"An Inside Perspective"

June 2009

My dear family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! One of the duties of the Greenhouse workers is to provide flowers to be sold on visits. In prison we're not able to do much for our families so this affords us a special way to express our love to them. The men can bring their family right over to our tables and pick out the flowers of their choosing. The vistors also have the option to pick out a potted or hanging plant if they so desire. All the men have to do is sign a money remit from their account and give the flowers to their loved ones. It all sounds very simple right? Not any more!

My Dad used to say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, the State has not yet grasped that concept! A few weeks ago we had a Mother's Day sale and chose to sell single roses with baby's breath and bear grass in a clear sleeve. Even though they've been having these flower sales for the last twenty years with no problems the powers that be have now come up with a "new" method.

All items must now be "pre-paid" before even seeing the product. The men are informed via the Prisoners Cable Network (prison TV) what they are able to purchase, how much it will cost, and the deadline to submit money remits. They must then proceed by faith in their purchase hoping to receive what they have paid for.

We are creatures of habit. I believe that, for whatever reason, that principle is heightened in prison. When changes take place in here they're met head on with circumvention. This Mother's Day past was the first time out of the block with this new sales method, and it didn't go as planned. Out of an entire population of about two-thousand men there were only about forty money remits received within the allotted time. We ordered the roses accordingly and set about to have our sale.

The prisoners were no longer allowed to bring their families over to pick out what they liked. In fact, we now had to set up our tables outside in the vestibule. As the men came through to enter the visit hall they would present their "pre-paid" receipt and were then given their product. Many men hadn't seen the posting on the TV channel, some didn't have enough money in their accounts. Others even begged for a chance to pay on the spot when they saw the roses. It was too late. It had to have been "pre-paid!" That was the rule and the presiding Officer was sticking to it. Many men pleaded with me, "Please Brother Philip, I haven't seen my mom in years!" Others said, "My children are here for the first time in months, I'll pay you on the side, please." Or, "I'll give you this or I'll do that for you!" As much as my heart was moved, there was nothing I could do. The sale was done before the visit even started. It was finished, over, kaput. There would be no more transactions at any cost.

As I reflected on that Mother's Day sale and all that transpired, my heart went out to the men. Certainly, in the trying circumstances of prison, everything of true value is magnified one-hundred fold. Love for family is number one on that list. The deep desire to be with them burns within our hearts constantly, even as we rock ourselves to sleep at night with the bitter memories of our sins that brought us here.

Then I was reminded by the Holy Spirit of Judgment Day. I thought, "What a striking picture of the impending judgment our Mother's Day sale had been! It is written, "It is appointed unto men to die once and then the judgment." Some will come before the Judgment Seat with their "pre-paid" receipt. They will have already placed their faith in the crucified and risen Son of God, Jesus the Christ. They will rejoice with "joy unspeakable and full of glory" as they proceed into their eternal visit with their Lord and saved loved ones! Everything having been "pre-paid" by Jesus Christ the Righteous! It is written, "For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one may boast."

Others will have no excuse. Men are told what they must do through the Heavenly Gospel Network, (God's preachers down through the ages)! They're also told that they must proceed by faith. It is written, "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet still believe."

When the gospel message is preached it too is met with circumvention. But there will be none! Some will think they have enough money (works) in their accounts. Others will beg for a second chance when they glimpse what they'll be missing. The gift of grace will be done before the judgment begins. At judgment time, it is finished, over, kaput, there will no more salvation at any cost! Should not our feet be swift to run and tell everyone about God's