"An Inside Perspective"

January 2011


My Dear Family in Christ,

When I was a young man of twelve my family moved from the “country” atmosphere of Pennsylvania to the shore of New Jersey. I grew up in the warmth of my parents’ house just three houses from the ocean. It has been said that the Lord plants at least one flower in every home. My mother was that flower in ours and the perfume of her loving heart still fills my family, the fragrance all the sweeter, now that she is saved.

I was in high school then and quickly grew to love the ocean. I fished daily and soon became an avid surfer. My whole life would eventually revolve around the ocean with surfing as my beloved pastime.

I also developed a love for photography and enjoyed taking pictures on long walks alone on the beach. I particularly enjoyed walking the beach right after a big storm. I was amazed at what would wash up and would always discover the oddest of things.

I began to collect the colored glass that would wash up. Blue, clear, green, yellow and occasionally red glass all wonderfully smoothed out by the sands of time. Over the years, I amassed quite the collection. I also liked to collect different types of oddly shaped clear bottles to keep the glass in. I would go to auctions and find the coolest bottles for just a few bucks.

I would then place the bottles full of colored glass in the sun on the windowsill. They were like little bottles of memories. I could recall where and when I found each one. I could remember the weather, the smells of the ocean and the events of my life on the days I found each piece. They were all little monuments, Ebenezers as it were, in my life. (1 Sam.7:7-12)

Now, so many, many years later and locked up to boot, I see a strange parallel has developed. I still find myself collecting clear plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes I spend hours cleaning them to get the labels off, all the while Carlos watches me as if I’m nuts. He says, “What are you doing with that, Philip?” I reply, “Are you serious? This is an awesome bottle!” Perhaps I am a little crazy, albeit, only as a fox.

Are you wondering what I put in the bottles now? I confess, it’s jellybeans. Honestly, they look awesome on the windowsill with the sun streaming through. They even have many more colors than the glass did; and more so, they are delightfully edible! ?

It’s funny how the Lord uses different things to teach us. It could be anything in our lives; sometimes, it’s the thing you least suspect. For Adam it was fruit, for Noah and his generation it was rain, and for Abraham it was his son. I could go on and on of how Moses learned at a bush ablaze while David was strengthened in faith by smooth stones. Jonah got angry at a worm and a rooster taught Peter of the betrayal in his own heart. Above all, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. (Heb.5:8)

I think it not strange then that the Lord would use jellybeans to teach me. I confess that I truly love jellybeans. I have not yet erected an altar, but the love is deep. There was a time when I really couldn’t eat just one. If I ate one, I ate fifty! I used to wonder if there was a Christian rehab, perhaps a twelve step group for “jellybeaners,” or perhaps children of “jellybeaners?” “Hello, my name is Philip and it’s been twelve days since my last jellybean.” It was very difficult to gaze upon them and enjoy them without eating them. I found, as did the Lord, that temptation is not legitimately overcome and mastered, unless it is right in your face. Some things I must flee from, but not said jellybeans. Them, I would master!

Epictetus said, “He who masters his passions is a king even while in chains, but he who is ruled by his passions is a slave, even while sitting on a throne.”

You see, it would have been very easy for me to just not buy jellybeans, but then I wouldn’t have learned a thing. I wanted to be disciplined. I wanted to train myself. It is a discipline I now use in all areas of my life. For instance, when I go on visits here, most of the worldly women visiting others are in such tight clothes that I am surprised they can even breathe! I could just not go on visits but that does not deal with the root, nor is it practical. In this world temptations will come. I must be militarily disciplined to avert my eyes and stay as such. Jellybeans have taught me that. It’s not quite in Hebrews eleven, but good discipline none the less! ?

Beloved, the Lord desires us all to be militarily disciplined in every area of our walk. I wonder, is there something on the windowsill of your life the Lord is trying to teach you with? Maybe an Ebenezer moment waiting to unfold? Perhaps you’re sitting on the throne of your own life, all the while, being ruled as a slave by your passions? I pray you are a little crazy too, even as a fox, and will be found at the judgment to be a King even . . .