Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
This week's cooler weather has been a huge blessing. At the end of July, we experienced what fellow inmates have been warning me about almost since day one---the hot, humid Petersburg summer. We have no air conditioning in the housing units, except for the TV rooms and I don't go there. Indeed the dire predictions weren't far off the mark. On at least one day the heat index reached 110 degrees. Even the outdoor rec yard was shut down. At midnight the temperature in our unit was 94. By morning, it had dropped to a "bone-chilling" 89.
What did Jesus say it costs to follow Him? "...He that forsaketh not all that hath cannot be my disciple." In this stunning declaration, Jesus confronts us with an exchange that must be made: "Give up everything in your life in exchange for Me." What kind of exchange is that? Is it reasonable?
I propose it IS reasonable, the most reasonable thing in the world--provided we have a proper grasp of REALITY.
Let's start with people, those dearest to us-- father, mother, wife, husband, children, "yea and our own lives also."
Reality check: We can't hang onto anyone. The dearest person on earth to me can be taken away in a heartbeat. My own life is fragile, like a vapor, or like grass which is growing in the morning, withering by afternoon.
What about other things considered to be important: possessions, wealth, power, pleasure, fame? Is it reasonable to exchange these for Christ?
Reality check: Everything in the above list is visible, tangible, enjoyable---and extremely short-lived. Nothing lasts.
"He calls for me to leave all for His sake
Lands, houses, family, loves--
But His call is to leave what is only
an ILLUSION of security." (Martha Kilpatrick in "Adoration")
Nothing is truly secure, except one thing--the thing Mary had. "One thing is needful," Jesus said, "and Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."
In a world of empty promises, delusionary dreams, transient relationships, we have a Rock that can't be taken away.
Tears filled my eyes recently when a young boy sent me a card with these words scrawled on the inside:
Oft upon the Rock I stand
Faint of heart and weak of knee
But the Blessed Rock of Ages
Never trembles under me.
Those who've found the Rock testify that yes, to leave all in exchange for that Rock is a reasonable option; in fact, it's the only option.
This is good for me to remember in right now. My family and I are in another period of uncertainty. I'm being called by the U.S. Attorney's office in Buffalo, N.Y. to prepare to testify at the trial of a fellow believer also charged in the case. Three years ago I was found in civil contempt for not testifying, and jailed for 40 days The prosecutor has made it clear that refusal to testify this time could mean substantial time added to my present 27-month sentence.
Please pray for wisdom and grace as I face these decisions.
In the meantime, life here at Petersburg has settled into a rhythm. Your prayers have helped my family and me so very much.
I meet men of all backgrounds. The other day I was introduced to "Fidel" from Cuba. Another gentleman of Eastern European descent said Mother Theresa was his great-great aunt. Thank you for your prayers for these men and all of us poor sinners here.
God gives us many wonderful glimpses into His goodness. A special blessing has been extra time to observe the bees and butterflies at work among the flowers we planted on the compound and watching our giant sunflowers grow to 11-12 feet. (I've never before paid this much attention to the common sunflower!)
In several places on the prison compound, petunias are growing up through the grass in areas where new soil was hauled in last year. I scavenged a bunch of them and trialed some in a bed. They look like Wave Petunias. "Thank you Lord, they're just what I was wishing for!" Hopefully we can collect seed (forgive me, Pan American Seed--patent owner) and plant them around the compound next year.
I've recently discovered another one of life's simple blessings. A heaping teaspoon each of Maxwell House instant coffee, cocoa powder, coffee creamer and a packet of sweetener stirred in with 3-4 oz of hot water from our 205 degree hot water dispenser topped the rest of the way with ice from the ice dispenser makes a mocha worth comparing to anything from Starbucks. I must confess it's become a daily habit.
As you can see, my life here isn't so difficult.
I'm reading through the Martyrs Mirror right now and am almost ashamed at how nice I have it compared to people in prison back then and many around the world right now.
On pg. 570-571 there's a touching account of a young man Algerius, who was executed for his faith by being scalded with hot oil, then burned to ashes at the stake. From his dismal prison dungeon he wrote a letter to his fellow brethren before he died. He testified of the unspeakable joy Christ brought to him in that terrible place. He closed the letter with: "Written in the most delightful pleasure garden of the prison, called Leonia, the 12th of July, A.D. 1557.
May the Christ he died for
The Christ we live for!
Kenneth L Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804
I lay awake in my bunk for a long time last night. I must confess something.
I haven't been able to bring myself to write an update for a while. The reason? Whatever I say eventually gets read by many people around the world.
There are some really, really good writers reading this right now. What can I say by comparison?
Is my paralysis due to pride or fear? Probably a mix of both.
God knows I'm not saying this to give an appearance of humility. I simply have to admit I'm still battling against my native sins.
How we need one another's prayers! How we need to stay small and childlike! Otherwise, how shall we acquire grace? "...For God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
The desire of the human heart is to be great and rich. This is anti-Christ.
How can we break these chains?
The donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem might teach us. After people threw their cloaks across his back, and after Jesus took his rightful place, you no longer see or hear about the donkey in the gospel narrative. The donkey is hidden. Now you only see and hear the King riding in triumph.
We must channel our desires into becoming good bearers of Jesus like that donkey. To humble ourselves before Him, to break our hearts at the Cross, to let His Life and Light fill us. To remain hidden under His glory. To carry Him to the world so that multitudes might worship Him.
For the one seeking lowliness, to do the will of the Father is the most important thing. Rank, status, the "importance" of the assignment doesn't matter.
Therefore an "unimportant" act such as bringing someone a glass of cold water in the love of Christ might be a far more significant act than, say, giving $100 million to a worthy cause. Because the former action touches the heart of God and has a reward, whereas the latter, if done by selfish desire, has no lasting reward for the giver.
I must testify to the joy and peace of Jesus which has come as a result of your prayers. I love Bernard of Clairvaux's hymn: "Jesus Thou joy of loving hearts
Thou Fount of Life Thou Light of men.
From the best bliss that earth imparts--
We turn unfilled to Thee again!"
I will be frank again. I am as red-blooded as any married male. To sublimate natural desires for Christ's sake and by His grace live a life of celibacy and chastity in a sex-crazed world full of temptation is not only essential--it's possible. Bonhoeffer said it well: "Natural desire repeatedly mastered enriches the soul." I must lift my hands in worship to the Savior Who makes all things possible.
We must exhort one another, pray for each other and live in frank transparency with our victories and failures if are are to overcome sin in these days, and if we are to have any hope of offering Christ's redemption to the depravity all around.
The grace of God is still as potent as Paul said it was: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation has appeared unto all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly IN THIS PRESENT WORLD." (Titus 3:11-14)
Life here at FCC Petersburg has settled into a routine. Right now we are adjusting to the warm summer days and nights. These block housing units (no air-conditioning) can begin to feel a bit like ovens by the end of the day. But there are plenty of fans and we have all the ice we want, which is a huge blessing!
A prayer request: An inmate I'll call "Henry" is in a severe trial. He's a very sincere brother who apparently was handed a sentence disproportionate to his offense; a gun charge that netted him 17 years. In the three years since he's been incarcerated, 3-4 family members have died. About year ago, his house burned down. His wife and daughter were not injured, but they lost everything. The insurance company has refused to pay damages even though the fire marshal ruled the fire was accidental in nature.
All this feels like the trials of Job to my brother and the years stretch out dreadfully ahead of him. Can we pray that his sentence would be reduced and that he could have the grace to face whatever comes?
Also, please keep praying earnestly for the ongoing legal case. I don't have much info, but apparently at least one other party is still going on trial in Buffalo in early fall.
Linda and I and our family once again wish to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support in prayer, visits, letters and finances.
Peace and blessings,
Ken Miller 08464-082
Federal Correctional Complex
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804
Sunday Evening June 12: I just left the prison chapel and I must bear witness to what I saw and heard.
I heard the Good News about the Miracle Worker from Galilee who stood up in the synagogue one Sabbath day and declared that He had come to proclaim good news to the poor, set the captive free, give sight to the blind, and bring freedom to the oppressed.
He promised to completely transform people's lives.
And countless millions have testified in the 2,000 years since that day, that yes, He actually does bring about the very transformation He promised. The preacher this evening testified that it happened to him 35 years ago.
As sat there listening, I thought about what happened to me 35 years ago, and how He is still patiently helping me change.
Jesus is Who He said he was, no doubt about it!!
Tonight the preacher very clearly and very simply preached deliverance from sin, salvation from hell, and the hope of heaven for all who surrender to Jesus.
I also witnessed tonight that men still have a hunger to be changed. The preacher issued an open eye invitation for all who wanted to receive Jesus or re-dedicate their lives to Him. About 30-40 men stepped forward.
Please join with me in praying for these men, that every one of them could enter into true faith and repentance and a joyful life with Christ.
For all who are weary, overwhelmed and discouraged, and hardly able to go on, Jesus knows and cares!
FCC Petersburg Low
Kenneth L Miller 08464-082
P.O. Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804
A lot of people have been praying that I could get a leave to attend my daughter's wedding on June 11. The other day I was informed by the prison staff that my request for a leave was denied. It seems that due to the nature of my offense I'm not able to get "community release status."
Of course I was sad about that, and the tears came. But due to the joy of the upcoming occasion, I couldn't stay sad very long. Neither would I want anyone else's joy to be in the least bit dampened just because I can't be there.
God heard our prayers. And His answer was "no." We remember that His ways are infinitely higher than our ways and He often doesn't give us what we want because He has something better in mind. In His good time we will understand better.
I'm not upset at the FBOP or the prison staff either. They are just doing their job, a job worthy of our prayers.
But there are a couple of things I'd like to say.
God's design for marriage, family, and human sexuality stands as strong as ever. Judicial rulings, government legislation, and personal choice may attempt to find alternatives to God's created order. But all such attempts will ultimately be exposed for what they are--revolt against the Living God of Heaven--and will be judged as such.
I am also so happy to declare God's transforming power available for all of us poor sinners who surrender to Jesus in faith and repentance.
I am positively thrilled that God has led my daughter and a wonderful godly man together and that the two of them are absolutely committed to one another for life, come what may.
June 10 (The day prior to our daughter's wedding) marks 27 years since Linda and I joined our lives together by the grace of God. We join countless millions who testify to the goodness of God's amazing plan. Click here to read “Twenty-Five Years Together.”
So it's my wish that this time could be an occasion for the whole world to glorify the goodness of God and His wonderful plan for marriage and family.
Now that would make my day!
Ken has a fellow prisoner who is a very sincere Christian, and gets almost no mail. He would love to correspond with someone. If you feel led to correspond with this man, please drop me a note here with your address. Preferably it should be a church address or PO box, instead of a personal home address. Thanks, Darrell