To My True Son in the Faith,
There is no greater joy in a man’s life than to experience the birth of a child and then to see him grow and mature into the person he desires him to be. This is only exceeded by the pure delight of seeing the spiritual birth of a son as he takes his first breath as a new creation of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
But life is only begun at birth. While secure in your relationship and sonship with the Father, you must, as any child, continue to grow and progress. You must take in not only the milk but also the meat of His Word and then by reason of exercise in its use build strong muscles of faith by which you may complete whatever course of life in which God may lead you.
It has been my great privilege to see your faith blossom as you have matured in Him; to see your first faltering steps turn into adventurous sprints, then to bold leaps and finally to the steady endurance of a marathon runner. It will be essential to keep your eyes focused on Him who is the Author and Finisher of our faith while also mindful of the pitfalls which lie in the path of one who desires to finish his race well.
Like its ‘god’, the world is a seductive and deceptive temptress whose passing pleasures lead many a man down a path of destruction. This is no less a problem for a man who desires to be a servant of God. For in many ways you will have a target on your back and will be the subject of special persecution by the evil forces hidden in spiritual places and those visible in the physical world some sadly even within the church. Resist them with all of your might. But do not assume that others, even Satan, are responsible for your mistakes. As a child of God you have every resource in the Holy Spirit to escape temptation and to resist the devil. It will be your own ultimate choice as to your response in troublesome times.
Many a good and well-intended minister has fallen prey not only to the more graphic allures of money and sex but to the arrogance and conceit of success and the feeling of superiority over others within the Body of Christ. The true servant of God will humbly serve without the acclaim of men recognizing that it is the all-seeing God before whom we give an account and must be prepared to answer for how we invested our lives for Him.
I hope that by now you know me well – not just the superficial me who others may only observe from a distance but the real me. I hope that I have been the example which you have needed – not only in the areas in which I may have been deemed worthy, but even in my shortcomings and how I managed them in my life and did not allow them to define me or my purpose in serving our great God and loving Father. If in that you have learned something which will better prepare you for life ahead then in that I will be well pleased.
Just as I have stood on the shoulders of the many saints who went before me and those in particular by whom I was mentored, so I trust that you will gain new heights as you remain His faithful servant, true to His Holy Word and always endeavoring to bring others to a saving knowledge of Him.
Your Father in the Faith
Pastor Steve (Shipley)