Thursday, August 25, 2011

Letters From Prison

Today is yet again a busy today so again today's message will be short.  Yesterday it was in the news that David Berkowitz (AKA Son of Sam) would not be seeking parole when he is next up for parole.  To be fair, he probably never would have been paroled.  In reading excerpts from his letter to Fox News, though, it is apparent that he has a better understanding of freedom in Christ than many of us do. 

Mr. Berkowitz was a serial murderer who terrorized New York City from 1976-1977.  He killed several people and injured several others, usually shooting them as they sat in their car.  He was a monster, at least that is what he called himself as he taunted the city.  Since being arrested and convicted, he came to Jesus Christ,  and he is now reaching out from prison to those who would listen trying to show others the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ. 

Here are a few excerpts from his letter recently sent to Fox News (You can view the entire letter on their website):
I have no interest in parole and no plans to seek release, If you could understand this, I am already a 'free man.' I am not saying this jokingly. I really am. Jesus Christ has already forgiven and pardoned me, and I believe this.-- Source

He has given me a whole new life, which I do not deserve, And while society will never forgive me, God has. I am forever grateful for such forgiveness, too.  -- Source:
Unless his victims were children, I do not know if there is any lower on society's scale than a serial killer.  He committed the worst of crimes several times over and per the law of man he will spend the rest of his life in prison.  The very fact that he would be eligible for parole shows a serious issue with our justice system.  By the law of man, he is and will remain unforgiven.  Despite all of that, though, God got a hold of this man and he repented of his life of sin and accepted the free gift of grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  If anyone should ever question just how much grace God has, that person should look at David Berkowitz.  There is no one who can not be reached for Jesus. 

That said, let me quickly get back to the point of this post.  We often complain about our lives.  We complain about our jobs, our bills, our homes, our friends and neighbors, and the oppressiveness of government.  We do not realize just how blessed we are. We bemoan our blessings, while David Berkowitz thanks God for the abundant life he does not deserve.  What is that abundant life?  A life in a small cell in a maximum security prison, making a few cents an hour, living with the worst of the worst of society, and a government that will keep him locked in a cage limiting everything he will ever do again for the rest of his life.  Yet we complain and he is thankful.  Then we have prosperity teachers like Joseph Prince who teach us that God wants us to be rich and prosperous.  I feel bad for children like Mr. Prince who can not get past the toys of this world to truly see blessings in the eternal riches of Jesus Christ.  He teaches that (and I guess it is what he needs to be happy) we should be highly prosperous.  A serial killer puts this man to shame as Mr. Berkowitz gets that being rich and free in Christ is the ability to be able to be rich and free no matter the circumstances.  He is in a prison, yet he is free.  He lives in a terrible place, yet he knows he is a citizen of Heaven.  He has been rejected by society, yet knows he is accepted in Jesus Christ.  He has very few earthly possessions and even what he has is not really his, yet he knows he has riches awaiting him in Heaven. 

You see, what we have in Jesus is so much more than the world can ever provide.  This is a lesson I have to remind myself of too many times.  It is not about where you live, what kind of job you have, whether or not you get the promotion, whether or not you can afford the house of your dreams, or whether or not your vacation gets rained out.  It is about Jesus and where you stand with Him.  It is about the Holy Spirit in your hearts producing its fruit in and through your life.  It is about the mansion He is creating for you and the eternal treasures He is holding in escrow until your arrival in glory.  It is not about improving our present circumstances, but about rising above them in the power of Christ.  Leave the toys of this world to the children who need them to be "happy."  As for what others may think of you, realize you are a beloved child of God, so who really cares what others may think.  For some, being highly favored of the world is important.  Again, they are like children in constant need of affirmation from others to determine their own self-identity.  Even Jesus was not "highly favored" by the world that cried out to crucify Him.  Why should we, His followers, expect any different for us?  Define your identity as a greatly blessed beloved child of God because, in Christ, that is what you are and what you will always be.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward [man] is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen [are] temporary, but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV

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