"An Inside Perspective"

July 2017

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever-precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! As I shared, Carlos and I were in Rahway’s 2-middle 10 cell together for about 10 years. I remember warmly how in the evenings I would love to sit in front of our big wide-open window. I loved listening to the birds and watching over my flowers while enjoying the sunset. It was a freeing thing as the open window fostered a sense of liberty for us, albeit, still locked up.

Suddenly though, they (the Lord) shipped me to Northern State Prison. Believe you me, that was a sunset (trial) I will never forget! Eventually, however, by grace, after 100 days of loving disciplinary training, I was brought right back to Rahway.

Well, let me share with you one thing that happened in my heart during that trial. As I have shared in the last months, I have a very gracious wing officer that got me right back to the wing I had been on before I left. Carlos was still in “our” old cell, but with a new bunkie, James, my best friend and beloved brother. James (whom we affectionately call “Scotty”) said sadly to Carlos, “Oh well, Philip is back; I guess I will have to move to another cell.” It had been 100 days since I had gone, and Carlos felt sorry for Scotty. In truth, Scotty had done us a favor by leaving his comfort zone and moving in with Carlos when I left. Scotty did not want Carlos to get stuck with some knucklehead in the cell with him! So in gratitude, Carlos told Scotty that he could now keep that cell and that he would move in with me in the back of the tier.

Well, allow me to be transparent because I have learned that therein is my spiritual health. At first, Carlos’ decision did not sit well with me at all. Unwittingly, I had become so institutionalized after 26 years in prison that I wanted “my” cell back! “My” cell – Oh my stars! Had I bumped my head? Now, did I really think that I could go all the way to another prison for 100 days and then come back to Rahway and still get “my” cell back? Even more so, did I think I had “my” own cell?

“My” cell – yes, I actually thought that! Honestly, I knew that if I had pressed Scotty, he would have given it back to me (he loves me like that). Greater love has no man than this, that he gives up his cell for another; I digress.

I needed to be reminded by the Lord that I do not own or have a cell (nor do I want one). They are state cells! A cell is a very bad thing, which I had somehow grown to love in a disjointed, misplaced fashion. What has become of me that I would even have the thought that “a” cell was “my” cell? “My” cell – Lord have mercy. Now you see why I ask for prayer so often! :-)

It is written, “Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns.” (Jer. 4:3b)

It is funny how things (yes, even the things of God) can so subtly become mundane. Interestingly, the primary meaning for the word “mundane” is to be more occupied with the material than the spiritual. We are creatures of habit, and unfortunately, some of our habits are not beneficial for our walk.

Beloved, think it not strange that our perspective may become skewed as we walk out our believing lives in this unbelieving world. Having slipped into a spiritual rut, we may then begin to see things from a mundane perspective without even realizing it!

As believers, the Lord commands us to break up the mundane fallow ground in our lives. Yet, we may procrastinate, even parading around with our bouquet of excuses. We share our compromises with others as if they were flowers that smelled good. We may even hold on to our unjustifiable, mundane walk as if possessing something the world deems noble.

Like the plaque on our teeth, worldliness builds up daily until, unbeknownst to us, our spiritual breath begins to stink. It takes another loving believer to tell us our condition, all the while, like interest from the bank, worldliness compounds daily without our even thinking about it.

The Lord has His eye on your spiritual bank account. Be sure that He will make the necessary withdrawals as, and when, He so pleases. If you do not deal with your sin now, by yourself, the Lord will make the withdrawal for you, and it will not be pleasant. Rest assured beloved, when your account is found full of fallow mundane worldliness, that is precisely when the Lord Himself will step in and do it for you; for He disciplines those He loves.

Beloved, I am now in a cell where through my open window I listen to the birds chirping while watching beautiful sunrises every morning. I was so focused on my past sunsets that I had forgotten about my future sunrises! Sunsets are lovely – but sunrises are full of hope! A new day is before me; my prison time is winding down. This month I am now three years and some change until I come home. Pray me home my family; I am full of hope. All the more, pray I finish well by having honored the Lord with my 30 years in prison. Precious ones, don’t let your fixation on your past sunsets make you miss. . .