Earlier this month I wrote how that I had been falsely accused of engaging in a homosexual relationship with another prisoner. And I said how this came as a terrible blow, taking me by surprise and leaving me depressed and devastated. My pain has been enormous, and it still hurts.
Yet something wonderful has now begun to take place. My joy is returning.
Only yesterday I found myself focusing on my troubles.
Yes, they can appear to be overwhelming at times. But this
morning, while I was reading the Bible, I
came across a message
I'm very familiar with. It was a portion of Jesus' "Sermon
on the Mount."
And when I read the Lord's words, I was reminded that I am "blessed" when others speak bad about me, and especially when they say things that are false. I am not to weep. I am to rejoice instead.
I am to be happy when people, whether out of ignorance or meanness, lie about me. They did the same to the Lord Jesus.
And they did the same to the apostles and many other Christians.
Even Stephen, the first official martyr of the church, was
put to death because of falsehoods that were
spread about him.
Herein is my victory. It is not in concerning myself with my own reputation. Rather it is by trusting in Christ and knowing that, even when lies seem to advance farther than truth, this wil only be for a season. In the end, truth will triumph.
In addition, my reward for enduring such grief will be much greater than had I never experienced sucb an ordeal. I am indeed a blessed man!
June 9, 2005
Throughout the centuries
many Christians have experienced ridicule
and beatings. They've had to face brutal treatment at the
hands of Christ-haters, as well as ignorant individuals who have been used by Satan unwillingly. And this also happens today.
Frankly, not everyone who believes in Jesus is delivered from their enemies. God, for His own reasons, does permit some of us to experience martyrdom.
Unfortunately, multitudes of hearts are very hard. As the Bible reveals, the world will become even more cruel and wicked towards those in the true church, especially as this age draws to its close.
I, of course, have experienced some of society's ridicule.
First, because of the crimes I committed in the past. Second,
because of the gospel message of hope that
I now preach.
I'm sorry to say that the world is not worthy of the testimonies of those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Nevertheless, because God loves people I can therefore never stop talking and writing and proclaiming His love.
Woe to me if I should ever back down frmn wbat I believe to be a mandate from heaven. Like every Christian, whether the world hates me or not, I am to shine as a light in the darkness.
June 11, 2005
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz
Recently my friend Lorenzo, a Native
American who grew up on a reservation and has seen much suffering in the lives of his family members from alcohol and
other drugs, told me about the gang activity in his area. He's now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Lorenzo is a devout Christian.
Like me he sees the world from a spiritual vantage point. And he grieves over all the gang-related madness and crime
that's going on, even on his reservation.
One particular group in the meighborhood
is called the "Triple Six Gang." In the Bible 666 is considered to be the number for the name of the antichrist who
is yet to come. Thus the three sixes represent evil.
As with virtually all gangs, the Triple
Six uses graffiti to mark their territories so as to warn other gangs to keep out, as well as to instill fear in the local
Many such gangs--and I am referring
to the genuine ones and not the juvenile wannabes--are run like a cult. There are oaths and blood pacts, and one is
threatened with harm if he should decide to leave the gang.
Furthermore, and probably without
fully understanding the real meanings behind the satanic markings and symbols each gang uses, they ultimately attract dark
spirits to themselves. Such satanic graffiti is exceedingly potent, and it invites and draws demons from the underworld.
This, I believe, is probably the most dangerous aspect of being in a gang.
is, that many gang members, more because of each one's choice to do bad things rather than actually participating in any kind
of occultic ritual, end up getting deeply oppressed or even possessed by demons.
This dark spiritual element may be
one reason why gang members often commit extremely brutal and vicious crimes that defy the imaginataions of criminal investigators.
And if I am correct that in many cases
there is a demonic element,(though certainly not always), then the solution is a spiritual one.
While most gang members are not practitioners
of the occult, nor are they outright satan worhippers (but no doubt some are), because of the very nature of the gang with
their evildoing and the ignorant use of satanic symbols, any Christian seeking to minister to members of these gangs should
be bathed in prayer both for himself and for those whom he wants to reach with the love of God.
Churches should be making purposeful
prauers concerning the gangs and their respective communities. This is part of the spiritual warfare we have all been
called to do.
As the Bible says, we wrestle not
against flesh and blood, but against demonic powers and spiritual wickedness at high levels. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Such talk is of course foolishness
to those who do not know Jesus Christ. But those who know the Lord realize that prayer is a powerful weapon against
these gangs and the villianous spirits that are behind them.
These wicked spirits work to encourage
and energize men to do evil. They compel gang members to go forth and hurt others as well as to steal and destroy.
This has always been the devil's agenda, and gang members are but mere pawns in Satan's cruel game.
God, however, is stll able to
deliver even the most oppressed of individuals. In His eyes there are no hopeless cases.
Yet more gangs are in operation today
than ever before. They are swallowing up multitudes of young persons and placing them in terrible states of bondage.
Evenually, and unless each one repents, these precious souls wll be lost to a flaming hell.
Who but the church has the message
of salvation and hope? How could we sit on the sidelines at such a time as this?
June 15, 2005
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz
In the United States of America as
well as in many places throughout the world, tens of thousands of our youth are joining gangs. Peer pressure and fear,
or the hunger for meaning and purpose, or the desire to belong to something are irresistable forces that can, if misdirected,
pull young persons in the wrong direction. They could venture into a lifestyle they will later regret.
I wish I could take these wannabes,
gangbangers and roleplayers on a tour of my prison. They would see men who've been sitting in steel and cinder block
cells year after year, many never knowing if they're ever going to get out.
I would show them the before and after
effects of the criminal lifestyle. They will find men who have come to prison facing lengthy sentences. They will
observe how the years have taken their toll upon each inmate. Youthful looks have eroded. Black hairs turned to
gray. Strong bodies have bowed to weakness and old age. And the dreams and hopes these men had in their youth
have long since shriveled and faded.
Sadly the guys in gangs and adolescents
who've joined crime crews think the're so cool. But they don't realize the danger they are in. Getting busted
or getting killed seems so remote, as if it could hapen to other individuals and not to them. How powerfully the devil
traps naive and malleable minds with the falsehood; "It can't happen to me!" Prisons and graveyards are filled
with young persons who believed this lie.
June 14, 2005
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz
This morning the prison's chapel was full. We had an unusually large turnout for the service, including some new men who recently transferred here from other facilities.
Anyhow, as I took my place behind the pulpit in order to open the service and begin our time of worship, I reminded the congregation that Jesus' desire is to "save sinners," and how that for the past two thousand years His mission has not changed. He has come to "seek" and to "save" that which was lost.
The religious rulers of His day, however, could not understand why such a person who claimed to be the Messiah would bother to eat with, and in their eyes, defile Himself with the outcasts of society.
These self-righteous leaders and "model citizens", I told the men, were obviously blind to God's love and mercy, because, according to the Bible, Jesus came to die for those who have sinned. He came to earth and lived a sinless life, and He willingly paid for our sins with His own Blood.
May I say, therefore, that throughout the centuries since the Lord Jesus walked this earth, not much has changed in the way of attitudes. While Christ stll seeks fosr the lost, the self-righteous continue to point their fingers and criticize.
They cannot comprehend what God sees in criminals, homeless people, prostitutes, or the poor.
But God sees the bigger picture, I explained. He sees the results of a cleansed, forgiven and changed life.
Unfortunately many of the so called "good people" of society are living a lie. I said this because, as the Scriptures state, there are really none who are good. "All have sinned and come short of God's perfect standard." (Romans 3:23).
So if there is someone who thinks he has his life altogether, I told the men, and if he looks down on those whose bad deeds are in the open, he is in the worst predicament of all. Why? Because he is proud and self-deceived. He thinks he's done nothing seriously wrong. And he does not grieve over his sins.
Meanwhile, in prison cells across the world, or on street corners wher prostitutes gather, the gospel is being preached and those " outcasts" are repenting and believing.
Those who are in such a wretched condition are eager for help, hope, and mercy. While those who are prosperous and successful in life often see little need for God or to seek forgiveness.
Plus, like the proud religious leaders during the days of Christ, they looked down on everyone else. Such people are spiritually blind, and this is sad.
But if we understand the gospel, we can know that God loves us. He has redeemed all who have placed their faith in Jesus, whether they have criminal records or not. What an amazing God!
June 26, 2005
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz
If we truly want to follow Jesus Christ, then I assure you, the devil will test us to see of our faith is genuine, and if our love for God is real.
Jesus warned Simon Peter that Satan was watching him closely. He was looking over Simon for any little flaw, something that the old devil could use against Simon to cause him to mess up and ultimately fall away from his faith in the Lord.
And Satan is still doing the same today. He's watching me. He's watching you. He's waiting for the day when he could launch his attack and make an attempt to shipwreck our faith.
Really I could just as well put my name in place of Simon Peter's. "David, David, the devil desires to trick, trap, and crush you."
Indeed I do know about Satan's diabolical tricks. His cruelty and cunning are unprecedented.
Satan will stop at nothing in his attempts to discredit and destroy a man. Likewise he will find plenty of unwitting (and witting) human beings to assist him in such endeavors.
For there are many who would love nothing better than to smash
my spirit and silence my lips.
Nevertheless, as Jesus prayed for Peter, He does the same for me and for every Christian. And when our particular testings are finished, we are to encourage and strengthen our brethren while they endure what we had already gone through.
June 23, 2005
(C) 2005 David Berkowitz
Mike's sister Dee* is dying. She's
forty-five years old, living in an apartment in New York City, and has AIDS. Several weeks ago he had asked me to write
his sister to try to encourage her. So I sent a letter to Dee urging her to continue to trust in Christ, and that no
matter how sick she feels, to never lose faith in the Lord.
Back in the late 1990's some of Mike's
family members rescued Dee from a crackhouse. She had been missing for a few days and they were finally able to track
When they found her Dee was semi-conscious
and sprawled on a tenement floor. They had to carry her back home. But the years of being an addict and using
intravenous drugs in addition to sniffing crack, all came crashing down on her life when she began to get sick. Then
came the doctor's diagnosis.
tragic story is typical. Succumbing to the temptations of the streets while growing up in Harlem, she's now on her way
to an early grave. A life once full of hope is eternally detoured.
Mike told me his sister may not have
much longer. She's gravely ill, and most of the time, to weak to attend church. But it is in reaching out to people
like Dee, however, that God has been showing me the value of simple things. There is everlasting worth in acts of kindness.
It's the small things we can do that
will make a big difference in someone elses's life.
And as I travel on this spiritual
journey with its many times of trials, tests, and temptations, I rejoice at the oportunities to touch needy lives in the same
way that God has so often touched and helped me.
I am thankful, took for the occasions
when I could help another man by writing a letter for him, or by getting him an item from the prison's commisary because he's
broke and he cannot afford anything.
Then there are the times when
I'm able to pray for a man who's sick or feeling stressed out. It is a joy doing what I believe Jesus Himself would
do. I am certain that God takes notice of these simple things, as well as of every kind deed.
June 30, 2005