Inside Perspective - February 2014

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The prison here at Rahway is very, very old. I’m not sure how old really, but I’d guess well over l00 years. As such, everything is in a constant state of disrepair. It is just the nature of the beast, entropy being a law that all creation is subject to. I like to say entropy is the world’s explanation of what believers call the “law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2)

Almost everything that gets repaired in Rahway is done by the prisoners who are themselves supervised by what is called an Inmate Training Instructor. We have a full repair shop that is divided into sections according to trades. For instance, there is the Electric shop, Carpentry, shop, Welding shop, Plumbing shop, etc. When a prisoner comes here, if he has a trade, the powers that be will put him in the shop of his specialty and he instantly becomes a State worker.

As such, he then begins to fix anything and everything in the prison that pertains to his area of expertise. I won’t even tell you the pay scale because you would laugh, but needless to say it is not a motivating factor, indeed just the opposite is true. Thus, repairs in Rahway move at a snail’s pace to say the least. If something breaks it may stay broke for a very long time. Your only hope is that one of your “boys” works in that particular shop and that he puts you on the top of the list. In prison, it’s all about who you know.

Any job that is too big for the prisoners to get done has to be put up for bid. That process in itself takes forever and the job finally goes to the lowest bidder which is often not a good thing, but it is State law. They get what they pay for.

Recently, they put out a bid for a roof repair and when the workers finally came to do the work, they set up a series of orange cones to block off their work area. The roof was right outside my window and as with anything “different” in here, the project quickly became my daily entertainment. Loving to work as I do, I enjoyed watching the workers out my window. I must say, the workers had an awesome crane and all I could say was, “Wow, now that is a grown man’s toy!”

Of course, I jokingly critiqued everything they did. Carlos by natural consequence of locking with me is daily the captive audience to my interminable, if not biblically skewed commentary on all things. He suffers me.

The work that they were doing was right in the middle of the “movement area” that the prisoners daily use to go to and from their assorted jobs. The first thing in the morning the workers would set up their orange cones and redirect the regular prisoner traffic in a different direction. We got used to it and thought nothing of it. When the work was finally completed the orange cones were removed and the workers left. The whole project took a couple of weeks to finish and as is my habit, I had a few observations.

The next day, as I sat in my window observing the prisoners, almost to a man, they still followed the redirected path even though the cones were no longer in place. The cones, the workers and the crane were all gone, indeed, the job was complete. Amazingly, for almost a week most of the prisoners still took the redirected path even though the orange cones were long gone. There were though, a few choice men that walked differently. They were very prudent, on point as it were and they did not follow the crowd. They did not let the habits of others dictate their walk.

It is written, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself; but the simple pass on and are punished.” (Prov. 27:12)

Prudent is a word pregnant with meaning, that if allowed, will challenge us in our own walk. In the Old Testament it means being cunning, crafty, sly or subtle. In the New Testament the parallel word means to be sensible and using practical wisdom in relationships. It is translated many different ways such as sober (KJV), self-controlled (NIV), sober-minded (NKJV), and live wisely (NLT), in I Timothy 3:2, it is used to describe one of the attributes required in an Elder. It denotes a sound mind from which follows a controlled disciplined life. In its practical application, we might say that if our mind is controlled, our whole life---spirit, soul and body, our behavior---is controlled, and therefore, we live wisely and in accordance with God’s will and for His glory. In Christ, it’s all about Who you know!

The prisoners that walked according to the crowd were simply not prudent. The barriers were removed but they didn’t notice. Like the prisoners that did though, we as Christians must seek to be one of the few choice believers that walk differently. We must be spiritually prudent, on point as it were, not following the crowd, who as a rule is almost always going in the wrong direction. Beloved, we must not let the habits of others dictate our walk! Perhaps God has recently removed some cones from your path? Have you noticed or are you still taking the long way around?                                       Examine yourself beloved and be prudent because the simple pass on and are...