Letter 21


Letter 21

Time and space, like length, width and depth are manmade concepts. Without these notions of standards, measurements and value we as people would be completely unable to interact with each other. Our communications with each other would be constantly in conflict over whose interpretation we would follow in our transactions. The world would fast become a place of greater chaos than it already is at this time. So these concepts are made by man, used by man and understood by man and they constitute an essential part of what we call our educational process.
Eternity is a concept that staggers a man’s ability to comprehend. It is beyond our grasp to consider something as having no beginning or end since everything we know in life is merely temporary in nature. Most people shrug off the burden of wrestling with the term eternity and discard its usefulness in modern day life. They do this because everything about them is merely a temporary representation of life. It is a lazy man’s way of dealing with an uncomfortable idea. That idea is simply that life is short and has limited consequences. Get all you can while you are here.
If eternity does exist, the notion of temporary takes on a new meaning. Eternity intrudes into our reality on a daily basis, but each intrusion wears a different face. God in His mercy has given us the concept of eternity as a way to orient ourselves in this life and to give us a glimpse of His nature. It is clearly a gift from outside of the artificial domains of time and space. This life is merely a stage and we are all bit players. But the roles that we play in life have an eternal value in God’s plan. Most of us do not care for our small bit parts and we spend our lives trying to build our role into being the leading actor. But that part has already been taken since before time or space began.
At some point, after we have run into the walls of reality enough times, we start to accept a diminished role in life, though we usually do not like the thought of acceptance. My point is this, the roles we each have been given have been tailor made for each of us. They are perfect roles for each of us in God’s great drama of life. There were no mistakes in casting us for our divine roles. God knows what He is doing. It is His production, not ours. We have been given a copy of the script in the form of The Bible. And we are assured that no matter how we mess up our earthly role, the Director will be able to use our efforts to create a masterpiece if we are willing to allow Him to be the center point of our lives. How do we do that? We simply surrender all of ourselves to His infinite (another mind boggling concept) care. Once we surrender it all, He steps into our lives and starts to make the necessary changes. I do not have to go back and make it all right, because I have no ability to do that on my own. That is why He sent His Son to pay the price for ALL of our sins and transgressions. The only condition is that we confess those sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness.
There is no sin so great that He will not forgive a humble cry of repentance. God is infinitely holy….totally without sin. His holiness requires perfection in each of us. We cannot do that by ourselves. That is exactly why Jesus Christ was born, lived, suffered, died and was resurrected from the dead. To give each of us personal victory over sin and its consequence, death. Because of His perfect life, we can share in His victory over evil. Or we can pay the price on our own and no one has the ability to scrub themselves clean of a lifetime of sinful behaviors.
Forgiveness is another of those incredibly challenging words that we hear. It too is a brief glimpse at God’s character. In this world forgiveness is usually a rarity. Knowing that how can we possibly have a reference point in our minds of what real forgiveness looks like? People are frail and sinners by nature, so forgiveness will always look imperfect to us unless we try to catch the divine reflection of God’s nature which enriches this word. Like eternity and infinite we struggle to truly understand this concept at a deep personal level. If I cannot forgive myself or others, how can a God that I cannot see forgive me for all that I have done?
So if eternity means without end and infinite means without exhaustion, then the divine quality of forgiveness is tender hearted mercy that understands each of us at the deepest level. We are trying to catch a glimpse of the divine when we consider these concepts. We have a very limited ability to comprehend the vastness, power and glory of God. But in grasping these concepts and mentally and spiritually wrestling with each of them our spirits are infused with faith that reality lays beyond our view of life. We have such a narrow and focused viewpoint that it seems we are lead to only see the most obvious things around us. Yet everything we see and touch is made up of invisible components which the Bible spoke of long before man found a way to observe the atom. Truth has always existed, it is not dependent upon our ability to observe it or comprehend it. The truth is that you were created for God’s purposes and if you are still alive then He is not finished with your life. It is never too late to come to a place of being reconciled with Him. It does not matter how dark your past sins have been, He graciously waits for you to call out for forgiveness. That divine quality sets our relationship with Him above any other relationship we will ever experience.
Forgiveness leads to restoration which basically means that God stands ready to welcome us back into His family. Restoration means a relationship that can never be destroyed or lost. Once this restoration has taken place, no power on earth can separate you from His love or His divine purposes. For me, hope springs fresh from each new awareness of the fact that this life is a temporary stepping stone to eternity. We all start off life with two separate gifts; time and the ability to choose. That is the common denominator in all of our lives. While the actual time of our earthly life varies from person to person, we are given a period that we call life in which to seek out and grasp the truth about God and our relationship with Him. Then we are given the gift of free will to make our own choices about His love for us. We can either choose to reject the concept and go our own way or we can use what we have been given to discern the ultimate truth about God’s nature. He will never force a choice upon us. That is how much He loves us. He would rather let us make a choice to spend eternity without Him than to impose His will and save us against our own wills. That choice causes Him great pain since He made you out of His love for you. But it also affirms the depth of His love for each of us.
The state can take my life. Tomorrow I might die in a traffic accident, but no one can destroy the eternal part of me; my spirit. That is the aspect of you that will live on for all eternity. And now you have the choice where you will spend your eternity. No one can deprive you of that choice. It is entirely your own. No choice is a choice. Every man, woman and child has sinned against a righteous God. And in God’s holiness all sin is despicable. People fool themselves by telling themselves that they are good people. What they do not understand is that each of us fall short of the glory of God. None can stand before a righteous and holy God. We are all tainted and stained with the sins of our lives. Some have greater or lesser sins, but all have sinned. We all need the redemptive work of Jesus Christ applied to our lives. I can do nothing to make myself righteous, but I can accept His death on that cross and His resurrection as the spiritual substitute in payment for all….yes I said ALL of my sins. None of us can pay the required price by ourselves. If we make that choice, the payment required is an eternity in hell separated from the love of our Creator. It does not matter how many sins we have committed or the nature of those sins. There is nothing new under the sun. There is nothing unique that we have done that has not been done before by others. What is unique is complete and total forgiveness. Your sin debt is marked paid in full. Welcome home child!
Try to get your mind around what I have just written above, it is one of those mind boggling concepts. There are no background checks for getting into heaven. We are ALL welcomed if we can grasp the forgiveness of God and get right with Him. This is the most private and intimate thing that you will ever do in your whole life. Because He knows you as you truly are. Everything. And He still loves you passionately. Satan would have each of us believe that we are beyond God’s love. That is true about Satan, but not about you or me. In life you and I have been deceived many times. Such is the nature of human life. Would you allow yourself to be deceived on the most important choice of your life? Satan knows us intimately, all of our sins and transgressions and he uses that knowledge to come against us in our minds with fears and doubts. God does not lie. The Bible clearly teaches that Satan is a defeated foe. Renounce him, reject him and rebuke him in the name of Jesus Christ and Satan will flee.
Even if you have lived a life dominated by evil. Even if you allowed your spirit to be controlled by the evil one. It is never too late to call upon the mercy and forgiveness of God which was accomplished through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Satan’s primary weapon in our minds is the bluff: “You are so far gone that God would never save you.” That is a lie from the pit of hell. You see when you turn back to God you glorify His name in your actions. You acknowledge Him as the King of your life. The darker the sins, the more He is glorified. Just calling out for His mercy is an act of faith. In doing so you honor God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Such a cry is inspired within you by the Holy Spirit who will guide you in all things. Do not worry about the small things, we have time to talk about all aspects of your new relationship with Jesus. Do not allow Satan to deprive you of the gift of a relationship with God. In my life he uses distraction, confusion and deception to side track my life. Please stop and consider at this moment, is Satan using any of these tools right now to rob you of your rightful inheritance? It is all a mind game and he cannot win if you refuse to allow him to dominate your spirit and your future.
I write these letters to you because in my own life I have experienced the deceptions of Satan. I know his evil ways. I also know the promises of God. What lays before us is far greater than what lies behind. I promise you that after reading this letter, Satan will try to come into your heart and steal the faith and hope that is rightfully yours. He will do all that he can to steal your joy and your peace of mind. That is why you need to continue in fellowship with other brothers in the Lord. Satan only has the power that we allow him in our lives. Once you come to an awareness of who you are and what is rightfully yours, He loses his power over your life. Please remember that in the Bible Jesus called him the father of lies. There was a very good reason that he was identified as a liar, thief and murderer. Because he pollutes human lives with lies, steals their rightful inherence and delights in seeing souls condemned to hell for unbelief and rejecting God’s love. Hell is Satan’s domain. It was never created for human beings, but we can make the choice of going to hell by rejecting God’s love in our lives. There is a way back, my hope is that you will find that path right now.
It might surprise you that someone would consistently reach out to you on death row. My understanding of God’s word is that we are to help to restore all of our lost brothers and sisters. There were no words of exclusion, nor did God make up separate categories. Read the love story about His faithfulness to His people. They killed the prophets who came with His word and when He sent His Son, they killed Him also. Yet He has been faithful to His word because God is not like man. God cannot lie. Even though His people abandoned Him, He has never abandoned those who returned to Him. That promise stands till this day. We, you and I are the sheep of His pasture. We can choose to allow Him to Shepherd us, or we can pursue our own agenda to our own destruction. There is so much more that I want to share with you. I am confounded with the limitation of words, since they are only poor tools to convey His promises through the mail. Please consider the words that I opened this letter with, the man made concepts and the glimpses of God’s nature that some words reflect. Reach deep into your consciousness and take a serious look at the light of God that can even shine brightly on death row.
At Dismas Project we want to help restore relationships. If we can assist you in re-connecting with family or even help you to put your thoughts into words, please let us know how we can come alongside and be an encouragement and support to you. If you know another prisoner who does not receive our newsletter, please pass yours along to him or her. I am personally grateful to have an opportunity to share with you each month. For me it is like a very personal visit between two individuals and I never come away from one of these letters without having a feeling that my life has been enriched by the experience. You are created by a God who loves you and sees you as precious. If you doubt my words, think of the story of the thief on the cross next to Christ. In early Christian tradition his name was known as Dismas.
Just like time, space and words which attempt to describe concepts that challenge our ability to comprehend, there are other words which attempt to provide us with a glimpse of ourselves in terms of creation and our relationship with God. A key to understanding the English language lies in being able to grasp the way that words relate to each other. I have often heard religious folk use the word repent. What they are usually saying is that we should turn back and move away from our past lifestyles. But the word repent has a much deeper meaning than my willingness to make changes in my own life. Recently I have developed an understanding that repentance means a turning toward God. If I repent of a behavior, part of that process is being willing to change. The other part of the process is my ability to recognize that repentance is a very personal act between me and my God. I turn toward my Creator and I acknowledge all of my ways. I accept that my sins are uniquely my own and I let God know that I want to get right with Him. So repentance is a private act of recognition of God’s sovereignty in my life. I come to a place where I become willing to present myself to the same God who made me and I ask Him to help me change my ways. In doing so I recognize that He is All-Powerful and has a plan for my life. It does not matter where I make this turn, as long as I am willing to become reconciled to God and His great love for me. None of us can discern the repentance which drives a heart back to its Creator. No human can make a knowing determination about the state of another person’s heart or their desire to get right with God. Our Almighty Father knew that there would be men and women who would come to a place where they detested their sinful lives. Out of His great love for us, He has given us His Son, Jesus Christ to pay the price for all of those sins. Once I turn in repentance, God is willing to forgive ALL of my sins because His Son, Jesus Christ paid the full price for my sin debt. There are no other conditions attached to His offer of salvation.
So the words repentance and forgiveness are closely linked in our vocabulary. God is willing to forgive us for every wrong action if we are willing to turn and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which paid for your sins and mine. No other human being can be a judge of that private moment between God and you. It is an intensely precious moment to God that one of His children would just come back and say I was wrong, please forgive me. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son. In his own power he was going to return to his father and be willing to be treated like a slave for the rest of his life for what he had done. Instead, when his father saw him coming home, he ran to grasp him and welcome him back into the family. That is what repentance does for each of us. Even as the Prodigal Son stood there trying to explain himself, his father embraced him and ordered the servants to prepare a feast. The father was celebrating that his son who had been lost, had returned home again. That is the way that God feels about each of us, no matter how many laws we may have broken over the course of our lives. We come to Him wondering how we are going to explain all of our sins, trespasses and failings. He sees us coming in the distance and is filled with joy that we would return to His loving care. While we are busy making excuses, He has already prepared a place for us at His feast. He turns to the others and says this is my child, who has just come home. Welcome him or her!
Before I open my mouth to offer an explanation He has lovingly reassured me that He knows everything. There is no need to explain my wrongdoings. Jesus Christ, His Son has already paid the full price for all of my sins, if I accept this incredible gift from the Hands of a loving Savior. I do not need to make everything right, which would be impossible in my own power. All I need to is make that turn of repentance in my heart. Thank Jesus for paying the price for my sins and feel the loving embrace that His redemptive work has already accomplished for me. So it does not matter if you are living in a small cell waiting for the state to inflict its punishment. It does not matter what others might think of the life that you have lived. All that really matters is taking a private moment to get right with God. That single act of turning toward Him is the power that unleashes the miracle of salvation and washes each of us clean in His sight. In life we have many concepts to grapple with as we try to understand life, but no concept is as meaningful as accepting Jesus death on that cross as paying the complete price for my sinful life. That concept is truly the key to understanding eternity and what lays before each of us. I want to sit down with YOU at the wedding feast of The Lamb and have you tell me about your life story. You will be welcomed home with the greeting of a great shout of victory.
There is so much to share with you. These letters are merely little bridges to link us together as we journey along our individual pathways. I have enjoyed mail today from several individuals who have taken the time to correspond about their own walk. These letters are always an encouragement to Quinta and I, just to know that some hearts have been touched by this outreach. We are only here for a short season and we move onto an eternal state. I would rather sit and write these letters or other things I work on than to be doing just about anything else. It is my belief that we are to comfort and encourage each other as we walk along together. So please accept my thanks for your written words, prayers and encouragement of this ministry. I strongly suspect that we will enjoy visiting together during the wedding feast of The Lamb. In the meantime anything that we do to further His Kingdom work has eternal value. Please do not buy into the notion that you have no value in this world. WE ALL have value and we are called to be salt and light in this world. I will reply to all letters that I receive though it may take some time to accomplish that task, so please be patient with me. You are not forgotten!
Dear Lord, I thank you that there are brothers and sisters reading these letters and coming into a fuller relationship with you as they surrender their hearts to You. Please help all of us to come together as a spiritual community, supporting and encouraging each other in words, songs and prayers. We believe that You are with us in all affairs of our lives and we give You all the praise, glory and honor. Thank you for this day.
Kevin and Quinta

 
 

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