Yes, I know this e-mail is long and you have studying to do….but this is so much more important than anything you are doing right at this moment……just read it and know that every word is coming from my heart.
Dear Bart and John,
This is going to be very hard for me to say to you, but I love you so much that I can’t keep this in anymore. Bart, you don’t know this yet but I have turned my life around, yes….I am a totally new person! I was a “pretend” Christian who knew all the right things, who tried to live my life in the right way, who said all the right things, who taught SS, and who went to church most
Sundays…but I just didn’t get it (maybe you already knew that about me by the way I acted). Did you see me reading my Bible regularly while you boys were growing up? No, you didn’t and I am ashamed of the way I played with God. I will share my story with you, Bart when you want to hear it. John heard my story last weekend when we were in the Cities and Josh heard it last night. I think that’s why our family is falling apart right now because we weren’t saved ourselves so how could we show you the way?
I like to think…and blame…that some of this had to do with my Lutheran beliefs (which was once you are baptized you are saved no matter what you do…which is extremely funny now!), but the truth is my pride was keeping me from wanting a personal relationship with God. When people talked about changing and being “born again” I was turned off and was scornful and felt like that wasn’t for me and it was kind of scary and whacky and maybe I was a little jealous (yes, the Lutheran church stays away from “selling” this concept too)…I even told people that I didn’t need that because I’ve always had faith. I’ve known Jesus my whole life, I knew he was the Son of God, I proclaimed I loved him, I knew he came to save us, but I didn’t get it. My eyes have been opened…mainly because God is using this “sorrow of life” news of John to finally break through my pride and my stubbornness…and I am coming on my knees every night to Him.
I can’t seem to get enough of the Bible, which is amazing in itself! Do you know how awesome the Bible is? I never knew. I read it, I knew it was “stories” about God and Jesus, but I didn’t really understand it or really care to understand it. Sometimes now I can’t get out of the van because I’m listening to the radio and someone is on there explaining something about the Bible that I’ve never “heard” before! Do you really know that this is God’s words? What did I think it was? Every day I am saying…a lot…that “God loves me.” I think if you say this enough, it will make you smile. Try it. Don’t do it the way I was, which was saying that I love God…..which didn’t stop me from doing anything I wanted to do or make me want to change.
Since John “saved me” I will not rest until you two (4 of you actually) turn your lives around. Do you know where you are going when you die? We are only promised today…tomorrow someone could hit you with their car…you could have a heart attack….or a brain or heart aneurism…like Ron Stellmaker just had. Don’t waste your life on pride like I was. Don’t wait 51 years. Eternity is impossible to imagine….hell is being separated from God. Lots of people who say, “Lord Lord will not be going to heaven” according to the Bible.
Do you know how easy it is? Sometimes it’s too easy…and also the hardest thing to do in the Whole World because you know you have to want it and you know it will change your life! Why would you want to do this? What is holding you back?
All of us have a hole in our lives that we are trying to stuff with other things. Mine was being stuffed with a few things like shopping, wanting lots of things including our house, my friends, and raising my boys and taking care of my family (the last two aren’t bad things…it’s just that you came before God in my life). Figure out what your hole is…what are you trying to fill it with? Some people use money, bars, clothes, shopping, drugs, friends, socializing, anger, alcohol, work, sex, school, even other people…look around you and actually look at what your friends are trying to fill their hole with….it will amaze you. A young man in Duluth just killed himself, he was around 28 and I just heard this morning that he loved a girl who didn’t love him…he filled his hole with her.
The hole is actually there on purpose….we are supposed to be filling it with a personal relationship with Christ. We get to make a choice. God has to come first…before anyone else in my life. I have to talk to him, I have to learn about him, I have to have Him as my best friend, and I have to live my life as he wants me to and as an example to other people…and from that - it turns into wanting it. Try it and you can be 10 times more loving with the people in your lives! Suddenly, it’s not about you anymore….and it’s really freeing!
How……do we do this? Do you have faith? Do you love God? Do you want to change? That hole inside you is waiting….what are you filling your hole with? Do you want me to tell you boys what I see you filling that space with? I know it’s not Christ.
1 - be honest about yourself - tell God what you are ashamed of - get some soul searching confession going. Tell God that you agree with Him! Don’t hold back…let your mind flow as you form lists of things you know are your sins. If you really really want to do this, don’t hold back the ones that you aren’t sure you want to get rid of….name them all! Believe me, God knows them but you have to name them.
2 - Repent. Try to get rid of those things in your life that you know God is upset about. Put that blinker on…..get off the freeway and turn your car around…go the other way. Start living your life without the sins that you mentioned to God…..write them down if it helps you! Keep learning about him! Keep asking for him to show you more sins and the way he wants you to live! The Bible has amazing instructions. You aren’t going to be hit with a lightning bolt….but you will start noticing little changes…
3 - know who God is, know who Christ is….know that God loves you way more than any person on Earth will ever love you!
4 - Get restored - tell someone that you did this…..get help if you need it…call someone…don’t block out God’s love. Watch for signs that make you sensitive to your sins….especially when you see your sins that you named in yourself in other people and they make you shudder a little. This honestly will happen….I know, it just happened to me. I actually shudder when I shop now and I also shudder when I hear someone being super critical. Start reading the Bible or listening to someone else. There are amazing people out there who can explain things like I’ve never heard explained before.
If you do this, you will find a God today that loves you and has an amazing plan for you!
Now, the other reason I am writing this is because I heard today on the radio that we aren’t to judge people…except if they are hurting themselves or other people, and then we can go to them in love and help them see where they are going wrong in their lives. If you want me to…I can be blunt with his…are you going to heaven or hell? Yes, before I did this I had to ask myself the same question and realized that I was on the train heading quickly to hell. John caused me to jump off!
You guys have all three asked why we are upset about John’s choice of a life…..if you can be honest and listen to something, I think it will tell you everything that we can’t seem to say to you. Yes, you can rationalize, yes you can deny, yes you can disagree, yes you can argue, yes you can say this isn’t true…but we know that God made John perfect. Period. Just like he made us perfect. He also has an amazing life planned for John and a much better life then the one that John is exploring (and for you too Bart) but if you don’t want his plan for you…keep on the road you are on….you will probably have an okay life…..you will never feel amazing joy…..you will never know what you turned down…..you will struggle…you will not understand why things aren’t making you happier (my life showed that)……you will keep filling that hole with “stuff” and people that will never make you complete, and the hardest thing to accept is that you won’t be going to heaven. Don’t believe the “God loves me so much that he doesn’t care what I do with my life.” Or…Jesus came here to love everyone, not to judge…..is that true?
Can you be bold? Can you listen to something that will insult you and maybe hurt you both? I love you enough to jeopardize our relationship to try to get you to listen to this. Last night, Dad, Josh and I sat in the office at home and listened to this broadcast. It was hard to hear and hard to believe….and it hurt. We all talked about it and agreed that you should both hear this. Josh especially wanted you to hear this John because he loves you so so so much! If you will listen to this for about 10-15 mins I think you will understand why we don’t want this life for John……go to a quiet place and hit the broadcast….maybe say a quick prayer first that you will realize that this is sent to you with complete love, not with condemnation, not with a spirit of being mean, not with being holier then thou, just with complete and utter love….just listen to what Chip Ingram has to say and think about it and then afterwards you can be mad at me, you can hate me, you can laugh at me, you can explain it away……or you can cry…..like it made me cry….
If we don’t warn someone in error to turn from evil, we are partly responsible. James 5:20 Also, I know there are a lot of verses condemning people who are causing someone to stumble…I’m not ever going to give up on either of you. If I agree with your choices, then I am sinning and am just as guilty because I will have encouraged both of you in your sins. God is so disappointed in me for not doing this earlier. If I love you, I will never give up…even if it means you won’t want to see us.
I am trying to stand in your way John…..before you take another step….you too Bart. Either the Bible is true or it isn’t. I’m not willing to gamble with my life and I don’t want you to be rolling the dice when you die…but maybe you are braver then I am. If you don’t believe this broadcast then study the Greek culture at the time that Paul was writing to them…they were pretty much having sex with anyone, everything, and everyone…including idols, and all because they weren’t hearing the moral code of the Bible. We are smarter then this…we do know the moral code of the Bible. If you love your friends, you would want them to hear this too….even as hard as it is to hear…and I will want Bonnie to hear it.
Luke 11:28 Jesus replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 13:3 (Jesus) “I tell you no! But unless you repent you too will all perish.” (sounds judgmental to me…..)
Luke 13:23-30 (answers who is going to heaven)
Ok, I know I can quote Bible verses all day long….but it won’t do any good if you don’t believe the Bible…read it for yourself….especially the New Testament.
Here is the broadcast…listen…please….even if you don’t want to…….for John….and because I love both of you so much that I can’t stop. I would be your sorrow of life if it would mean that you would change. Both of you. We don’t want you guys to be happy, we want you to be holy. People who are searching for happiness find out it’s pretty empty and they destroy people along the way and themselves. Ask yourself who of your friends is truly, utterly happy…..and ask yourself who among your friends has amazing joy and peace….because that’s what we have now…and we’re going to be obnoxious and annoying…and incredibly happy, even in our trials!
Know how much your dad and I love both of you and want you to know the truth, not the lies…who is wanting to keep John in this life? Who doesn’t want John to have eternal life? Who doesn’t want John to find out what God’s plan is for him? I don’t want that to be you Bart. Don’t hold him to his choices…..give him some doubts, let him find his way back..maybe you are the one who is supposed to be standing in John’s way and you are ignoring the prodding because it might mean that you were wrong…(don’t sacrifice your brother for your pride)…about everything….( I fully admit that I was wrong in my beliefs about my faith)….I have little or not pride left….feel free to criticize me and to hurt me….I can take it. The only thing I will not argue about is what the word says…..that is the only thing that we have when the waves are crashing (wise man and the foolish man). Life has no purpose if the Bible is not true. Why live at all? Why amass anything if our lives are over 50 years from now and that’s the end? If that was true, I would rather die right now then spend my remaining years struggling with this life. Really truly think about that…..because I know the truth…and I will defend the truth…which is a lot easier to defend and believe then the lies that satan wants you to believe. God made us perfect in his sight…just like Him!