This past week Lynn and I have had the honor to be with my father for a week's vacation together. It has been since high school since Dad and I had real time to see the world and vacations had literally almost gone away. We grew up modestly and vacations were far and few between, but when we had them, they were always so special to each of us. My parents wanted me to see new lands, new frontiers and dream of new horizons beyond anything I had known. What a blessing to see the frontier of South East Alaska with the man who means the world to us.
Growing up in the frontier of Oklahoma, I have close relatives who really understand the frontier, the land, property, cattle and survival. The heritage dates back to the land run of Oklahoma in 1889 where the native americans were wrongfully being gathered to share land on reservations. Many people "jumped the start" and were called SOONERS and they violated the law by trying to put their stake in the frontier as part of their own homestead. Our early forefathers were in the run and found land in South Central Oklahoma.
When we went into Alaska this week and were reminded that Russia had sold to the United States this incredible land for just 7 million dollars, I thought to myself, "Why would they sell all of Alaska for this minimal amount?" Some people today buy homes that cost that much. The answer was amazing. It seemed that the sea otters had the best skins for trading with the most hair in them during this time period. So when Russia had just about "mined" all the sea otters for where they thought all the value was, they were willing to depart with this incredible treasure, the state of Alaska. Can you imagine, selling millions of acres for pelts?
We place values on many areas of our lives and the frontiers which are before us are still vast, but land is now more a commodity than it has ever been. Location, location and location remains in my Dad's mind the rule the law of real estate and therefore sets a very real precedent for life, for the future and even for our liberty. We are moving into the celebration of our nation's freedom birthday once again and while I am excited about the future, there are also reasons to pray for our new frontiers. Our nation covets your prayers now more than ever.
God does have a plan for you and if you will stop, pray and listen to His voice, you may have the opportunity to see the future in ways you never dreamed possible. The frontier of knowing the unknown is in reality called, "faith". The evidence of things unseen is a powerful word isn't it? Yes, as you will remember from my testimony I have only had a very little faith, but what I have according to the Word of God, remains powerful.
This week, I realized one of my new frontiers is cultivating an even better relationship with my Dad. It's one thing to be habitual about staying in contact, but its a whole different level to have deep meaningful conversations about the future frontiers for your parent. Dad now is navigating a new journey of life without my mother who has been promoted to a heavenly home, but not in the wake of a mourning man who still loves his wife. He is learning to adjust and you know what, it isn't very easy.
So when you think of frontiers this week, don't just think of land and real estate, think of the mind, the intellectual land which has not yet been discovered. Take the time to know those closest to you, ask deep questions, feel free to be very provocative and get to know the "heart" of those you love. When the words LOVE THY NEIGHBOR spring forth, remember those were words of Jesus Himself.
Who would have ever thought a new frontier might involve love? Guess what, it does. Jesus himself before he was taken away to be killed said, "You all have two problems, you need to love God and love your neighbor more". Wow, these are powerful words when you consider all that he could have shared at his last meal with the men he loved the most.
What is the most difficult, is when people whom you love don't want to find out more, communicate or even go deeper with you personally, so what then? You keep loving, you keep praying, you keep believing and ask God to do something in you which makes you a better person. If you are a person who is NOT cultivating a relationship with your family, then start today. Don't wait for some magic moments, begin to invest in family, BOTH SIDES and just see what God has in store for you.
Maybe you have the greatest frontier of fear before you, and it is creating a prison inside the mind which can be freed when you lean in to Christ more, every single day. Fear can be such a horrible thing. Don't let fear rob, steal and destroy your spirit. God loves you. I love you and want you to have a life filled with joy and not fear.
I hope and pray this week, you will find a frontier, dream beyond the land and reach out for that horizon. Like a huge glacier you may find a world you never dreamed was just a few feet away from your love.
I love you,
This week the world lost an amazing woman who I believe is the closest human representation of a Saint I will ever meet. She was in a group of select women who were the wives of missionaries located almost sixty years ago in the jungles of Ecuador. Her name was Elisabeth Elliott, the former wife of Jim Elliott who was martyred for his belief in God in January of 1956.
Elisabeth was one of the strongest and most brave women I have ever known. Her resolve to do what was right was captured in our documentary I produced BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR and later executive produced END OF THE SPEAR, the narrative feature film, both with FOX. Today, these pictures remain as two incredible statements to the faith, courage and love shared by all of these saints of God.
Now, only Olive Fleming remains to share the story in person as all four other widows have passed on to an eternity finally meeting their martyred husbands whose lives have been immortalized in books, in music and in motion pictures. What a blessing all of these brave women of faith are to each one of us who were honored to be with them personally and experience their love first hand.
This is a tribute to her and to all of the women who have done so very much for so many with so little. These women made us all better, our film team, the people behind the film, our families and beyond. Thank you Elisabeth for taking the time to write THROUGH GATES OF SPLENDOR and be a part of changing our world with love, verses fighting fire with fire.
Don't we need this kind of love even more after seeing the atrocity of Charleston this past week? In a world where there is so much hatred and prejudice, we have to be living FOR something greater and standing against evil in every way possible. This is what bravery truly is and we must all learn to become bold like these great saints of God who were not afraid to take a stand for what they believed.
Elisabeth, I want to say some things about you that I truly admired. First, your tenacity was incredible to me and the way you never hesitated to put God in front of your own lives, was a testimony of your belief. Thank you for loving your husband and for your brave stand in the jungle when others might would have ran away. The bond between all you women after the death of your husbands will always remind us of Jesus Christ and the way He wanted us all to live. Lastly, thank you for being such a supportive friend, for laughing at our silliness, for making us laugh and for being so supportive to a group of filmmakers who really needed you.
I am praying for Lars, your present husband and your precious family whom I have grown to love so much through this. It was so fun having the premiere for BEYOND THE GATES OF SPLENDOR both with the missionary families and also the Waodani families in the jungles who became your dear friends. We are all now interwoven into a story which will forever be etched in our hearts and minds.
May the Lord bless you with all the blessings of Heaven you so richly deserve. You are a saint in our hearts and I know God must have wanted you so very much. Do me a favor and go over and hug mother and I am sure she will take you all around the mansions in glory. No doubt she has been viewing yours and talking to all the missionary heroes from the jungle.
You are an amazing saint of the Lord and you are now home. Blessings to you in everything.
In His Forever Service,
Jack Thompson, our family's long time pastor shared a lesson with my Father many years ago about human behavior, our "fallen state" and what happens when we get older. Dad shared with me this week a story and since this coming week is Father's Day, I wanted to share a lesson I learned from my dad. It was from a message about the most famous author of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul.
Paul was an incredible follower and wrote more books than any other disciple/apostle in the entire New Testament. His words are so powerful and the truism of how "hard life can get" even when you do the best you can to follow God really is something worth studying his writings.
This unique follower of Jesus, Paul shared that he was the "least among the apostles" and later in life called himself, "chief of sinners". What was Paul trying to say to all of us. The older you get, the harder it gets to follow God, the more you realize how much you need Jesus, His mercy and His love. No, its not about how life gets easier, but about the more we find out, the more we know, the more we learn when we are surrendered, the more we recognize how important our relationship with Jesus really is.
Our senior pastor when I am in Oklahoma City, Craig Groeschel from Lifechurch is preaching on the Christian Athiest this month. This is a book he wrote several years ago about a real lifestyle of faith. His message on Sunday pointedly talked about how we can know someone, but not really KNOW them. The question for each of us is do we really KNOW Him or just know about Him? I believe if we know and have a relationship with God, talk to God on a regular basis, reach out to Him with our adoration, our petitions and our worship we will live differently.
Paul was tormented wasn't he? He would say, "Why do I do the things I do and not do the things I should do?" Yet, he had gone through a major transformation when he gave his life to God on the Road to Damascus. Because Paul dealt in REALITY. He was real. This week, Coach Hoffman at Mercer shared with me that the WORD for the basketball season next year is REAL. I do believe its time to be real.
Each and every day we can live in truth, in Veritas or we can live life under a mask, not dealing with reality. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me". Our faith in Christ is more than a religion, its a way to live. Jesus didn't say, "Follow Christians", instead He said, "Follow me!" So do we follow Him the way we should? Only you can answer this question.
A final note about THE HARDER IT GETS, I can honestly say THE MORE LOVE YOU WILL FIND IN HIM! I can actually call Jesus MY HEALER because He healed me. Its true, love is the most powerful of all weapons and He loved you and I in a way we never deserved. The more we can understand His love, the more we can lean into the words of truth found in the scripture.
We are happy to report some really wonderful miracles have been happening in the lives of many people our entire team has been praying for and I just want to say "thank you" to all those in the V300 who have been so faithful to undergird each and every prayer request. Don't stop, this is why being a part of an ONLINE prayer team is so important. Thank you V300 churches for being faithful, praying for us every week and being so faithful to remember us all in prayer.
This is an important week in Los Angeles so please remember our team in prayer. We truly believe in the coming months we hope to have some exciting film news. Thank you again for your continued prayers. Please remember to keep our V300 churches in your prayer requests. Our entire V team is praying for you and hope you enjoy our character study online!
Isn't it amazing how fast time goes by in life. We wake up and one morning we are children, go to sleep and when we arise we are all to quickly growing adults, then our family grows and then shrinks in the season changing cycle of life. How we are prepared for handing every phase of the cycle constitutes both how we live and how we leave this world is never easy.
We turn around and those who were closest to us, are gone. Those who became our "best friend" are no longer really part of our lives because of family, jobs and so many other influences.
The older I get, the more I want to stay in touch with my childhood brothers and sisters, but the harder it really becomes. As time goes by, I find that cherished friendships are more than sacred, they are treasures and we must do everything we can to protect them as long as we can. Its impossible to keep up with everyone, to make everyone happy but if we INVEST in people, our lives become more full and complete. I'm thankful for Facebook as it allowed me to connect with past churches I have served, school mates, prayer warriors, professional relationships and family.
As I was thinking about the "clock moving" it baffled me that only eleven years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan had passed away. His death had really impacted my life so please allow me to share the "why". He was a man who was loved by so many, often misunderstood, average intelligence, but a strong will toward his conviction in trying to do what was right. He was a conservative, which had both connotations.
He loved this nation and wanted to instill more patriotism than when he started, and succeeded. He was not afraid to talk about God and never fearful for standing up for his faith and religion.
So many areas of Reagan's life stand as a viable testimony to his love for God and country which are two areas we focus on a lot at Veritas. He loved all people even those who were not like him. He did not compromise in the areas he believed in like family, faith and freedom. Ronald Reagan was one of my heroes in government because I loved his statesmanship.
I loved that so many on both sides of the aisle admired him, but I loved the WAY he loved his wife, the way he courted her, wrote to her and talked about his family, the people he loved. He was a man's man, he had balance in his life, took time to spend moments at the ranch. If you ever read the romance letters he wrote to Nancy, you should stop and read it again. If you haven't, please take time to do so.
He inspired so many of us and his words remain etched in our hearts, his courage to changing the world, the challenges to bring down the wall as he implored Gorbecev were more than epic. There are speeches I have used in the front and end of our movie LAST OUNCE OF COURAGE and his words resonate in my heart.
So many Presidential Libraries are very covetous of the speeches, but not the Reagan Library, they were honored to share FREELY his speech for our film. Even in death, Ronald Reagan is still giving to our nation thanks to his family and to his heirs.
Fortunately, I was able to only catch a quick hello when we saw him up close and personal once on the lawn behind the Whitehouse in 1987. He looked directly at me and winked as he and Nancy had just landed from an important trip. This week, she placed flowers to honor him and in their mourning, we join in the beautiful remembrance shared of such a great man.
Time really does go by quickly and remembering great people is so important.
The greatest hero of all was Jesus and His life is not about remembering but living out our love for Him every single day. I fall so very short in being able to accomplish all the dreams and goals He may want, but I want to try. Trying to excel in every area of my belief, loving others to Christ and living out Jesus is never easy.
This week, I am praying for each one of you and asking the Lord to give you insight and wisdom as you move forward in your service. This week I am thanking the Lord for our government officials who serve our nation and praying for each of them as they give so willingly.
It doesn't take long, to live a life. So live one well.
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.