(Don’t you love alliteration?)
Joseph Herrin (08-06-2011)
Letters Received in Jail
“When did we see You… in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
The above photo gives testimony to the great grace the Father manifested toward me during the 74 days I recently spent in jail. I received nearly 100 letters from far and near. Letters arrived from people I know well, such as my daughter. Letters also arrived from saints I had never met, nor corresponded with previously. Letters came in from my home state of Georgia, and as far away as New Zealand, Nigeria, and England. My daughter also forwarded to me many of the e-mails that arrived in my inbox.
It was a great source of comfort and encouragement to receive the assurance from so many that they were praying for me. As you can imagine, jails are filled with some of the most vile and unrestrained men. Because they have not restrained themselves, society has put then behind bars. The section of the jail I was in housed approximately 90 men. Some were charged with murder. Others were accused of child molestation, assault, burglary, drug trafficking, and various other transgressions.
My daughter came to see me every week. On her first visit she was given visitor badge #91. When I saw it I immediately knew the Father was testifying of His promises from Psalm 91.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to Yahweh, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made Yahweh, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down. “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;I will be with him in trouble;I will rescue him and honor him.”
The environment in jail can be quite raucous. Many a day I felt like Lot, whose righteous soul was vexed as he sat daily in the gates of Sodom (II Peter 2:7-8). The Scriptures testify that “a quiet and gentle spirit” are precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:4). Of the Messiah we read, “He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:19). Yet, in the jails and prisons of this nation one encounters a very different spirit. Men’s normal conversations are shouted to one another. Profanities and obscenities fill the air from morning until night. Rebellion toward the prison staff continues unabated as men taunt, revile, mock, insult, and argue over the pettiest matters. Truly the tongue is a channel of great evil, it is a world of iniquity. Even when men’s bodies are confined behind bars they prove their sinfulness by letting their tongues give vent to every foul and filthy thought that enters the mind. The atmosphere in jail is a virtual sewer, defiled with the evil things that arise from souls that have been given over to wickedness.
On more than one day I witnessed men violently attack one another. Two days before I was released I watched a man come down the stairs at lunch time, walk over to another man seated and eating. Without a word the man punched the seated man viciously in the side of the head, knocking him out of his chair and onto the ground. He then swung at him again when the man attempted to get up. The guard on duty then intervened, leading the attacker back to his cell until he could be transferred to isolation.
Despite this environment, I abode without concern for my own safety. I was confident that Yahweh would watch over me, and He was faithful. Like Daniel in the lions’ den, and a sheep among wolves, the Shepherd of the saints watched over me with rod and staff. In time it will be revealed how much the prayers of the saints availed on my behalf. I know that many were praying. I have had many enemies, and numerous trials during this season.
Upon arriving in court I once more took no lawyer with me. I offered no defense, and made no charges or arguments against others. As the Father has instructed me from the very first, I followed the example of Christ described by the apostle Peter.
I Peter 2:19-23
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…
Over the course of the years I have found it easier to entrust my life into the Father’s hands. I have come to understand that it is appointed unto all who walk as Christ’s disciples to suffer many things while in this earthly tent. All sons of God must be perfected through suffering. Christ is our pattern man. He demonstrated great patience in submitting to all that man would do unto Him. His confidence remained unshaken in the love of His Father in heaven. The apostle Paul strengthened the resolve of the Christians with the following words:
II Timothy 3:10-12
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.
People of God, the Spirit of Christ has been testifying that the earth is beginning to enter the season of time that is described as “the beginning of birth pangs.” Many witnesses to this have been observed both in the heavens and upon the earth. In October of 2003 I wrote of a great solar flare that came from Sunspot 486 which was directed straight at the Earth. The Spirit at that time directed me to Psalm 48:6.
Panic seized them there, anguish, as of a woman in childbirth.
Just three months prior to this another sign in the heavens was given as Mars made its closest approach to the earth since man was created. Mars is the red planet, symbolizing bloodshed and warfare. It is orbited by two moons named Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Panic). The Spirit was testifying that mankind is entering the end of the age, and the earth must go through such tribulations as have never been experienced before (Mark 13:19). More recently, on February 27 2010 a massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake shook Concepcion, Chile, giving another testimony to the time of the end and the beginning of birth pangs.
Following this a series of earthquakes have rattled Christchurch (Christ’s church), New Zealand. While I was in jail I received several precious letters from an elder brother who lives in Christchurch. He provided further testimony to the aftereffects of the quakes. The damage has been far more widespread than originally thought. It was known almost immediately that the major cathedrals in the city could no longer remain standing. They would have to be razed. What was damaged during the first quake was left irreparable by the second, and much more destructive shaking that followed five months later. No one died in the first quake. This was the grace of God. That He gave them five months to consider their ways and to repent, is a testimony of His further grace. Yet, as I have observed in jail, giving mercy to men seldom leads them to repentance. Most spurn the mercy of God, mocking Him by their continuance in evil.
Much of the Central Business District of Christchurch will have to be demolished, including many of the tallest buildings in the city. The sports stadium, a world class conference center, and other centerpieces of the life of this city sustained devastating damage.
These things stand as a parable for the church of Christ. A church that loves comfort, pleasures, and money and has habitually turned the people of God away from serving as houses of prayer to become merchants and moneychangers will in this last hour experience the New Zeal of Christ.
When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has consumed me.”
The zeal of God is often manifested in great violence upon the earth, a violence that is matched by the destruction wrought by major earthquakes.
“In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake…”
I have observed in jail that a great many men will not turn away from sin until they have been greatly shaken. Even then, many will harden their hearts and the only remaining course the Father will have with them is to break them suddenly, and without remedy. Such stubbornness exists even in the church. Though God will shake Christ’s church, many will have no heart for repentance, but will think only of returning as quickly as possible to the profligate, worldly lifestyle that invited the former judgment. Like America when the towers fell, they will respond with the words of rebellious Israel:
“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”
See the following article for this testimony of America’s arrogance:
The earthquakes in Christchurch have disclosed many hidden faults that the residents there did not formerly know existed. Certainly this is a parable of the Church. In many places the people have built their homes upon the sand, and liquefaction and shaking in these areas has caused thousands of homes to have to be abandoned. The number of commercial buildings that must be demolished is staggering. The following recent article is pregnant with symbolism relating to the church and the hour that is now at hand. I encourage you to read it through spiritual eyes.
7,500 earthquakes shake resolve in New Zealand city
NICK PERRY, Associated Press
Updated 11:15 a.m., Monday, July 18, 2011
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — It’s been 10 months since the first big earthquake struck New Zealand’s second-largest city. It’s been nearly five months since a far more devastating one killed 181 people and crippled the downtown. And it’s been just a few hours since yet another aftershock startled Christchurch residents during the night.
“I stop breathing,” said Sheridan Cattermole, a bartender and a mom. “I get pins and needles all over. I either freeze or run. I just want things to be back to what they were like this time last year. I had my vege garden, and my sunflowers.”
Seismologists have recorded 7,500 earthquakes in Christchurch since September — an average of more than 20 a day. The rumblings are rattling the psyche of the still-battered city. They have left the land under thousands of homes unsafe to build on. Some people have left town entirely. Yet many have proven resilient, and some now see a reconstruction boom on the horizon.
Christchurch is the disaster that the world forgot. When the deadly quake toppled the iconic Cathedral spire and flattened buildings in this city of 390,000, people around the globe paid attention. But two weeks later, the massive earthquake and tsunami that left more than 23,000 dead and missing in Japan took center stage.
In New Zealand, the quake in Christchurch is reverberating. In a country of 4 million people, the cost of the quakes — estimated at more than $12 billion — amounts to 8 percent of annual economic output. Compare that to Hurricane Katrina, whose costs were less than 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. Christchurch will likely eclipse the Japan disaster in cost per person.
And nobody knows if the worst has passed. Not even the experts.
When Kevin Furlong, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University, came to Christchurch on a sabbatical last year, he thought he would be studying earthquakes in the abstract — not living through them.
The quakes in the city have not followed the classic pattern, he said. Typically, a big quake hits and is followed by a series of ever-diminishing aftershocks.
In Christchurch, the initial Sept. 4 magnitude-7.0 quake didn’t cause widespread destruction because it was centered 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of the city, but it helped trigger at least two distinct new quakes on different fault lines, each with their own pattern of aftershocks.
First came a deadly magnitude 6.1 quake on Feb. 22, which was centered almost directly under a residential area and flattened buildings that had withstood the earlier quake. Then a 6.0 magnitude quake struck on June 13. Though no one died, it was a psychological blow to people trying to rebuild.
Earthquakes are maddeningly difficult to predict, Furlong said. There’s no way of knowing whether there’s more to come, he said, though the odds improve with each day that passes without a major event.
New Zealand geologists estimated last week that there was a 23 percent chance another big quake would hit within a year, down from 30 percent last month.
“I’ve become much more attuned to what the public wants to know: ‘When will it stop and why are we having them,'” Furlong said. “To be honest, it’s really frustrating. You just can’t answer those very appropriate first-order questions.”
That uncertainty is no comfort to people like Cattermole. She and her husband Pete, a cabinetmaker, and their three young children remained in their home in the working-class suburb of Bexley long after most neighbors had left.
As recently as late June, they were sleeping in the living room to escape the muck creeping through the walls and floor at the sunken rear of their home. Their ruined possessions lay in a heap in the front yard, awaiting an insurance assessment.
All around, buckled homes sat abandoned atop a sea of mud and sand. A makeshift blue water pipe snaked along the sidewalk. The few who remained announced their presence with cardboard signs like the Cattermoles’: “3 Children & 2 Adults Still Here.”
The problem: a phenomenon called liquefaction, when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil.
“It’s the same physics as quicksand,” Furlong said. “Whole acres turn into something of a liquid. Houses sink. Water and mud jet up through the surface. You get cracks, sand volcanoes, flooding.”
He said that geologists are reassessing the importance of liquefaction after the devastating impact it has had on Christchurch.
Cattermole and her family endured long stretches without fresh water and, with the sewer system broken, used a portable toilet on the street or a chemical toilet inside. “There’s so much stress around, you can just see it,” she said.
They have since found a rental home and are moving out.
Their previous home was among more than 5,000 condemned by the New Zealand government last month because of liquefaction. Most are in the city’s low-income eastern suburbs. Thousands more are likely to be condemned in what will force a major redesign of the suburbs.
The government has offered to pay homeowners for their losses, but many, Cattermole included, fear they will be priced out of new homes.
“There’s a plentiful supply of Rolls Royce-priced sections, but they’re not affordable for people on Toyota Corolla incomes,” said Hugh Pavletich, a longtime Christchurch property developer and critic of the city’s land-use policies. City officials say they’re working hard to ensure there’s plenty of affordable new land for displaced residents.
It’s hard to gauge what long-term effect the quakes will have. School enrollment is down about 7 percent — an indication of families leaving — and the economy is fragile. Retail sales are down about 11 percent from pre-earthquake levels, and unemployment claims are up about 14 percent.
The center of the city remains off-limits behind chain-link fences and will stay that way for months, possibly years.
Demolition crews are planning to tear down about 1,000 hotels, office buildings and other unsafe structures. So far, they’ve taken down fewer than 150. City officials estimate it will take nine months just to demolish the 26-story Hotel Grand Chancellor, which has been teetering since February. When the city center reopens, fewer than half the buildings will remain.
The new downtown is likely to be much lower. Christchurch residents appear to have little appetite for high-rises these days. “The magic number I’m hearing is three stories,” said Connal Townsend, chief executive of the Property Council of New Zealand, which represents commercial property owners.
Around the country, building owners are bracing for big insurance premium increases, particularly for older structures, Townsend said. Homeowners are also likely to see earthquake insurance rates climb significantly.
The Port of Christchurch in Lyttelton, which handles almost all the region’s freight, has been unable to secure any earthquake insurance since June. The port’s chief executive, Peter Davie, said he is essentially crossing his fingers, hoping that no more damaging quakes hit.
Even the Christchurch City Council has been unable to secure new earthquake insurance for much of its infrastructure.
Still, many are hoping that the billions of dollars flowing in from government and insurance payments will stoke a boom within a couple of years.
As the city looks to rebuild, Townsend said much will depend on the vision of city leaders: A bold reconstruction plan would inspire confidence and investment, while a second-rate one could scare away investors.
Attention is turning to Roger Sutton, a former energy executive who took a pay cut in June to become the first Christchurch earthquake czar, with broad planning powers.
Asked if he was worried whether new earthquakes could cause more damage, Sutton shook his head and said, “Hopefully, there’s not much more to break.”
There is so much I could comment on in this article, and all that is being signified for the church of Christ, that it would require a great many pages simply to share it all. In a nutshell, Christ is about to shake His church. Judgment must begin at the house of God. What will remain when all is over will be unrecognizable from its former earthly glory. Even as the temple rebuilt by those returning from Babylon was a mere shadow of the glory of Solomon’s temple, so too will the true body of Christ be much more humble in coming days. She will no longer evoke an earthly glory in her grand cathedrals, megachurches, entertainment complexes and conference centers. She will no longer be the envy and admiration of the world. But neither will she continue to be a den of demons and unclean spirits. She will be swept clean by the zeal of Christ.
Perhaps it seems that I am chasing rabbits here, for I began this post by discussing my recent imprisonment. Yet, there is a common thread in these things. Yahweh has been attesting for some time that His people have but two choices. They can fall on the Rock and be broken, or the Rock will fall on them and scatter them as dust (Matthew 21:44). To build our house upon the Rock, we must fall upon the Rock. Those who do not fall upon the Rock will be as those who build their houses upon the sand. When God shakes the earth, they will not stand.
In 1999 I received an invitation from Christ to fall upon the Rock. For many years I had spent my Christian life avoiding this necessary abasement. The Spirit of Christ entreated me to surrender to follow wherever Yahshua might lead me. I was terrified at the prospect, for though my spirit was willing, my flesh was very weak. If I could have seen all the experiences Christ would lead me through I would certainly have turned back before I even began. Yet, He mercifully shielded me from the knowledge of those things. “Sufficient unto the day is the trouble thereof.”
Christ led me one step at a time. I have followed through the fire and the flood, and I have found the grace of God abundant the entire way. We serve a compassionate Father who is very tenderhearted toward those who are beset with fears and much weakness. He will lead us slowly, even as Jacob led his flocks, lest they should suffer in the long journey before them (Genesis 33:13).
During the past 12 years, the Father has led me with much patience. I began the journey a much more fleshly man than I am now. The way of the cross strips away the flesh of man. As the flesh has been stripped away the journey has become easier. Things that would have caused my soul much distress in previous days no longer trouble me. This has enabled the Father to increase the heat of the fire and the severity of the trials. Yet, none of this has been intended for my harm. He seeks only to purify His sons that they might not suffer loss when they stand before Him. He has encouraged me to continue following, to not shrink back, for He attests that there is a prize that awaits all who endure until the end.
I have many things to share of these past recent days, but I want even more to speak of those things that are to come. The Spirit is testifying that great things are at hand. In the midst of days of great shaking there will also be great progress in spiritual things made among a remnant of the people of God. Many will fall away, even as many are leaving the vicinity of Christchurch, New Zealand. Those who endure will come through transformed. They will be a humble people, and a people full of the Spirit of God. These will not seek worldly things for themselves, but will lay down their lives for others. By their love, will all men know that they are disciples of Christ.
I look forward to sharing these things in coming days. Please continue to lift me up, for I still face numerous threats, and there are adversaries. I am confident, however, that He who has promised is faithful. Yahweh will perform every good thing He has spoken to me. He will also raise up in the earth a people who will be to the praise of His glory. We will truly see in days ahead a people who will do exploits in the earth. They will be known for their love for God and their love for one another. These ones will be lovers of truth, and will depart from error and return from apostasy. Christ will lead the weakest, most common, and despised in this earth, and He will bring them to Zion. Great things lie ahead. Let us look forward with great anticipation.
If you hear the voice of the Spirit of Christ inviting you to follow Him down unknown ways, paths that appear to promise many trials and afflictions, do not shrink back. Take courage. There is One who will walk with you all the way! Every soul must be tried in these days. Most will not yield to follow the Spirit of Christ. These will trust in things that can and will be shaken. The wise will lay down their lives. They will fall upon the Rock, and because they do, Yahshua will make sure that they are still standing when the storm has passed over them.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”
People of God, we cannot will away the storms that must come. Even now the dark clouds are amassing upon the horizon. The news today reports that America, the reserve banker to the entire world, has had its credit rating lowered. The once unassailable bastion of prosperity is being criticized for her profligate lifestyle, her unwillingness to live within her means. The nations fear that her collapse will bring down the entire world financial system. The Spirit bears witness that these fears are well founded.
Where is your confidence in this hour? Are you leaning upon an arm of flesh? Are you dependent upon the government to grant you “social security?” Would you be unsettled with all the stress and fear that a collapse of American society would bring? Or are you already leaning upon the One who is ever faithful and cannot be shaken? An hour is at hand when all things that are hidden, even those faults deep within the earth of this flesh, must be exposed. Our Father desires sons who will stand. Trust Him. Lean upon Him. He will lead you through many storms, but He will deliver you through them all.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days!
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So good to hear from you again! I was led to your blog back in the spring and have been praying for you during your time away. I am a fellow sojourner on the afflicted path (as you call it) and I have been in my own prison season for much of this year, though not as literally as you. With my recent release having finally begun I have been expecting to see yours as well and so I am rejoicing in the Lord's faithfulness and timing that has given way to the new season. I have much I could share since I have identified so greatly with your testimony, your walk and your calling. But for now let me just say thank you for your obedience and example, and I honor you as one who is going before me so that I can go before others to blaze the trail. Few and far between are those that I have been able to identify with on this journey, but the Lord will always give me at least a testimony of another, if nothing else, to let me know that I am not the only (crazy) one.
Multiplied blessings to you and your family.