"An Inside Perspective"

December 2009

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! In prison, we are really no different in our responsibilities and needs than those of you who are on the outside. We have to eat three times a day, go to work, and use the shower. We try to get out to the yard to exercise, go to Church faithfully, teach Bible studies, all the while, practicing our choir music. We attempt to be diligent in our attendance of church polity meetings, and with our various satellite ministries.

We endeavor to support and encourage our Pastor and his leadership team, as they follow their Lord. We seek whole-heartedly to Biblically counsel the down-trodden and the struggling. By the grace of God, trying with all of our hearts to administer grace and mercy in the thick darkness of incarceration, even, the wonderfully healing Balm of Gilead.

Like you out there on the streets, we also have to maintain our own personal walks and fellowship with the Lord. This includes, but is not limited to, quiet time, quality fellowship and prayer. In it all, we desire not to be consumed with the doing as much as with the being. Who we are, in the motives of our hearts, speaks louder to the Lord than our deeds.

Now, I shared all that to make a point, which is, I can do none of the above when I want, but only when and if I am told to do so. Everywhere that I go gates are locked ahead of me and behind me. If I have to wait somewhere, I wait in a cage just like a dog. I constantly hear assertive voices saying, "Go in the cage!" I think nothing of it because wherever I am, I am "in Christ." Others don't swallow it quite so easily, because in their mind, their battle "is" against flesh and blood.

I am a very orderly and scheduled man by nature, that is how the Lord has wired me. This place drives me nuts because there is no real schedule. There is only the shadow of what I pray would one day become substance. I could be called to breakfast at 6:30 today, and 8:45 tomorrow. I never know. It doesn't have to be like that, in fact, some prisons operate like clockwork.

Occasionally, we will get a new captain who is gung-ho, and for a few days, much to my delight, there will be a perfectly ordered schedule. That is how I know it is possible for this prison to be run orderly. When order is finally exhibited, nobody knows how to react, including myself! We are so used to the helter-skelter type schedule that order seems very out of place and abnormal.

In here, the abnormal has become normal, and when the normal is then manifest, it is thought to be abnormal! It is written, "Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." The truth is that when the prison operates according to a properly ordered schedule, the authorities are really only doing what they are supposed to do. Yet, it is so out of the ordinary when they do it, that it is thought that they are then doing an exceptional job! It is written, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded of you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Have you ever had Christians cross your path, perhaps there are a few at your church, that seem to you to be doing an exceptional job? They are always where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to. Do they stand out to you like a sore thumb? Perhaps when you observe their lifestyle you are yourself convicted of what you are not, or more so, what you ought to be. Have you ever said to yourself or others, "Oh, I could never be like that, that's not me?" Or, "He's the Pastor, he's supposed to walk holy." Beloved, holiness is normal for all in Christ!

Have you ever heard someone say, "I don't watch television." Did you look at them as if they were a two-headed Martian? Have you been convicted when invited to a prayer meeting by someone who never misses one, because in truth, you would rather do something "more important," or God forbid, watch "your" shows?

I wonder, "What is going on in the church today?" Has the normal become abnormal? Has the culture of greed and sensuality crept into the Body incrementally, to such a degree, that we think it's now normal? What ever became of modest dress? It seems it has bowed down to the ever lowering neckline of the beloved skin tight blouse. How do you dress? Do holy Christians seem eccentric, if not out right peculiar to you? Perhaps you have embraced the abnormal abominations of the world. Has your flesh, your gung-ho captain, failed you in its effort to live holy? Repent, for Christ alone is the normalcy standard. There is a way home beloved. Do you want victory? Come by way of the cross, come through the Blood. Let all who will, come home to the true . . .