Jesus is With Me

Peace to all in Jesus' precious name! It's probably about time you hear from me. I miss coming to our prayer meeting. Right now we have a time of testimony and prayer and teaching each evening at 7:00 in the outdoor pavilion--except for the evenings something else is going. Tonight's meeting will be chilly.

     I woke up around 11:30 the other night; loud voices in the hallway just outside the door. I tried to shut out the noise and go back to sleep. I heard Karl, my bunkmate and ex-marine get up. I figured he'd give them a piece of his mind.

     The next day he told me what happened. He stepped into the hallway and tried to quietly say something like, "Can you give us a little respect, there's men in here trying to sleep." One of the men shot back, "THIS IS PRISON!"

     Karl replied quietly, "You're right, it is prison."

     He came back into the room and I heard him rustling around.

     HE PUT ON  HIS BOOTS.

     He went back into the hallway, and in a quiet but commanding voice said something like, "You were right, this is prison, can we talk about it more?"

     He said the fellow took a look at his boots and skedaddled for the end of the hall-way, and he didn’t come down there all the next day.

     Karl said that fellow had probably never been at a high security prison or a penitentiary. Because there they'd have beaten him to death for not being more respectful. He's probably right. I've heard some horrible stories.

How does an Anabaptist compare to a marine in a situation like that?

     Let me mention what happened to me about a month ago. The same thing was happening. It was maybe 12:30 a.m. and the fellows were over there in that little room off the hallway, playing chess, thumping the pieces on the board as they moved, and talking loudly. That time I couldn't rely on Karl, he slept right through it.

     So finally I got up. I went over to that little room, tried to be as friendly as possible and said something like, "Excuse me, we're trying to sleep over there."

     The response was identical. "THIS IS PRISON, MAN!"

     Somehow I didn't feel like pushing my point, so I walked on down the hall to get a drink. When I passed by again they were still playing noisily. I crawled back into bed and tried to go to sleep. I'd like to imagine I asked God to forgive them, but I don't remember, and that's probably being a little plenty generous with yours truly.

 But after 15-20 minutes they moved and it was quiet!

     No threatening action necessary! 

     Not that threatening action would be all that natural for me. Pushing 5' 6" and 139 lbs, I'm one of the smallest fellows in here. A lot of fellows spend hours working out on the weight yard every day, massive bodybuilders--and they're CRIMINALS. And I'm in here with them, mingling with them every day.  

     But I've never felt real danger.

     One of my friends and brothers in Messiah is Steve. He's 6'8" and about 250 pounds. When we're together you get the long and short of it. 

     But the real reason I've never felt danger is because the Firstborn, my Elder Brother, is here with me. He's with me everwhere. And He's Incredibly Strong. 

     Nobody's gonna mess with me without first tangling with Him! 

         I've often thought about that terrifying scene on the Kano Plains near Lake Victoria in Kenya Africa, Nov. 6th, 2000. Three defenseless men huddled together, kneeling on the ground, crying out to God while the mob rushed toward them. Only God could save them, and somehow, He did.

     We've all come through times of intense trial. And one thing we learn: God is faithful. We don't have to stress and we don't  have to fight for ourselves because we're learning to trust Him to fight our battles.

     "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God through our Lord Jesus Christ!" The only weapons we  carry are "The Shield of Faith" and "The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God."

      Last time I checked, no concealed weapons permit was necessary for either of these.

     This morning for breakfast, we had pancakes and syrup, oatmeal and a slice of pineapple that was really good. For lunch we had a hamburger with the fixings and fries that were almost better than McDonald's fries. Tonight is chef salad. We really have nothing to complain about.

     Yesterday I was feeling "blah" just about all day. A lot of it was from the lack of sleep that previous noisy night. I felt emotionally drained, unmotivated and didn't use my time very well. And I didn't feel like being with people at all.

     Sometimes a man needs to grab himself by the scruff of the neck and give himself a kick in the pants. So I went outside and walked in the cold bracing wind and cried out to God and resisted our enemy. And I discovered once again that if you really mean it, God answers our prayers and gives us power and new energy on the inside. And then our physical bodies are revived too.

      "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Rom. 8:11) This compares to Isaiah 40:28-31, "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength;..."

      One of the many things I'm learning is that Jesus is our Mediator. Not only between us and God His Father, but between us and every person and circumstance. Jesus stands there in the way, inviting us to participate with Him as we interact with that person, with that circumstance. To the extent we accept His invitation is the extent we're able to love people as He does and to face our circumstances with wisdom and strength-- without fear.

     When we forget He is there, or when we ignore Him, we go around Him. Then we interact with that person, that circumstance on our own. That is what it means to operate in the flesh.

     Let's all remember our dear brothers and the court hearings next week, and  earnestly pray.

     Your brother in Christ Jesus

     Ken

WHAT DO BROTHER WEBER AND ROSARIA BUTTERFIELD HAVE IN COMMON?

I stood in the stairwell at Richmond Hall waiting at the door for the next "move." I put Brother Weber's letter into my back pocket. I moved further down the stairs. I didn't want the fellows around me see a grown man cry.

Brother Weber is a young man from Elmira, Ontario. He wrote me recently.

What in the world does he have in common with Rosaria Butterfield? (I've been reading her books lately.)

Not much, at first glance.

Weber grew up in a close-knit conservative culture much like my own.

Rosaria Butterfield was a lesbian activist and a tenured professor of literature at a major university.

That is, until she met the same Person Brother Weber must have met.

He's conservative Mennonite as I am. She's now Reformed Presbyterian. The theological differences are not insignificant.

So what does Brother Weber have in common with Rosaria Butterfield?

Brother Weber shared with me in his letter the words of a song he's come to love, "How Deep the Father's Love," by Stuart Townsend. Standing there in that stairwell, letter in hand, the words and melody of that song washed over me and took my heart:

How deep the Father's love for us! How vast beyond all measure!

That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure!

How great the pain of searing loss! The Father turns His face away.

As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory.

I will not boast in anything; no gifts, no power, no wisdom.

But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give and answer.

But this I know with all my heart; His wounds have paid my ransom!

And I realized that this young coming-of-age brother loved the same Jesus that Rosaria Butterfield found in the "train wreck" of her conversion.

Strange, how this self-described "meek and lowly" Jesus has captured the lives and loves of so many millions of wildly disparate people around the world in the last 2,000 years.

It must be the "Visceral living presence of God," a Jesus who "Seemed present and alive," that Mrs. Butterfield wrote about in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.

It must be the "Peace and tranquility we feel when we let His love and plan of salvation be enough to carry us through each day," that brother Weber wrote about in his letter to me.

All I know is that the Jesus of Brother Weber and Rosaria Butterfield has captured my heart too, and I never want to let Him go, and I know HE will never let me go!

So let us gather around the cross together and lift our eyes to the Savior. This is the location Brother Weber and Rosaria Butterfield have in common, as do all of us who are In Jesus Christ.

And by the way, why don't you look up Brother Weber's beloved song and let its message break your heart again.

And while you're at it, get a hold of Rosaria's books, The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered. Her books can help us see ourselves. And they can help us offer the transforming grace of Jesus to our fellow sinners.

Ken Miller 08464-082

Federal Correctional Complex

P.O. Box 1000

Petersburg, VA 23804

CDs now available

Hello all, 

 

The Miller family recorded a CD "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" several years ago, before Ken was incarcerated. Those CDs are now available again, free of charge. The Miller family will send you one if you click "Contact Us" to the right and send us your address. 

Five Precious Minutes

FIVE PRECIOUS MINUTES

Hello All,

I think it's safe to say that the five minutes from 2:37 to 2:42 pm on Feb 4th, 2017, were among the most precious five minutes I've experienced as a father.

I listened intently. I was on the phone, downstairs in Richmond Hall. At the other end, Lamar Hochstetler presented the covenant vows to the couple standing in front of him--my first-born son, David, and his bride, Grace (Shank) from Aroda, VA. And then I heard my son say, "I will." When it was time for Grace to make her promise, a voice roared something across the prison PA system behind me, and I couldn't hear her response.

But I know her commitment to my son is as strong as life itself.

And then I heard Lamar pray with them.

Finally, I heard him say, "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. David Miller!" and I imagined them sweeping down the aisle, all happy and radiant.

Then the group of singers came in with a glorious rendition of "You Shall Go Out with Joy." And about five seconds after the recessional song was over, my time expired and the phone call was over. (Here at Petersburg Low, you have to wait 45 minutes before you can place another call.)

I was so happy that the timing worked out perfectly.

Duane finished the message just at the right time.

And now I was so happy I was overcome with emotion.

To sort of get a hold of myself, I went back to the "cell house," an unused section of the prison where we have telephones and showers.

After a bit one of the officers came through the door on his rounds. He looked at me, "Miller, you ok?" I struggled to control my voice. "Yeah, I'm all right."

It was tough, missing the wedding of my dear son. (It was real tough also, to miss the wedding of our oldest daughter last June.)

But I decided since circumstances won't allow me to be at my son's wedding, we'll overcome the circumstances. So we had our own wedding reception down here at Petersburg Low in honor of David and Grace. It turned out to be a great celebration, a very uplifting time for all of us.

I admit, our guest list here was quite a bit smaller than at the wedding itself. There were only seven of us; about 450 guests came to the wedding.

We met over at the gym around 5:00. Steve, a good friend who's 6'8," strode over there from his unit ahead of everyone else and reserved two tables.

Karl and I cooked four pizzas on our steam radiators for over four hours in plastic bags. They turned out real well. We made a bean and cheese dip to serve with nacho chips. Ice cold Pepsi for drinks. For the wedding cake, Jay made an incredible double layered cheese cake in honor of this special occasion. He'd been extolling it for weeks. It didn't disappoint me. I brought along a big chocolate bar to send home with each my guests as part of the celebration.

The seven of us gathered around the table with me at the head. I propped up two pictures of David and Grace at the other end against the wall where I could look at them.

At the beginning, we had a little ceremony. This is what we did:

First, I read the from the teachings of Jesus on marriage. (Matthew 19:4-6)**

Then we declared our Creator's praise.

I said: (Rather loudly so others in the gym could also hear) "In an age where the Creator's UNALTERABLE design for marriage is being dishonored and scorned, we followers of Yeshua Messiah at FCC Petersburg Low, on this day, Feb 4th 2017, proclaim our Creator's goodness! We honor and celebrate marriage as Yahweh instituted it--ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN in a life-long covenant relationship."

(Since many of my friends around the table were of the Messianic Group, I used the Hebrew names for God.)

And then we did two toasts. (I hope this wasn't irreverent.)

We popped the tabs on the Pepsis!

I said, "Here's to Yahweh's design for marriage!"

And we clanked the Pepsi cans together and said "Halelu YAH!" And each took a sip of Pepsi.

I said, "Here's to David and Grace!"

And we clanked the Pepsi cans together and said "Halelu YAH!" And each took a sip of Pepsi.

And then dear Steve led the prayer. He's very thorough, great mind, great student of the Scriptures. And he prayed a very expansive prayer on Yahweh's design for marriage, for marriage around the world, and for David and Grace and their marriage. It was a good prayer, very comprehensive.

All the while, to be honest, I was worried about the pizza getting cold.

Finally, he came around to praying for the food and the end was in sight.

After the "Hallelujah," (the Messianic way of ending prayer) we dug in. As we ate I told my friends about my community's customs for courtship and marriage. They were rather amazed that at ages 24 and 25, David and Grace had kept themselves for each other.

I then read to them a meditation I had prepared for the wedding service.

After the meal we all went outside. Four of us paired off for horseshoes and we had a great competitive game.

Overall, I think the evening was the best experience in comradeship I've had since I've been in prison. Everyone enjoyed it immensely. And all my friends felt privileged to be allowed in on David and Grace's celebration.

In fact, Jay enjoyed it so much he asked me if another one of my sons or daughters is getting married soon. I had to tell him that (alas) nothing is on the horizon.

So, once again CONGRATULATIONS David and Grace. Thank you for giving us a picture of our Heavenly Father's design for courtship and marriage. You all truly are a blessing to all of us. I wish you a wonderful time together this next week.

Love and prayers,

Daddy

**In this passage, Jesus dramatically confronts the social re-engineering of modern western society by giving an authoritative definition of marriage using three gender specific pairings: male/female, man/wife, father/mother. And then He adds a declaration that stands for all time: "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

Joy to the World, the Lord HAS GONE

Joy To The World, The Lord HAS GONE!

This is Christmas morning, and I'm sitting here in prison, away from my loved ones and I am so happy, I can hardly contain myself!
Joy To The World, The Lord HAS GONE!
Am I losing my faith? No, by His grace I think it's stronger than ever!
Should I make an emergency visit to the psychology department?
No, I'm still sane and singing, Joy To The World, The Lord HAS GONE!
Gone, that is, to where He said He would go--away from this earth and back to heaven.
"...I am going to the Father..." "...I am going to the One Who sent me..." "...So then the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." (John 12:12, 16:5, Mark 16:19)
I think the ascension of Jesus is about as significant as the incarnation, and to me this Christmas morning--locked up in a federal prison--it's somehow more exciting.
Joy to the world, the Lord HAS GONE!
(Of course it's His earthly body that's gone, He promised His spiritual presence would be "with us always, even unto the end of the world." Matt 28:20)
Here's why I'm happy about the bodily ascension of Christ:
Jesus said it would be to our advantage. "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you." (John 16:7)
Folks who've turned from their sins and surrendered to the Messiah are supremely fortunate. Because they've received the promised "Helper." They've realized the advantage Jesus spoke about.
They know it's the greatest thing in the world, bar nothing.
The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that God's Spirit brings to those who've received the "Helper," brings the tranquility that people crave the world over. Not to mention the help He gives in overcoming the sinful desires and behaviors, and His constant presence, and much more. (Gal. 5:19-25)
Joy To The World, The Lord HAS GONE!
The second reason I'm happy this Christmas morning about Jesus' bodily ascension is because I have the assurance that our Messiah and King has ascended David's throne and is now reigning over the People of God.
All will be well!
Jesus' ascension to David's throne is an essential part of the incarnation and the Christmas story:
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever and of His Kingdom there will be no end." ( Luke 1:30-33)
A study of Peter's sermon in Acts 2 leaves little doubt that Peter thinks of Jesus having already ascended to David's throne, particularly the section in Acts 2:29-36.
"The patriarch David died...and was buried." "Being therefore a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his (David's) throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ."
"This Jesus, God raised up...Being therefore exalted AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD... For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, until I make your enemies your footstool."
Then comes Peter's bold declaration: "Let all the house of Israel know for certain, that God has made this same Jesus--whom you have crucified-- both Lord and Christ. (anointed one or King)
Ponder the following verses for inspiring glimpses of the ascended King Jesus taking His place at the right hand of His Father: Eph. 1:17-22, Col. 3:1-4, Heb. 1:1-3; 8:1-6; 10:12-14; 12:1-3; 1 Peter 3:22; Rev. 3:20-21, Rev. Chapter 5.
What are the practical implications of Jesus' reign as our King? By faith the believer is spiritually "located" with Jesus in His place of Supreme Authority. Seated with Christ in heavenly places, the believer has access to the King's resources, His power over sin, His authority over Satan and much more. (Eph. 2:6)
Christ's authority is the basis for making disciples all over the world. (Matt.28:18-20.)
A third reason I'm happy about Jesus bodily ascension: We now have a mediator in heaven who stands between God and man--the Man Jesus Christ. In this meditorial role, He's both High Priest and Advocate between us and an otherwise unapproachable God. Because of Jesus' ascension we can now come "Boldly to the Throne of grace and receive mercy and grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Finally, I'm happy on this Christmas day because looking back at the the first advent, reminds us to look ahead to His second coming.
Fellow Citizen of Heaven, Our King's coming back from where He's gone! Let us watch and be ready! He will come back on the throne of His glory, judge the world with perfect justice and make all things new. And we will reign for ever and ever in a new heavens and a new earth. It simply can't be long now.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come, has gone and IS COMING!
If someone wants to send me a Christmas present, you could ponder the Scriptures above, and send me your inspirations and thoughts. Forgive me for being presumptuous enough to wish for at least 10 "presents."

Love in Christ Jesus,
Ken Miller
Federal Correctional Complex
PO Box 1000
Petersburg, VA 23804