Letter to Loved Ones

This won’t be perfect…far from it. It will not be complete, or thorough, or without cracks. Make no mistake, if there are cracks in this writing, in the message, they are human in origin, and of the messenger not the source.

The fact is the situation is now too dire, too immediate to justify waiting by any reasoning. Furthermore, this fact of the situation isn’t only true now; but, it has been true for years, decades, centuries, and all the way back to Eden. The matter is one of life and death, and of utmost importance. The matter will define us as a people, now and for perpetuity. It is a matter not just for each of us, but for our family, for our children, for our generations. It is my hope and, more importantly, prayer that each of you reading this will find it within yourself to see that a few things be accomplished in you as you read this: Firstly, an honesty of mind, heart, and spirit and openness that reaches much deeper than your currently held beliefs, views, predispositions…and desires. The second is love…A willingness to love me whether you like the message or not and to appreciate the fact that it is with great love, empathy, compassion, and humility that I write to you. Thirdly, an acknowledgement of and grasping (really taking hold) of the inevitable longing that stirs beneath the surface in you and an acknowledgement of it. And lastly, a willingness and desire to “stay with me” and interest in future communications. This last point is great in importance, as one of the reasons I finally decided to write revolves around my acceptance that this will not be complete, thorough or “good enough” from both my perspective…and likely from yours. I am a BIG believer in communication, open and honest communication, and feel strongly that one of the primary impediments to our modern plight is we have lost the ability to reason with one another. We cannot seek truth, retain it, obtain it, and pass it down for generations if we cannot dialogue on matters of great import and face tough issues together. Our forefathers weren’t perfect, but they did this much better than we do, and the fruit was ours for the enjoyment.

This seems like a good place to “start”….

We were not taught the right things of God; and, undoubtedly, most of them were not taught rightly. As long as man has walked the earth, man has watered down, rebelled against, and forgotten God’s truth. This is how more than a message becomes distorted. This is how belief becomes unaligned with truth, with what IS.

For the sake of my point in writing, we can skip the earlier history lessons and pick up around the late 1800s. As we moved towards industrialization and consumerism, we basically forgot what we once knew. Man who counted on God for everything began to count on himself. More than just counting on himself, his reward was seemingly increasing and without limits. The imagination, creativity and work of man (or grace and providence of The Lord Almighty) sprung forth boundless earthly treasure, riches, glory and fulfillment…so we thought. With each stage of new achievement, and as each trial or tribulation passed, man became more emboldened, self-reliant….and forgetful. Much like the Israelites before us, we just couldn’t consistently accept, adhere to, and remember God’s provision and plan for our lives.

So what is that plan? I will tell you first what it isn’t…

It isn’t losing our minds to cheap entertainment or living for the next purchase. It isn’t Facebook or TV, Twitter or funny videos. It isn’t games or treats, expensive things or man’s praise. It isn’t sugar or cars, clothes or nice trips. It’s not your job. It isn’t being “in the know” or keeping up with trends. It isn’t red state or blue, liberal, progressive, or conservative. It isn’t black or white, left or right, Hispanic, Asian, young or old. It isn’t in a doctor’s office or at the hospital. You won’t find it on the ingredient’s list of your favorite foods (But you will find a lot of things you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce). They won’t tell you on cable or brief you during morning coffee. It isn’t in the boardroom, showroom, and most likely not on your mind in your living room. They won’t prescribe it, pass it as legislation, give it out at the next promotional or sell it to you.

But it will cost you something.

The plan is this: To die.

God’s plan is that man, that families, glorify and honor Him with their lives. That our lives be a living sacrifice unto the Lord that His purposes might be fulfilled in us and that we might live in such a way that brings life, true and abundant life, to those whom He loves most…us, His children.

The fact of the matter is that we, for generations now, have “altered” truth to suit our desires and have evaded His plan, replaced recognition with opinions, values with vice, virtue with indulgence, and facts with feelings. We do not know truth and cannot think or reason properly. Critical thought, sound judgement, discernment and wisdom are nearly extinct.

We have rebelled against God, formed our own little kingdoms, and put ourselves firmly on the throne. This is most unfortunate as we do not hold dominion over the most important of things, cannot be trusted, and are pitiful “kings” as it turns out.

In reality, you cannot alter truth any more than you can say, “I don’t believe in gravity” and jump off a 20 story building and survive. All of our “replacements” have come at so great a cost. We have borrowed ideas from the Devil himself and the fruit of our doing (or, rather, undoing) is another kind of death. We are sick, our kids are flaky and have no clue what to think or believe. Our lower schools are in shambles, colleges are a joke, the medical community is completely untrustworthy, government is corrupt, our “art” is cruddy and commercials confirm the fact that we are, indeed, idiots. We are overmedicated and undereducated. As The Bible accurately predicts, many of us have been given over to a spirit of delusion and our wisdom is no doubt foolishness before God. Oh, what a firm foundation The Almighty laid, but here we stand, just barely, feet planted stubbornly on sinking sand and by our own choice. Lord God have mercy in Jesus’ name.

The Lord God of all creation sits enthroned as His children willingly pluck scraps from the floor beneath a banquet table He has prepared. (1)

We claim to be “basically good people” and pay lip service to our devotion to God, meanwhile God’s “eyes search the earth to and fro seeking but one who is righteous.” Don’t we know… “Friendship with the world is enmity with God…and man cannot serve two masters. Either he loves the one and hates the other, or will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Our double-mindedness is evident in how we manage our work, run our homes, raise our children, approach health, “educate” ourselves, spend our free-time, love our spouses, and interact with the world around us.

When it comes to God, what we do best is throw an occasional twig on a fire that is unlit, oblivious to the fact that a savior’s love rages like a wild inferno longing to consume us.

But this is not just about our sin, weakness, and split personalities. It is very much about blindness.  There are two primary types of this blindness: First, is a blindness to the truth about God, His Word and instruction for us, and then, second, to reality itself. “Real” reality is that from the beginning of time God laid down the very fabric of our existence, it is truth itself; and we either become aligned to it or wage war against it, knowingly or not. Unlike what most of us were taught, being a “good person”, believing in God, and going to church does not save, justify, or deliver. It also doesn’t sanctify, refine, impart, or consecrate -all things necessary to a life that thrives according to His purposes, as opposed to one that wallows in the shallow, limited waters of our own design. We have been led to believe what man wants to believe, what is easiest for us: That God himself requires little for everything we want and desire to be at our fingertips. We shouldn’t judge….and so why would our God? There is no condemnation, no chastisement, no consequence here, or in eternity. A basically good man need not fear The Lord. We can enjoy the world and still love God. We can have our cakes and eat them, too…and a camel can easily fit through the eye of a needle. The world is a neutral place and things therein are harmless to us. There isn’t a Devil, truth is a matter of opinion (or perspective), celebrities are great role models, the media is a bastion of integrity, the healthcare system has our best interests in mind, public schools are cutting-edged, and technology is our best friend. No, the truth is there are many things “killing” our people. The repercussions will be seen for generations IF we do not change course immediately. We were not meant to be of this world, only in it. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

True life is to reject those things that are not of God, that do not bring forth life, that do not edify and move us closer into alignment with God himself and His life-giving purposes for us.

“I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

What would it be like to have kids that live for Christ, to have a spouse pray over you, to hear your children sing praises unto the Lord, have peace, contentment, and true joy that leans on nothing temporal? What would it be like to see God move…His power released…in your home, in your marriage, in your relationships, in your health, and in your heart? How would it feel to give up things THAT AREN’T GOOD FOR YOU TO BEGIN WITH -and to give up that which cannot be kept for that which will never pass away?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (2)

What would the legacy be of a life well-lived for Christ? What would the earthly and heavenly influence and fruit be for generations from your faithful, devoted, fully-submitted devotion to The Lord? And what would the eternal consequence be of your giving your all for Christ? What are the eternal consequences of not doing this?

Let me be clear: We are not safe; and this is meant to be a wake up call to all who will hear it. “Awake, oh ye sleeper. Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” The only safety is found in a life fully given over to Christ. It isn’t enough to believe in Him, one must believe on Him.

“Many will tell me in that day, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!”

Deitrich Bonhoeffer once said, “When God bids a man He bids him come and die.” It is here that we find life. It is here that we gain wisdom, knowledge, and true discernment. It is here that we gain truth and life itself. It is called the great exchange.

And today most have attempted to exchange a mere pittance to attempt purchase of something whose price is a life.

You see, He gave His life, that we might have life. And when we take up our cross and follow…when we choose this life through our own death…we are resurrected to real and abundant living.

Christ says, “You will know them by their fruits.” The fruit doesn’t lie. We are unsettled in spirit, shackled with addiction, restless of mind, and led by thoughts and feelings that have little relationship to the truth that sets free. We are unhealthy…inside and out. And our kids? They are poorly educated, restless, distracted, unfulfilled, immature, confused, often sad, and generally unhealthy. We raise our children to be just that….children. We should be raising mature, wise-as-serpent, virtuous reflections of God’s holy grace, magnificence, and glory. Generations before us were far from perfect, as has already been noted here, but let me tell you something: The young people of pastimes would kick our kid’s butts in virtually every meaningful pursuit.

“…And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thy sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates…”

The Devil, the media, our government, our “entertainers”, our healthcare system, our corporations, parents, grandparents, and forefathers are all complicit; but it is we who must assume the blame…and the responsibility. The “greatest generation” (which is beloved no doubt but was spiritually flawed) has given way to a generation (or two or three) who has, like the Israelites and most of our ancestors before us, forgotten all we once knew. We have failed to “love The Lord thy God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength.” We have failed to live for Christ…to die and to gain. We have failed to educate and pass down all God has done and the evidence of our faith. We have not taught our children right things and they have not inherited a legacy of a family “…whose God is The Lord,” that they might know history, life, truth, and The Way so their lives can be as meaningfully and fully lived as ours were intended to be.

Vanessa and I recently taught a Sunday School group a class I entitled “Turning the Titanic”. The class was constructed in my spirit, mind and on paper over a course of a few years as I learned and reflected on my own family and loved ones, who we are, and what our legacy will be for generations. I live and breathe to love Christ and to see my family be a reflection of His purposes for man, family, and, ultimately, for His glory and honor. It would take pages to express to you all my gratitude to The God of all Creation that He cared enough for me, in spite of me, to grant me forgiveness, mercy, grace, salvation and, ultimately, true life. But He isn’t just a God of mercy or second chances. He is a God of “exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever think of or ask.” It wasn’t enough in His eyes to save me…He has richly poured out His blessing and shown me things I could never have imagined. He has granted wisdom, knowledge, purpose, peace, love, truth, life, and (the very best thing) Himself. There is no way…no way….I can sit idly by and watch us small talk our lives away, watching the world spin around us, hoping it all turns out OK when I KNOW God is on His throne, He loves us, His children; and He has a plan for abundant and fruitful life for us. He can overcome ANY situation any of us are facing. He makes the crooked straight, the low high, the doubt belief, delusion understanding, darkness light, and death life. There is no part of our lives, of your life, He isn’t willing to or unable to touch in a mighty way right now. Don’t get it twisted. Our goal here is not to have everything all worked out and perfect. I am not, we are not, all things are not perfect; and they never will be this side of Heaven. But there is real hope and change and not the kind they are peddling in the press. There is joy unspeakable, blessed assurance, a firm foundation, peace that passes understanding, and life abundant.

There are fake substitutes, also. The Devil’s lie in the Garden of Eden continues today…every day. My prayer, my exhortation, my warning and admonition to you, to us, is to stop right now, take an account of your life, be honest, and take a stand in this moment in time, in a place, in a way you will never forget nor regret. I know a God who is alive, who imparts to us when we relent, whose spirit can dwell within us, and whose power is available and unlimited – no matter your age, no matter your past, no matter your present. God loves you. He loves us all. He is calling to you right now this very moment and asking: Will you trust me with your life? Not on Sunday, not on Easter, not on holiday, not in the heat of a moment when you are desperate only, but always and completely. He is the one who asks, “Will you trade that which cannot be kept for that which cannot be taken away?”

Will you be the one who remembers what has been forgotten, who teaches what might be lost, who becomes undone to all that has been done to rob us from life itself? What will your family legacy be? Can you say, as Joshua did, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord?” You see, by God’s grace and His Holy Spirit, I never pictured this “turning of the Titanic” to be something for just Vanessa and I and my offspring. It has always been in my heart and a conviction I hold to that it be for you, for all of our family and friends, extended and beyond –the conviction that what God has placed in me and that which He is doing here in our hearts would be like a wildfire that would rage out and consume all whom I love and cherish so. It is that this “turning” would be so massive that it would create a ripple effect throughout all our generations, extending well beyond influences we could ever know or imagine!

This turning is one where we say, “Enough! This is where we make our stand. This is where we cut off the lies of the enemy.  This is where we end the decline of our understanding, recover our history, and renew our love for, fear of, and devotion to our God. This is where health improves, divorce ends, unbridled sin gets bridled, children thrive, light shines into darkness, love of the world is severed, love and God’s spirit permeates all and His purposes are served for His glory for perpetuity through a family given over to Christ. This is where we become a light in a world of darkness so desperately needing families who are light. This is where we “Let our light so shine before men that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in Heaven.” This is where doubt and wandering subside and are replaced by His blessed assurance and the wonder of His great works. This is where our will and purposes die and His are fulfilled. And don’t you know His are SO much better!?

I have always liked “deep things” …always been a little deep. I like the deeply intellectual, expansive, the philosophical, thoroughly and accurately vetted, and even imaginative. The more I mature in Christ, though, the more I like and appreciate the power and beauty of the simple things, little truths that are as weighty as the lengthiest dissertation (Is this it?), deepest philosophy, or most expansive research. Two of these simple truths and promises are two of my favorite verses of The Bible. The first is “seek and ye shall find” and the second “knock and the door will be opened to you”. These are promises from The Living God of All Creation, who is quite capable of doing “exceedingly and abundantly above all that we may ask or think.” Now, I must ask you, “Are you thinking highly enough?”

This is my hope. This is my prayer for you if you are receiving this. This is my prayer for our family, for our people. God is faithful. IF we earnestly seek…if you do…He will show you things unimaginable; and the rivers of life and blessing from which you and your family will drink will be boundless and neverending.

 “Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks the water I give them shall never thirst; but the water I give shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

“He that believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither –whatever they do prospers.”

Are you thirsty?

I would like to think I have always pursued truth, pursued knowledge, and the “explanation of things” (though earlier pursuits were as flawed and misguided as the East is from the West). With the mindset of the pursuance of truth, a warning I have carried for some time and share with others is, “It is what you don’t know that might kill you.” We must be willing to set aside what we think we know and openly and honestly open our hearts, our minds, to what we may be missing. This is vital to avoid death…a spiritual death more dire than death of the body; and this is vital to finding the true meaning and purpose in life. I hope and pray that you are doing this as you read…and always. We know so much today, and yet less than ever.

This is the hard truth: We have made a mockery of God’s plan for the life of man and gravely endangered our people. We ourselves, our families, children and posterity suffer from a cheap, watered down version of devotion to God. His plan is that Christ would die so that we might live. Yet we pick and choose how we might shape our lives, carefully (or very recklessly) crafting our image of self, view of God, and version of reality. God must only be viewed as He is. “I AM WHO I AM,” He says, making light of the fact that HE IS from the beginning; and His truth remains constant in himself, and thereby in us if we accept His grace and live accordingly.

 The love of Jesus shown for us at Calvary was too dear a price to be paid for us to squander on cheap substitutes the life that He bought.

He died that we might live, yet we choose death, in many cases unknowingly, for ourselves and our children. It is here that we must stake our claim and take our stand. Here is where the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak, in this writing. The purpose and motive isn’t to presume malice, accuse of hedonism, self- righteously judge another, nor to wax eloquent on religious philosophy as it applies to sociology because it just feels good to do so. The purpose is to sound an alarm and call to arms – This is a warning to awaken from slumber.  One is much more likely to get off course if he doesn’t know where he is going. Do you know where you are going…and why? A friend of mine once said that we cannot know the how, when, and where of our existence if we do not know the why and who. Who are you, really, and what is your “why”? What were you created for?

It would be unwise, in times like these, to assume things are as they should be…to do what we do best and avoid higher matters by covering with idle small talk, political correctness, superficial graces, indulgent silliness, or the like. Our depth is a concern. We have become a dumbed down people. It is time to wise up by God’s grace or we will certainly die indeed. No frogs-in-the-pot here is the motto.

“My people perish for lack of knowledge”

Let me ask you a few questions: Are you happy? Is your soul satisfied? Do you know that you know that the purpose and meaning of this life can be found in yours? Is there a little voice inside that says something isn’t quite right? Why are we so unfulfilled? Why so unsatisfied? What is the longing in our hearts, in our souls?

“I am The Way and The Truth and The Life…”

Like the Israelites wandering in the desert, disbelieving God. They, by their own choices and self-induced delusion, subjected themselves to a version of life – from then to this very day even for many – so much less than, so much lower than that for which they were created and which was intended by their loving Father in Heaven. Must we do this also?

Isn’t it time? Isn’t it worth it? Won’t you trust Him? Shouldn’t we do it now…before it is too late?

“So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”

One final thought…

I am well aware of the “risk” in writing this. Let me say this about that: First, what I risk is little compared to what may be gained. Aren’t we kind of sleep-walking through this anyway?? The risk is that we might be shaken alive to something better in relationship to one another – in our hearts, in our homes, and on this earth. The standard that has been set for some time now, not just by us but by “our people” in general, is quite frankly poor in light of God Almighty, His word, and intent for us.

First, It is because of my love and care for you all that I take the risk. Second, the risk is taken as a measure of “push back” against a thing that troubles me greatly: As a people, we are much inclined to entertain things of little eternal value. We will consider foolish thought if wrapped up in pretty packaging, we will gladly nod our heads in agreement with enemies of God and smile at things we should rebuke. Oh, we will talk about all manner of things! Indeed, but the things which should be heard, those things which are truly worthy of consideration, and those respectable voices (especially those coming in the name of Jesus Christ and The God of All Creation – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we quickly dismiss, rebuke, scoff at, or avoid altogether. We will smile for Lady Gaga, yet frown at the lady coming in the name of Christ.

“They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”

I hope and pray that you will receive this act of love graciously and that you will communicate with me further if you have questions, desire clarification, or even wish to rebuke me!  My true desire is that you will take whatever measures at any cost in your heart, in your person, where you are, by God’s grace, to ensure that this same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of you, your life, and your (our) family. In Jesus’ name and praise be to God Most High, bless these words and the hearer.

“Jesus said unto them, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’”

Footnotes on quotations

All quotations outside of “scare” quotes are from The Holy Bible except as noted below

(1) Heidi Baker – Compelled by Love

(2) Jim Elliott – missionary and pastor

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