July 3, 2006
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.
This weekend I took a little time for myself in order to recuperate.
I delegated other men to oversee the various services and Bible studies and, as usual, the chaplain was present to lead yesterday's
I'm certain that I have been negligent by not taking enough
time for myself to get adequate rest. In addition, the extremely hot and humid weather has caused me to feel even more tired.
So a few days for refreshing was needed. I spent all weekend, with the exception of Sunday morning, in my cell.
The self-imposed confinement allowed me to do extra praying,
more Bible reading and letter writing, as well as wash a small stack of clothing in my plastic pail. I'm basically a "Type
A" hyperactive personality who finds it hard to sit still and relax. I've been this way all my life.
Meanwhile, God has been giving me many opportunities to share
my faith with fellow prisoners, and to give words of encouragement to those who already believe in Jesus, but are currently
going through various difficulties and temptations.
I cannot, however, count all the times when my Christian brothers,
although having to serve their own sentences, have had to come along-side me to help encourage and strengthen me. I thank
God for each one. These men have been very unique and special blessings in my life.
July 8, 2006
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will
pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...
God is doing amazing things here at Sullivan Correctional Facility.
He's doing the same in jails and prisons throughout the world. this past Sunday, for example, we had 63 men attend our main
worship service. The inmate ushers had to get additional chairs from nearby classrooms in order to accommodate everyone.
I believe this is a season when the Holy Spirit is pouring
Himself out upon those who are incarcerated. He is convicting men and women of their sins, and they are turning away from
those sins. They're hearing the gospel and believing its message.
Furthermore, for a number of years I have been saying that
the largest harvest of souls to become born again will be those who inhabit our nation's jails, prisons, halfway houses, juvenile
detention centers, homeless shelters and inner city mission stations. And this is because these individuals are the ones who've
been shattered and battered by life's cruel blows. They're the ones who are spiritually impoverished. They have mo qualms
seeking help and refuge from God.
July 9. 2006
It is interesting to me how the spiritual climate of the Christian
community here at the prison often apears to fluctuate from week to week.
On July 8th I wrote about last Sunday's service and how we
had more than the usual number of men in attendance. Well, yesterday we had another good turnout, but the atmosphere was much
different. There seemed to be a heaviness in the air. At the start of the service, when I began to lead the congregation in
prayer, it felt as is a force was pressing aginst me. It was a struggle to pray, and the short message of exhortation I gave
afterwards, was equally difficult to deliver.
I recognized this as spiritual warfare. Something had set itself
against me, and things like this happen often enough. Otherwise our time of worship went well. The choir was sharp, and our
visiting preacher gave a good sermon about being justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
For my short exhortation, however, I did tell the men that
God's heart grieves when we are stubbornly living in sin, and are ignorantly destroying our lives in the process. But I also
reminded them that, in the Bible, Jesus told the religious leaders of His day that "prostitutes, thieves and outcasts" were
getting into heaven ahead of them because these people heard the Word of God and repented of their sins, while the proud and
self-righteous folks would not admit to their sins. I then added that God has now brought salvation to us because we, like
the outcasts and thieves, long for forgivneess and restoration.
July 15, 2006
ISRAEL AND WAR
He maketh wars to cease uno the end of the earth...
We could call it "The War that Never Ends". This would be a
good way to describe the current fighting between Israel and the vicious terrorist organization known as "Hezbollah". Watching
the news on television I can see homes and buildings in both Israel and Lebanon ruined by rockets and bombs, with many soldiers
and civilians already having died on both sides.
Who knows, however, if this present conflict will fizzle out
with the development of an uneasy and temporary truce? Or it may eventually escalate into a full-scale war of terrible proportions.
After all, Israel and her Arab neighbors have been battling one another for centuries, even from Biblical times. And with
each new generation the never ending war goes on.
But one thing I do know is that God does not make war maliciously.
Men do. Hearts that are filled with sin, hatred and pride cause men to pick up weapons and use them against their neighbors.
Yet the Lord, so says the Bible, makes wars to cease. And one future day, I believe, war will stop forever.
When the true Prince of Peace comes to Earth to establish His
kingdom, He wil demand that men beat their swords and spears into plowshares and pruninghooks, and they will never start wars
any more. Isaiah 2:2-4
July 17, 2006
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now.
In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew's gospel, Jesus chided
the religious leaders of His day because they demanded that He perform a miraculous sign in order to prove He was indeed the
Messiah. Instead, Jesus said to them, that they were foolish, for while they could discern what the next day's weather was
going to be like, they could not recognize who He was by all the miracles Jesus had already performed.
In a similar way, it is obvious to me that we are living in
a period of human history when the Lord's calling forth for His church to be removed from this earth and taken up into heaven
is very near. (The Rapture).
The world is in upheaval and many people are in pain. Multitudes
are also living in fear because of crime or war. Even nature appears to be out of balance. The Bible says that all of creation
is groaning and longing for the time when th earth will be restored to the paradise which once existed before sin entered
Meanwhile, the signs are clear. Christ is coming again. But
before He does, there will be much more suffering and sorrow. This is because sin is increasing, and with it will come the
intensification of the pain it brings. Yet there is also hope because God, who the Bible says is rich in mercy* is still allowing
for individuals to repent and to believe the gospel.
Yes, one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and
the misery which so many of us are now experiencing will be gone forever.
July 23, 2006
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
This Sunday morning, when my beloved chaplain, whom or congregation
affectionately calls "Pastor Carl", took his place behind the pulpit, and told us the news that his wife was recently diagnosed
with cancer, we were very sad. Suffering, unfortunately, is a part of every person's life, and Christians are no exception.
For we live in weak and aging bodies of flesh, with all its pains and imperfections. No one, therefore, is immune from the
cruel blows of sickness, injury, emotional problems, bad news, or even death. After all, who among us has not experienced
some kind of loss or hardship?
Thankfully, however, I know a God of mercy who is both compassionate
and tenderhearted. He hears the prayers of His children. And while the Lord doesn't always answer us the way we'd like, He
does care. He is faithful, I believe, to provide us with His strength and help when we need it.
In addition, Pastor Carl told us that, because his wife was
advised to get immediate medical attention, he was no going to be taking a leave of absence for a few weeks in order to care
for her needs; and, as a result of this, our congregation's elders will have to cover for him until he gets back.
In any event, when my pastor had finished speaking, and before
he stepped away from the pulpit, the approximately fifty prisoners who were in attendance arose to our feet and began to simultaneously
pray for our chaplain and his wife. It was a special moment to behold. It was also a moment of our faith mixing with love.
July 27, 2006
And they overcame him (the devil) by the Blood of the Lamb
(Jesus Christ), and by the word of their testimony...
The Bible speaks much about enduring, overcoming, and living
with everlasting hope. The Bible is also a book about victory and triumph through one's faith in Jesus Christ. For God, through
His word, encourages His children to trust in Him at all times, and to never allow one's self to sink into defeat and despair.
In my journal entry for June 29th, for example, I wrote about
the emotional pain and the inner devastation I experienced after learning that a few close friends had betrayed me.
And while God's grace has been flooding my heart in order to
help me to overcome this situation, the whole ordeal has taken a toll on my strength. Still, I forgive these individuals,
but I will have to be more cautious and more discerning in the future.
Meanwhile, however, I am continuing to pray for God's will
to be done concerning my role as the inmate pastor. Being in such a leadership role takes its toll in many ways. I miss being
able to do deeper Bible studes. I also have only a limited amount of time each week to write in my journal because of my pastor-related
responsibilities and commitments..
I may, therefore, be close to making a major change by passing
the leadership torch to someone else. This is not definite; I am simply waiting on God to guide me and direct my path.
July 30, 2006
This morning, even though we had to sit in stifling heat and
humidity, we had a good worship service in the chapel. And before our main preacher came to give his sermon, one of the men
in the congretation, "Brother Phillip", was invited to speak to us about "whatever the Lord had placed in his heart."
So Philip came to the podium and gave us a short exhortation
from Psalm 91. His talk only lasted for approximately seven minutes, but he got a lot of "Amens" and "Hallelujahs" from the
audience because his message was encouraging.
Philip, by the way, is a deacon in our prison church. He is
doing a sentence of more than 150 years. He was a former gang member who, back in the early 1990's was feataured on Americas's
Most Wanted. Then, when he was finally arrested in the State of Connecticut and while he was awaiting extradition back to
New York, the local chaplain stopped by his cell and began to tell him about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for Philip's
Thankfully, Philip responded to the chaplain's words and invited
Jesus to be his Savior. Now he's been serving the Lord ever since.
Nowadays Philip is a strong Christian whom God has called to
be a leader within our flock. He has no realistic chances of getting out of prison, however. The length of his sentence makes
parole an impossibility. Instead he fervently serves the Lord withough any waivering of his faith. He's a good example for
July 31, 2006
Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.
As my friends may know from reading this journal, I have been
passing through several hard trials, and I've been getting "pressed out of measure" in the process.* I am not complaining,
however, because I know I'm supposed to "rejoice always" no matter what I must face. But the reality is that these traials
are painful; my soul feels like it's being crushed.
Yet the Lord must have something special for me though. For
out of this crushing, I pray will come the sweet fragrances of love, humility and gentleness.
Moreover, it has been said that our affllictions and trials
will either make us better or bitter Christians. Either we'll come out of a given ordeal with our faith and our confidence
in God made stronger, or we will grow angry and bitter. Depending how each person handles his trial, he will either become
a good example as a Christian, with a sweet spirit and a kind countenance, or he will become an angry cynic with a brooding
disposition, always emitting the sour smell of spiritual defeat wherever he goes.
As for myself, I must allow Jesus Christ to remain my Hope.
He is to be, forever, my Rock, my Fortress, and my Strong Tower set strongly against the storms of life that seem to assail
me every day.
*11 Corinthians 1:8-10