August 6, 2005
Even though the sun was unrelenting as it beat down upon us, today was a time of joy
for the Christian prisoners and their families.
This was a day when the members of my church were able to go to the prison’s large
ball field to spend time with their families and friends. It’s a gathering
that we have every year, and it runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Approximately 175 persons attended, including some of our volunteer ministers who regularly
come into the facility to teach the Bible to us or to conduct worship services. For
me it felt as if I were in a public park as people sat on picnic tables and as children zigzagged around me.
This event was paid for by the inmates. We
scrimp and save all year for it. Nothing comes out of the State’s treasury
or from taxpayer dollars. Even the food is purchased by my congregations and
it’s prepared and cooked in the prison’s kitchen.. The event is also supervised by my chaplain.
About twenty members of the Manhattan Grace Tabernacle Church from New York City attended
our event, and we were able to worship with them. We also provided for their
meals, and we gave them all the bottled water they could drink.
I had a lot of work to do when I joined the clean-up crew when the event finished, but
it was well worth it. To have been able to play volleyball with a bunch of kids,
and to have seen inmate fathers laughing with their sons and daughters was a happy occasion.
August 10, 2005
A BROKEN SPIRIT
of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, Oh God, Thou wilt not despise.
Psalm 51 :17
I spent much of the morning reading and meditating upon Psalm 51. A broken spirit and a penitent heart—these
are things that were important to King David, a man who loved his Creator, but a man who plotted the murder of another man,
and who also committed adultery.
Because of his sinful acts King David ultimately brought shame to his nation, and even
caused the enemies of Israel to mock and
blaspheme David’s God.
As the Biblical account goes, when King David’s
sins were exposed by the prophet Nathan, he became a broken and tearful man.
David recognized his wrongs and quickly repented. But his heart was shattered.
And even though God forgave David and he was allowed to remain as the nation’s king, his life was never the same.
Even David’s family was cursed. As
a result of his sins, his own household became filled with turmoil and betrayal because there are consequences to sin, and God is no respecter of persons. Both kings
and peasants must eventually reap bitter fruits when they allow sin to overcome their lives.
Yet King David’s transgressions and the harsh and bitter fruit he reaped as a result
of them caused David to draw closer to his God. He flooded his bed with tears
of repentance while the God of mercy and comfort surrounded David with forgiveness, love and grace.
For a prolonged season of time King David walked a path of grief and pain that I myself
know so well. Yet in the long run, perhaps David’s struggles with sin and
its consequences may have helped to stave off pride that could have developed in such a great ruler?
Who knows that if David had not fallen, he may have eventually grown proud and self-sufficient
the way many kings and leaders do? He may have begun to think that his own political
and military skills made his kingdom secure, and that it was not the powerful hands of the God of Israel who protected and
watched over the land.
Thus I am realizing that for those who love the Lord, all things will ultimately work
for our benefit. The Savior is able to make even the crooked paths straight.
August 13, 2005
This must be the hottest day of the year thus far.
It’s been hot and humid all summer, but I do not recall a season like this in recent memory.
Right now it’s eleven o’clock in the morning.
On most Saturday mornings I wash clothes, but not today. The heat is to
And as I write this journal entry I’m noticing that not even my wasp neighbors
are stirring. Some of them have parked themselves on the metal base of my
window just below the meshed screen. And as they passively watch me, I
think they’re struggling to breathe just as I am. Not even the biggest
one of the bunch is making any effort to fly across the cell to get a sip of water from my sink.
The heat and humidity is also taking a toll on my sleep.
I seldom get more than four hours of sleep in weather like this. Last
night, for example, I was apparently sweating so much that when I got up around three o’clock I discovered that my pillow was soaked. Of course I found it almost impossible
to get back to sleep on a pillow that had become like a wet sponge.
I have no appetite either. So I will skip
lunch. But at 12:45 there’s going to be a worship service in the chapel,
which I plan on attending. It will run until 2:45, when at this time, I must
return to my cell.
The chapel, however, is going to be hotter than the building I live in. It has no windows. And while there are a couple of large industrial
fans in the chapel which run constantly, in this kind of weather all they’ll do is circulate hot air in an enclosed
I’m counting the days to autumn.
August 19, 2005
Pray for the peace
of Jerusalem: they
shall prosper that love Thee.
There is heartache and upheaval going on in Israel now. The Israeli government
under the direction of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has begun to evict all the Jewish settlers who now live in the Gaza territories. This is a land these people struggled to develop and
risked their lives to live in.
I know by that the holy Scriptures reveal that God has a special plan for the Jews. They are the apples of His eye. Yet
even in this grievous situation when large portions of what is now the Gaza
territories are being turned over to the Palestinians, God is still in control of things.
Personally, I do not believe God approves of what’s being done. But what I think He is hoping to show the Jews through this is that their own government cannot be depended
upon to keep them safe. Instead, it is the Lord alone that the Jews must look
to for their help and deliverance. Their trust in politicians or religious or
military leaders must come to an end.
According to the Bible, at some point in time
many more troublesome events will happen in Israel,
as well as to Jews living throughout the world, that will cause them to have no choice but to look toward heaven for their
One day Jerusalem will be surrounded and overrun by her enemies until her Messiah gloriously
and supernaturally appears to establish His throne and take command of the earth (Zechariah 14:1-11