October 12, 2014
Letter to my children (and grandchildren),
I hope you are able to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov. 4:23. Some of the aids to guarding your heart are attending church regularly, reading the Word, worshiping, and allowing the Holy Spirit to sweep through your hearts and do “housecleaning” often. I am praying that you are able to let God work in you a calm, peaceful, grateful, trusting, and worshipful heart. Your heart really is the most important thing to guard and your soul is the real you that will carry you on into eternity. Diligently guard these!
Devote yourself to God, because He watches over and works on behalf of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He doesn’t always go to bat for our circumstances, yet He will do that as well. The latter is just secondary to our heart and soul, which, when we devote ourselves to God, we realize is the most desirable thing after all. That is why there is a Proverb “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need.” (so that my heart will stay right with you) But when we taste and see how good God is, we really do learn that the peace and joy He gives as we draw near to Him and His Word, is sweeter then honey and more precious then gold.
Remember, whatever you need to do in order to keep seeing everything from the only true perspective (a spiritual one), that is what you need to do. Above all, guard your spiritual growth and value it. If it takes making a list of things to be grateful about, even right down to details about anyone you need to cut grace to or forgive, then by all means, do just that. Putting yourself in a position to meditate on spiritual things regularly is important. I know you will experience many times of sadness in life. Everyone has sad things and many people have horribly sad things to deal with: physical disabilities, abuse, terminal illness and much worse atrocities of suffering in third world countries. Don’t allow yourself to compare to anyone unless it’s someone worse off, so that you can keep a grateful heart and remember to pray for others with a heart of compassion. Meantime, God is using many people in your lives in various ways so don’t forget to be grateful for them, and especially the handful of formidable prayer warriors who labor in prayer for you and our family often.
Remember to see things from a spiritual perspective. There is a battle going on all around us – each of us – in the spiritual realm. Sometimes the answers to our prayers are sent via angels who are caught up in an invisible (to us) battle, yet a real one (as happened to Daniel). It is short sighted to not see that there is an invisible battle, so we must realize that it is indeed going on. Any thoughts we may have that are not from a spiritual perspective just further aid the delay in answers because they give our enemy more ground. May it never happen with you. Fiercely guard whatever spiritual ground you gain and keep gaining more. The only way to do this is to keep pressing into God through deep prayer and Bible study. Once the enemy has a foothold he will put up quite a battle to keep it. Don’t let Him. Put every thought through the test of ‘is this God’s perspective and does this hold up to the light of His Word?’. Or does it fall into “wool gathering” (negative stinking thinking) and lies of the enemy. Everything about Satan and his names means that he is a deceiver and wants us to think we can be like God and reason things out superbly. Truth is we are like sheep and easily led astray without our Shepherd. But when we stay near our Shepherd and become students of God’s Word we are in a safe place, divinely guarded. That is where I want you to be for the rest of your lives.
Every living moment keep gaining ground toward God and away from the enemy. That does not mean you will have happy circumstances, necessarily, though I hope that’s the case. I want to be wherever God can keep me focused on Him, even if it is because I need to stay on my knees in prayer for my family members. Even if it means I can’t allow an iota of bitterness to creep into my life becx of the betrayal of friendships that mattered to me. Even if it means I must forgive wrongs that were just wrong. Even if it means I need to submit to authority that may not seem fair (as long as it doesn’t cause me to blatantly sin). Even if it means I am some day, maybe not too far off the way things are going, caused to suffer for my faith. Even if it means I have to gain whole new perspectives that are somewhat foreign to me; i.e. the blessing of a job, even while continuing in most of the same roles as before – and some days too little margin, which leaves me often exhausted and finding myself nodding off in the evening. Though, Lord willing, I will still tweak the “new” schedule to make it work, most all the things I have named just drive me closer to Christ, because in my weaknesses He is strong. They reveal my need for Him and my need for repentance in areas where I have judged, so I welcome new paths He puts me on, even if they are hard, because He is using them to soften my heart and cause me to lean on Him. That is our God. He is so dear and so amazing…so precious. But we need to devote ourselves to Him with a repentant and humble heart knowing if we never get a taste of freedom from the things that hurt us the most (the thorns in our side as Paul called his circumstances, which did include long prison sentences), He will, indeed, draw near to us and become our precious companion who we really can find joy in, even and, particularly, in trials.
How I love you and want you to be bold in serving God as many of your very names imply in one sense or another. In the Lord is the only place you can be a hero despite mistakes, and that, because our lives become a showcase for God’s faithfulness to us, His children, despite our failings, which He will use in us by granting wisdom, perseverance, empathy, determination, forbearance, etc., through what we learn. Whether accusations that can bring us down are true or false – there’s just a bad crowd out there that has its effect, therefore great caution is needed with who you spend time with.
I am so proud of the sweet relationships we have always had with all of you, even if there have been occasional gaps in communication. I am truly thankful that we can pick it right back up with love, joy, and laughter. I hope that you always maintain the work of guarding your heart by focusing so much on God that whatever has been difficult for you in the past, you are able to conquer, or if it is not a healthy habit – be it anger, expectations, physical escape, gossiping, judging, lasciviousness etc., it will no longer be a path you choose.
The wrong crowd or the bad influence will appear like a red flag flapping wildly because you will have God’s wisdom and discernment. Your soft heart toward them will not be an excuse to indulge in their ways. You will have the wisdom of a mighty God whose Word you have studied, and therefore, you will not risk involving yourself with anyone of a bad influence or even in “need” or down and out, until you have grown stronger and put yourself under the accountability of a Godly mentor, and you will become a seeker of hearts for God…a fisher of men…a “man” after God’s own heart…bent on your pursuit of Him.
Just as Paul was hard on the Jewish hypocrites of his day because that is exactly what he had been (hard on them in the sense that he preached at them unmercifully because he knew their game since he had played it), so you will be hard on those who play games that you’ve played and will be able to love people (towards their salvation) enough to know their game and what the need is rather then just overly relate to them and so be too soft at your peril. Even as we pray each night for your lives and your hearts and are encouraged and blessed to know you are already about this, it is a very personal and persistent duty to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov. 4:23