Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Journal: July 4, 2010

Today, we were allowed outside and I was very grateful to the Lord. There was no chapel today so I met with the brothers to study some Greek, and later we had a nice time of prayer where we prayed for all our families. We shared how we used to spend the Fourth when in freedom. It brought back wonderful memories of taking my family to see fireworks and having backyard bar-b-ques. I was able to practice the violin this evening, working on the Bach Ciaconne. Our dinner consisted of a hotdog and a hamburger with some salad and cake. There was an All-Star softball game and I was selected to pitch but I wanted to help the guys with their Greek. WE will play again next week. I was able to counsel a Christian man who has been very discouraged over his life-sentence. The Lord gave me wisdom. One of my former students I translating my devotions (book) into German and Pastor Joseph (inmate) is translating it into Spanish.

Tonight I will try to see the Boston Pops on TV. I was greatly encouraged by reading George Muller’s autobiography, a commentary on Matthew by Ironside, and a book by John MacArthur called The Second Coming. Of course, I meet with the Lord in the Psalms. May the Lord bless you all.


Journal: July 1, 2010

Today was a very difficult day because we were locked down all day. WE had hoped to be out by 1 PM, but it did not happen. We had no showers either. I am grateful for the swamp cooling and the small fan I have. The Lord is good.

Because the day brought so much frustration and discouragement, I felt motivated to write another devotional on suffering for my book. I took as my text Genesis 37:24, 28 and 39:20 “and they took him and threw him into the pit…and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites…and put him into the jail.” These phrases describe suffering of Joseph, cruelly treated by his wicked brothers and Potiphar’s wife. One moment he was walking in freedom and the next he was stripped of all he owned and robbed of his father, his freedom, and his future. He had no more control of his own life but was at the mercy of others. He was bound in chains (Ps. 105:18). He could cry out or fret and it would do no good. He was brought to the point where he had to trust God—for everything. This is actually a blessed place to be to be but it is very painful (to the flesh) to get there. The Scripture says he was refined in his chains. I am grateful to the Lord that He, from time to time, gives me tastes of this kind of suffering, for my much needed spiritual growth.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Journal: June 30, 2010

Today the Lord gave me the opportunity to help three believers understand more about eschatology. We covered the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennium and the eternal state. I was so thankful that I could serve these men and the Lord. We shall try to meet again Friday. It took the whole yard time. Usually I have time to walk and pray for my family: brother, kids and their mother. This afternoon they canceled all program because they had to search all the cells on the yard. Prison is so unpredictable. Tonight I had planned to preach on 2 Cor. 12:9 but we were locked down this evening as well.

I forgot to mention the 27th (Sunday). The power company had to shut off all area power for 10 hours which eliminated our air and fans. It was over 100 degrees and our cells were hot and stuffy and nearly asphyxiating. I prayed for grace to endure it and it also gave me a taste of what our Christian brothers and sisters suffer in prisons in under-developed countries. May the Lord comfort them and give them relief in their trials.

May the Lord bless you all.


Journal: June 29, 2010

We started a Bible devotional time on the yard each evening from 7 PM to 7:45 PM when we have to go inside. WE did this in order to offer solid spiritual “food” to the flock. Our turnout has been very good. The first speaker brought a message on mortifying sin. The next night the topic was prayer. Then I spoke on holiness of the heart and its necessity for revival. Las night a brother preached on Biblical love. Today I completed my third devotional for my book on suffering. It takes several hours to write just one page. It was on 2 Cor. 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you.” Now that I am finished with the ThD, I can concentrate on this book.


Journal: June 28, 2010

A few days ago I completed all my work on my doctor of theology degree and I thank the Lord for all His help and grace. It has been a long and difficult road. I truly believe I learned a lot and I hope I am more useful to the Lord if He should continue to use me for His kingdom. Today I was able to practice the violin a long time and prepare for my next recital which will be entitled a “Bach to Beatles” concert. I am thankful to the Rabbi for allowing me to practice.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Letter: June 22, 2010

Dear Friends,

These last several days have been both very trying and full of joy in the Lord. There is so much sorrow and tragedy here among the inmates, especially those who are lost. The man who lost his young daughter is doing better. We prayed with him and blessed him with some food. He started going to some of the outside services. Pray for his salvation. His name is M.C. I will look for an opportunity to share Christ with him.

Last Sunday, I was asked to preach in Chapel and I chose for my text, Matthew 10:37-39. There are three points in the passage: Jesus wants our loyalty, our will, and our life. He demands total surrender to Him. The sermon was well-received, but I fear the usual tares who attend the services were not change din heart. I can only throw the seed, but God gives the increase. Please pray for the salvation of those who hear regularly the Word but who have not trusted Christ.

Today, by God’s grace I was able to preach form Daniel 2. It was a service filled with sweet music led by a very skilled singer and guitarist. After me, brother Joseph preached from Genesis on Lot and how he hesitated at the angels’ warning to flee Sodom. He brought out the point that Lot had no spiritual impact on his family or city. We noticed this evening that some of the brothers are starting to listen to a false brother on the yard who is teaching error. This is very discouraging to us. We will try to offer regular evening on-the-yard devotional times in order to feed the flock solid food.

Throughout the week we gather to pray for our families. Many of the men are separated from their kids (like men) and have no contact. We pray for reunion and, where needed, salvation. We also pray for missionaries like Pastor Goetzen in Germany who is throwing the seed of the Gospel to a very hard-hearted people. He is very faithful to endure despite very little response. Please pray for him. You’ll remember I taught his daughter violin at Grace School.

I received a wonderful gift of George Muller’s autobiography. It has nearly 800 pages of his personal writings about his life and work of faith in London. He is an incredible inspiration!

Tonight I completed my next to last paper for my doctorate of theology. I am excited to finish. It has been a long road of study. After this, I want to continue writing a book on trials and afflictions in a 365-day devotional using quotes from many famous and wise believers who have endured deep trials.

Along with my preaching ministry here, I will have much to do, but only by the grace of God. Even the most basic, ordinary things to those of you outside, are great blessings here in prison. We view them as gifts of grace from the Lord. I am speaking of things like: a shower, a phone call, getting to go to the yard, to chapel, to practice the violin, to talk with a friend, to teach the Word, to attend a Bible study, to receive a candy bar, to receive a letter of visit. There are so many benefits of prison; it teaches patience thankfulness, humility (I hope), acceptance for those you would never even approach on the street. Prison can bring joy when you see a man who was steeped in drugs and violence, redeemed by the Lord and serving Him. There are many moments to God’s grace here. To God be the glory! I hope these notes are informative and encouraging. May the Lord bless you and keep you. As always, praying for my family.

In Chains for Christ,


Journal: June 12, 2010


I have been undergoing some persecution for which I thank God. He commands us to “thank God in all circumstances” (I Thess. 5:18) and to give thanks for everything (Eph. 5:20). Though it is painful, I know I am blessed (Matt. 5:11-12). My Christian brothers came along side and defended me (verbally).

Thursday night chapel was a wonderful night of praise music and being able to reach out to men who are not saved. I am honored to be among these men, so steeped in sin and without hope, so that I might be just a little bit of light to them through Christ in me. This morning, the chaplain let me preach, so I chose Matthew 10:37-39, exhorting and pleading the men to surrender their loyalty, will, and life to Christ. There are those there who have made only a profession of faith, but need to surrender all. I was able to play the violin while a man sang “I Surrender All” in a very worshipful way. It was a blessed morning.

This afternoon, our Christian baseball team, “Redeemed Team,” lost our first game. I pitched, and poorly at that. Our attitudes were good and the other team, who were constantly heckling us, saw that. We lost, but are still redeemed; they won, but are lost. I believe we did play for the glory of God.

This evening, I and two brothers in Christ, had such sweet fellowship, we forgot we were in prison. WE talked of many Scriptures and had a good time in prayer at the end. Today was a blessed and wonderful day in Christ. God is doing wonderful things here in my life and the lives of these men who know Christ. Most all are like m, separated from their families, their children, wives, and parents. We always pray God’s protection and provision for our dear families. The men pray for my children and their mother.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I will teach the advanced Greek class on the yard, then practice the violin in the afternoon and evening. It is a joy to see these men’s progress in Biblical Greek and how they can now open up the Greek New Testament and read a good deal of some of the passages.

Oh yes, I forgot about Rick, a younger brother hungry for the Word. He asked me to teach him how to study the Bible, so we sat on the yard and I started him in basic Bible study. He was very excited after the session! God is very kind to use a wretch like me.

May the Lord bless you all.

We learned today that a daughter (age 11) of one of the inmates in our block died recently of a lingering illness. He is very distraught and he is not a believer. Please pray for his comfort and salvation. His initials are TC. We are trying to minister to him as best we can.


Journal: June 7, 2010

Today was a wonderful day in the Lord. He allowed me to rehearse with the guitarist in preparation for our concert. In prison, any opportunity to do something construction like rehearse, go to Chapel, do a Bible study, is a blessing because everything can shut down at a moment’s notice. Yesterday we were sitting at a table on the yard at our Greek class when, suddenly, the loudspeaker roared, “Get down!” We dropped to our stomachs, I on the dirt, but the others flew to the nearby grass. There we all were, 800 men on our bellies. Someone in one of the building shad had a medical problem. We were hoping it wouldn’t be due to a stabbing or something, because then we would all have to lock up, perhaps for a long time. Thankfully, it was just an individual medical problem.

I enjoyed walking on the yard with my friend from 4-block who is a growing Christian. We had a rich discussion over the Word.

The Lord blessed us today with some violin sheet music from a faithful man of God—David Johns. He also set a marvelous book. Thank you, David. Also, my pastor-friend in Idaho sent George Muller’s autobiography (about 800 pages). I know I will be greatly inspired by this man. He is the man of faith and prayer. He had a profound influence on my wife and I when we were going through seminary and adopted children—his example of faith was wonderful.

Tonight I will work on my papers for my ThD. As always, praying for my dear children, friends, and family.


Journal: June 6, 2010

Yesterday, I was blessed with a wonderful visit from my dear brother, Don, and my friend in Christ, David Buck. They were very gracious to drive over 200 miles to see me. May the Lord bless them greatly.

Last evening, I spent two wonderful hours listening to sermons from 1 John which will complete my ThD this month, Lord willing. It has been a long road, lots of papers, lectures, and books. Then I will focus on writing two books—one on suffering and the other on what the Lord has done in prison—to His glory.

Today, after prayer for my children and family, I was able to go to the prison yard and teach our Greek class. The men are doing very well. Last Saturday, a dear saint on the yard went to be with the Lord. He collapsed and was taken away, but his soul is in glory! A service was held yesterday for him. Recently, a man named Joseph, sent his wife (not saved), Heather, a Grace Today. We were in hopes that she would try and attend but she is not interested. Please pray for her to come to know Christ.

I am preparing an upcoming violin/guitar recital calling it “From Bach to Beatles.” We will perform music of Bach, Puccini, Dvorak, and the Beatles. The guitarist is not saved; please pray for Patrick.