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"An Inside Perspective"

July 2010


                           


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
As most of you know I recently went on a trip back to the Monmouth County Jail to have my case reviewed. Many of you wrote letters to the judge on my behalf, and for that, I want to thank you with all of my heart. I do not take it lightly and I know that it entails much work in your busy lives. So I thank you for your kindness toward me and for the love you have shown me all of these years, even me, the least of all the saints.

I was only supposed to be there for one day, but as the court date was on a Friday afternoon, I was forced to stay in the county jail until Monday. The Lord is always teaching us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, and thus, I learned many fresh lessons while on that four-day trip.

When prisoners go on any type of trip from prison we are always strip-searched, and then, handcuffed and shackled. As I was going through those steps the officer asked to see my glasses. It is standard procedure and I thought nothing of it. Next thing I know he says that he is going to "hold" my glasses for me for the duration of the trip! He feared I would pick the handcuffs with my glasses! Now I have been locked up for almost 20 years and I have been hand-cuffed innumerable times, and yet, I have never heard that one before! I attempted to plead my case stating that I am minimum custody and have a good prison record too. Then, I just plainly plead with him that I haven't been outside in years and that I couldn't see anything without my glasses.

My argument fell on deaf ears as I just bowed my head and said, "Yes Lord." During the course of the trip, I restarted my conversation with him. It turned out I knew all his officer buddies as they had been my wing cops and I had even worked for some of them. Finally, he admitted that he knew I wouldn't pick the cuffs, but still, he would not give me my glasses. He just had to be right even in the face of what the others officers thought was ludicrous. I was finally outside the wall to see the world. I would have seen trees, children, cars and all the things you take for granted everyday. Still, I went the whole trip only "seeing men as trees walking!" (Mk. 8:24)

A very wise women recently shared with me how the Lord was teaching her that it is better to be loving than to be right. She had 1earned it from her Pastor. I believe that the Lord is teaching me the same principle. Yes, there are times when we must stand our ground, but equally so, I believe there are times that we can surrender the right to be right for the sake of peace. It is written, "As far as it is possible with you be at peace with all men."

This particular officer was staunch in his position. In the face of all reason and logic, and even with the jokes of his with own peers, he would not bend. God forbid a prisoner's logic be found true above that of an officer.

Honestly, I saw myself in him and I did not like it. I thought, "Is that how I appear when I must be found right? What is the root of that thought process in me? Why do I have a need to be right anyway?" Upon reflection, I believe it to be pride. It is not always easy to admit our wrongs and ask for forgiveness is it? For some, it is their highest hurdle yet to be jumped. Are you loving or must you be right? Anyway, I spent the next four days in a jump-suit and bo-bo's, (2 dollar slip-on sneakers) but the Lord was with me. I searched out and found the Christian brothers and we had great fellowship. I was able, by the grace of God, to lead a few men to the Lord. There were even a few officers that remembered me from 1991. The men were in desperate need of teaching and the Lord even opened the door for me to teach Bible studies a couple times in the classroom!

Most of all, I was reminded of the fact that though I am in prison I am still living very well. These men don't have anything and I mean nothing. The food portions were so small I was shocked. I used to get trays like that in kindergarten! Don't get me wrong I know where all "trays" come from and I am very grateful to the Lord for them. Let's just say they won't have any weight problems in the county jail! How does the old saying go? "I used to complain about having no shoes until I met a man with no feet." It's all relative. I suppose you would look at my circumstances here and think, "My stars, how has he done it all these years!" All the while, I think I live like a King. Let us be grateful beloved. Let us always be loving and not always right. Do people more quickly remember that we were loving or that we were right? Beloved, are you perhaps . . .



“HOLDING SOMEONE’S GLASSES?”

JOYFULLY IN JESUS,
LOVE PHILIP