remember the first time that I heard the term "situation." I was coming out of the mess hall into the holding cage where they keep you until they release you, in groups, to go back to your wing. I heard a fearful scream only a couple feet away. I looked over and there was a man burying a shank (homemade knife) into the side of another man. Still being new to prison, I stood there and watched in shock, unable to get out of the cage. The man fell to the floor at my feet. The other guy then commenced to aggressively kick the daylights out of him while, at the same time, screaming explicits. At that point, an officer came running over and yelled back over his shoulder to the other officers, “We got a "situation" over here!

The next thing I heard was the riot bell going beep-beep-beep-beep-beep! The center control officer then yelled at the top of his lungs over the intercom, “Code 33 in the mess hall!!” The whole jail stops while the “situation" is addressed and remedied. A couple minutes later I then heard, “Code 53 in the mess hall!” It was a call for medical help. In this case the officers came in full force, 30 deep, with their helmets and batons which we humorously call “the hats and the bats.” They then dragged off the downed man, feet first, across the floor. I was reminded how I, while out hunting in my past, have shot and then dragged many a deer out of the woods. The whole thing was a sobering "situation” to say the least.

This was the first of many "situations" that the Lord has brought me through over these last fourteen years. It is written, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.”

There are many types of codes ("situations") in prison. The number of the code identifies the type of situation. Both the officers and the prisoners then know how to respond to whatever circumstance is at hand. For example, code 33 is a fight or stabbing. Code 53, which usually follows a 33, is a call for medical attention. Code 66 is a suicide attempt. 99 is an escape attempt and 21 is a fire, etc.

The officers and we, as prisoners, must be on our P’s and Q’s at all times so as to react properly. If we get in the way of the officers during a code, it’s off to the hole, no questions asked!

In the Body of Christ, anything can happen, at any given time. Daily, there are a variety of spiritual "situations.". The spiritual riot bell is heard often by those who are discerning. The gift of discernment is given to the Body that we may ascertain the need of the "situation" that we face daily. Then we are to meet that need accordingly. We have the arsenal of God’s Word to apply to every need, yes, the very ointment of God. As John MacArthur, my favorite teacher likes to say, “We are to apply the Word of God with surgical precision and accuracy.” We can not do that without the gift of discernment that comes only from the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Surgeon.

A spiritual code 33 is a call to respond to strife within the Body. If followed by a 53, someone may have shanked his brother selfishly with the Word to prove his own point! Have you ever done that? That is, used the very Word that was intended to heal, as a weapon to prove that you are right? That, my brother, is a spiritual ‘~itttaLion.’ Not only is it a code 33 followed by a 53, but it is also a code 66!! That’s right, spiritual suicide. When we have stabbed our brother, we have indeed, stabbed ourselves. Are we not all one Body?

At this point, there is a spiritual bleeding that needs to be addressed. The Holy Spirit, Heaven’s central control Officer, will identify the code and the necessary remedy. Compassion, forgiveness and understanding are then applied through the discerning Body members. Faith in the Blood is brought to the forefront as a fresh Holy Spirit filling is gently given. Of a truth, “By His stripes we are healed.”

We must always be ready to bring a basket, full of the fruit of the Spirit, to our spiritual "situation." We can’t let Satan drag our brothers and sisters off like another deer from the woods! We need to be on our spiritual P’s and Q’s as it were, willing, “to bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

Had any "situations" lately———how have you responded?