May 25 Letter

PRAYER ALERT

There may have been a riot at Ashland prison; all inmates are on lockdown confined to their cells. Please pray.  This disruption will cause a delay in getting Philip’s reply to Judge Arcara in time.

 

May 25, 2020

Monday, Day 538

Today is Kathie and my 39th anniversary, although we did not have a wedding per se until our 25th wedding celebration when we restated our marriage vows. The first time was in front of the Justice of the Peace Judge Stone in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was telling some men this afternoon that was the beginning of 39 years of God’s blessings, as we were treated that night to a honeymoon suite at the Maxim hotel for a mere $60. This $3,000+ per night player’s suite was made possible by the Lord because of Judge Stone, or we would have been driving back to Los Angeles that Memorial Day night in search of a vacant hotel room.

This anniversary has been difficult for both of us, I’d have to admit. We really believed I would have been home by now. I began to pour out my heart to the Lord, and He spoke to me reminding me of I Peter 5:10: “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

God then made it clear to me that He is indeed humbling me, and He is keeping me here for the work He is doing in me. My suffering is not for others, but for my benefit, and it is imperative I understand this completely. My pride wants me to think that I am in prison for the benefit of those around me, but God could have just as easily brought people to Christ and strengthened them in the Lord without me. It is far more important that I recognize the fact that He wants to change and perfect me. That is all that matters. And in the meanwhile, it is imperative I am 100 percent faithful to Him, filled with the Spirit to overflowing. It matters not whether my life influences merely one person, or a million. Only my faithfulness matters. God is solely responsible for everything else. I am not to make grandiose plans to win the world for Christ or right wrongs or injustices. Instead, I want to be molded and shaped into an instrument God can use. Only when I recognize this, and He is finished in teaching me what I need to know, will he release me from this suffering.

Today I dissected I Peter 5:10 in the NASV by doing a word study utilizing The Complete Word Study New Testament. “To perfect” means to restore, set right, make a perfect fit, such as one should be deficient in no part. “To confirm” means to make steadfast (this is translated “established” in Romans 1:11). “To strengthen” is used only in I Peter 5:10 as its root is more commonly used in the negative aspect, with a negative prefix, as in “to lack strength” or “to be sick.” To be strengthened then is to be made whole in our infirmities. Finally, to be established, as translated here, is the word themelio, which means “to be found” or “to lay the foundation of anything.” In other words, God is building a foundation through our suffering, which will establish us for His future use!

In the past weeks, as our little group of 12% of the men in our unit packed shoulder to shoulder in Will’s 7×9 cell, I have come to realize what the church should look like. It is a much truer picture of what God wants in His church; I am convinced. We come from many different backgrounds, and are in prison for many different reasons, some I do not even know why. Yet we are all washed in the blood and agree on the fundamentals of our salvation and love and accept one another. I have come to the realization that I have to teach and share. We are all being perfected, confirmed, strengthened and established. Had it not been for COVID-19 and our being locked down in this unit, it is very likely our little church would have never been formed. And, amazingly, it is the newest believer among us, “W,” who brought all of us together.

He is also the one who brought still another into our midst, who after one night came to realize he didn’t understand a thing of what we were speaking about. So “W” gave him one of his Bibles to read, which he is devouring for the first time in his life. His name is “J,” and he is recognizing that the Holy Spirit is working on him. Please pray for “J.”

In regard to my motion to vacate my sentence, because of some unexpected last minute affidavits received supporting my mens rea that Isabella was being sexually abused, I asked Judge Arcara for a two-week extension in making my final reply. This is now due on June 4. Please pray with us for “D,” who is working on this document for me, and that God will move the heart of Judge Arcara. I can’t tell you how much Kathie and I appreciate your prayers and letters and notes of encouragement. Thank you!

In His Service,

Philip

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