"An Inside Perspective"

November 2006

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ!
When I was a young man of fifteen, my father thought it proper that I get a job. He wanted me to learn the value of money, responsibility, and good work ethics. I did not think it was a good idea. Who wants to work eight hours a day doing labor at fifteen? I sure didn't, but at that point, I wanted to do everything my father told me to do.

I became a steeple-jack by trade. I learned how to make money and to do a good job. I discovered the value of a good reputation for the company's sake. As I grew older and continued to work hard, I perfected my trade. I saw that the better the men did, the better the company did, and by eighteen I was foreman over ten men and had a company truck. Then at twenty-two, I bought half the company stock and became a partner. Later at twenty-four, I bought out my partner and became the sole owner. I was a workaholic, an alcoholic and a money hungry man seeking satisfaction in that which does not satisfy. I had "hewn out broken cisterns that could hold no water."

Steeple-jacks specialize in high altitude work on water tanks, gas tanks, the outside of high rises, bridges, and of course steeples. If you could not reach it with a ladder, we did it; sand-blasting, water-proofing, painting, etc. It was a very lucrative business because most people are afraid of heights.

Many of my regular business accounts were with churches. As I worked on their steeples, I developed relationships within their maintenance committees that would lead to contracts for all their church property buildings. I would develop personalized yearly schedules for each church so that none of their buildings would fall into disrepair. Conveniently, that enabled them to plan my fees into their next year's budget. (smile)

As I reflect back, I am reminded of how diligent those church members were in keeping their church buildings looking sharp and proper. They would spend thousands and thousands of dollars every year to keep everything looking tip-top. Of course, I couldn't have been happier, but it was beneficial for both of us.

We rebuilt and restored their steeples, dismantling and rebuilding their neon crosses on the top of them. We also mounted plastic owls on the tops to ward off the pigeons. We refinished their pews and polished the brass name plates on each one. We resurfaced their hardwood floors and repainted all the school buildings inside and out. We even restored their old pipe organs.

Upon more reflection, I realized that they had lost the Biblical concept on the church. They were so concerned with outward appearances that they missed the fact that I was an unsaved man working in their midst. To my best recollection, over a period of about fifteen years and very many board meetings, no one ever asked me if I knew Jesus Christ. Think about that . . .

That is a blazing indictment from the Lord for all of us! Today Lord, search our hearts. Holy Spirit reveal our motives, to the end that we may correct ourselves now, as not to be judged later. Hypocrisy has from eternity been a stench in the nose of a holy God. Relationship always slips into religion when left unattended.

It is written, "Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord."

Wonderfully, by God's sovereign grace, my Father thought it proper for me to have a job in Christ today. I am again called to work on the church. I now try to do everything my Father tells me to do. I have worked very hard to know the Word and honor Christ in building men "fit for the Kingdom." I have also discovered the value of a good reputation for Christ's sake. I see that the better the men do, the better the Body does.

The Holy Spirit and I bring the gospel to the men on the mission field of this prison. We then build new men in Christ into Godly men by teaching them to develop personalized devotional schedules so that their walks do not fall onto disrepair.

We rebuild and restore their steeples by dismantling their old strongholds. We teach them about their authority in Christ to ward off the pigeons that Jesus called the "birds of the air." We resurface the hardwood floors of their old hard hearts, all the while, repainting all the old schools of thought inside and out. We also restore their old pipe organs, yes, joyfully, teaching them to worship with a new song in their lips.

Most importantly, spiritual steeple-jacks, specialize in high altitude work, doing battle in the Heavenly places where Christ our Warrior King has seated us. Be thankful and be encouraged there is . . .


Joyfully in Jesus,
Fisherman Philip