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Nov. 14, 1998

Dear Karen,

Dad & Mom passed on the letter you wrote to them, including the letter from your friend Jonathan--it was good to hear from you and know that you are doing well. I thought that I would drop you a "note" from my family. It's 4:15a.m. and I was awakened by the LORD at around 3:15 to write this letter, so I better get to it, because I'm already an hour late in obeying Him. I'm not sure if you knew or not, but I've had two children since we last saw one another. My son Zachary is now 8yrs. old. He's the finest boy on the entire planet!! He's a boy's boy who loves to have fun and wrestle with his daddy. He's very bright and does very well in school. (He attends my church's Christian school) He has a real gift for memorizing Scripture, which we're very thankful for. We also have a daughter named Simone--she is the princess of all princesses. She truly is made out of sugar!! And w/out question, she's a daddy's girl. In the same but opposite vein as Zach, she's girl thru & thru. She loves anything that has a hint of femininity to it. She just turned 6 and is in Kindergarten--Kim is her teacher. She loves school as well and is doing great in it. We don't know whether there will be more--we'll leave that up to the LORD. Kim and I continue to pastor at our church; we just started our 13th year in the pastorate, and are confident of God's call on our lives. We pastor under Kim's folks. They have now been pastoring for 53 years and are powerful examples of what the grace of God can do in a person's life. They have both said that they'll retire when we lay them "six feet under."

That's somewhat where we're at family-wise. I don't know how or when this will reach you as we have no clue as to your where abouts. You mentioned mountains, but there's lots of mountains in the USA. And that's also probably the core reason I write this to you.

As I read your letter, I was blown away by a statement that you wrote. You told of a brother's folks who came to visit him. You said that they behaved kindly and weren't contentious and violent. Then you made a comment about Mom & Dad and I quote: "I've wondered at times if you were going to drop in at one of our camps. I believe you also would conduct yourselves as the parents I wrote of above." When I read that I couldn't believe it!! How could they possibly drop by when they don't have a CLUE as to your where abouts much less whether you are dead or alive?? In the 20 years that you've been in this group, we have NEVER known where you've been. For you to make that statement to M&D, I take great umbrage w/ that. I know that it's supposedly for precautionary measures as Jonathan wrote, but YOU KNOW that's NEVER been the case w/ us. But for the sake of this conversation, let me tell how this little "drop in" visit would transpire if M&D were SOMEHOW TO FIND YOU. After greeting you with affectionate hugs and kisses and pleasantries, they'd offer to take you and your friends for lunch or dinner or whatever. Then they'd ask if you'd like to use their shower at their hotel room--(if you didn't have access to one.) Then they'd ask to buy you any toiletries or general daily hygiene needs. Then offer to buy you underwear or bras or socks....And on and on and on. W/ out question, YOU KNOW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. Maybe your friends would counsel you otherwise, but YOU know the truth. M&D are absolute jewels in this respect--always willing to give the shirt on their back and they always will. In your heart, YOU know it's true. Might there be some lively Scriptural debate? Probably, but that's as far as it would go--as it's always been. I have no reason to doubt that Jonathan's accounts are all true, but again, YOU KNOW that never has been or will be w/ our family.

Family. I was glad to see it in writing (pg. 9) that your group "encourages members to sever ties w/ unbelieving relations." How sad, Karen. What you have missed out on these 20 years is unreal. I have NO QUALMS WHATSOEVER that you're in this group, but I disagree totally w/ the above mentioned quote. Basic theology says that God is family--Father, Son & Holy Spirit. It's His nature. It's who He is. And by Creation, we're his children. As such, Charles Manson is my "brother"-- by Creation. God's choice, not ours. And by re-Creation, we're doubly His. Again, basic theology. God is so FOR His family (His created children, sinner and saint alike) that the Father sent His Son to become one of us. Php. 2. God forever and irrevocably bound Himself to the human race--He couldn't get away from us even if He wanted to. Which is my point. Vile, sinful, fowl family members---that's what we are. Full of faults and failings. But still His children, whether by birth(Creation) or new birth(re-Creation). Yet, most of these children won't spend eternity w/ their Father.(Mt. 7:14) But they're/we're still His family. Even in Hell, God will still be their Father, and Jesus will still be their brother. (Heb 2:11 NIV) Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. And when have you EVER seen God try to get away from you or sever ties w/ you?? Never. Again, He can't, because it's not in His nature. Even to the vilest sinner, Roms. 1 says God reveals(reaches, prods the conscience.....) Himself to them. Even when they refuse Him and are given over to depraved actions, God will always reach for them to their dying breath--because they're His family and it's His nature. Aren't you glad God didn't/doesn't repeatedly stop reaching for you? Aren't you glad for the account of the thief on the cross? Or the woman at the well? Or the woman caught in adultery? Or how about James & Jude, Christ's own half brother's, who didn't/wouldn't put their trust in Christ during His earthly ministry? (Jn.7:5) He didn't sever ties w/ them, He didn't call them his "enemies"---he reached for them and eventually drew them in. And there they were at Pentecost (Acts 1:14) Though we have no clue as to how that occurred, it can only be surmised that Jesus Himself ministered to them. Now, if they were "enemies" as you like to use Matt. 10:36, then how did they come to salvation? And please don't patronize me with "someone else did." Jesus is so FOR FAMILY  that He made provisions FOR His family on the Cross. In Jn. 19, Jesus uses the terms mother and son---FAMILY terms. Jesus taught us that when we pray, we should say, "Our Father..." Again, FAMILY terms. When the word speaks of  the fellowships of believers, He says they're our brothers & sisters. And on and on. Further, how do handle all the verses concerning parents responsibilities to children and children to parents? And why did Jesus Himself run almost exclusively with the sinners? If they're the enemy, why did He do that? Because His nature is always to reach to those in "darkness." Did it cause Him problems? It cost Him His life. But He was never one to run away from conflict or confrontation. So when Jonathan and Pastor Roberts and the other elders advise in writing to sever ties with FAMILY, I know that they're way off base on that. I know you have your pet verses to counter this, but you're still wrong. If your group claims to be the deposit and guardian of the truth, then all the more to reach out to "family." Will it be uncomfortable? Might there be conflicts? Probably yes to both. But again, that's exactly what Jesus did.

So, does this mean I think your group is all wrong and you must get out? Not at all. But for you to say "drop by" when M&D don't know if you're in Maine or So. California, is ludicrous. And why? Because your group advocates a very un-Scriptural stance. Again, are Jonathan's claims of abuse correct? I'm sure they are. But severing the ties won't solve that. If , in fact, your group claims to be the only redeemed ones, which you have strongly inferred in the handful of communications in 20 years, it's even more grievous. Remember, before YOU were redeemed, the Bible said YOU were the enemy. (Col 1:21 NIV) "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior." Though you were family by Creation, the Father kept reaching for you, not severing ties. That's His character. But what a stark contrast to your group. Should you go around looking for trouble? No. Should you put yourself in constant danger from mean-spirited parents? No. But if God did what you do, YOU wouldn't be saved today, nor would I. (By the way, I AM A CHILD OF GOD THROUGH NEW BIRTH AND AM ABSOLUTELY SURE OF MY ETERNAL REST BECAUSE OF GOD'S ETERNAL PROMISES THRU HIS WORD.) Your group may want to debate this, but if I never see you on this earth again, I promise you, I'll see you on the side.

I know I'm being very long-winded, but hey, I'm a preacher, so what do you expect? Not to mention that it's the middle of the night. But more importantly, to my knowledge or memory, you've never written me a letter in 20 years--that's a fifth of a century. I can't write you, because I don't know where to send it. Even this letter, it may not get to you for months. Who knows. This isn't to try to lay a guilt trip on you, that's what the devil does. I'm just telling the reality. But as we (Kim & I) said to you the last time you were in E.C., we totally accept you for who you are and always will. Whether we agree theologically is very much secondary. But I promise, we'll never cut you off, never, for whatever the reason. If you become a Satanist, that wouldn't change it---again, because you're family and the LORD is pro-family. So let's turn the tables, how about YOU dropping in?

With our love,

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