Saturday, January 5, 2019 -
I begin to write this, exactly at the time I reported to prison one month ago – 1:55 pm on December 5. Much has transpired. Today has been loaded with a lot of blessings and words from the Lord. Indeed God is answering prayers on many fronts, praise His name!
This morning, I woke nearly at 9 am, but after all, it is the Sabbath! Instead of immediately delving into my Bible study as I do most morning, I felt led to check my email first. My wife had emailed me that she found the essential paperwork that must be returned with my orthotics and medic-alert necklace to the prison that had been misplaced. Not having them could significantly damage my back, creating severe pain, over time. I praise the Lord my back’s been fine so far, and I will soon have my insteps! Secondly, she told me that our dear friend, Mim Wenger, who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), actually seems to be slightly improved. She’s been an immense focus of our prayers and is part of a research panel for an experimental treatment at the University of Virginia. Our prayers have been that God would heal her, whether or not she was getting the placebo or the real treatment. We’ve already lost one very good friend to this horrible disease in the past couple of years. Kathie had visits from Mim and three or four others which all very much encouraged her.
I also had an email from my son, William, who has been running my business, Response Unlimited. Three or four clients, when they found out I was being incarcerated or was about to be, just stopped paying their bills, using my incarceration as an excuse. One had actually filed a lawsuit against us (Larry Klayman and Freedom Watch) for damages – even though he owed us around $80,000. The answer to prayer was that the judge threw out that lawsuit yesterday. Hopefully, we’ll be able to recover our legal expenses. Please pray!
I’ve also been praying that God would use me in my present circumstances. This morning He gave me this Scripture: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests us through the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (II Corinthians 2:14-15) He also reminded me of what Paul said in the prior chapter: “…We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises from the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hopes. And He will yet deliver us.” (I Corinthians 1:8-10). He concludes that section thanking the Corinthians for their prayers in that regard, as I thank God for the hundreds, maybe thousands I know are indeed praying for me, “You also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of may.” (I Corinthians 1:11). This echoes a very similar prayer I offered up to God upon my bunk, for you, before sleeping.
Earlier, in the same chapter, Paul offered up prayers and blessings to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we might be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (I Corinthians 1:3-5). But Paul goes on, “But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.” (I Corinthians 1:6). God will, and is, providing the comfort, in the midst of my homesickness and desire to be with my bride (before this, the most we have been apart in 37 ½ years of marriage is two nights), as long as I patiently endure. So, like Paul, I thank God for those who pray for my patient enduring, even though he suffered far, far worse than I, as do most those suffering for their faith around the world today.
So now, before 2 pm, I’ve had four interesting encounters with men, two of which I do not know, that I believe were God-inspired.
In the chow hall, 8 men are eating at each table, but often not a word was spoken by anyone, for a reason I do not know. However, today a man I’ve never spoken to, who is not in my unit, asked if I did legal research because he has heard something about my case going to the Supreme Court. How he knew this, I haven’t a clue. I said no, that I hadn’t even filed for a cert yet, but was planning on it, and that there was a conference held yesterday as to whether I would be offered a stay. I said I hadn’t heard the result, and they rarely offer a stay, but I believe God could do a miracle. He then went off on how he absolutely believed in that. “Hey, He even parted the Red Sea, didn’t He? I believe He did that and can do that today!” I agreed with him and we continued to talk about our appeals until we were done eating. I don’t know what the outcome of this conversation was, but at least four other men were listening to this conversation.
When I was leaving the building where we eat, a man held the door for me, and said, “Here you go, young man.” I said incredulously, “Young man?” He was probably at least 10 years older than me, although it is hard to judge the age of people here in prison. He said, “Well, our lives are just like a vapor compared to eternity.” I was somewhat surprised, and said, “That’s what Ecclesiastes says.” He said something else about the brevity of life compared to eternity, and I said, “Yeah, but it’s only what’s done in this life that’ll count.” At that time, it was time to part ways to our respective units, and he indicated we’d continue the conversation at some point in the future. But that was encouraging to me.
I emailed Kathie about those encounters, and went to my cell to read a copy of a sermon by Paul Washer (whose name sounds very familiar), a man I don’t know named Benjamin Porter from here in Kentucky sent me.
Before I got a little more than halfway through it, there was a knock on the door. It was “C,” who said he’d just read in a book that Christians can’t get depressed. I believe I adequately debunked that false statement, explaining how our struggle is with spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). It is the verse we had just discussed after our prayer time last night, and that we both encouraged “S” to read since he expressed his unfamiliarity with it. I explained to “C” how Satan and his demons attack us in many different ways, including our minds. Depression can come from other things, as well, including chemical or hormone balances, I told him. He then told me how certain people really get under his skin, and how, since he’d been such a violent person in his past, struggles to not give people what should be coming to them. I shared with him Proverbs 11 and Romans 12:18-21. I told him as a boy I had a real problem with anger. I just couldn’t help myself. It was only when I prayed and said I was helpless to overcome through my own ability and that God was going to have to take it away from me, that he completely removed my anger from me. He did the same thing when I confessed my inability to control the lust of my eyes. He took away that too – completely.
God does that in a miraculous way once we confess our helplessness and inability in our flesh. “C” has gone through such an amazing transformation, I told him again, and God has a great plan for him when he gets out. He could be a great evangelist or street missionary. Sadly he expressed such regret that none of his family or friends have come to visit him so he could show them how indeed he is a completely new and different person. He has such a heart to tell them how God, through the shed blood of His son, Jesus, has radically made him a new creature.
Then, not long after, “J” came in telling me of some of the nuances of his legal situation, but he needs a copy of his sentencing transcript he’s not yet been able to acquire. I prayed for him over this, and am expecting God to answer.
For years, and it’s been manifested greatly since I’ve been in prison, I’ve struggled with justifying the lives of those who profess they are Christians but don’t live the life. I can understand it if they’re baby Christians. But I’m talking about those who might have gone forward in a church service or crusade years ago but never were they any different from the world. Many who attend church are the same way. During the week, their lives are no different than any other. They bear no fruit (Matthew 7:13-27) and do not show any of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 6:22-26) nor the marks of a true Christian (Romans 12:9-21). And then, I’ve met many a person who lives a dynamic, Spirit-filled life who never went forward or can point to a specific prayer at a particular moment in their life to “ask Jesus into their heart.” Yet they know they are saved because they know that their salvation is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. But that faith in Jesus Christ was preceded and followed by repentance, and a turning away from sin, growing in holiness, and not desiring to be like the world. Rather than running toward sin, like they used to, they detest it, and the portrayal of it in our culture.
For some time, I’ve believed a lot of people merely say the words of the prayer, thinking the prayer saves them. But with true repentance comes a turning away from sin and the embrace of the Lordship of Christ.
The problem with American Christianity is that we compare ourselves with others who call themselves Christians, rather than looking at the Scriptures. II Corinthians 13:5 says to examine ourselves. Surveys indicate the majority of Americans believe they are Christians. Eighty-five percent, however, do not go to church. They’re not concerned about serving, fellowship, or even sharing their faith – nor being separate from the world. And of those who do go to church, a great percentage of them live like the world. They think they are saved because they once said a prayer. But they never stopped doing the things God hates. The point being, if you truly love someone, and have totally given your life to that person, why would you not stop doing what that person hates? There is a reason God equates the church’s relationship to Him as a bridegroom and a bride. If there has never been any evidence of being transformed (read ALL of Romans 12) and acquiring the fruits of the Spirit, (Galatians 6), maybe it’s time to truly repent of one’s sin, embrace Christ’s atonement for their sin, and make Him Lord of their life – turning it completely over to Him. Only by recognizing our helplessness and weakness will He give us the victorious life He has called us to. Then, as with any close relationship, we mustn’t neglect the time we spend together. I Peter 4:1-2 says, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
It’s preached you’re to go through only one gate – which is Jesus Christ. But Jesus said not only is the gate narrow but also that the PATH is narrow. The Bible never teaches that a person can be a genuine Christian, and live in continuous carnality and wickedness all the days of their life. Yes, a Christian will sin, but if we step off the path of righteousness, He will come after us. We can’t go through the narrow gate and yet live in the broad way, just like the rest of the people in the world. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” Too many responded to the emotion of a particular moment in time without making a life-changing commitment. When our lives are being transformed, it is evidence that we really are a child of God. Jesus Himself said, “Not every one that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of God; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in heaven.” A large percentage in this country professes “faith” in Jesus Christ, yet we are a godless nation.
God wants those in the church who look like the world, act like the world, and revolve solely around their own lives to repent and follow Him with their whole heart and be truly transformed (again, read all of Romans 12). Believe that you can and will be changed. This is the only way to save the church in our nation – or for that matter, to save our nation. Otherwise, expect to see fierce, horrific persecution come upon us that will truly separate the sheep from the goats! But that sorely needed revival MUST begin with each one of us.