ARE YOU A GOAT OR A SHEEP?
A Call for the Church to be the Church and stand on TRUTH!
FROM PHILIP ZODHIATES
June 18, 2020
I met with the presence of the Lord in one of the most powerful ways I have ever experienced in my life. I met Him with tears, completely unworthy to be in His presence but for the blood of Jesus.
The Lord quietly spoke to me that my time here in prison is serving His purpose. He has ordained me for this. It is a privilege and a calling, and one in which I feel totally unqualified. Yet here I am. And there is a clear message I am to proclaim to the church in this nation.
The time is upon us when the sheep will be separated from the goats. The tares will be separated from the wheat and will be burned up in the eternal fire. It is time to get off the fence and determine who we shall serve — no matter the consequences. For those who choose the Lord God, suffering will no doubt ensue — great persecution and even imprisonment. Yet we are to rejoice to be so called, for God has a special purpose in this. It is all part of His divine plan. We are His instrument in sparking revival even in the darkest of places. We are called to be His light in even the bleakest of dungeons, but we are not to fear, for He is with us wherever we are called of Him to go.
And so, we must stand on truth and justice, and solely upon the Word of God. There is no untruth in It. We cannot reject any part of any word of It. Our life must be one that is filled with the Holy Spirit. We are called to be different. Set apart. Sanctified. Transformed. Full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control which all comes from being in His presence. We will not have all the answers to God’s mysteries, but we must be the light shining in darkness which cannot be blown out. He alone provides the power and ability to be so, if only we would fully surrender to His care and to His lordship. We are called to be His doulos — His slave. His disciple makers. But He is the perfect Master and will not place upon us any burden which we cannot bear. He has given us power through His Holy Spirit to overcome any situation and obstacle, and now is the time to prepare.
There are many waiting for you and watching for you, to see what you will do. The choice is now yours. I have seen how the Holy Spirit can change the most vile, evil, self-centered heart in the most sudden and dramatic and permanent way. Many more will turn to Him, as we take up our cross and follow Him, to the byways, and even into what may be our divine destiny — imprisonment for Christ. Revival in our land will take place in our prisons as more and more of God’s chosen are called to take up their crosses no matter the consequences. Now is the time to decide whose side you are on.
God will put in you a heart of compassion and love for these, the worst of sinners. He is moving, and He is calling. Now is the time to repent of our idols and our indecisiveness and determine to follow Christ with our whole being. Now is the point of decision.
No more wavering!
May 6, 2020 – Day 517
Dear one in Christ,
I praise the Lord for His love and His sovereign working all things together for HIS Glory! We serve an amazing and awesome Lord, and I never cease to be overwhelmed by His grace, mercy, and love and the way He works everything together for good.
Today was a milestone of sorts. We were very surprised to be suddenly told we could go outside for 1 1/2 hours this morning to the recreation yard. This was the first time in two months most of us were able to breathe fresh, outside air!
Even though it was quite cold (we were thankful to have been told to take coats), it was extremely invigorating and boosted everyone’s spirits. I was glad to be able to walk the entire time, probably at least 5 miles, and work off some of the excess calories from the unbalanced diet and lying around for the past two months. Often, I opt in the chow hall for meatless options, but as long as they’ve been delivering meals to the units with lots more sugars and refined starches, we’ve not had that option. Plus, we are only getting one hot meal a day; the others being cereal and sandwiches.
Another unit was cleared out to make room for Unicor workers, who are basically the long-term government slave laborers, so they could find a way to get them back to work. About 12 from that unit came to our unit, and about eight of them are believers! I am just now meeting them all, although one has started studying the Bible with me, Will and Richard every evening. That means there are now at least 13 true believers in our unit if all of the eight new guys turn out to be genuine. Before we had become confined to our cells, our nightly prayer group had dwindled to about five because of guys going home or to another facility. Nine of us crammed together last night into a 7’x 9’ cell to pray and study.
Thank you everybody who donated to send Will to Teen Challenge. He is so very thrilled and anxious to be going. He has to first have hernia surgery when he is released in July. He is thrilled now he does not need to come up with the intake fee. He continues to grow in the Lord!
My paralegal “jailhouse lawyer” is now working on what, God-willing, is my final response for Judge Arcara, my sentencing judge. The answers from my attorneys and prosecutors in response to the judge’s specific questions have been elusive, misleading and contained outright lies! They have attempted to “muddy the waters” by bringing into the debate peripheral issues, which have nothing to do with my main contentions – that I was never explained or told of the statute 1204(c)(2) affirmative defense allowing Lisa Miller to remove her child from the country if they were fleeing a pattern of abuse and that the jury was denied the opportunity to learn of the alleged abuse, and to determine if the abuse Isabella was enduring was my motive in giving Lisa Miller and her daughter a ride to Buffalo, New York. All other issues are irrelevant!
The Wuhan virus scare has caused everything to be delayed, which, aside from delaying my ultimate release, may be a good thing, as it has delayed the civil trial and discovery. I have asked for another extension in selecting a new Vermont lawyer. We are all locked in our respective units, so I cannot confer as to the drafting of my response, but I am confident it is in God’s hands. The deadline for this response is now May 21. Please pray!
I did apply to be released under the CARES Act to home confinement, but it was denied by the warden, H. Allen Beard. His reasoning was because he claimed the program statement on inmate discipline and special housing units lists International Parental Kidnapping specifically as a crime of violence and “other policies or programs indicate that an inmate COULD (my emphasis) be denied the benefits of such programs.” Therefore, I am a violent offender and for this reason he has chosen to deny me. I write more about this at www.romanseight28.com.
Yet today, I learned that the largest cocaine trafficking king pen in the United States has been released from this prison because of COVID-19. This is disheartening, but supposedly he paid over $1 million to a DC attorney to “get him out” under the CARES Act. But I know God is ultimately in control, and He may choose to use me here a little while longer. But the worst part of the way things are now is that we are being denied any visits. I haven’t seen Kathie in over two months, and they say it won’t be until later this year when they open back up visitation. So please pray God works on Judge Arcara’s heart to rule in my favor, vacating my sentence, and that the government doesn’t retry me. Thank you again for all of your prayers, letters and support, on behalf of both Kathie and me. This has been especially difficult on my wonderful wife, Kathie, who is so grateful for all you’ve done. She says you all are such a blessing to her.
In HIS service,
I Peter 5:10: But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered awhile, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
February 21, 2020 – Friday, Day 444
This has been a difficult couple of days for me for a number of reasons. Kathie has hurt her shoulder playing with our granddaughter – afraid she has once again torn her rotator cuff, which has twice been repaired by surgery. This, in addition to the severe nerve pain in her face from botched implant surgery more than five years ago, and chronic lack of sleep. On top of that, I got an email saying that she has been vomiting every morning this week and diarrhea hit her yesterday on top of everything else. She said I’d better pray for her because she’s getting weak and going downhill fast, and she doesn’t know if she’d be able to make it to see me this weekend. She tells me constantly that she needs me home right away, as she refuses to see a medical doctor until I’m home.
To make matters even worse, she told me yesterday my mother had been taken to the emergency room and admitted into the hospital. At first they thought she’d had a stroke, but now the diagnosis is pneumonia. When I spoke to Kathie at 6:30, she told me to pray hard. If Mom made it through the day, she probably wouldn’t make it through the night.
I’d also just received word that a very good friend who has ALS was on her last days, which is grievous, although she loves the Lord and is joyful to be about to enter eternity. Then Kathie told me again that her health is going downhill rapidly, and it seems death comes in threes (my Aunt Shirley, Mom’s sister, died two weeks ago today). This is all so very devastating to a man in prison, as I thought last night Kathie meant she’d be number three. But I can pray, and I can fast. My heart was devastated. I prayed. I read my nightly Psalm, which brought tears to my eyes as I prayed these words, weeping before the Lord: “Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning. Indeed, more than the watchmen in the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness. And with Him there is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130).
I’ve also been reading a book Kathie has sent to me called Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy by Marie Chapman, an amazing story of a Slovene church planter and his family. He had spent many years in prison on false charges – either for corroborating with the guerillas during World War II, or after the war, with the Germans, accused by those same partisans after their communist leader, “Tito,” became ruler of Yugoslavia. Eventually the Communists also locked him up in prison for preaching the gospel, but that miraculously was short imprisonment. These were amazing people of prayer, and miracles often seemed to happen when they prayed in faith believing.
This man at one time was taken to prison for a ten-year sentence by the Germans, and his wife was given a six-year sentence, but she was reprieved for nine months until the birth of her child. Shortly thereafter there was a knock on the door, and she knew those who came would kill her, but she was miraculously delivered by God. And so she left her young son with a friend, and fled to the mountains to join the guerillas, refusing though, to carry a gun. It was her only recourse. She hid her pregnancy but not her testimony, preaching Christ to all who would hear. She gave birth in a village kitchen of a stranger, and immediately fled with the baby back into the mountains, where she was miraculously delivered from being discovered by German soldiers, and then amazingly spared by Italian soldiers. But she and the baby were starving to death. Close to death, and cold, they made it to a farmhouse and knocked on the door. Staying there for a month recuperating back to health, she shared Christ with the elderly couple, reading them a small Bible they had. They eventually revealed that a preaching man had come a few years back three times, and gave them that Bible. She opened its corner and saw her husband’s name written, along with I Cor. 2:2. I now quote, “That night lying on the bed holding her little daughter beside her, she cried for Jakob. Just the sight of his name brought back his sounds, smells, his touch. She longed to hear his voice again, to hide in his strength, to clothe herself in his nearness. She imagined herself sitting beside him in the presence of others as he talked and gently guided the conversation. She would sit still, quiet, listening to the sound of his voice, the strength of his words, and in him, the closeness of him, she would be safe, sure, completely happy.
“But the crunch of the straw beneath the blankets, the sound of the clock ticking and the biting cold air of the strange house reminded her that she was alone, without him, and she felt again unfinished, like a pot without water.”
When I read the nest two paragraphs, I joined with her in more or less the same prayer, with tears, “’My heavenly Father, I believe You are a loving God and I believe that You answer prayers. That is why I know that you have mercy on my son and on my husband, whom I cannot see. I know You will bring us together again.’
“She thought of little Josip and squeezed the edge of the blanket to hold back her tears. ‘My Jakob, my Josip, my brave men – God have mercy, we will be together again.’”
She made it home in spring, where she found her son safe and her husband, who had been miraculously released shortly after she had fled. God had answered her prayer. I myself prayed into the night, not falling asleep until after my watch read that it had just turned 1:00, believing that soon Kathie, myself, and my soon to be 92 year old Mom will be reunited as well.
This morning I had nine emails from Kathie, the last telling me she had five good hours of sleep (which was good for her), that my mother had shown some signs of improvement. She had arranged for someone to go by her apartment to get her cell phone and take it to the hospital, so I could call her. We spoke for three minutes, but I was able to understand only a few words.
Today is also the deadline for the government (prosecutors) to make their final supplemental response to my request to Judge Arcara to vacate my sentence. A self-made legal expert here in prison (also a believer) wrote all of the recent motions and replies on my behalf – a miracle in itself that God would send this man to me here at just the right time! I have been praying for eight months for God to turn the Judge’s heart, and I believe that is miraculously happening. This final government response is the last mandated step required prior to making his decision. By faith, we are believing God for a miracle in which He alone gets the praise! I pray this will happen very, very soon.
Thank you again for your prayers. It is time to step them up a notch, taking them to the next level! Please believe for a miracle with me!
In His Service,
P.S. Jozeca, the woman I quoted above, said once, “We are blessed, we are blessed to have tasted a little of what our Lord suffered for us.” How true that is. Yet I feel so unworthy.
April 18, 2020
1. How are you doing – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I am doing okay emotionally and spiritually and physically by the grace of God, although it is discouraging being shut up in a 7 X 9 cell 24/7. I miss the exercise of walking every day for 2-1/2 miles and can feel the effects.
2. How does this virus affect the prison population?
I don’t really know the answer to this because we are locked in our unit and there are 11 other units. I think they have transferred some here, but very few. So normal attrition of people going to camp/being released, or going to home confinement is diminishing our population somewhat, probably.
3. How have the changes affected your ministry there?
We can no longer have prayer meetings or group Bible studies, but two other men have been spending much time with me studying the Bible. Will, a new believer, is spending hours and hours with me every day and is very exuberant for the Lord and wants to serve Him with his whole heart. This has made this time worthwhile.
July 17, 2019
Wednesday, Day 225
Today is my 64th birthday and I’m not in the least bit discouraged or depressed. The Lord God Almighty has provided me with the best birthday gift imaginable.
I began my day, as usual, awakening between 7 and 7:30 am, walking downstairs to fill my “whirley” with hot water for my morning instant coffee, and then went to send Kathie my ritual good morning email. I had six emails by 7:30 this morning – two emails from Kathie telling me happy birthday, and an email from my sister Lois, my daughter Victoria, and one from Janet Stasulli of the 419 Fund, all telling me happy birthday. But these emails are not what I’m referring to. “E” got on the terminal next to mine and said good morning, and that he’s trying to “figure out” his girlfriend. I asked him, “What do you mean?” He accepted Christ not long after I arrived, and has been faithful never to miss a Bible study or prayer ever since. I’ve seen a remarkable change in him, thinking back on it.
“E” replied to me, “She’s become all ‘Christian-y.’ I talk to her on the phone, and she’s different. She doesn’t curse anymore. I’ve changed, and she’s changed. I’ve said I don’t want to be unequally yoked, and so she’s changed. Maybe my daughter will change too. It’s a really good thing.”
These few words made my heart leap for joy. Because I am beginning to see the multiplying effect I’m praying will happen through the lives of these men I have befriended. Who knows what God might do!
I got back to my cell, rejoicing in the Lord, and picked up “The Daily Bread” devotional, which I get from the chapel. Today’s Scripture was from II Corinthians 2:1-17, “But thanks to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and MANIFESTS THROUGH US 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; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the Word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak Christ in the sight of God.”
This has been my prayer since I arrived in prison: that others would want what I have – the peace that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).
The Holy Spirit then instantly reminded me of two other encounters I had yesterday, where God was subtly trying to tell me my time here at FCI Ashland is not for naught. The first was around 1:00 pm when I was walking the track in the rec yard with “Texas,” who’s been “dumping” on me about his significant anger problem and being constantly bothered by the numerous demons flying around this place. He’s angry because he says he doesn’t deserve to be in prison, nor do I, and that we are both here because of political vendettas. I always just listen to him but tell him when one gives his life to Christ, He will remove the anger and make him a new person. At one point he said, “You never get angry about anything, do you? Not even about having to be in this place?” I said, no, I know God has me here for a purpose, and I need to make the most of it. I used to have an anger problem when I was a young boy but realized when I became a teen that my anger was always getting me in trouble, and it was something I could not control. So, I told God it was something I couldn’t deal with and asked Him to take it away. And He did! This morning, “Texas” told me that he indeed asked Christ into his heart. He’s been telling me for weeks that God put us both here in this prison for him, so he can get his life right with God and turn it around.
Then I also remembered what one of the Christian brothers who is living in “C’s” unit told me at supper yesterday when I asked if “C” found out when he is leaving for the camp in Indiana. He told me it won’t be until August, but then he told me, “You know since ‘C’ moved back to R unit, I’ve seen such a big change in him spiritually!” “C” is another who has told me over and over again that God allowed me to come to prison so I could meet him and be friends with him for the rest of his life. The fact that this brother would tell me how changed “C” is now thrills my soul!
My current cellmate, “JB,” also just told me this week that God keeps bringing people in his path here in this prison he can learn from. He found out today he is leaving soon for a camp. I had prayed over him for that!
Today my class was canceled, so I went outside to do my 2 ½ mile fast-paced walk and ended up walking about 3 ½ miles with “J,” my former cellmate. He, too, reminded me today that God brought me here to this prison just for him! I said that’s what “Texas” keeps telling me, too. But he retorted, “Yeah, but I told you that first!” “J” is even fasting now two days a week!
So, I praise God today that despite the fact I sometimes get discouraged, apparently the sweet aroma of the Lord is manifesting itself through me to others around me and is even beginning to spread to others outside these prison fences. To that, I just praise and rejoice in the Lord. God has given me the greatest gift I could ever imagine – His sweet aroma manifesting itself through me!
To top it off, “C” made me a delicious cheesecake in celebration after chow tonight, and “J” gave me a leather cover he had made for my radio in hobby craft. They and a handful of other men, including “E,” sang happy birthday and we enjoyed the cake and fellowship. I had two pieces!
In His Service,
June 30, 2019
Sunday, Day 208
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” – Jesus, in Mark 11:24.
After visiting with Kathie, William and Josiah today, they encouraged me to write you to pray with me earnestly for my immediate release come August.
Earlier in June, as a result of the recently enacted First Step Act, I sent a motion to my sentencing judge pro se to request him to vacate or re-sentence me based on two reasons.
First, there was an “affirmative defense” included in the law under which I was prosecuted which allowed for a parent to remove a child when there was an incidence of abuse. This means I should never have been convicted based on the merits of the law.
Secondly, affidavits verifying evidence of such abuse had come into my hands within several months of coming to prison, which I have subsequently forwarded to Judge Arcara.
This past week, Judge Arcara requested a response to my motion to vacate or resentence base on my motion to the U.S. government. The prosecution has until August 3 to respond.
Keep in mind that the alleged abuse of Isabella Miller was never brought out in my nearly two-week trial. The jury only heard it alluded to in passing perhaps one time, but it would have been easily missed. Many of the hundreds of people who wrote Judge Arcara prior to my sentencing alluded to it, however, as did I at the day of my sentencing. This judge, from what I was told, has never allowed anyone convicted in his courtroom, in approximately 30 years, to go free on bail pending appeal. The probation officer was asking for an eight-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine.
But on the day of the sentencing, it was very evident God had moved on his heart. My sentence was three years (the minimum), and the fine a mere $200. He several times mentioned the hundreds of letters and the fact that he had read many, if not most of them, twice. Then, on the next day, he allowed Timo Miller, my co-defendant who had already served eight months in prison, to go free at his sentencing, rather than making him serve more time. He then explained to Buffalo News in an interview something to the effect that we were good people who got caught up in something we shouldn’t have.
In light of my motion, and these two issues I’ve brought to his attention, please pray with our family diligently that God will indeed speak to his heart once again, and send me home in August. I will be in my eighth month of incarceration.
Pray that he will recognize the injustice of my case, which would have never happened had it not been for the political nature of it. I am asking God to speak to his heart and that he will heed God’s nudge to say, enough is enough.
I do not regret this opportunity to spend these months in prison. I believe God has used it in my life and others. Has it been easy? No. Was it as bad as I expected? No. Am I glad for the experience? Yes. Did I learn a lot from the experience? Yes. Would I have chosen to go through it in hindsight? Ask me in a year or two or three. Has God used it to His glory? I believe so, particularly if it encourages others to stand firm for Christ and not cower in the face of persecution.
Please pray with me and believe in faith, that God will once again touch the heart of Judge Arcara, and not just vacate my sentence, but also dismiss the criminal charges against Lisa Miller, who certainly does not deserve to be a fugitive.
Thank you so much for your many prayers and support up until this point. God has been moving. Two weeks ago, a judge in the western district of Virginia threw out the lawsuit against us filed by Janet Jenkins. Judge Arcara’s favorable ruling at this time would definitely assist in aiding us in winning the civil lawsuit filed against us by Janet Jenkins in Vermont.
I know that my God is mightier than all the lawyers of the Southern Poverty Law Center combined. In Him alone there is victory!
Please pray with us diligently over the course of the next month for Judge Arcara to allow me to go home in August.
In His Service,
P.S. Many more pages of my daily journal have been posted at www.romanseight28.com.
Dear Praying Friends,
Today I received a letter from a friend in Missouri that asked me a lot of questions. So Jon, this letter is intended for you, but as I know many here have the same or similar questions, I thought I might as well share my answers with all! So here goes…
- I often wonder what the rest of your day is like (besides spending time in Scripture and writing)? Answer: I normally awaken around 7 or 7:30 and spend until lunch time (between 10:30 and 11) reading the Bible and in prayer. Of course, I also brush my teeth and make instant coffee, and usually email Kathie good morning greetings. After lunch, I’ll read a book (I’m on my 55th book), or begin writing my journal until noon, and then, if the weather is nice, I will go outside to the recreational yard and walk 2 ½ miles around the track. I try to do that within 40 minutes. I then usually will read until I come in between 2pm and 3pm. Once in a while I might play a game called bocce (I’ve done this twice in 5 months). I will come back and read more, or write, until bedtime, which is between 10:00 and 11:00. Supper is between 4:30 and 5:00 for me. Once in a while, I may listen to the radio for a break, or work on a crossword puzzle. TV is available, but I don’t watch it. That’s pretty much my day. However, I am now taking two classes: one at 2:00 on Tuesdays (the Case for Christ video series) and a business class for two hours at noon on Wednesdays.
- What are your fellow prisoners like? Do they cause trouble or do they leave you alone? Answer: I am, for the most part, treated with great respect, even admiration, by other prisoners, especially those who know why I am here. This is a huge answer to prayer! In our unit of around 100 men, there are a number of true believers – probably four (including me) who I can say are truly on fire for the Lord. One of them has just become a believer since I came. Others claim Christ, but I wouldn’t consider them on fire by any means. Although I believe they have accepted Christ, they do not show fruit of the Spirit. The majority (except the Muslims) would claim to also be Christians, but have never truly been born again. They are what I would call hereditary Christians. I’ve met a few who have just walked away from their “religion.” For the most part, the Muslims are respectful, with the exception of one, and willing to dialogue. The most difficult thing for me is hearing all the profanity, which seems to be everywhere except from the on-fire believers and the Muslims. So for the most part, I just keep to myself, unless someone has questions, problems, or just wants to dialogue with me.
- How is Kathie really doing? Do you get to see her? Answer: An excellent wife is the crown of her husband (Proverbs 12:4). This truly defines Kathie. But to be honest, she really struggles with me being here (the injustice) and needs me to come home. She has had a lot of physical health problems and doesn’t feel she has fully overcome the pneumonia from February. She has spent months trying to find a lawyer in Virginia to take the civil case, and is constantly busy handling phone calls and emails from many people. She continues to fully trust the Lord and is believing in God for miracles. And even when she is feeling poorly, she makes the trek just about every week just to see me (9-10 hours total drive). She is the best, most faithful, God-fearing wife a man could ever have. But she misses me enormously, and has trouble sleeping without me by her side.
- Do you have phone usage – I think I saw there was no internet usage? Answer: I get 300 minutes of phone privileges a month at a cost of around 8 cents a minute for local calls and 23 cents for long distance. We have no access to the internet, but can email up to 100 people through a specialized email system. The cost to email is 5 cents per minute and there is a 30 minute limit per session.
- How is William and the business doing? Answer: By the grace of God, Response Unlimited is carrying on, and William is doing a fine job. My son Josiah also quit his managerial job this past winter at Chick-fil-A and is now working with Response Unlimited. There will be a new FAQ page at www.responseunlimited.com that was actually part of Josiah’s long-distance tutorial. Response Unlimited is currently not setting any records, but it is more than breaking-even, and I praise God for that!
- Is there anything else I/we could do from a distance that will make life for you or your family easier? Answer: I wish there were. But really, the most important thing is to keep praying! The civil suit in Vermont is supposed to begin in December. There are always a lot of challenges at home, managing the home front. I know your prayers are sustaining us! I suppose you could recruit others to pray for us and to pray for revival in the church!
- And most importantly, how is your spiritual heart? I know you are studying and learning and writing and sharing, but how is it down deep inside? Answer: I miss being with Kathie the most. And my granddaughter, who turns 1 this month, wouldn’t let me hold her when she was here on Monday. I hate that. I do speak with Kathie every day for nine or ten minutes, which is what I look forward to the most (besides the visits). Sometimes I get tired of reading and feel bored, so I turn on one of the Christian radio stations and that helps. But deep inside I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn so much that He has shown me for the first time over the past 5 ½ months. And I enjoy teaching and encouraging other men in the Lord. I grieve for many of their souls, and wish the Holy Spirit would provide some genuine breakthroughs when it comes to their repentance and salvation. All in all, I am truly blessed and thankful to the Lord. I have nothing to complain about and am so very thankful for all the prayers and letters of encouragement. God is truly watching over me. I just wish soon He would allow me to go home. I’m not bitter, but I do want to move on with the rest of my life. This has been a good experience in many ways, and I have certainly learned a whole lot about my fellow man and other things God has showed me. I have everything to be grateful to God for. Thank you for continuing to lift us all up in prayer!
In His Service,
May 05, 2016
Today at 2:00pm marks exactly five months since I walked into the front door of Ashland Federal Correctional Institution. It is hard to believe, but if I am indeed granted early release from the compassionate release part of the Prison Reform Bill President Trump recently signed into law, as my manager is telling me, I’ve already nearly served a quarter of my expected time. And, there is a chance, if I find favor with prison officials, I could be released even earlier than that. And so, I want to take today to thank all of you who pray for me, Kathie, my family, and our business regularly. I believe your prayer is carrying us through. God has blessed us in many ways, and He has answered prayer in amazing ways!
And so, it was very appropriate, and served as a reminder to me of the significance of this day that as I began my day, as I do each day, with The Daily Bread devotional. It took me to II Corinthians 1:8-11. For it reminded me not only of the significance of the day, but the significance of God’s answers to all of your prayers. For even though I remain in prison, I have the peace and joy that can only come from the Father in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit has given me purpose and meaning even through these trying times. I have learned so very much, and it no doubt is a time of preparation as I continue to wait upon the Lord for whatever He has for me.
We continue to need your prayers, especially as Kathie continues to struggle with her health. It is no doubt hardest upon her.
And so, there is no better way to thank you than to quote the Apostle Paul, as he thanked the Corinthians for their prayers during his time of suffering (not that our suffering in any way compares to Paul’s): “But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer, and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also are you sharers of our comfort.
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us…that we were burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;…that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; Who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.
“And He will yet deliver us, 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 many” (II Corinthians 1:6-11).
Again, at this five month mark, thank you for your prayers. And for the cards, letters, gifts, meals, and calls (for Kathie). Words can’t fully describe our appreciation, and I thank and praise God for you each day! Please don’t stop praying!
In His service,
April 23, 2019
Read daily messages from Philip on his Blog – Letters from Prison:
Romans 8:28: “And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”
April 22, 2019
If you believe God put me in prison merely to be a blessing to others, it is only partially true. I am now convinced that He has me here for another purpose – to learn and grow in Him and His Word. Of this, I have become truly convinced. For example, never would I have taken such significant portions of each day reading and studying God’s Word and listening to the voice of His Spirit. For what he may be preparing me for, other than my own edification, I do not know, nor can I speculate.
I also learn a lot from others, including my friend “C”, who miraculously came to the Lord when he hit rock bottom in an isolation cell. He’d lived a life of self-pleasure, a wanton lifestyle of addictions, violence, sex, and misery. His mom had just died. And the mother of his two youngest children and his sister had also just died of heroin overdoses. So they locked “C” in isolation, afraid he might become violent.
Every time we study Scripture together, it seems “C” reminds me that one word should exemplify the life of a true Christian – obedience! And this is very true. I see it reinforced over and over again as I read through the history of Israel and Judah in the first half of the Scriptures.
Everything seems to hinge on the obedience of God’s people. Life versus death. Health instead of disease. Prosperity instead of drought, famine, and calamity. Peace rather than war. Victory instead of defeat. Joy and happiness rather than despair and sorrow. Confidence and courage rather than dread. Wisdom and knowledge rather than confusion.
However, with obedience comes other characteristics and attributes we find clearly portrayed throughout the Scriptures. God blessed when the people and leaders turned to God for direction. When they forgot God and did what they thought right in their own eyes, not seeking His directions and advice, God’s directions and blessings and victory were not there! We see this over and over again!
And this shortcoming, trusting in our own judgment rather than seeking God’s direction and advice, becomes more and more prevalent the better and easier life becomes for us. And that’s when pride can easily set in, as it did for the kings of Israel and Judah. They start out well, seeking God’s direction, and God blesses them in every way. But then one day they skip the step of asking God first whether they should do something specific, or go up to battle. This often leads to their downfall and destruction. Look at the examples of Saul, Solomon, or Joash. That’s why Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes later in his life.
Jesus Himself reiterates this principle when Peter began to doubt his trust of the Lord to keep him afloat as he stepped foot on the Sea of Galilee’s surface. As soon as Peter’s faith began to waiver, he began to sink.
And, as “C” constantly reminds me when we look at Scriptures together, it all comes back to obedience. Our obedience is predicated on our love for our Savior, who gave Himself for us. And hence we should give our lives willingly to Him in complete obedience – out of a true love that never wants to destroy the intimacy God intended us to have with Hm.
This is why God compares our relationship with Christ as that of a bride. We are the bride of Christ; He is the perfect groom who gave His life for His bride. This “submission,” or obedience out of sheer love, is the picture God intends between a man and wife; for a husband must love his wife as God loves his church.
Thank you for your continued prayers and letters of encouragement!
In His Service,
March 7, 2019
Dear Praying Friends,
It is hard to believe this week marks three months that I have been in prison. My comfort level has greatly increased since the first few weeks, although it was extremely evident many were praying and I was surrounded with God’s angels, I was frightened to be entering prison. Thank you again for your ongoing prayers.
God continues to give me favor with other prisoners. There are now six who pray in our circle each night and between four and five of us who meet at least weekly to study the Bible.
I must say the most difficult thing is for me to be here in prison while my wife of 38 years is suffering at home with pneumonia. She is hoping to be well enough to come see me this weekend, which marks one month since her last visit, but I’m still uncertain she’s well enough to make the trip without causing a relapse.
Yet Paul tells me, we must “exalt in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A Christian life proves itself not in words, but character. No one is a Christian without character. Those who do not persevere experience nothing that will build character.” I do not know if Bonhoeffer was inspired by this passage when he penned those words, but he well could have been.
But what did Paul mean by tribulation? It could have been sickness, persecution, being falsely accused or ridiculed for Christ’s sake, financial hardships, hurting relationships, and more.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
The crown of our life is our hope, and it does not disappoint! No matter our sufferings, God’s love has been poured out to us within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us! Because of this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are able to endure anything Satan may send our way.
“But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.” (I Peter 4:12)
Some have told me they did not have it within them to endure what Kathie and I have gone through, yet I believe when that time comes, the Holy Spirit will provide you with the supernatural grace to endure. It’s not much different than when one faces death, something which I’ve been privileged to personally experience (I have written about this in my Journal). We think it will be a difficult experience, yet when the time arrives, the Spirit of God provides such joy and peace and anticipation it is inexplicable! That’s the working of the Holy Spirit.
In the meanwhile, before tribulation hits you (and each believer is promised it will),
“Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
As we stand firm and persevere, the Holy Spirit will provide the grace for us to endure, and this produces character. So, what is character? I believe it is the fruit of the Spirit, which “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, (and) self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
I write similar thoughts down on a daily basis – what God reveals to me – and send it home. I do not know if any has yet to be posted on line and apologize if it has not (I have no internet access), but I know my family is hopelessly behind in the transcription particularly when I get very inspired, or verbose, depending on one’s point of view! Please pray someone would help to undertake this task.
As I close, I want to thank again each person who has provided, notes, letters, cards, books, meals for Kathie and William, and even financial support. All of it is an immense encouragement! But most appreciated is your prayer support! I covet your prayers, and know it is what is sustaining us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to pray especially for Kathie’s full recovery!
In His Service,