December 2020 - January 2021 Newsletter
In this month’s newsletter: Grieving 2020, My Failures, Becoming a King
2020. A year that simply sought to wear us out. I confess, I’m worn-out politically, emotionally, financially (throw a few more -allys in there for good measure) and yes, spiritually. Yet, we made it. Our God did not change. He was ever at work building a history of his faithfulness in those of us who are His.
And though I’m happy to welcome a New Year, I can’t forget about what amazing work God did in the year where Spring Break, sports, graduations, Weddings, funerals, concerts and celebrations we simply cancelled (heck, we couldn’t even go to the movie theater). Idols got torn down. Churches and church leaders were exposed for the emptiness they had been offering at such a high price, for such a long time. Judgement truly does begin in the household of God.
But the silence, the stillness, the forced rest, and relational intensity brought us face to face with the things in us that hinder love. And although we somehow hope that a new page on the calendar will somehow stop this demolition of our souls, it will not. But can we take heart in knowing that demolition always precedes a remodel. If we allow the good Father, to continue His excavation, we shall be the better for it, and the soil of our souls will be made ready to receive seed that can produce a 30, 60, or 100-fold harvest.
Take heart friends. Circumstance is a casual lover. Our Fountain is sure and true and good, and is finding its way to the lowliest of places in our hearts. Those humble and broken and questioning and needy places. And though it may seem like justice be deferred, provision uncertain, health questionable and all the world a madhouse, we have an anchor for our souls Who whispers “Is it enough that I love you where you are? You and all your jumbled mess, the chaos, the confusion, the unfortunate circumstances, the fear, the masks, your perceived failures, small successes, and the like. Is it enough that I’m presently loving you, always here for you, mitigating your disasters, and planning for your future success and suffering, all to be closer to you. Is it enough?”
Friends, some of you sailed through this year unscathed, and for this I rejoice with you. Anointed and appointed for such a time as this. And though I had several bright and majestic moments, including beautiful, born-again baptisms, deliverances, salvations, home groups, ministry ops, journeys, etc. it was not all glorious. Father took me to deep places in my heart that were ugly and battered and bitter. Places I had long thought healed. But such comfort in the bloody mess occurred to me. That God cared enough to lead me into valleys of death.
Either way, whether through great love or great suffering (the only true agents of change), we all suffered loss. The loss of celebration. The loss of family. The loss of life. The loss of gathering. The loss of tradition and past times. The loss of freedoms. Loss. And because this year has been an anomaly par excellence, we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it or forget it. Rather, we should mourn it. Mourn the losses we all experienced this year. Vent our frustrations, accept the outcomes, and cast these cares upon the One who cares so deeply for us. Invite Him into our mourning. Bring our lament to Him as we reflect on 2020 and cross-over into the new year.
“God is quick to catch the sigh of the heart.”
~Martin Luther Commentary on the epistle to the Galatian
1. I’ve been praying: Let justice roll down like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. I’ve been praying for President Trump and for the fate of the Republic to be saved for the sake of the world. That the corrupt, globalist systems would be exposed and torn down like the tower of Babel. And that fruitless deeds of darnkess be exposed. I’ve been praying for that specific task or calling, (the scroll of destiny) to be revealed in my life along with the opportunities and guidance to walk it out in obedience, fortitude and faithfulness.
2. My perceived failures this year: I thought my book Sea Lions in the desert would do much better in sales and reviews. It has not. However, through it, I am learning that I need to continue to perfect my craft and include more story. People love story. Finances. I could have planned much more effectively to put my family in a better position for success this year. This feeling of being behind the financial eight-ball, however, has led me to make some major thought and action adjustments. Nothing is wasted if we invite God into our failures. Since moving to the panhandle, I have applied to more jobs than I can count, most of which I am over-qualified for. Continual rejection…Or so I feel sometimes. God is strip-mining my soul in search of an authentic self, the identity that is untethered to any other thing that usurps the supremacy of Sonship, including ministry, writing, and being the protector and provider of my family. Timing and patience could also be involved in this. In many respects, I failed my wife. Although I feel that we made some good ground this year, I became painfully aware that there are frontiers in her heart that I am woefully unprepared to venture into or to minister to with the strength, kindness and care that she needs. What grace she affords me. I did not finish the Sea Lions in the Desert Audio book as I had planned by the end of the year….still a work in progress. Etc. etc. etc. etc.
3. Diet and Exercise: As you may recall, I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for a few years now. I have to say that the past year hasn’t produced the results I am used to. I believe it has to do with the increase in coffee intake. I’ve gone from drinking 1 cup of coffee in the morning along with about ½ gallon of water per day, to 3 cups of coffee (most with creamer-no sugar) and about a quart of water per day. I surmise that if I went back to one cup of black coffee and increased my water intake I would return to my previous results. I just ordered a blue BPE FREE Nalgene from Amazon to get back on the water pony. I walk a mile or two daily and have recently upped my work-outs (strength training) to 3-4 times of intense weight-lifting per week.
4. Work: Julie and I are building our business Whitten Kitchens and Baths here in Santa Rosa Beach, near 30A and Panama City Beach. If you know anyone with a home or condo down this way who may need a kitchen or bath upgrade send them our way!
5. What I'm Reading: Becoming a King: The Path to Restoring the Heart of a Man by Morgan Snyder. Morgan Snyder is John Eldredge’s protégé at Wild at Heart Ministries. This is probably the best book I’ve read in years. I also follow his podcast called Becoming Good Soil. I recently ordered 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson after watching a fascinating documentary on the author’s recent and controversial rise to fame, and Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, by Mary Oliver to keep the poet ever-alive in me. I love this woman, God rest her soul.
6. What I’m Watching: Not much lately. Although I am finding the PBS series Poldark to be quite good and redemptive. Cancelled Netflix. Please send suggestions. Pondering becoming a PBS subscriber on Roku for all the groovy documentaries available, like the one on Mark Twain that I didn’t get to finish because my 7-day trial ran out before I could finish.
7. My Goals for the New Year: Finish the Audio Book Sea Lions in the Desert. Complete Path of Christ (My newest writing project – more to come on this later), write daily (5x weekly) as a discipline to hone my craft as a writer, become a millionaire, write enough poetry to publish another chapbook, and create more groovy Christian Mysticism video content. Up my Gig/side hustle game to include more editing/proofreading, marketing and web design (contact me if you need help or want to partner). Ascend into the heavens more often.
8. Other News: My computer crashed. I mean it completely died. Hard drive caput. Needless to say, I lost a lot. Thankfully, in the recent years, I have warehoused most of my written works online or sent them to myself in email just to be extra safe. If you have any easy, back-up solutions, please message me. I divorced Instagram. I just couldn’t take everyone’s fake, happy, amazing lives anymore, endless advertisements for natural oils and proven workout routines. I decided to start researching and investing in crypto currency this year thanks to a very dear friend of mine named Joey. I try to convince my friends and neighbors to get in on the market before it goes mainstream. But no one seems to listen except my kids who want me to open them a trading account and buy them a bunch of XRP and XLM (hint hint). So this is for the record when I cash out and retire on the beach…wait, I’m already on the beach… But if you want to do some research and earn some digital assets, follow this link, sign up for your own account and we can both get some bitcoin…
I hope each of you had a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year!