Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Faith”

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” Says The Teacher. “Utterly Meaningless! Everything Is Meaningless.”

Dear children,

There was a popular bumper sticker for a while that said, “excrement happens”.   Of course, it used a much more colorful word than “excrement”, but I hope you get the drift.  It conveyed the notion that life comes at us by random chance, and that some of that random chance is not so good, and it just “happens” without any reason or purpose.   That sticker reveals a worldview that is inconsistent with the view that I hope you adopt in your short lives.

We know that things do happen to everyone in life.  So when things happen to you, the question you will need to ask is, how will I respond?  And how you respond will depend on your basic philosophy of life which will revolve around a sense of purpose.  The temporariness of our lives attempts to steal purpose.  If this life you are living right now, residing your bodies is eternal, then that changes everything.  But your body will die, and so these few hours, days and years you spend occupying it will be spent by you like so much money in your pocket; and then it will be gone.

Some will spend all of their “money” (time) in the futility of simply reacting to circumstances.  Every decision they make in life will be in reaction to external forces guided by internal desires.  For others, their purpose will be to experience thrills, sex, and adventures. And still, for others, it be spent to start and sustain a career, get married, buy a house and raise a family.  But in the end, all of these endeavors have one thing in common.  They all end in death.  All will have spent their “money”, and it will all be then be spent.

But I pray that you will embrace the only purpose that makes sense of it all.  I pray that purpose would undergird whatever kind of life you live. You must understand that the only way you can grasp this is to know that you are not merely flesh but instead that you are flesh and spirit.  While your bodies will be wasting away, you can know that inwardly you will be being renewed day by day in your spirit.  Your eyes will not be fixed on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  Your purpose will not be to breathe air and obey the whims of your flesh, but rather your purpose will be to do the work which God has prepared in advance for you to do.  Your goal and purpose will not be to simply enjoy life but rather to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant” in the everlasting.

As I enter the autumn of my life I understand the book of Ecclesiastes more and more which says that life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  And no matter what path you choose, you can know that as the end draws near it will all be meaningless unless you have grabbed onto the eternal purpose that can only be found in Jesus the Christ.

I pray that at an early age you will commit to doing just that, grabbing onto Jesus with all of your might.  I pray that you will be able to defend the few hours that have been allotted you from the attack of meaninglessness that comes in the form of promises to the flesh.  I pray that as your life comes to an end you will be able to say, “I served my Lord” as you ready yourself to meet Him, and not, “I had a lot of ultimately meaningless fun”.   May our Lord grant you the ability to serve Him with steady devotion.  Amen

Your father

Read:

Eclesiastes 1

Ephesians 2

2 Corinthians 4

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Living In Reality

Dear children,

Every now and then you will hear someone say that so and so has lost touch with reality or some such thing.  Or they may even question the existence of reality.  So I think it’s worth thinking about, the question, what is reality?  It might seem like a dumb question at first, but it isn’t really.  In fact, it’s a question you should be asking yourself regularly.  So, to begin, let’s look at the definition of the word.  It is  “The state of things as they actually exist”.  My own one-word definition is, “truth.”  And as you will learn in this life dear children, truth can at times be quite evasive.

As I’ve discussed before in these letters, we are living in two different worlds at the same time.  There is the natural world and the spiritual world.  So granted, if we are defining reality in terms of this material world only, then the question of reality might rightly be judged as a dumb one.  Not many people question the existence of physical things.

However, we should remember that some things are abstract, that is to say that they’re neither physical or spiritual.  A man can be living with his wife, for example, and have no idea that she is secretly planning to divorce him in a year.  He may be making plans for his family’s future, but unfortunately, he’s not living in reality. He is in fact ignorant of reality and is on a collision course with it.  So let us first conclude that one does not need to acknowledge the existence of a spiritual world to understand that reality extends beyond physical things.  That is the first challenge, even for the atheist, of keeping our feet firmly planted in reality.  And it is also important to consider that had this man acknowledged the spiritual world, namely the existence of a personal God and Savior, it might well have helped him avoid his blissful ignorance.

Another barrier to grasping reality is change.  As time moves along things seem to be in a constant state of flux.  Standards appear to morph over time.  So, since we all experience this change, especially in social mores, we can see how we could see change as normal.  And we can also see how we could then define reality as that which we consider normal based on our experience.  It has become normal and acceptable, for example, that it is good for a woman to have her unborn child put to death because she doesn’t want him. That is normal, so it is what we experience, and so it is reality and so it is moral. Increasingly, understanding reality as a mixed bag of propositions that contradict each other defines the culture in which you live.  Such a culture is in the process of losing touch with reality.  So be warned, to buy into the cultural mindset of “normal” is to exit reality.  But we will discover that reality is not simply wished away.  It has a way of imposing itself on us after all.

As older generations die, with them die an old and more realistic way of seeing this world.  As the young of each new generation enter society they will not only be the product of 12 years of secular humanist education, they will also increasingly be the product of parents who are themselves products of secular humanist’s education.  The world you are living in, therefore, is in the midst of a great shift.  The mindset that there is no truth will not only be prevalent in your world, it will become even more prevalent with the passage of time.  You can expect, therefore, that anyone who holds that absolute truth does exist will be seen as abnormal, and even immoral.  This reality will present you with some challenges that are, perhaps, unique to your time.  You must not only hold fast to the truth that there is truth, you must hold fast to the truth.

Indeed, the belief that there is truth, is the starting point.  You will discover that there is another question, which is epistemological in its nature, and which must be considered if you will have any hope of living in reality.  That question is, “Can truth be known?”  We can believe all day long that truth exists, but if we are also convinced that truth cannot be known, its existence makes little difference.  So, let me emphatically answer that question for you: Yes! Truth can be known!  There is a higher order.  Reality exists, and you can know it.  The claim that truth cannot be known is a proposition that, like many popular propositions in your time, that is self-defeating.  It ought to raise the question right away,  “How can you then know that your claim is true?”  If one is to be consistent he must admit that he can’t know.  But you will find that those who do not live in reality seldom concern themselves with the internal consistencies of their worldviews.  Don’t be like that yourselves, especially if living in reality seems like something you’d like to do.

It is a stubborn thing, reality.  Man cannot create or rearrange it to suit his preferences or pleasures.  You will either live in reality, or you will be on a collision course with it.  If I believe that I can jump off a cliff and not get hurt, the moment I jump I will have set an appointment with reality, no matter how much I deny its existence on the way down.  In the same way, if I set sail on the sea of life in a ship constructed on the basis that truth can’t be known, I will have also set an appointment with reality.  Unfortunately for me however, since I deny that I can know truth, I won’t even realize that it was my own faulty compass that brought my life smashing against the rocky shores of reality.  Such is the nature of truth I suppose.  If you deny it can be known, then a shipwrecked life is nothing more than “stuff happens”.  But you don’t have to live this way.

Jesus told us that He was the way, the truth and the life.  There are reasonable and rational reasons to believe that He was indeed all of these, and much more.  So, with this in mind, let us look to His words:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27)

To be sure, “stuff does happen”.  Storms were a reality for both of these houses.  They will also be the reality in your life. The only real question is, will your house still be standing when it’s over?  Will your “reality” going into the storm be the same as your “reality” coming out of the storm?  Are the particulars of  your mindset, your worldview and your reality strong enough to withstand the winds of reality?  I pray that they are.

In closing, let me simply give you a few pointers to help you live in reality.

First, be open to the fact that you will have blind spots.  In the same way that you can see things in the lives of others that they can’t, they can see things in your life that you can’t.  If they love you they will won’t to help you.  Don’t dismiss their concerns.  Their love for you is trying to move you toward reality.  God made us to be relational, and part of relationships is just this sort of “building each other up”.  In that regard be approachable.  The truth often hurts and as such is often difficult to hear from a friend.  Love those who love you you enough to hurt you in order to make you better.

Second, renew your mind.  Paul admonishes us to not conform to this world, which is not according to reality, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  (Rom 12:2)  We renew our minds by programming it to think Biblically, and we program it to think Biblically by reading the Bible and asking God to teach us.  As our minds are renewed reality becomes increasingly clear.  We can discern the rocky shores long before we can see them.

Third, resolve inconsistencies.  Here are four ways to be consistent in your life and thinking.

  1. Live a life that is consistent with scripture.  God speaks to us through His Word.  Ask for God’s help that you may live according to his Word.  Remember that you are not earning your salvation, but are simply living it out.
  2. Avoid holding to internal inconsistencies.  We can’t, on the one hand for example, claim that God’s law no longer applies and then, on the other hand, say it’s wrong when someone steals our wallet.  That would be inconsistent and so therefore unrealistic.  Be aware that some internally inconsistent ideas are more difficult to resolve than they may at first appear.  That’s Ok.  Wrestle with them.
  3. Learn history, and especially the history of God’s Church, then think consistently with that history.  Don’t get sucked into “normal”.  God did not change his mind about things according to how they fit with an era or culture.  Still, you will find that consistency with historic views will be inconsistent with contemporary views.  Be aware also that old does not mean true.  Every age and place is impacted by the winds of that particular culture and place, so always start with scripture.  Look for consistencies throughout the history of Christianity, then try to remain consistent with those things.  God leads and directs His Church.  Be careful of “new-found” thinking or revelation.  You, right now, are living in a great falling away from the Church in America, a great apostasy.  The same denominations that are now confused about sins that are popular with culture, were the first ones to embrace other “new ideas” a hundred or so years ago.  Think beyond your own times.
  4. Understand your words.  Think about what they mean when you speak them, but more importantly, when you think them. Many times inconsistencies are present without our even realizing it simply because of the way we define words.  This is most evident in how we understand the word “love”, as well as what we expect from those who love us, and how we interact with those we love.  We can know that we are not living in reality when the meanings of our words morph, but our use of them does not.

I pray that you would live your lives in the city of reality.  I pray that you would be ever growing in the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as the deceptions of this world grow ever darker.  It will be a battle for you, but it will be a battle that you, and your mother and I,  can fight shoulder to shoulder.

Your father

To Be Ashamed Of God Is To Judge God

Dear children,

God is real.  He is the creator of everything, and He is the creator of you.  God is also good.  But he is not good according to man’s judgement of what good is.  He is good according to His own standard.  And in that God is good, he is necessarily just.  He judges all things rightly.  And there we, his creation, find ourselves in an overwhelming predicament, for we are not good, according to God’s judgements.  God’s justice rightly condemns us because all have broken His law.  But there is good news!  God loved this world in such a way that we do not have to abide in God’s wrath.  He sent His son to pray the price for our sin.  That, dear children, is the best news you will ever hear.

Yet, here is the problem for sinful man, even in light of God’s Gospel.  Here I will let the Bible speak, for I do not want you to think it is me saying this:

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it  [salvation] depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Rm 9:15-16)

This is, in my own opinion, one of the most difficult passages in the Bible.  But whose opinion is my opinion?  Am I in a position to judge God?  Of course not!  Should I be ashamed to serve a God who has mercy on some and not others?  On the contrary, I have but one question that matters more than any other.  Did He in fact have mercy on me?  Like the old Hymn, which was sung as a prayer, says: “Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me…”  But the writer understood that there was more, and that “more” is of the utmost importance.  So he adds to his one plea another: “…and that Thy bidest me come to thee..”  This is the question that you ought to be asking also, and pleading to God that He grant to you His mercy so that you may come to Him.

So here is the objection that causes many Christians to be ashamed of their God.  It normally goes something like this:  “What about the man who has lived his whole life in some remote tribe, and who has never heard the Gospel?  What happens to that man when he dies?”  I admit that this is one of the most difficult questions that you will ever be asked.  I think Paul answers the question in this same chapter, Romans 9, albeit not an answer that anyone likes.  And while probably millions of pages have been written in attempts to answer this very old question, the only point I want to get across to you now is to not ever be ashamed of your God for not having mercy on some, for to be ashamed of your God you must first judge your God… and that will never do.  God is our creator.  He can do with us as He pleases, and in the end He will still be good according to the only standard that matters, His.

We must begin all of our thinking with God, and then work our way from Him to man; not the other way around.  We start with God, who is good, holy, righteous and perfect.  Whatever He does, regardless of what we think, does not change that fact.  What we think doesn’t matter because our thinking has been corrupted with sin.  We, as mere men, are in no place to judge God for his decisions.  He can do as he pleases, even if it doesn’t please us.  But then again, that is the very thing that we have to be thankful for.  For it pleased God to send his Son to die on the cross so that we can escape His wrath.  He poured out that wrath on His sinless Son!  We, as sinful man, are in big trouble without this sacrifice.

I saw a bumper-sticker once that said “Born Ok The First Time”.  Born OK?  According to whose standard?  God says that we were born not OK and that we need to be born again.  That was His decree.  We must put our faith in His mercy, and plead with Him that His blood was shed for us, and also that He bid us come.  We must be born again.  We must not be ashamed of God because He does not measure up to man’s–read, our own–ideas of justice.  Look about you, man’s justice is corrupt.  You don’t need a magnifying glass to understand that.  The last thing in this world that we should desire is that God would live up to our views of “justice”.

I believe that both of you are born again.  But so many children in this day get caught up in this world.  Troubles come and they fall away.  The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth can choke out your faith.  And many young abandon their faith when they are older.  I pray that you would grasp that, no greater love is there than the laying down of one’s life for another.  I pray for you daily that God would bid you come.  I pray that God would grow you up into people who are according to the Spirit, and not the flesh.  I pray that you both would become mighty warriors in God’s army, and that you would not be lost to God’s wrath. I pray that he would overcome my failures and weaknesses as a mere man, and direct your eyes and your minds to Himself.  It is my number one prayer for you.  And again I pray that God would grant me this one desire, Amen.

Your father.

 

Encountering Secular Humanist Proselytizers

Dear children,

I once took nearly a half a year in meeting with Jehovah’s Witnesses; almost every Saturday.  I understood their intentions.  They were trying to change my mind.  My intentions were exactly the same in the opposite direction.  As it turns out, Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained in the art of subverting faith.  That’s what they do best and they make no apologies for it.  IT is all above board in that regard.  This is not so with the secular humanist.  When you encounter him it will have an entirely different feel to it.  For one, nothing is above board.  Indeed the Secular Humanist proselytizer does not see himself as a proselytiser at all, and would reject any such suggestion outright.

You should realize that you will be living in a culture dominated by this “religion”,  Secular Humanism.  You could actually say that it is the state religion in that it is the mandatory view in the state school.  Most of the people you meet also, regardless of their political persuasions, will be thoroughly indoctrinated into this religion, or worldview.  And in keeping with the history of established religions, that is to say, “state religions”, it is wholly intolerant of opposing belief systems.

But Secular Humanism is different than other established religions in that it rejects the existence of a deity beyond man himself.  In this religion man is god, and as such would never view himself as one of those religious, zealot proselytizers.  Such words are pejoratives saved for “religious” religions.  So, unlike myself and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he will not knowingly be attempting to preach you out of your faith and into another, but rather he will see himself as simply convincing you to be normal… like him.

Man, as it turns out, must order his existence according to a framework of “truths” that have a source.  Find the source of a man’s “truth” and you will find the object of his faith.  As man orders his life around his “truths” he attempts to answer the larger questions of life concerning his purpose and eternal destiny.  The secular humanist looks to his own mind for those answers.  And since his mind lacks the knowledge to answer them, makes them up, then presents his make believe as “science”, into which he throws himself with blind faith.  But that does not stop him from resorting to ridiculing you about your faith.  No, he will be happy to do that.  What man, for example, can the secular humanist point to who has gone to the grave to observe what happens there and then returned to inform us?  No one of course.  That would be absurd.  So he must therefore resort to faith concerning our ultimate destiny beyond the grave.  And to console himself, he must convince all others to do the same.  His faith is that he lives in a materialistic naturalistic world and that he will simply cease to exist once his “machine” begins to decompose.  Or, even if there were an experience to be had beyond the grave, it would certainly not be one in which he will be held to account for any wrong he did in this life.  How does he know this?  Faith.

The idea of man’s accountability for the life he lived brings us to another question concerning guilt and righteousness.  The secular humanist will preach to you that you make up your own righteousness.  But you cannot do as he preaches for if you do you will be be persecuted and judged if your ideas of righteousness does not agree with his and his ilk.  Indeed, you must be an environmentalist, anti-religion–especially of the conservative Christian variety, you must approve of aberrant sexual behavior and and condone the murder of babies in the womb.  The “community” becomes the catch phrase.  You must fall in line with “the community’s” standards of righteousness or be considered wicked and evil.  But “the community” is just a front.  The real source of right and wrong are those who have the power to establish it.  In the end, might is the source of right in “the community”.  So, when the Secular Humanist is appealing to you, these are the things he is attempting to proselytise you into, and again, it won’t be because he knows it, but because you need to believe it.

So what about this guilt and forgiveness?  Well, in “the community” there is none.  Oh, they will tell you that you have no need to feel guilty for anything and that such feelings in themselves are sinful.  And that works well as far as your relationship with “the community” goes, just don’t ever disagree with it.  If you do you will realize very quickly that you actually can sin as a secular humanist.  Sure, you may repent of your sin and realign your thinking with “the community” I suppose.  But if you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing dreadful things in the name of good.  The history of righteousness based on man’s best ideas is a history of evil deeds.

Lastly, you should realize that Secular Humanism comes to you with many labels not excluding the label “Christian”.  A “Christian” may come preaching and proselytising in an attempt to usurp your faith and lure you into his “religion”  And in the same way as all other Secular Humanists, this proselytiser will not be aware of what he is doing either. The humanist is easy to spot by his source of “truth”.  If it is man’s wisdom, and not God’s Word, he is trying to preach you into the City of Man.  The Secular Humanist will love certain Bible verses that align themselves with his sensibilities, but don’t be fooled.  He will reject anything that the community rejects.  They will not tolerate such thinking, nor can they.

It is important to realize also that as a Christian you ought not fit into this Secular Humanist society.  What you call evil this world will not call evil and what you call good this world will not call good.  What is normal for the secular humanist will not be normal for you.  You have a different source for truth.  So, let us go to our source, God’s Word, and see what He has to say about all of this.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:30 that “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  A little later in the same chapter he continues:   “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”  That word “good” raises an important question.  Does Man decide through brute power what is good and evil, or does God decree it through His law?

God says that man’s righteousness is as filthy rags.  He says that no man does good, no not one.  He says that man is lost and in need of salvation.  Paul had this to say about unsaved people as he spoke of their condition prior to salvation:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph 2:2)

Here Paul paints a portrait of the Secular Humanist Man, who thinks that he is looking to himself for truth.  He will deny his condition even when his hands are drenched with his fellow man’s blood.  In the end, man without Christ is doomed.  But God, rich in His mercy, showed us a better way and provided for our salvation.  He promised us a renewed mind, a mind ordered and centered on Himself, His law, His righteousness and His love.  Unlike the City of Man, God’s yoke is not burdensome, but He promises a yoke that is light.  I therefore beseech you, dear children, to choose the narrow gate early, and to have faith in your God to walk along the narrow path that lies beyond.  Trials are a part of life, one way or the other, except that on the narrow path they are not in vain.

I pray that you would see the preachers and proselytisers that come your way for what they are.  I pray that you would see the pain and misery that their path will lead to in this life, and the eternal damnation that it leads to in the next.  May the eyes of your hearts be opened, and may a mantle of discernment rest on you.

Your father.

The Main Stream

Dear children,

We are all in this life faced with a choice between being in the so-called “mainstream” and not being there.  You will hear that word bandied about a lot in your life and when you do hear it, it will almost always be used in what is called a logical fallacy that argues in favor of something on the bases of “everyone else is doing it”.  So if you don’t either do it or agree with it being done then you’re not in the “mainstream”; and that’s suppose to be bad.  Unfortunately, this convinces many people to go with the flow, (pun intended) because it is only natural to want to fit in and be accepted.

But that word, “mainstream”, connotes a river flowing down hill.  It is flowing according to the course set by the happenstance of geography; and according to the least amount of resistance.  And it is flowing with great force.  Its flow might be temporarily impeded at times, as with a dam, but the river will overcome and destroy the impediment eventually. It is always only a matter of time.  In the middle of the river the current is strong and that is where the greatest mass of water exists and moves .  But then you have the water that is close to the edge that might be flowing slower, or perhaps almost not at all.  I think therefore that the word is quite accurate as it describe the masses of humanity.  I would also say that I do not want to be in the mainstream, nor do I think that that we are called by God to be there.  So let us go to the scriptures and see why.

Let us begin with one of my favorites which is Romans 12:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Rom 12:2)

Paul could have just as easily used the word “mainstream” instead of “world”, because in reality the main flow of this world is based on how the world thinks.  Our thinking is formulated.  We think about things according to a framework that is either installed by our culture, or by something else.  That framework is constructed of points of reference from which we make determinations and judgements.  Those who are in the middle of the river do not feel the current.  Their reference point is the water around them, which appears to be sitting still.  Rather it is the river’s edge that is moving.  But here God calls us to another set of reference points for our thinking.   He calls us to touch the bottom of the river, to stand up, and to begin our walk to the edge.  But as soon as we attempt to stand, the current becomes powerfully obvious.

We also have this gem in 1st John chapter 2:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.   (1 John 2:15-17)

John is also giving us a contrast between the mainstream and our walk with God.  Those in the mainstream love the mainstream.  They work hard to appeal to the thinking of the mainstream, with all of its lusts, and they are proud of the fact that they “fit in”, and they do not like those who don’t.  If you walk out your life with your feet on solid ground, that is, not being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14) you will experience the ere of this world.  But for me, being hated by the “mainstream” is comforting and assuring.  It is when I find myself in agreement with this world’s thinking that I become afraid.  And that is as it should be because Jesus warns us that the world first hated him and it will hate us also.  He also warns us to be concerned “when all men speak well of [us]” (Luke 6:26).

The idea of being called out of this world’s way of thinking, as it turns out, is not a New Testament idea.  We have God calling Noah out the world and into an ark that separated him and his family from the “mainstream”, which killed everyone. And again, we see God beginning the operation of redeeming His world by calling Abram out of the world as Abram knew it:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you...”  (Gen 12:1)

After God called Abram into his new life, he gave him a new name, Abraham, the progeny of which, many years later through providence, ended up in Egypt.  And then God called His children out of Egypt as well.

And then in the end of the scriptures we see again, as we read in the apocalyptic writing of Revelation, God commanding “His people” to “come out” of what might well be considered the “mainstream”:

“For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”  I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. “  (Rev 18:3-6)

Remember that the mainstream flows downhill.  It does not war against its flesh, but on the contrary it embraces and celebrates it along with all of its carnal desires.  (Romans 1) Rather than war against the flesh, they war against those who do “war against their flesh”.  But man knows deep down all is not well.  He knows that he is in trouble.  So many attempt to console themselves beyond the approval of the masses by adopting the parts of the Christian religion they like.  They find consolation by extracting verses from scripture like the one that promises that God will remember our sins no more. (Heb 8:12)  But this promise is clearly only true for those who are hidden in Christ.  In this passage from Revelations, it is a downright terrifying thought that God “has remembered her iniquities”.

There is one passage that is perhaps the most explicit and poignant when it comes to calling people out of  the “mainstream”.  Jesus is crystal clear in this short passage that following Jesus is not mainstream, and the mainstream are not following Jesus:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.  (Matt 7:13-14)

Not only are we to make our way out of the mainstream–and its thought forms and lifestyles–we are to then walk along a narrow “stream”, so to speak.  The water in this path does not push you along with great force.  It is quiet and gentle, and there is peace to be found in its midst.

We are living in radical times.  The battles being waged against God and His law are hot and often.  The force of the mainstream, which was impeded for a time in the nation into which you were born, has breached the dam.  There are tumultuous times ahead for those now floating comfortably in the backwaters.  But if you will be found in Christ, while you will not be spared trials and hardships, if you will cling to him you will find your feet always planted on the solid rock that cannot be swept away by the raging torrents.

Dear children, we don’t know how strongly our feet are planted until the floods come.  But I pray that that your feet, and our, your parent’s, feet will be planted firmly.  I pray it often that God would fix us fast to His Son in order that we would not be swept away.  All around us it is happening.  Everyday news comes of some church, or man of the church, who has lost his footing and has been swept away.  So as the scriptures point out…

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.
(Ps 91:5-7)

 …so I pray for you.  May it be so dear LORD, may it be so.

Your father

Nothing Doesn’t Attack Anything

Dear children,

You will live your lives in a world with competing worldviews.  But it is worse than that really.  It is not as if these worldviews are in amiable competition for your allegiance.  They are at war with each other.  It is a war of ideas, yes, but eventually wars of ideas become bloody.  You,  my dear children, will pick a side in this conflict.  There is no avoiding that fact.  You will be touched by it as well, no matter what side you choose, even if that side is one of pacifism, Unitarianism or live and let live.

If you follow the path that I’ve pointed out for you, that is to say, if you follow Jesus, you will likewise be attacked in any number of ways.  Scripture is clear on this matter.  So in this letter I would like to paint those attacks with a wide brush and then point out something worth noting.  But fist let me define the key term, “attack”.

To attack a thing can generally mean to act violently toward it.  Or it can mean to impugn or challenge its cognitive structure, as in the “idea”.  While both of these kinds of attacks on Christianity are happening today, I want to focus on the latter of the two, and specifically on the fact that these attacks should be interpreted from two different perspectives.  The first of these perspectives is the actual challenge to your worldview.  If someone, for example, is challenging your belief that there is a God by offering his believed evidence that there isn’t, then that evidence must be dealt with.  I’ll call that the offensive perspective.  An offensive action is being taken against your beliefs.  The second perspective I’ll call the “defensive” perspective.  Every attack emanates from its own belief system, or worldview, and therefore is a thing open to attack itself, and which ought to be defensible.  Because of their immersion in this culture, most whom you will encounter will not even realize this because their belief system is “normal”, which is just another way of saying that it is what everybody else they know believes too.  It more than likely will have never occurred to them that they hold a view which itself requires a defense.

I would have your minds work so as to think within the framework of both of these perspectives, always.  As a Christian you are not, nor should you ever be, solely held to defending your faith against those who are attacking it.  You will find that defending your faith is a much easier task, even in your own mind, when you are able to challenge the challenger and make him defend his faith also.  His faith will generally come in one of  two forms.  The form that you are most unlikely to encounter is the one that insists that there is no god.  But there is another from just like it, which you will encounter often, even from many who profess to be Christians, that will insist that thought there is a god, you can’t know or be certain what he requires.   You will navigate attacks from these worldviews more easily when you realize that they are in reality nothing more than attempts at usurping your faith with theirs.  But be sure that in the end, they offer nothing more or less than faith also.

Life requires faith.  You will put your faith in something, be it a Utopian idea, a man, a religion, a government or any number of other things that can easily be turned into an idol for worship.  While you will encounter some who have faith in the gods of differing religions, and yes, the people of those faiths will–and if they are being true to that faith, should–attempt to win you over to their faith. These are easier to think through because it is plain to see that your faith is being challenged by another faith that does not attempt to hide its own beliefs nor the fact that an attempt at usurpation is happening.  But you will face precious little of that sort of an “attack”  in your lifetime.  The attacks you will experience rather will come from a faith that doesn’t see itself as faith at all, for it is a faith in man.  And though it will seldom be admitted to you, the name of this faith is “Secular Humanism”.  It bills itself as not being based on faith because it points to what it calls science, and it worships no deity.  Or, the deity that it does worship is indistinguishable from the government and the prevailing “morality” of the age.   But rest assured, this faith contains all the elements of just another religion with all of its ordinances, worship requirements, systems of morality, redemption and even its own little gods.

For this reason I would admonish you to study your culture.  Know it.  Understand that attacks on your faith are not coming from nowhere or nothing.  They have a source, always, a belief system from which it attacks.  Realize that it, like all other religions, are at war with God and His law, and it means to win.  Understand that those who fall away from Christianity, and embraced this Godless culture, have not fallen away from religion but have merely exchanged the one true God for an idol.  They have simply allowed that God be usurped by an idol, which in your culture’s case, is man.

I wish, dear children, that you could simply embrace the love of Christ and live out the rest of your life in peace and tranquility, and to a certain extent, you can though your belief in Jesus.  But the Bible is clear.  Trials will come… many trials.  You will either traverse those trials with the light of God’s word, or you will traverse them based on some other belief system.  But know that they will come, and you will walk through them.  I plea that you hold onto Jesus tightly, who promised us that, though troubles will come in this world, He has overcome this world.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”
(John 16:33)

Your father.

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