This month I am more than pleased to share with you some tremendous insight from my oldest son, Matthew Souders. Matthew is almost 21, single (for all you girls out there), loves our Lord, and is active in Air Force ROTC.
Matthew, a couple of years ago, attended a Discipleship Training School in Montana, and then later returned to work there for a year as an Intern. It was not only a time of growth in our Lord, but since his return to see what God has done in his life since then has far surpassed what a Dad could hope for. He like the rest of us have not "arrived" but we are On The Journey with our Lord Jesus Christ, daily.
A father hopes that his children will have a real, and vibrant relationship with our Abba Father and not just get 'caught up' in religious duty or function, OR just 'do church' which often becomes a substitute for walking with God. Matthew wrote this Update Letter to all his fellow interns as well as to current and former staff of Potter's Field Ranch. Matthew had no clue that when he was writing it that "Dad" would post his letter or even want to since it wasn't written for that reason. (It is done so with his permission, of course). I am very proud to share this with you (as I am thankful for all my children's walk with God and the Lessons On The Journey with God they are experiencing). It is my hope that as you read it, you will glean as much insight from the heart of a 'young man after God's own heart' as I have. Feel free to share it with others.
Lessons On The Journey,
Pastor Greg Souders
Hello everyone. Today I am going to break down my update into sections, yes that is right I said sections. So go ahead and grab a chair, take a bathroom break, get stretched, and grab a stress ball and get ready for stuff that most of us won't admit and that what might be my most straight forward letter that I have ever written. No I am not writing a depressing letter, just an honest letter about the following:
1. (EVERYONE) I'm NOT engaged!
2. Life since the Ranch
3. [Personal admonishments to individuals omitted in this posting]
4 [Personal admonishments to individuals omitted in this posting]
5. (EVERYONE) The Relationship God has always desire
1. (EVERYONE) I'm NOT engaged!
As I said, I'm not engaged so there goes a lot of stress! Man, I must admit there are way too many of ya'll getting married. Ya'll are making a brother feel like I am doing something wrong. But God has put some amazing people in my life, both those whose walk is strong, those that are desiring a deeper relationship with Abba, and those whose walk are nowhere near where they need to be. And I thank Abba everyday for them, because, I can be real about what goes on in my life, I get the opportunity to be a light, to be a mentor, and still be a child sitting in Dad's lap just basking in His radiant love and presence.
2. Life since the Ranch
Since we last parted ways, I have begun attending college about an hour away from my home pursuing a degree in History. Sorry I love history for it truly shows just how amazing God is, and what a beautiful story He has and is writing. My main area of study would have to be the crusades, weird, but who said ya had to agree. Anyway, God provided me with a the chance to move into the dorm last semester to be an ROTC RA, translation, put up with freshman cadets who play way to many video games. But they are some really neat guys so hopefully they will begin to see Jesus in me the more I spend time with them, but I am going to just be real with them and admit when I err and when I am wrong and let them know where I stand. When I say real, some of ya'll are probably sitting there and reading this going what does this word "real" mean. In a nutshell, it the process of honestly admitting that I am a man who has encountered an awesome Savior, and is willing to admit that I don't have all the answers when it comes to questions and willing to admit that I sin just like everyone else.
5. (EVERYONE) The Relationship God has always desired
I have learned that we often as followers of Jesus constantly put up this mask that says (sorry for the bluntness but its true) "SCREW OFF I AM DOING FINE" and we wonder why people don't find us compelling or willing to ask us the difficult questions. We have replaced the awesome relationship with Abba that we are given through Jesus, with religious function. We promote our church, our programs, our new ministry, our new pastor, building, children's church, youth group, social event, all for the sake of a new member instead of the person of Jesus and the relationship with Abba that He has given us. Why? I want an answer. Email me with an answer. It saddens me that we care more about a building that could burn to the ground in an instant than the people who desperately need Jesus and His saving grace.
When reading the Bible, you will notice in the New Testament that Jesus has many encounters with the Pharisees and we always sit there and say yeah get 'em Jesus, but we never stop to really look at these men that Jesus often reached out to. Pharisees at the time, were the best theologians in their time, they observed every holiday, tried their best appear holier than thou, and always had an answer. But even with all this "righteousness" they believed they had obtained, Jesus still said they were like white washed tombs with dead men's bones on the inside. We read this and wonder what did this mean, Jesus was simply telling them, you cannot be good enough. Pharisees not being good enough? No one ever wonders what must the Pharisees thought when they heard this...I imagine them saying "I can't be good enough, does Jesus know who I am? I attend the temple every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night Bible Study, Tuesday night Evangelism class, Wednesday night service, Thursday night church bingo, Friday night youth/college group, plus I have memorized the entire Bible cover to cover in original Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Spanish and French, and English on top of daily devotions and prayers everyday of the week 24/7. ME NOT GOOD ENOUGH?"
Why, you ask did I mention the Pharisees, because that is what we have become.!!!!!!!!!!. We have turned the awesome relationship that we have with God the Father and instead have traded it in for religious functions, jargin, and motions just to check off our Jesus box for the day or week. But if I were to ask everyone right now over the phone (which ya'll never answer, and yes I have called) I can guarantee that not a single person can tell me what their respected pastor's life changing message was 1 month ago, 2 weeks ago, or even last Sunday in detail without notes. Why? Because it has become function/habitual just soak in week after week after week of 104 life changing messages that apparently mean nothing to you or most of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am in the same boat. I'm tired of religious games that we play with God, instead I am trading in all my religious functionality, games, religious jargon, for relationship with an awesome Savior and my Heavenly Father.
And just because I read a couple of ya'lls recent letters, we are in 24/7 ministry. And that is regardless of the building we are in. Example: A Navy Seal does not stop being a seal when he clocks out at the end of his shift, he is always a seal and will answer the call when and if it comes while he is "off the clock" there is never a rest period. What is it that makes us think that we have to be in a church building or organization to do ministry? I don't stop studying for a class just because the class is dismissed, I constantly am studying so that I will be prepared when I go back to class. Again why do we think that our ministry starts at 0800-1700hours/5days a week?
Simply my challenge for everyone is right now to open your bibles to John 17:3-26. Read it . Learn/UNDERSTAND it and then apply it. For when we realize that our first priority as dearly loved children of God is to know intimately Abba, abiding in Him, it makes life all the more worthwhile living for Him unto Him that Jesus might receive glory. Even if I never attend another church service, college group, and I am stranded on a desert isle with a volleyball named Wilson, my relationship with God will never diminish or change, it can only grow closer and more intimately and more deeply in love, sitting in Abba's lap just knowing the deep love he has for each and every one of us is worth all time and energy I can produce. That my beloved brothers and sisters is worth it all. If you don't like what I have had to say, tough, I said I would be honest. If you are that offended by it, call me I'm not afraid to answer, because I love each and everyone deeply. If you don't have my number it is at the bottom.
For those of you who are getting married, CONGRATULATIONS! I am sorry that I cannot at this time attend a lot of ya'll know that my prayers and blessings of happiness and joy and long life are with you and that I look forward to the day when I see each one of you face to face.
Learning to simply trust and learning what it means to be loved by Abba,
Matthew Gregory Souders
[Cell phone number not published for blog]