"An Inside Perspective"

September 2008

My dear family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It was early spring and my fellow greenhouse workers and I were experiencing one of the first warm days of the year, after a very long and cold winter. Due to the nice weather, we decided to set some of the plants that spend the winter in the greenhouse outside for the afternoon. It would be their first taste of the spring sunshine, hopefully setting their course for an abundantly fruitful summer. We set out various plants including a jasmine, assorted coleus', elephant ears, canna lilies and palms.

One particular palm had been having a problem with aphids while wintering inside the greenhouse. Aphids are a very small lice like insect that feeds on plants. They attach themselves to the plant and begin to feed on its life-sustaining nutrients and all the while, they are multiplying profusely. Then they go from plant to plant spreading like a wildfire!

On this particular day, it was about seventy-five degrees and sunny. I was in my tee-shirt for the first time that year and I was rejoicing in the splendor of God's creation. It was no more than half an hour after we had set out the palm plant when, before I knew it, a whole swarm of ladybugs enveloped the palm. They landed all over the leaves and began to feast upon the aphids, not quite unlike Carlos and I when we get our bi-annual food package! (Smile)

Now mind you, I had never seen a single ladybug around the greenhouse up to this point. It was a truly amazing scenario. I just stood there with my mouth wide open, closing it again quickly, so that none would fly in. But seriously, I had never seen anything quite like that before. I watched studiously as the ladybugs did their work. I thought in my heart, "I didn't know that ladybugs were predators." I had a false illusion from my childhood that they were merely pretty little harmless "lady" bugs. That myth was now debunked as I watched them commence to voraciously gobble up all the aphids. I observed and marveled at how God had designed the palm, the pest, and most wonderfully, the pest controller.

Later that night, I wondered upon my bed, "Where did the ladybugs come from? How is it that they knew so quickly right where the plant was? How did they know to come all at once? Did they have a spy in the camp? We don't have swarms of ladybugs in New Jersey, let alone in prison, do we?" You may ask yourself, "How is it that Philip thinks about these things?" I'm sure that you must think all this time has made me mad, right? Well, perhaps. (smile) It is written, "If it seems that we are crazy it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds it is for your benefit." One does have plenty of time to think and meditate while living daily in a small box.

I am always most curious about how God does things. Even when I was growing up I had to take everything apart and put it back together again. Only then was I satisfied with its function. Likewise, I desire to know how the Master ticks, as it were. I am, above all, most interested in the things of God that pertain to salvation. I like to call it the mechanics of salvation; how God does what He does and the order in which He does it. It's amazing to see how He causes it all to work together for our good. For the attentive observer, watching how God moves in relation to salvation is extremely instructive.

On this particular spring day, I had learned much. I had been battling the aphids and various other pests inside that greenhouse for months, but I was leaning much too heavily on my own limited understanding, with little success. I was looking for victory by depending on human wisdom, but all the while, God had His own pre-ordained method of pest control. It was all part of His perfectly designed plan. I often learn by way of shadow. Theologians would call it the instructive light of nature. Illustratively, I observed and marveled at how God had designed man, the pest (Satan) and most wonderfully of all, the Pest Controller, none other than the Holy Spirit of God!

Satan is lord of the spiritual pests. Are you bothered on a regular basis in your Christian walk by spiritual aphids? They are quick to try and attach themselves to us, seeking to suck out life-sustaining nutrients from us. They are spiritual lice, multiplying profusely and they will spread like wildfire if we let them? Do you, perhaps, still have a false illusion from your childhood as to the nefarious nature of the evil one? It is written, "Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Have you struggled for victory by your own human effort against these pests and failed? Are you discouraged? You cannot overcome pests by will power. We overcome only by faith in Christ Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged beloved and look by faith unto your only true Pest Controller . . .

". . .The Holy Spirit of the Living God!"

Joyfully in Jesus,