October 2021 Newsletter
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
In this month’s newsletter: Where I've Been, On Limitations, Meme Warfare, Vocation and Location
I truly hope this finds you well. It's been too long since I've posted. Forgive.
With that out of the way...being tucked away from marktwhitten.com for a while has deepened my understanding that the world continues at great speed with or without my assistance, and will continue to do so without you or me.
Our ability to affect change in the world should neither be exaggerated or underestimated.
May we be able to honestly answer, as G.K. Chesterson did when asked, "What is wrong with the world?", "I am." Conversely, we must strive to cultivate a similar answer with our lives when asked "What is right with the world?"
Where I've Been
The last time I shared, we were just getting settled here in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, the half-way point between Destin and Panama City Beach. It's where the famed County Highway 30A meanders its way between the dune lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. It's almost magic that we live here.
Our family business whittenkitchensandbaths.com is growing fantastically, thanks most to Julie's congeniality and extraordinary entrepreneurial skills.
I took a part-time job at a seafood dive near the beach...and help Julie with the back-end stuff of the business.
I didn't realize I was not meant for the 9-5 rat race until I jumped from that speeding car a couple of summers ago (Even though my good friend Greg Webster is somewhat of an evangelist for doing life different - thanks for being a pioneer brother!).
Speaking of the beach, we go often.
Julie and I purchased two paddle boards that provide a great view of the emerald coastline as we dangle our feet into the clear gulf waters a couple hundred yards off the shore.
Lakes and clear water springs are abundant.
Florida is feeling more like the me that God made.
Do you ever get that feeling you are where you are supposed to be? I guess we don't really know what that feels like until we find ourselves there.
Looking back at my life, it seems like the Father has wanted me here all along.
Born in Daytona Beach.
Migrated to South Florida after my first marriage.
Some magnet pulling me back two years ago.
I think I'll stay this time.
Something about the water.
Are there such human creatures as water people?
Do I miss the hills and curves? Not so much. They've become more of a memory that I look forward to visiting during vacations or Holidays.
This is the first jaunt of writing I've done in nearly a year. For a writer this is an excommunicable offense. 2019-2020 were pretty content heavy years for me.
I guess saying too much is good for marketing and getting yourself out there, but I'm not sure how good it is for the soul. I think most of our writing would be better kept in obscure files on the C:| drive and bedside journals. Was it Shakespeare that said, "...Speak less than thou knowest..."?
I am believing that breathing and being small are also good paths...that waiting tables and driving less than impressive cars can be a much needed grounding for us.
Julie and I caught pneumonia towards the end of August. It was awful. I was bedridden with weakness and night sweats for nearly a month. I couldn't do much more than sleep, eat and hobble Jed to school.
I don't believe that God sends sickness and disease to His children. I do believe that He can use donkeys to communicate messages.
One morning during this lungish nightmare as I lingered in the thin places, blanketed in sweat drenched sheets, I began asking the Lord "Why?" Not as in "Why did this happen to me?", but more like, "Can any purpose be found in this?" and "What good can come from this?".
I heard this very clearly...multiple times throughout the rest of the day as I woke from my sweaty slumbers: "Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." "Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." "Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." (Proverbs 20:30)
Could it be that when we experience these blows and wounds and beatings in our lives that the Father is making us ready for another glory? If we are faithful followers, continually turning into the Father by day and by decade, He promises to take our lives from glory to ever-increasing glory.
I imagine that transition from one level of glory to another can be both smooth and abrupt, depending upon our current level of consecration. Holiness. Our separate-ness. Not our do-gooding and sinlessness. But rather our attentiveness and distractionlessness. Word.
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, right? After all, we are sons, and not bastards. Confer with Hebrews 12 for that reference.
While I was sick and even into my recovery I came to the rushing reality that I am an extremely limited creature, despite our current culture that proselytizes infinite possibilities.
Read how Morgan Snyder describes it: "Hear the paradox: yes, God is infinite in His capacity to bring forth His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, yet he has created a world with a great number of limitations. We have limitations as well. They are meant for our good, to inform, guide, teach...our limitations help us live honest, wholehearted lives...they're actually God's gift to help narrow the focus of our lives. Embracing what they are telling us helps us zero in on the unique glory of God we are intended to bring. They will teach us if we let them." (Becoming a King, p. 176-177)
Sickness has a very surgical way of showing us our mortality...teaching us to number our days, revealing weakness in order to convey our limitations so that we can "...zero in on the unique glory we are intended to bring." Sounding the internal alarm, weakness warns us to be rid of the lesser things, like the energy suck of self sufficiency, and to look up more often.
It's not so much the pain or discomfort that really troubles us, as it is the weakness that is revealed in us.
An ingenious way of exposing the false self.
Disease, though cruel, can be a benevolent tutor, showing us the utter idolatry of self sufficiency.
Speaking of distractions and limitations, if you happen to follow my Instagram account, you may have noticed that since the election, I have been somewhat vocal concerning what I perceive to be great injustices occurring in our nation and around the world as a result of the Covid Plandemic. A sort of emotional, political weakness, even helpless feeling ensued shortly after the January 20, 2021.
I do not regret posting memes, videos, podcasts, etc. that challenge the current narratives being pushed. I can however, admit that for a while I became quite distracted in researching the truth behind all of the lies being promulgated to a genuinely naïve society with little time on their hands to dig into the evil designs of an attempted globalist takeover. My focus, although for a righteous cause, became other than the holiness I spoke of earlier because of its consuming essence.
Thankfully, Holy Spirit helped me to step back and breathe. But in case you would like to know why I decided to engage in these cultural mountains instead of playing Mr. Christian Nice Guy, let me preach for a minute, otherwise scroll down to the next segment:
As if the pandemic was not enough, fraudulent elections, communist inspired riots, unconstitutional mandates, illegal arrests and shut-downs, out-of-control government spending, unemployment, authoritarian overreach were all thrust upon an unsuspecting populous at once, sending western society into a swirl of confusion and fear.
To top it all off, and in true devil-fashion, we get hammered with a wave of censorship the likes of which the United States of America has never experienced since its inception. Our very founding principles of free speech and religion were in many cases negated, put on pause, and/or relegated to antiquity.
The boldness and rapidity in which the powers that be have been implementing their demonic plan demand response. Sources and channels that people once relied on for news and information suddenly became untrustworthy due to their complicity in the strangulation of free speech.
Because most ordinary, hard-working and peace-loving citizens don't have the time or energy to uncover and disseminate truth from fiction in current events, the average citizen finds themselves being swept away with false narratives. Just wanting the nightmare to end these often God-fearing citizens have been willing to surrender a few "freedoms" so we can get back to normal as soon as possible. Unbeknownst to the innocent, returning to normal was never the plan of the powers that be.
In days that already need double what it takes, memes become a powerful tool in communicating truths that are censored, or difficult and too time-consuming to uncover. These thought-provoking political cartoons of our day have a unique way of engaging people in the art of critical thinking again, a cornerstone to any free society. Without a free-thinking, and free-speaking citizenry, we cannot hope to have a lasting republic that remains liberated from the tyranny of malevolent government.
Memes and political commentary have become a mighty weapon in the current information war, and are by and large difficult to censor.
I believe every Christian should be engaged in cultural, political information warfare in some degree or another, in addition to spiritual warfare. We must manifest our beliefs through action and discourse in order for heaven to invade earth. We are the doors and the gates.
Heaven comes through our words and actions, not by default. Besides, if you want to get Scriptural, Ephesians 5 exhorts us to "...have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, rather EXPOSE them."
If Christians do not engage in culture, our culture will cease to be Christian.
We must remain informed and relevant. Our pastors and leaders cannot shy away from sensitive topics and need to take clear stances on the issues of our day. If our pastors and priests fail to talk politics and culture in a Biblical world view, they are by default choosing to allow the entertainment industry, politicians and fake news to communicate false prophecy to their parishioners. The consequences for cowardly church leadership will be catastrophic to the church, the country and the world.
Nevertheless, in all our getting, we gotta get God. The first commandment must remain first.
Vocation and Location
Sometimes, starting over in a new place void of old attachments and securities to cling to, can help us find out who we are what we want to do with ourselves before we die.
A new slate in a new place has a peculiar way of revealing desire. It paves the way for an authentic start and has a way of pruning distractions that were sown with less than authentic intent.
Fear of man and religious obligations, not born of the Spirit, can make for a weedy garden. Sometimes it may become necessary to burn it down or abandon it all together.
This is not advice for everyone, for there is also wisdom in stability...planting roots deep into the soil of a place. But somehow or another we need to create the space necessary to forge an authentic identity as Abba's child, free from influences that assume we are anything other than this.
Changing our geography can help us achieve a liberty of mind that enables us to only do what the Father is doing. "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the things that continue to make us miss the mark, so that we can run the race of our lives, free and unfettered; focused on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith."
If we take the formula of leaving and cleaving beyond the parable of marriage, we can see for certain folks, that leaving our location can indeed help us to cleave to our Creator in fresh and exciting ways.
We become desperate for fellowship. And so we cling to the One who truly knows us. We become dependent upon His provision, and begin asking for Him to open doors. We become sensitive to His leading, because we have no "better" or more convenient option. An awareness of possibilities we never previously considered begins to spring-up as we chase the Wild Goose into new territories and fresh friendships.
Changing locations may not always be safe. But if led by the Spirit, will always be good. When we become secure in our identity in God, and assured that we are in the right location, the scroll of our destiny begins to unfold before our eyes, if we continue to lean into Him in whom we live and move and have our being.
"I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father's house." ~Isaiah 22:23
Until Next Time,