Thursday, January 17, 2019 -
Yesterday, it seemed Satan came at me with both barrels – a pump shotgun! I did not realize it at the time. It began in the form of discouragement because I was about to begin the 43rd day of writing this journal – which I began for several purposes, but found out nobody has been reading them because there has been nobody to keep up with the transcription. It just hadn’t worked out as hoped, and because of Kathie’s failing eyesight, she hadn’t even been able to read them.
I began writing a journal, because when I first came to prison, I wasn’t given the permission/ability from the BOP authorities to send a letter, call, or email anyone, not even my wife. After the second day, I realized I have to write down everything or else I’d forget, and I knew my family, particularly my wife Kathie, would want to know every detail, which I would otherwise be unable to recall.
I don’t remember much of what I’ve written – particularly the first two weeks, but I did spend a lot of time reading and studying God’s Word, praying, and reading spiritually edifying books. Through all of that, God spoke to me, hence those thoughts and revelations (to me) became a major part of what I wrote – particularly because once you settle into prison, life becomes very mundane.
Most men in prison fill their minds with garbage when they’re not eating or exercising – via either television, talking foolishly, or reading things less than edifying. Obviously, not all of what they watch or read is garbage, but I would tend to think the majority of men don’t read anything – they just watch TV all day, every day!
I did not want to fall into that trap and have been determined to allow the Lord to build me up in faith and knowledge of Him. So, apart from doing a crossword puzzle or two every day, I read and write, something I’ve always wanted to make more time for. In that sense, I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
I am also provided with a mere 300 minutes of phone time per month – less than ten minutes per day, which is pathetically minuscule. I also realized I wanted to be able to look back and read what God was teaching and showing me years from now – should He tarry or keep me here on this earth. Then I began asking if, since so many were asking for details of me, if it’d be best for someone to post my journals online.
When I found out yesterday morning nobody was reading anything I’ve been writing – not even Kathie, I became very discouraged. Wrongfully and regrettably, my frustration was expressed to Kathie, and I told her I would merely stop writing, since there was nobody, not even she, reading them. Still, I wrote yesterday’s journal, more for myself than anyone, as it is a way for me to remember what I read and learn – although I tend to always begin “preaching!”
Then, in the early afternoon, it became apparent Kathie may not be able to come this weekend (last weekend she fell terribly sick the night before she was coming), as she could find no one to bring her. Most people who’d volunteered to bring her hadn’t been approved, or if they had been approved, were unable to come this weekend. Kathie does not drive unless it’s in emergency situations. Late afternoon, however, our daughter Victoria, her husband Cory, and their daughter Evelyn were approved for visits. I don’t know yet if they’ll be able to come, but Kathie and I are praying if they do, she’ll be able to come with them.
Finally, Kathie told me later in the evening how stressful things are for William, our oldest son, in running the business without my involvement. There have been several clients who owed us a great deal of money, and when they learned of my prosecution, used it as an excuse, or more accurately stated, a means to avoids paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars of past due invoices they’d accrued. Upon being courted by a collection agency, I had agreed to turn two of those accounts over to them on a no-risk basis. A third turned around and sued us – even though they owed US money! That case, after thousands of dollars, was dismissed.
However, when the collection agency found out I was in prison, they said we’d breached their contract because I was in prison, and had to pay them an arbitrary amount or they would sue us – after previously talking us into suing the organization because “it would be easy to collect what they owed us.” I see this as nothing short of extorting money from someone they know they can take advantage of, even though they have no legal recourse to do so. This, along with other day-to-day procedures of running Response Unlimited, has taken a toll on William.
When Kathie emailed me that I should not have left him with that mess, I took it to mean I should not have put him in charge of Response Unlimited in my absence. And so I wrongfully reacted and told her to just shut down Response Unlimited then, because I saw no other alternative when the government wrongfully imprisoned me.
That happened right before climbing into my bunk to try to sleep, and I laid there asking God, why, after 40 years would He allow my business to be taken.
Don’t take this wrong, I have a great deal of confidence in my son, as long as he leans upon our heavenly Father for wisdom and help. I have been consistently reminding him he needs to trust the Father completely to deal with each difficult situation, as He is using these trying times to mature all of us!
But that night I let Satan get the best of me. The devil tried to take my desire to even live. In desperation, I told my wife to close my business we’d spent 40 years building. I told myself, I was in prison, and there was nothing I could do to help it. Simply, I was feeling sorry for myself, not recognizing who it was that was behind my discouragement. I didn’t fall asleep till 5am this morning and slept less than four hours.
However, unlike most mornings, I checked my email first thing. And there was the most wonderful, encouraging email from the most awesome wife any man could ask for in the whole world! She said closing Response Unlimited and leaving me defeated is “what Obama and the left want.” To remember how many times on the way to prison people called, emailed, and texted that I was a “Joseph,” and the Lord has great things in store.
She said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Our God has never failed us yet, and I believe He never will. Watch and see. We serve a mighty God. He will part our sea and we will go through on dry ground! We shall go forth with tears of joy! Hallelujah. No reason to fall into the field of despair, the Father is watching out for you!
“Keep your eyes on the Savior and His Word. He will never forsake His own. His promise is for you. Do not take one piece of armor off at any point! And keep those feet shod with the preparation of the gospel to share with everyone there. He said fear not, for I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth! He is there with you. He will never leave or forsake you. So rest in Him this day and rejoice with exceedingly great joy. I love you, Philip. I know the Father will see us through.”
I went back and read all of the emails between Kathie and me yesterday, and realized I had to apologize because I’d misread her email. She’d apologized to me for dumping on me, and I had to apologize for dumping on her. I went back to drink my coffee and read my Bible. I read in Proverbs 17:3 that the Lord is indeed testing my heart. But He also promises “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house” (Proverbs 17:3). So I know God will deal with these evil people, including those in government who put me in prison for helping rescue a child from sexual abuse. I was then taken to Romans 8:37-39 - verses given to me by several who’ve written me letters; “But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor any other thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.” And the Lord reminded me who it was the kept me awake last night, contemplating all was lost, as “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I then read Philippians 1, and probably for the first time reading this passage, saw it from the perspective of Paul, who was in prison when he wrote it. He as I, “Thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all” (Philippians 1:3-4). I pray these first eleven verses over each of you who regularly pray for me, and pray for the boldness and fruit in my imprisonment, as did that of Paul’s. I can also relate to Paul’s discussion on living or dying in verse 20-26. Here, Paul was probably expecting to be executed, I’d imagine. But Paul calls on the Philippians to look with confidence on his returning to them at some point, but in the meantime, “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents – which is a sign of destruction for them, but of all salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you, it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear that I still have.” (Philippians 1:27-30). Amen and amen! Note how Paul in verses 27 places such emphasis on unity! Standing firm in one Spirit and one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel. Oh, could we as the body of Christ heed this plea, and be unified for the sake of the furtherance of the gospel – and not just our assembly or congregation! As a matter of fact, I don’t find denominationalism anywhere in Scripture, except in a negative context (I Corinthians 1:11-13). Could it be that denominations are actually a tool of the devil to divide the church in an effort to destroy the model for the church set forth in Acts, and thereby ruin its effectiveness to truly grow and influence society?
I shared much of what transpired yesterday with my cellmate, “J,” and actually about another incident that Satan used to discourage me yesterday evening, but after speaking with him now believe God will mean it for good. “J” seems to be a man of great faith who has his own struggles and has made some wrong decisions in his life. I see great growth in him and his attitudes. Please pray it will turn into a concerted effort to follow Christ with his whole heart, and give up that which is displeasing to the Lord. “J” has provided me with great encouragement and wisdom, and I believe the Lord sent him to me as much as I’ve been sent to him. I thank God once again for you, your prayers, and support.