"An Inside Perspective"

September 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ!
Today I want to share about hope and the role it plays in our walk with the Lord. There is a worldly hope that focuses on immediate gratification. This hope is temporal and brings no lasting satisfaction. It is a selfish hope that ends in a hopeless hell.

There is also a Heavenly hope which is rooted and grounded in the sure promises of the living God. Its foundation is solid, guaranteed by the very blood of the Lamb, the eternal God-Man, slain upon the cross before the foundation of the world. Heavenly hope sees, with the eyes of faith, the fulfillment of the promises of God and lives with a holy expectation.

It is written, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus . . ."

With all the various lock-downs and the recent general madness in this institution, we have had a difficult time making it to the commissary. In jail lingo we call it, "Going to the store." Up to about 9 months ago we were permitted to shop for our necessities every two weeks or so. Now, under this new regime, they have changed the rule to once a month and they have never even come close to keeping that schedule. As of late, the average time between store orders is forty to fifty days.

That may not seem like a big thing to most of you, but it is huge for us. Imagine if you could not go to the supermarket, pharmacy, or 7-Eleven but once every fifty days. For example, during the shakedowns they usually steal our soap, toilet paper, etc. and throw it out. This last one happened in August. We were locked-down with no laundry for four weeks in the middle of the summer! At that point, we do the best we can in a bucket with soap, but, I think you get the picture. Then, we have to wait for store to buy back, again, the very soap that they stole! So, as you can imagine, there is now a renewed expectation of hope for us going to the store. The question remains on everyone's lips, "When are we going to the store?"

I am now in a cell with Carlos again. He works in said store. Men come to our cell, non-stop asking the golden question, "When are we going to the store?" They have such high hopes of going to that store! It seems their whole life is focused on that hope and that hope alone.

I lay on my bunk and challenge myself with questions like, "Do I have that much hope and expectation about the coming of the Lord?" I wonder, "Is their expectation of the store greater than my expectation for the coming of the Lord!" God forbid!

I like to be brutally honest with myself and with you. I have found that transparency fosters real growth in my walk. Anything less is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and I must look that in the face.

I struggle deeply with hoping more to get out of prison and to have some semblance of a normal life, than, in hoping for the return of the Lord. I rationalize to myself, "Well Philip, the first thirty-four years of your life you wasted serving yourself and remaining inebriated on drugs and alcohol. Due to your grievous sin, as a result of your selfish life, you have now spent the last sixteen years behind bars." I therefore often wonder to myself, "What is a normal life? What would it be like to be a part of a godly family, to be a church member or to have a godly wife? Yes, to live simply in this world loving God and loving my neighbor." It is like a dream to me.

Are those wrong hopes? I think not. But I must remind myself that all of my hopes, be they ever so godly, must always be ruled by a higher hope.

It is written, "For the grace of God hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savoir Jesus Christ."

Is the true golden question, "When is the Lord coming," on your lips? Is your whole life focused and ruled by that hope and that hope alone? Could it be said of you, "You have such high hopes of going to heaven?"

When the store finally does come, their hope ceases. If we already have something, we do not need to hope for it. Contrarily, when Christ finally does come, we will remain a people full of hope for what each new day in His presence will bring forth.

Have many godly hopes beloved, but let them all be ruled by the highest hope of all. Press through, do not compromise, be diligent and keep . . .


Joyfully in Jesus
Love Philip