VOLUME JULY 2004
July 8, 2004
PURPOSE DRIVEN LIVES
I came down with a bad case of the flu. The symptoms began
around the last few days of June. At first I thought it was only a summer cold coming on. But it quickly escalated, and I
was very sick. I am just now getting over it.
I've never had the flu during the summer months. I think, however,
that my immune suystem's resistance was down from the stresses I was under in J une.
Throughout the past month I had to deal with the parole hearing
followed by the media's criticisms of the website. The news coverage about the site went on for several weeks. And I also
had an accumulation of pressures from having to be a full-time caregiver, plus having to pastor a church.
Now, thankfully, my strength is returning. God has been faithful,
and His grace has once again proven to be sufficient. But I still feel tired and weak from the residue of this flu bug.
This evening, though, I went to a Bible study in the chapel.
During tonight's class, which is held every Thursday, we have been studying from the popular book, "The Purpose Driven Life"
by Rick Warren. Another inmate, "Brother Mike," has been teaching from it. We've been trying to cover one chapter from the
book every month.
In today's class Mike asked each of us what we felt was our
purpose in life. More specifically, what is our purpose within the Body of Christ--the Church.
I shared my view that our fullest purpose, which God has planned
for each of our lives, may not be completely achieved in this lifetime.
I told the group that while we as individual Christians do
have our specific callings and functions within our respective fellowship and within the church, that there is a bigger picture
I read from John chapter 14 where the Lord Jesus tells His
disciples about the mansions He's preparing for us in heaven. I also shared a few passages from the Scriptures which tell
us that our "citizenship" is already in heaven.
I told my brothers that while God has already made us to be
"complete" in Him, and while He has filled us with His Spirit and with joy, we have expecially been created to live with Him
Moreover, I explained to them that while the Lord is busy working
in our lives not only to help us to grow spiritually as well as to prepare us for "works of service" now, (Ephesians 2:10)
He is likewise preparing each of us for a place and a position in heaven.
I think this is an awesome concept, and I said this. For we
can live at present with a great hope and expectation knowing that, when we leave this earth, the Lord has things planned
for our lives that will be spectacular.
My heart, I said to them, beats wildly with anticipation of
what is ahead for me, and for us.
In heaven there will be no taint of sin in the new bodies we
will receive. We shall never again experience pain or loss or disappointment.
Jesus the Messiah, I believe, has a place for those who are,
at present, prisoners. He has a place for each of us within the church. He also has a place for us in heaven.
Ahead for me is a far far better life than I have ever known.
JULY 10 ENTRY is found at www.lettersfromdavid.com/behindthewall, "TRIBUTE TO FIREFIGHTER KAREN LEE FITZPATRICK"
July 14, 2004
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be
ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves
I have been getting more opportunities to preach and teach
from the Bible. Last night I was able to speak for approximately ten to fifteen minutes on Matthew 10:16-23.
I discussed with the men how that Jesus has comissioned us
forth into the world to help spread the gospel, and that He has well equipped us to live a victorious Christian life as we
seek to complete this task.
In this passage, I told them, the Lord warns His disciples
about what some of us may encounter, like rejection, even from members of our own families. Yet we must continue to trust
In addition, as this portion of Matthew's gospel account makes
clear, the Holy Spirit will help us to speak the right words at the right time when we are confronted by those who seek to
chllenge our faith.
I also reminded my congregation that we must never give up
even when the world calls us followers of "Beelzebub" the Prince of Demons.
Jesus was Himself maligned and hated; we shall be too. But
God, however, has given us the ability to overcome these negatives through faith, love and hope, and by the word of the Lord.
Finally, I told the men that, as the Bible promises in many
passages, there are great rewards awaiting those who are overcomers.
July 21, 2004
Be sober, be vigiliant; because your adversary
the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8
Satan has declared an all-out war on the saints.
He knows he has but a short time to finish his work of destruction.
The devil is busy trying to wear out the church.
He's always thinking up schemes to harass and destroy God's faithful servants who, although far from perfect, desire to give
to God their best.
Satan tries to give the church no rest. Many
Christians, however, know nothing of this level of warfare since they have never fully given their lives to the Lord.
I don't think Satan is worried about Christians
who are laid back, who are content to remain sitting in pews or busying themselves with worldly affairs.
But those who've set their hearts to serve the
Lord and lay down their lives for the gospel's sake, will suffer the most ferocious of trials with all Hell seemingly set
My message to this latter group of servants and
saints is to arm yourselves to suffer. Keep on the full armor of God. fight a good fight of faith. Pray fervently. Rejoice
in your persecutions. Pray for your enemies and for those who lie about you and slander you.
Give the glory to God at all times and give Him
thanks for all things and in all circumstances. For it is only by His grace that we can endure to the end.
As the Scripture says, "Nay, in all these things
we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).
1 Peter 4:1
1 Peter 4:12-19
1 Peter 5:8-10
July 24, 2004
We've had a week of nasty weather with torrential
rains and very high humidity. But today it is warm and sunny with nearly perfect weather.
As I do every Saturday, this morning around 9
o'clock I headed for the prison's Intermediate Care Program where I go to assist Phil.* He is completely blind and he's been
incarcerated for close to 24 years.
As part of my job assignment I have to spend
the entire morning with Phil. We cleaned his cell and I scrubbed down his desk, locker, sink and toilet with a damp rag and
plenty of strong disinfectant. I then threw out his garbage and swept and mopped the floor.
Because Phil is blind he often spills food all
over his desk and floor. His clothes are usually scattered about, too. So there is much to do as he and I swork together to
put his things in order.
When I can I try to talk to Phil about God. He
told me that his mother is a devout Christian. Therefore I know she's praying for him.
Now, however, it is Saturday afternoon and I
am not scheduled to work. Instead I opted to stay in my cell and write my journal.
Earlier I finished washing and wringing out several
shirts. I am behind schedule with my washing because of this week's high humidity. I wasn't able to wash anything as it would
But with today's nice weather I decided to take
advantage of the situation and wash as much as I could. I do one shirt or clothing item at a time in a 2 1/2 gallon wash bucket
with warm water and Woolite.
While my shirts drip-dry another inmate is helping
me out by ironing my white dress shirt which I only wear for church. Under our unofficial barter system he will usually charge
me a box of snack crackers or a package of cookies from our commisary.
The men who do the ironing charge a fee per piece
of clothing, and the price depends on what is being ironed. Pants cost a little more than a shirt.
Tonight I am also scheduled ot get a haircut.
Another inmate, who has has own barber's kit minus a pair of short scissors, will work on me. Before he came to prison he
cut hair for a living.
My barber will set up his chair--which is an
ordinary plastic lounge chair--in our dayroom area, as he does on most Saturday evenings.
His fee per haircut is about $2 or $3, depending
on what you want. I get a crew cut, as I don't have to much hair on the top of my head anymore. So he only charges me the
two dollar rate. This means that when I go to the commisary I will buy him a jar of peanut butter and a few candy bars, or
maybe several bags of Tang.
A cell block barber could make up to ten to twenty
dollars per week for himself in addition to the meager wage he gets from doing his official job assignment, which is only
about $3 to $7 each week.
A good jailhouse barber could make up to five
times as much hustling haircuts than he would get doing his prison job of sweeping and mopping floors or serving food.
Then, after I get my haircut, I will take a shower
and turn in early. Tomorrow is chapel services all day long--morning, afternoon, and then evening.
My Sundays usually begin at 5 a.m.
July 26, 2004
Sing and rejoice, O daughter oif Zion: for Lo,
I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.
The Bible contains countless numbers of beautiful
and inspiring passages, and the above verse from Zecharaiah is one of them.
This morning I am so happy to say that I have
off from my work assignment. Because I work on Saturday mornings I am allowed to take off Mondays, and this is a blessing.
for I am thus able to spend the time praying and studying, or simply relaxing. It is my time for rest and recuperation.
During yesterday morning's worship service, however,
God was once again touching hearts.
I have been telling my congregation that the
Lord has great expectations for us. I am convinced, for example that one day our choir is going to make a CD for God's glory.
They are very anointed and can sing and play their instruments as good as any professional musicians, I believe.
Some of the choir members write their own songs,
too. And I have often told them that the Lord did not give them such a level of talent just to stay confined to the prison's
chapel. That at some future time they will become known outside of these walls, not for human glory (God forbid), but because
God wants to show the world what He can do with even the worst of sinners.
The Lord can take the worst of men who once cussed
and swore in every sentence, and make them into men who can sing like angels and, because they are now new creations in Christ,
no longer swear but instead worship the Lord with clean lips and pure hearts.
On Sunday we had a handful of Christians come
to visit us from a church in Queens, New York. This same group comes to the prison every fourth Sunday of each month. And
the congregation always looks forward to the intense preaching and the exuberant praise music.
My chaplain opened the service in prayer. Our
choir played many beautiful songs. I was able to give a short ten minute sermon from 1 Peter 5:8-10 on not allowing Satan
to tempt us to give in to anger.
My message was about anger and the need to control
it before we hurt someone when, in a second of carelessness, we strike another person with fist or swear at him with our toungue,
and then afterwwards regret it.
I know from the comments I received later that
many of the men were helped and encouraged. One black fellow told me after the service that what I had to say touched h im.
As only the night before, he said, he had almost come to blows with another inmate.
Now, however, he told me that he was going to
go and apologize to that man, and he's going to strive not to lose his temper anymore.
I let him know that through Christ's help it
can be done. We do not have to allow our emotions to control us, I explained. And I gave him a few Scriptures to look up in
But during the second half of our service the
Reverend Johnny Walker and his ministry team took over. He later brought forth a messsage about Christ's perfect sacrifice
on the cross.
Altogether it was a blessed day as we sang and
rejoiced, and as God came down Co dwell in our midst.
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make
a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Today more than 180 men, women and children gathered
in Sullivan Correctional Facility's main recreation yard to praise the Lord and fellowship together. We made a joyful and
loud noise unto the Lord, and we rejoiced at being able to sing to God and worehip Him.
As the day began it appeared as if it might rain,
but we prayed that it would not. The sun eventually came out and from nine o'clock in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon,
we had our annual Christian "Family Day" event.
A number of the men from my fellowhship had family
members in attendance. We also had many of our regular volunteer ministers present.
In addition, visiting with us were about twenty
members from the Manhattan Grace Tabernacle Church in New Y ork City, with their Pastor, Luis Rivera and his lovely wife,
Debbie. Pastor Rivera's chior filled the yard with praise. Even the inmates who were in the cell blocks were able to hear
Our inmate choir also sang many songs, and various
ministers were able to give words of encouragement to the men and their families. I have no doubt that hearts were touched
by all this
The day before the event, however, I was a part
of an eighteen man "set up" detail. We had to go into the yard early Friday morning to begin laying out the tables and chairs,
place garbage cans around the area, and then help erect the heavy tents for everyone to sit and eat under. It was a lot of
work , but it felt great to be out in the fresh air. We worked until the afternoon.
Then on the day of the event, I helped serve
the food as well as greet many of our visitors and the inmates and their families.
With lots of kids running around it felt as if
I was in a public park far removed from prison life, at least until our event was over.
For at exactly 2:30 a handful of correction officers
began to move through the crowds to annouce that our time was up and that everyone had to leave. Our family members and the
ministry groups were escorted out of the yard first. Then when they were gone it was our turn to leave the yard, a few men
at a time, to be "strip frisked" and searched, and then sent to our respective cell blocks.
It was hard to say goodbye to so many friends.
Last entry for July 2004