continued from Part 4.
This is a story i am still working on, it is unedited and i’ve had split it up into parts to make it easier to write. At the beginning & end of each part i am trying to put a link so no parts are missed. I brought it to a conclusion but as I go back and EDIT I am sure I will also add a few more things as well as delete things.
To go to the beginning go to: PART ONE.
…edit note:Already inserted notes Alexx suggested (June 25th)…
THE NEW NORMAL
All 6 men were able to sit together during dinner. Pip was not always around and recently had distanced himself more and more but as Phil noticed him looking for a seat so he called him over. Lil’John said, “yeah, pip, sit here!” Lil’John took up the space for two men so with 6 at the table he was struggling to keep both cheeks on the bench. “Ain’t room for me but your skinny butt will fit just fine.” Pip sat down. Lil’John had the same thoughts as Phil, get pip around these new guys who are encountering Jesus and it will do him good. Phil was going to give up his seat but it made more sense for Lil’John to move so he had room to breath and swollow better. When pip sat down it was obvious he was only there to wolf down the food. He was on a mission. The other 5 men wanted to continue with what they had just left in the cell. They were not ready to just spend time with God in the cell and leave all that upstairs, at their bunks. Trevor still had the material. P.T. still had his Bible and Knowell was just staring into space. Pip clanced at him as Phil tried to introduce each of them. Pip just assumed, that man is high. As Pip dug into the lumpy mashed potatoes he actually asked, “What you on man?” Then looked for a repercussion for being too nosey. Knowell made eye contact and responded, “hah, I am high, but this like nothin’ I ever shot up before dude!” Phil smiled and looked down at his food, once again thanking God, ‘man can not live on bread alone, thank you Lord for giving the bread of life.‘, He prayed silently and just let things unfold. Guy introduced himself to Pip. No fist bumps or hand shakes were exchanged. Pip was in too much of a hurry for that. P.T. involved Pip more by saying how he missed seeing him around. The Pod wasn’t big enough for 60 men but big enough for men with similar interest to congregate together as well as avoid each other when necessary. Pip spoke fast with out fully chewing. It was as if he was inhailing the food, “I…I (burp)paaah I been around. Just doin’ my thang, you, agh, you say that every time I see you P.T. ! I ain’t been no where but (burp) bah…but here bra’ you ain’t been ’round ah me neither bra’!” Knowell began to eat. Trevor was eating and listening then added, “So Pip, you been to Bible study?” Pip shrugged, “Chapel tomorrow, I may go, not sure I buy all that. I just go to get outta da pod bra’.” Knowell said, “nothin’ to buy, it is free.” Phil smiled. He knew God’s presence was up there in that cell but now Knowell was obviously letting Him move into his heart, sovereign, he thought. Pip finished clearing the food from his plate by using his roll like a mop, “Look, I grew up in Church. WITH my whole family and they suck. The loved people they went to church with n’ spent more time and money on each other than they eve’ did on me. I’m different…” He stopped himself from giving them details and took a swig of cool aid. “Glad it’s working for you guys but it’s just not for me. I just don’t believe like ya’ll and I prechiat’ ya not trying to convert me.” Phil stepped into the conversation, “No worries there Pip, just friends man. They just enjoyed some time getting to know what God is really like and checked the church s’htuff at the door man. You hang out as much or as lil’ As ya want with us. We like hangin’ out with ya man, but it is NOT to try n’ convert you, believe that.” Trevor was a bit confused. Knowell asked, “Who would not want this?” Phil went on, “If a man only seen false religion and told it is the truth it’s hard to swollow.” “Confusing as hell!”, Guy added. Pip choked a little on the last few crumb of the roll and gravy, “agggg.” He cleared his throat to get out the confirmation, “yep, damn right Phil and…”, Pip couldn’t recall the other guys name. “… you both got datrit’. I seen the show and it ain’t all that. Not impressed! ” He got up and stormed off, however; he knew in his heart there was no denying how true and real God was and he honestly saw the Jesus of the Bible modeled in Phil and Lil’John as well as that changing power in P.T. He just wasn’t ready to bury the hatchet with the anger left over from a religious dad who did nothing but condemn him for being, ‘different’, gay. I don’t need a God who doesn’t love me for who and how I am. Phil sat and prayed. P.T. took a breath. Guy asked, “What is his problem? ” Phil took a bite from his roll and said, “He has not truly tasted the true bread of life, the real man Jesus Christ our Lord. Give em’ time n’ space. Let God work with and on em’.” Trevor asked, “But don’t you Christian’s try to convert people like that?” P.T. spoke from personal experience, “Only God can convert. He did it to me, not Phil.” Knowell said, ” Maybe the chaplain can help em’.” Guy said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in jail makes you a criminal. ” Knowell laughed, “I don’t know, being in jail sure helped me become a better criminal!” Phil said, “Exactly, it may help or hurt you, the company you keep, things you share or others share with you , but it comes down to a one on one relationship. Like Adam & Eve. Man has every opportunity to commune, communicate, with God and let Him be part of his life or not.” P.T. shared again, “In Hinduism, for my family it is all about religion and practicing rituals and rites but what I am finding now it this man Jesus who wants to have a friendship, no more than that, He wants…like a marriage. I’m asking Him to be like my spouse and I want to be his spouse. Hard to put into words and until I made the choice to ask Him to help me understand I could not, but I am beginning to really understand more and more. You all are helping me too with dis’. It is barry barry good!” They all choked a lil’ As they rejoiced in their new friends and were entertained with P.T. ‘s accent once again. P.T. laughed too, “I know I say barry barry funny but I am obviously different and…” Phil chimed in, “We love ya brother, just the way you are, know that, we are all different. ” Trevor said, “I like it! You probably know more than any of us.” P.T. thought he might have meant because eastern men were stereotypes of higher education but speaking with a strong accent and running a convince store. For P.T.’s family the fact was they owned and ran many of them and spoke several languages. He was use to being poked at but knew in his heart that they were all so full of joy it was going to come out in different ways. P.T. nodded and said, “I know you guys are different and don’t mean any bullying by it. I do sound funny. Trevor added, “Barry gooood barry pie.” He realized that was probably going to far and stopped, “No, no, sorry P.T. that’ wrong of me brother. Too much ‘mericans try say we right and eve’one else wrong. We selfish conseeded pricks too much. I can evn’ see how once a person get to know God and feel His Spirit al’sudden they think they’s god and try judge n’ jury ev’one else.” Phil was just pondering how Trevor spoke compared to how he read. Knowell said, “After dinner I going to read some more Bible, I been missing out.” He finished and went straight up to their cell. Trevor agreed, “uhuh!” He gathered the material and asked Phil if he could hold on to it. Phil nodded, “Of course. ” Guy sat back on a belly break and took a deep breath not able to contain his smile. P.T. made eye contact with Phil and asked, “Can you show me more physical defensive moves, the Spiritual side is doing fine but I’d like to get this temple in shape too.” Phil agreed, “Sure, you’re really coming along. A lot of it comes naturally for you. Ya just got to sharpen a few things. It is all about becoming more and more aware.” P.T. said, “Like my dad after knee surgery, the doctor said, ‘you know how to walk, now there is a new normal for you as you walk now with a new knee.” Guy liked that, “yeah, a new normal now.” He held onto it as he left the table to return his trey. Only P.T. and Phil were left there. “You still miss your son, I see it in your face. I pray for you my friend. ” With that he left Phil too. He did and always would miss his son. He still couldn’t eat well but prayed, “Lord, life now without my son is hard, I do miss him terribly. It is as if he is just gone on a long trip and…” Phil’s prayer was a two way conversation and God spoke, ‘you will see Him again. This is all normal, how you feel, what you are thinking and when you can’t think. It is all in my control, all part of my plan. I will keep you and see you through this new normal. I was, I am and I forever will be. Not by your own might but by my power you will carry on until your final day too. I love you. I’ve already done what is needed to make a way for you to live on in eternity with me and all those who go before you. I am the last Adam. The first Adam brought sin, disobedience and thus brought death, my son came to set things right and bring life. My Spirit, the same Spirit that raised My son from the dead has raised your son and will raise you. Don’t be sad, grieve but know you have hope in me, all these men do. See me in them now. Show them me through your life.” Phil took a few more seconds to thank God and try to eat as he sat alone but not really alone. A peace surrounded him and the kitchen staff noted it. Henry, one of the trusted approached Phil, “you almost done partner? Prolly’ cold by now.” He slipped another roll to Phil then brought his finger to his lips and winked, the universal nonverbal sign to not share this simple good deed. Phil nodded in appreciation and let Henry take the trey away and got up just to keep moving on through this tough season.
READ, APPLY, SIMPLIFY
Knowell and Trevor went back and read more material from Living on the Edge ministry with their Bibles open. They began to devour God’s word and gain wisdom they had never tasted before. Trevor read out loud to Knowell who always tried to come across as the more educated one but really struggled with reading. Trevor read, “Envy – Compares and produces jealousy, anger, resentment, and bitterness. (i.e. “comparing the foot to the hand”)” They looked up 1st Corinthians 12:15-16. Knowell did know that First Corinthians was the name of a book in the Bible but had no idea where it would be found in the scheme of things. Trevor had a paged folded down from where they were looking before dinner. He showed Knowell and gauged how far back to go by the thickness of the pages in the front part, got to the New Testament section and frantically turned to get to the same place Trevor was then said, “I know the big number is the chapter and after those two dots is the small numbers.” Trevor had heard them called verses, “Verses!” Knowell confirmed as he got to it and almost shouted, “You read it, I’m there.” As the pages stopped fluttering. Trevor read it then looked back at the notes Phil gave him by Chip Ingram, “Arrogance – Compares and produces pride, boasting, rudeness, and independence. (i.e. “compare the eye to the hand”) now look at to 1st Corinthians 12:21-22.” They did. Then Trevor read, “We all struggle with envy and arrogance, but we tend to habitually fall into one camp more often than the other.” “Ain’t that the truth!”, Said Knowell, “Read on!” Trevor read, “The envious…” Knowell stopped Trevor to clarify, “That mean people who want other people’s stuff right, ‘envous’, right?” Trevor said, “yeah, you got it, not just stuff but like to be as famous or rich as them and wanna steal like who they is’ n’ get, ah…you know, rather than just be happy with what they’s got, get other’s clout and status too cause they got’s jelousy and ah…” He search for word, “like covet!” “Unhuh!” Knowell was getting it. Trevor read, “They must believe that God is good and has sov…sovern… sovereignly, yeah like Phil was sayin’ sovereignly and wisely given them what is best for them and best to fulfill His purposes…” Trevor paused and thought for a few soconds then joted a note. Knowell pressed hom, “Read that app…um appli’catssion part.” Trevor asked for anothet srcond and was busy writing something he didn’t want to sharr, then read, “Admit, repent then ask God to use you.” Knowell waited again as Trevor wrote some more, “What you doin’ Trev’ READ!” Trevor laughed, “I taken a personal inventory!” When he was ready he read, “Meditate on God’s goodness, generosity. Choose gratitude and thankfulness. The arrogant must admit their need and choose to be vulnerable in order to receive the goodness of God in their daily experience.” This time it was Knowell that wrote things down as Trevor continued, “Remember everything is given from God. Remember where you came from. Hang out with those who know where you came from – who you really are. Admit your needs.” “Oh!” Knowell exclaimed. Trevor reached the bittom portion of yhe page and read a section titled, “Discussion / Personal Applicaton Questions: What’s love got to do with simplifying your life? Share a time in the last week you were patient (pillow) and kind (hug) when someone hurt you.” Knowell thought of a shive he had been hiding in the stuffing of his pillow. Phil stepped into the cell, all sweaty having just done some exercises and said, “I can give you several examples of that for me. Several nights I even tried to use my pillow to block blows to my head, literally. ” “You ever hug the guy later?” Trevor asked. “He wouldn’t allow me to get close enough. All he wanted was some sick revenge. Ya, know that’s the amazing thing about an all powerful God who wants to love us but allows us freewill. He will only hug us, take us in, if we accept him on His terms not our own terms. He loves us unconditionally but we do need the believe in Him, love em’ back, not outta’ obligation but true, from our soul. We gotta humble ourselves and admit He is God, not us. Maybe I should have accepted Jason more. He approached me that last night before he was hurt but in here not sure who ta’ trust and what ta’ do but survive. He came up on me in my sleep and I just…reacted, I have Christ in my heart but I am still human and I don’t always do what Jesus would do but I sure try. Hope I didn’t take you off you discussion. Hey, I gotta shower quick. ” Trevor said, “okay, we gonna read a little more of this. I almost read all this one, you got more?” Phil replied, “Oh yeah and get a new one each week. I think you have parts of the one on Spiritual Simplicity there, not even sure if the pages are in order.” Knowell said, “They seems’ to be. We’s found where to go in the Bible too.” Trevor said, “We got the right address.” Phil smiled and rejoiced, “God is the best G.P.S. anyone could ask for.” As he gathered his toiletries and got in the shower he heard Trevor reading, “The Application: Separate from the World’s Values. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will. That is from Romans 12:2.. ah NIV it says after it.” Knowell said, “LOOK IT UP!” Trevor was already searching and final read it. The wording was a little different and kinda hard to read. Knowell asked Trevor, “What NIV’?” Phil came out of the short shower. He was rushing through it to keep from freezing and explained, “N.I.V. is an abriviation for New International Version. A different translation but you got King James’ translation. You’ll see it says the same thing just not old english, a more modern english.” Phil’s mind went back to what he said about a G.P.S. and how that could be an abriviation for, ‘God’s Plan of Salvation ‘ or maybe ‘God Positioning Servants.’ He said a silent prayer, ‘thank you for placing me here Lord, I wish I met these men under different circumstances but help me work through this place and time and be faithful to YOU, in Jesus name and for Christ’s sake, amen.” Guy entered the cell and saw Trevor and Knowell devouring the word of God. He had never seen anyone change so drastically and quickly. He thought of Phil’s son, ‘Stone’, and what a difference he had seen over time in him. He couldn’t imagine how Phil mourned his loss. All four men literally slept with Bibles in hand. They woke to the small over head lights still on above each of their bunks. Phil no longer had to use a battery powered pen light to read until he fell asleep. These four men shared the same interests and longing to get to know the real authentic Jesus written about in His word. What a blessing and although their surroundings didn’t offer much hope they now knew a living hope that came from deep within.
“It’s like everything around me was in black n’ white and now I see color! ” Phil overheard Trevor telling the guy’s in the cell next to theirs. He heard one guy objecting, “Man, dude, that Jail house Jesus! It’ll wear off when you get’s back in da hood, da streets don’t play! Can’t live that Jesus feel good, be kind life on da outside. Enjoy it while it lasts but it’d go away jack ‘beliThat!” Phil continued to listen as the other inmate said, “I don’t know man, I seen it stick with some brothers, they even been back in hrrr wid’ da’ chaplain and shared how somdem’ in full time talkin’ ’bout how Jesus hepped’ dem’ and day’ doin’ good bra’ ! Ya may be one of dem’ cats now slim!” Trevor replied, “Well, I don’t know about all dat’ but dis’ good bra’ I like it, like a high betta’ than drug ma’in. I’ll catch ya’ll lata’ I going to eat somo’ dis’ up.” Phil thanked God for a brother evangelist. It seemed so natural for Trevor and he prayed for faithfulness. Phil thought about what he had seen in his journey with the Lord. It seemed that the hardest hearts, the lives that seemed to be the worse, when they came know know God’s love, mercy and grace, they would end up serving God with the same dedication they use to serve themselves or their habit. They become an example for all to see. The bigger the problems and sin the harder they fall but if they let God lift them up and carry them the more they seemed to appreciate it. Those struggling ragamuffin are such a blessing to be around. They never seemed to fit into the cookie cutter patterns that some people fell into. Phil thought back to how the only drug problem he had growing up was, ‘He was drug to church.‘ He could easily take God and the Bible for granted but he didn’t. He knew the more he surrendered to Christ the better life was and the more able he was to brave the storms. He knew each man could be and example of God’s changing and sustaining power. He met Jesus, a rebel for the right cause, and strive to allow God to reign in him. What an amazing thing when ‘The Son Begins To Reign!” Phil didn’t need more of God’s Holy Spirit, God’s Holy Spirit needed and wanted more of Phil. The other cell mates seeemed to know that as great as it was to know they were going to heaven, saved from hell, it was ewually as great to know they’ve been saved to now serve God and in a very simple as well as practical way let God’s love shine through their life. It wasn’t a matter of knowing a bunch of Bible references. It was about internalizing The Scripture more than memorizing it. Phil knew guys who could spit it out like a parrot but had no love for others. They knew the word but did they let ‘The Word’, Christ know them? Some how, too often, Phil saw that when people experienced God’s presence everything became about them knowing more than anyone else and not using common sense, remembering what it was like before the knew Christ. Frequently they became the judge of other’s smudges, no longer considering their own lense was cracked. These new cell mates were a perfect example of how the bigger the past wrongs the greater God was able to use them as a good example of how great, mighty and powerful God was.
Knowell got into the shower. He seemed to be in there longer than normal. The water was almost always too cold to enjoy. Most men just get a little wet, shut the water off, soap up then turn the water back on to rinse. This wasn’t to conserve water, it was because the cold air and freezing water almost made it impossible to move. Phil was aware the water was running on and on and even wondered if Knowell was okay. He didn’t hear a thud, didn’t hear him fall. ‘Why has he been in there for so long?’ Phil fought the destraction as he tried to keep reading. Knowell finally exited the shower and went straight to the cell opening and looked around, towel still around his waist. With the coast clear and checked twice he whispered to Phil, “I just dumped a Shank down the shower drain , was from da’ rec. hall. I had it a while.” Phil recalled. Knowell went on in a hushed tone, “I feel like a shive isda’ oposite of a pillow. I Don’t wanna comform and…subscribe, ah perrscribe to dat’ formula any more. Typical life in da’ hood and streets, that mentality, only leads to da jail yard, Prison yard or da’ grave yard. I don’t wanna live just to rot n’ die. I wanna live a life of quality and um… quantity now. Sicka’ dat’ ah…perpetual insanity and sadness but I can’t do it. I know me. If I keep on dat’ old path I’ll regret it! I got regrets bro!” Knowell put his jail jump suit on under his towel. Phil then placed his pen where he left off reading and looked up at Knowell so he had no doubt He was listening as Knowell unloaded more, “In my nature, my ah whach’ you call it, D.N.A….WHO I AM, I am set up to do wrong, covet others, hurt those around me. I always been tryin’ gain things for myself when in reality I hurt myself when I am selfish, you know? But, since I gave God a chance, more than a chance, I gave up focusin’ on what my flesh wants. That when I finally gained life, when I gave up what I use to treasure and hold onto as valuable, wow, I rich now bra’! I got somthin’ betta’ that doe! Now my treasure is in heaven, nothing in this life really matters, could give it all up and truly be happy. Heaven my home now, not here.” He looked around and finished putting on his jail cover-alls, “but ‘da best thing is…I got more joy now about how life can be celebrated n’ enjoyed. I gots’ to hold on to dis’!” He paused then whispered, “Ditchin’ that shive feels GREAT!” Phil encouraged him, “Stay in the Word but remember we all got two sides. Feed the flesh and it will win out. Feed your soul. Love Jesus and let Jesus love you, then you will not only keep this you will grow even more. Sometimes it takes a while to change and grow, especially in some areas more than others. Relapse will raise its ugly head, lookin’ all beautiful, like a woman willing to put out. Drugs, booze, money, anything you literally see is just a passing pleasure that, not only won’t last, it does harm and only offers false hope. Knowell, God’s Spirit has come into your heart and it is like a seed. In Matthew 13 Jesus explains it really well. Let that seed keep growing, don’t let Him stop growing in you.” Then Phil gave Knowell some more Bible verses to take to heart from 1st Peter 4. Knowell quickly sat and couldn’t write fast enough as Phil turned to the portion and read, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. That’s from 1 Peter chapter 4 verses 1-11. I got the N.I.V. translation here..You know how to put the ‘dots’, the colon to seperate the verses?” Knowell wrote as he replied, “like this?” He showed Phil. “Yeah.” Then Knowell added, “I guess God told us we’re suposed to look a little strange to the world.” He underlined 1st Pe. 4:1-4 and put a bracket around verses 5-11. “It okay to mark in here right?” Phil assured him as he held up his own Bible and Knowell laughed as he saw all the notes written in on the side and different color highlighters Phil had used. Knowell stopped and took in a deep, deep breath. “Ya know we handed discipline from guards a lot in here. I can take dat’ mos’da’ time but I…” Knowell searched for the word, “hate…okay to use dat’ word? You know what I mean…I hate the discipline from cons. I…really, strongly dislike the cons and dare’ gangsta’ life!” Phil assured him, “We are supposed to hate what is evil. Love them as people but hate their wrong actions cause they wage war against God.” Phil took a little more time to mentor Knowell one on one, “Always keep facts separate from opinion. You have now tasted the truth. Keep taking in the truth, God’s word. Know the truth, hold onto it, keep going back to it and the truth will set you free. Opinions try to bind us and keep us bond up even after an argument. Ever go over and over a conflict for days?” Knowell said, “brother I still trying to get rid of heated throw downs I had with people from when I was a teenager! I gotta let go all that sh…” Knowell stopped himself, “Allsthat’ stuff’!” Phil loved watching The Holy Spirit filter things for his new brother. “See, God is giving you tongue control. That’s a big deal, I’ll show you what’s written in James about that.”, Phil promised. Knowell nodded as he said, “And there more than one crowd to hang out with. I don’t need to be runnin’ with some old beat up gangbangers. Ya know they says’ they got your back but when in real trouble they gone! I ain’t got family, I mean they alive but they put block on they’s phones n’ given up in me. Notaone’ of my boys from da’ streets put any hep’ on my commisary. They gots’ stacks of money but once I came in here, where’s they now? Nothin’ to do wif’ me bro, nothin’ they don’t cares’!” Trevor came back in the cell, he had been in and out and was making rounds sharing his new found faith. He spoke to his cellies, “I just talk to a guy who said he was a ‘Tagger’, ya know graffiti artist, and him n’ his boys ended up with taggin’ to close to a rival gang’s stuff n’ his friend got shot over THAT!” Knowell reacted, “Man, see, men who bully and jumps into fight…” Phil added, “Easily angered, fits of rage…” Knowell went on, “ummhmmm, they is really weak cause doin’ what everyone else wants, no control over self, NO sefcontrols’! Real man able to not surrender to other men taunting them. Weak give in n’ jump into right where their enemy want em’. RIGHT where their opponents want em’!” Trevor agreed, “RIGHT WHERE THEY WANT EM’!” Phil confirmed, “Ya know that God says, There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. That is in First John four, I think verse 18.” Trevor grabbed his Bible to look it up.
Time seemed to move faster as they spent time in the Word. It some how changed them and their surroundings. Before they had to leave Phil read from 1 Peter 4 out loud, “listing to this”, he said with excitement, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. That is from 1st Peter 4:15-16.” Knowell and Trevor grabbed a pen and wrote the reference in their journals that were quickly filling up with notes on this new life. It was as if they were born all over again and this second chance, second time around, they were determined to live with more joy, peace and even hope offered to others around them, no matter where they were; after all they were not in jail for the same reasons the Apostle Paul was in for (being an outspoken Christian) but since they were there they were going to, now with a new nature, share.
One morning while they were having breakfast a fight broke out. One inmate was killed in that fight. Those sitting near it said it all started because the dude spilled syrup on other inmate.
Everything was cold, dirty and had a smell you couldn’t escape. Phil, Lil’John, P.T. , Guy, Trevor, Knowell and a few others had the best way of dealing with their conditions, their surroundings. It wasn’t looking for a temporal high. It wasn’t found in planning an escape or take over. It wasn’t in their own strength at all. The only peace they found was in a foundation that was laid long ago by time directly with God when they were younger or by a new found resource they had started with Christ since they were incarcerated. Many of them wished they had been developing this area of their lives before but if it took going to jail to find this treasure it was all worth it.
The jail brought in a documentary crew with some troubled teens. Most of the imates and staff got in the face of these kids and tried, as the sheriff said on camera, ‘we try to put the fear of God into them.’ Phil hung back and didn’t agree with all this nonsense. He was pulled in by the film crew to comment and simply said, “Respect and fear are two different things and some kids might need to be scared into wanting to straighten out but deep down I personally know I deal better with just communicating with people. Push people and they wanna push back, it is human nature, but sometimes it is better to address things by expressing yourself with sincere words rather than aggressive behavior. I prefer to use words. Let em’ see the living conditions and some of the harsh reality of the general population mentally but also just have a talk with them.” The producer didn’t use that short interview. He felt that wasn’t what viewers wanted to see but Phil just felt that violent lives were not always changed by responding to them with more violence and hardness. The shouting, games and threats seemed to work for some kids but it just wasn’t part of Phil’s ways. He’d love to see more character built than jails built, however, he’d leave that kind of Drill Sargent character building up to the loud mouth power hungry staff and boisterous inmates. Trevor also spoke with the crew and they used his footage. He had a mix of tough love in what he said. That, the producer liked. Trevor said the director said, “This is what I like to call harsh reality t.v.!” Trevor has been in and out if jails since he was a teen and his back story was perfect to allow those teens an opportunity to see where the road they were on leads. Guy was selected to speak to the kids as a group and made reference to Phil’s son. He felt he had to talk about how Christ changed him. The show used clips of him talking with the teens but took those parts out, specifically when he used the name ‘Jesus Christ’. After the men got to see the show Knowell asked Phil why they’d leave that stuff about Christ out? Lil’John answered, “Cause they don’t believe that He the answer! ” Phil agreed and added, “Maybe they didn’t want to offend other religions.” Trevor piped in, “Jesus is a rock of offense. They killed him, highly religious people made sure a dat’!” They all nodded. Trevor said, “da’ kids heard it though, even if t.v. land didn’t!” Guy shared, “I’ll always give credit where credit due, if they don’t share it that on dem’ not me. It up to me to be and do me. Can’t be bothered by what other’ do or don’t do.” They all agreed almost in complete unison, “amen!”
“REALMAN, PHIL!” Everyone in the pod heard the call. Phil was reading a letter his wife sent him regarding how his son, her step son’s funeral was so beautiful and how well his ex-wife did with all the arrangements. He broke down when told how the son’s mother clung to the open casket. He thought of when he left on a father son trip, before the divorce, and how the mother of his son weeped not wanting to let go. Now they were both forced to let go, forever. The guard yelled two more time, louder each time, “REALMAN, PHIL!!! REALMAN, PHIL!!!!” Phil snapped out of his own mind as Guy said, “yo, they calling YOU, Brother, Phil!” Phil was now about to face another fate.
The court room was full. He heard the judge state his charge and the trial to determine if he just did more time or was given the death sentence. He knew he took another man’s life but it wasn’t murder. The parents of the man he hit were there. They were called to the witness stand first, the father was. Phil’s lawyer seemed incompetent in many ways but ‘not able to afford a lawyer one was appointed to him’ as was promised when his rights were read. The over weight mouth breeder held Phil’s life in his hands and Phil prayed, ‘Lord I trust you but I don’t know that I can trust this man. Sovereign Lord, please intervein.’ It was as if Phil was literally beside himself. He watched the bereaved Father take the stand. He was not there when his son was hit. Why would he be considered a witness? There was some special terminology the Judge used for what was taking place but Phil just couldn’t focus, he tried but felt that none of this was any where within his realm of control. The witness began, “THAT MAN!” He pointed directly at Phil as if he wanted to strangel him. “THAT man killed my son…and someone recently killed his son, in the same manner, an accident. ” His voice tambered and trembled. The blood left his face. “He didn’t do it on purpose.” The lawyers on both sides scambled their pages of notes and documents like trying to get a grip on a small life raft in a terrible storm. The judge let a smile come across his face and calmly said, “Go on.” Through tears and from his heart the father of the victim cried out, “H-h…he kno…ows what it is like to loose a s…son. Our lawyers told us what to say to win our case and be sure Phillip pays for his crime. They said the least he would get, no mater what is probably 20 years.” He addressed the judge, “Your honor, we don’t understand courts, laws and all this st..tuff but as the one pressing charges my wife and I would like to drop our ch…charges against this man in this case. We know the state will follow through with whatever charges a man gets for hitting another man by accident with his car but we can not press anymore charges because we know he didn’t do it as an act of murder. ” Everyone waited for more but nothing else would come out. The judge said, “Folks, this is a very unusual case and charged will be pressed, Phillip Dwight Realman will have another trial and if found guilty be sentenced to time in prison but not sentenced to death.” The judge went on to say more but it was all monotone and only the stanographer was able to take it down. The sound of the gavel was loud and final. Both lawyers wanted to approach the Judge’s bench but he had already set a date for the next trial that neither lawyer would play a role in. They stood dumb founded and Phil wasn’t sure what really took place. As the guards led him back out of the court room he just went in the direction they moved him, again out of his full awareness, almost as if he were not in the driver’s seat of his body. One of the guards said, “You one luckilysonabich man!” Phil spoke for the first time, the words spilled out, “I’m not.” The guard laughed and jerked him around with unnecessary force to remind him who was in control.”What you mean, you ain’t, you just…” Phil interupted, “I am not a son of a bitch and I am not kucky, I am blessed!” The guard snorted and bent Phil’s thumb into his own wrist as if he were any threat within these incredibly thick walls, leg shackles and cuffs. He handed him over to the next guards who were to accompany him the rest of the way. These guards let Phil walk next to the wall as long as he faced forward and didn’t talk. They never layer a hand on him. They knew Phil better than the court bailers. They asked Phil how it went. His reply was short and consise, “I don’t know.” He knew not to talk. He knew these guards were different than some of the others but he also Knew the rules. If he didn’t answer it could be taken as a sign of agreession and suspicion but if he said too much, well, it didn’t really matter. He was pretty sure he knew now he would do his time in jail and no doubt be sent on to prison to do more time but it was more than just time. For Phil it was now full time ministry. As long as he was alive and kept alive, allowed to live, he would serve God in every season of his life, including this next season.
Phil did go onto to prison, but that is another story. After doing 18 years of a 20 year sentance in the state penatentry he was released and finally able to return home, visit his son’s grave site and start yet another season in his life.
Phil wrote a few letters to those who were in jail with him. He was able to keep in touch, some had moved onto to other jails, some to prison. Some returned home just to return to jail, others were released, never to return, not because they weren’t caught but because the only thing they were caught doing was loving The Lord. He knew how great it was to get mail so he wrote regularly. He even made little posters he knew they would use toothpaste as glue to put up near their bunks. some of the signs read,
Always give respect but don’t expect to get respect.
Don’t have to live by the jail house code in or outside of jail.
Those signs were wrapped in a larger piece of paper where Phil wrote an explanation, ‘You do have to live different in lock up, just like you have to live on the edge when in a disfunctional household with an alcoholic mom and abusive drug addicted dad but we can function and be as much like Jesus no matter where we are living. Consider what hardship Christ endured and encountered from crowds of people in every city and village He went to, even unto death.’ He hoped this would encourage the men still in there that he knew and maybe reach some he had never met, some he may never meet.
Phil got a letter from Lil’John who actually got out a little before he was released. Lil’John shared, “wrote back,” Phil stopped reading and whispered a prayer for his brother in Christ. Then he read on, “
‘We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in ‘County jail’. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your face even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.’
Both men wrote their letter after reading 2 Corinthians.
JOURNALING THE JOURNEY
Every situation we encounter in life gives us two options, God’s way or ours. Very often we’ll choose our way. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” -Neil Peart.
If go our own way we also need to accept the consequences. If we look for God’s way and trust Him we can rest assure that He will also be in the outcome.
When in doubt, pray.
Humble yourself and pray. God gives wisdom to those who ask. That is Biblical (God’s word) and He gives us the gudance, promises and wisdon on how to unit with Him, how to be more , more like Jesus, regardless of what season we are in.
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Bible
Chip Ingram and Living on the Edge ministry (www.LivingontheEdge.org)
GA federal penitentiary
Jails across the United States and Mexico City.
Chaplain Ken Aspund St. Augustine, Fl
Alexx Bailey (my only son)