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.

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

Prison Update #12

Dear Friends,

     "Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!"

     About a year ago I made it through Tolstoy's "War and Peace." One scene in particular was unforgettable.

     The main character, Pierre, is in the Russian army, at the battlefront. The Czar, emperor of Russia, has come to rally his soldiers for battle. Pierre is simply overcome with devotion for his emperor. He spurs his horse directly past the Czar's reviewing stand with such fine form that the emperor notices, singles him out, and calls out a commendation after him. At that moment Pierre's heart nearly bursts with emotion. Right then he was ready to hurl himself at the enemy. No sacrifice was too great. Pierre was ready to give his life for his Czar. 

     The other day, while listening to Handel's setting of Isaiah 9:6, the thought occurred to me that Pierre's emotion is the kind of devotion we should feel toward our great King:

     "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His name shall be called WONDERFUL, COUNSELOR, THE  MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE."      

     This is the Conquering King Jesus Who "Abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (1Tim 1:10)

     Our King got up in the synagogue at Nazareth and proclaimed "Good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, liberty for the oppressed and a year of Jubilee;” and then made it clear He was the One called by God to carry out this deliverance. Folks in His hometown was so incensed they tried to throw Him over the cliff. (Luke 4)

      I believe Jesus' Kingdom is the stone uncut by human hands in Daniel 2 that smashes all earthly kingdoms to dust and becomes a great mountain that fills the earth.

      This is not just a future reality. I think it's already happened and is happening right now.  Jesus has already broken the tyranny of Satan's rule. His Kingdom already stands over all earthly Kingdoms. Millions and millions of people have already found their Messiah King, have surrendered to Him and entered His Kingdom as citizens of another world and their highest allegiance is to that world.

     Because of His victory, millions of people already "Are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us," and already enjoy the "glorious liberty of the children of God," to a degree at least. They have been made free by the Son of God and are "free Indeed." 

    Jesus' Kingdom is not only "counter-culture," it's "other culture," entirely of a different nature than this world. This means His followers should not put a lot of stock in political movements even if those movements momentarily seem to favor righteous causes.

     What does Jesus victory mean in practical reality for us today?

     First, we can have great hope in a world of brokenness and despair. Through His victory over Satan, sin and death, our King made reconciliation with God possible. Through a spiritual rebirth of the human personality, a person can now become a child of God, and a citizen in His Kingdom.

     "To all who did receive Him, (Jesus) who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of (human descent) but of God. Truly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God." (John 1:12-13, 3:3,5)

     The idea of a spiritual rebirth for people shouldn't be considered any more fantastic or impossible than the natural conception and birth of a human baby.

     I believe I'm speaking for the countless people who've experienced this: One can perceive this spiritual rebirth just as surely as one can be aware of his physical existence as a  human being.

     A whole new realm of spiritual awareness and a connectedness to God becomes a reality, bringing inexpressible joy and peace to one's interior life. Jesus called this eternal life.

     I encourage anyone reading this who hasn't experienced the rebirth Jesus taught---seek it!

     Secondly, Jesus' victory means that all who experience the rebirth of God's Spirit now have His power available to overcome the sinful behavior that brings so much disorientation, despair and emptiness. Jesus's life is transferred to us, and by staying connected to Him, we can live by His power and overcome Satan, sin and ultimately death, just as He did. A person with this kind of freedom and joy will find his heart bursting--once in a while at least--with exalted devotion for his Emperor just as did Pierre!

     This is the message I'd like to give to you, my dear friends in Christ and prayer-mates. I know this message is 2,000 years old, but it still works! May it become new and exciting for us this Christmas season!

     And now for the more mundane...

     My cellie makes great tortilla wraps. I share his recipe: Kookin' Karl's Terrifica Tortillas. (Makes 4-5)

     Lay out tortilla wraps on (hopefully) clean table. Spread liberally with chili con queso cheese spread. Cut up 1/2 honey pepper turkey log. (Vacuum sealed turkey sausage) Mix cut up chunks of turkey log in with 1 pack ramen noodle soup mix in bowl. Add very small amount of hot water, stir and mix. Put soup and turkey log mix down the middle of tortilla. Lay slices of  mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top of soup and meat mix. (You can grate the cheese if you can find a decent sink drain screen to use as a grater) Squeeze a nice bead of mayonnaise right down the middle. Place 4 pieces of specially prepared dill pickle* on top of everything; fold tortilla, wrap in paper towel and place on  hot water radiator for twenty minutes while mouth waters like crazy. Thank God and enjoy!! (A Pepsi adds to the joy.)  These wraps really are good!

     *Dill pickle preparation: take one very large dill pickle out of package, cut up and put in empty peanut butter jar along with the pickle juice. Add 1/3 jar honey and two tablespoons of Louisiana Hot Sauce. Close lid tightly and shake like mad. Put jar inside locker for several days amongst the socks. Open and enjoy very flavorful pickle! Great on Kookin' Karls Terrifica Tortillas.

     Love and prayers, from a fellow pilgrim,

     Ken Miller 08464-082

     Federal Correctional Complex

     P.O. Box 1000

     Petersburg, VA 23804