Author: Eric Robinson

Letter 60: It’s about Your Heart

My Son,

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8)

 

God wants your heart. And Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). From the heart flows the truth about a person’s love. When God has our heart, he has our whole being. Any external religious action we may do (e.g. kneeling, the sign of the cross, lifting our hands) is meant to lead our hearts toward a conversion in the love of God. Externals are great so long as they accurately reflect and grow the internal.

When God sees us, the exterior does not fool him, for he sees the interior of each of us. “For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God will surely judge us based on our works at the end of time (as our Lord Jesus tells us in Matthew 25), because our works are extensions and reflections of our hearts. When the Holy Spirit sets our hearts aflame, we are then able to bear the fruit of the Spirit and this fruit finds its fulfillment in the deeds we do for God and neighbor.

The idea that God primarily focuses on our hearts was ingrained into me by my own earthly father. Whenever I would share my evolving religious convictions with my dad while I was in my teenage and young adult years, he would simply remind me, “Son, God just cares about your heart.” This truth is simple, yet profound and convicting. It is a sacred reminder that I heard from my father and pass on to you. God cares about your heart.

 

“Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23)

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 59: Fools Say in Their Heart

My Son,

 

Certain people consider themselves atheists since they are adamant that there is no God. Why do they hold this belief? Why does someone created by God reject his/her Creator? Why would a person made in the image of God reject God himself? Why do they say there is nothing after we die? Are these people just so “smart” that they can’t believe in something like God? What is really going on here?

The Psalmist tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1). Perhaps a person’s decision to reject God is not merely intellectual. Perhaps their choice is really a result from something in their heart. Nearly every atheist I’ve ever met has chosen that path based not on intellect, but on some experience they had in the past. They may have had a terrible childhood with a father who abused them. They may have been a part of a natural disaster that makes them question God in the midst of such a horrendous event. Those who claim to know and serve God may have treated them unjustly. Whatever the reason for their unbelief, it is usually rooted on the heart level and not on an intellectual one.

It is important to understand someone’s arguments and logic, but knowing that something is in their heart causing them to make certain assumptions and assertions will help you not only have compassion on the atheist, but also allow you to focus on the heart during such a discussion.

Rejecting God is a serious matter, and a matter of the heart. This is why God calls us to have a heart conversion in order to come to know him. The key to getting an atheist to come to Christ is not necessarily to argue with them, but to love them. Love can heal the heart. God is Love.

 

“Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong” (1 Peter 3:15-17).

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 58: There Is a God, and You Are NOT Him

My Son,

 

As my father repeatedly and lovingly reminded me growing up, so now I remind you… “There is a God, and you are not him.”

 

When you are tempted into pride or starting to think that you’ve somehow “figured it all out,”

just remember that there is a God, and you’re not him.

 

When you are stressed out and full of anxiety,

just remember that there is a God, and you’re not him.

 

When chaos surrounds you and the world seems to be falling apart,

just remember that there is a God, and you’re not him.

 

When things are going really well in your life and you are tempted to forget God,

just remember that there is a God, and you’re not him.

 

When you are successful and have accomplished something really great,

just remember that there is a God, and you’re not him.

 

 

This reminder is simple, yet profound. In the good times and the bad we are to give the glory to God and humble ourselves before him.

 

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6).

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 57: Testing the Spirits

My Son,

 

We are in an epic spiritual battle between good and evil. Satan and his demons sometimes disguise themselves as angels of light and seek to deceive and destroy us at all costs. Testing the spirits is crucial to our survival in this fight. The Apostle John says this: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:1-4). As the Apostle says, the true test of whether or not someone is a true or false prophet hinges on their view of the Incarnation of Jesus. This should be the first thing you ask yourself when you hear whispers from a voice you don’t recognize. Does this spirit believe Jesus came in the flesh? If the answer is no, then ignore that false spirit. If the answer is yes, then you can go further and see if this truly is a voice of genuine love. Remember, the one who does not love does not know God and is false. So test their belief, and test their fruit.

In all of this, have no fear. The Apostle John reassures us that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Think about this. The Spirit of the Living God, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Conqueror of Death, the very Power of God lives in you. In testing the spirits, we are cooperating with the grace of the true Spirit who lives in us. He gives us this opportunity to join the battle and use his gifts to fight for his glory!

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 56: Soaked in Scripture

My Son,

 

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17-18). You are a man of God and I want you to be complete, fulfilled, trained, and equipped. Scripture is foundational and critical to your walk with God. It is all about Jesus, so if you want to get to know Jesus, let yourself be soaked in Sacred Scripture.

What does it mean to be soaked in Scripture? It means to treasure God’s Word so much that you read it voraciously, meditate on it continuously, memorize it consistently, pray it daily, and speak it fluently. The Lord even commanded the Israelites to be “soaked” in his Word and gave them practicals on how to do just that when he told them, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20). Put the Scriptures in your line of sight everywhere you go. You can even use physical objects to remind you of Scripture. Do whatever it takes, only abide in his Word.

There are three primary ways that I’ve been aided in my pursuit of abiding in God’s Word. First, having a Bible-in-a-year reading plan helped me to be consistent in getting into Scripture on a daily basis. My favorite plan that I’ve been on involved an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a Proverb, a New Testament Letter, and a Gospel reading each day. That may seem like a lot, but the key is to spread it out throughout the day. I usually would read around my meal times. Old Testament for breakfast, New Testament letter for lunch, Gospel for Dinner, and Psalm and Proverb before bedtime. Whichever plan you choose, I would recommend you to spread out your readings throughout the day, so that Scripture will always be on your mind.

The second way I’ve been helped in my journey with Scripture is the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office of the Catholic Church. The Divine Office has the double effect of sharpening your prayer and Scripture life because it teaches you how to pray the Scriptures throughout the day. Traditionally, there are 7 times a day for prayer (Office Readings, Morning Prayer, Midmorning, Midday, Mid-afternoon, Evening, and Night Prayer). Praying the Scriptures ties your heart with your mind as you soak in the Scripture. It is highly effective.

The third way that has helped my Scripture life has been my method of memorization and recitation. I used to drive a lot for work and I knew that I couldn’t just waste that precious time in the car, so I decided to use that time for reciting Scripture that I had memorized. In order to make the recitations flow better, I needed to memorize large chunks of Scripture. My goal wasn’t just to memorize one thing and move on to the next, but to continually recite the Scriptures I had memorized so that they would always be fresh in my mind and not forgotten. My method of memorization involved tagging on 10-15 minutes to the end of my time with God in the mornings to go over what I had memorized the previous day and to add a little bit more. On the weekends, I would usually try to spend an hour just refreshing and adding a larger chunk to the memorized portions. Once I had a book or long passage memorized, I would make it a priority to recite that memorized piece of Scripture in my car at least every two weeks indefinitely. In this way, I wouldn’t lose the Scriptures I had worked so hard to memorize.

The key factor underlying all three of these methods is time. Don’t believe the excuse that you don’t have time, my son. If it’s a high priority, and it needs to be, then you will make time for this. Reading, praying, and memorizing Scripture should be the priority in your schedule that everything else falls around.

Being soaked in Scripture will help you abide in Christ and ward off the Enemy. It will help you to be pure in thought, word, and actions. Individually, being soaked in Scripture is great, but doing this in the context of community multiplies the effectiveness. Find friends who will join you on this journey into God’s Word and you’ll be even more fruitful in your efforts.

One last passage that expresses the zeal and love we ought to have for Scripture is summed up nicely by the psalmist: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to thy word. With my whole heart I seek thee; let me not wander from thy commandments! I have laid up thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord; teach me thy statutes! With my lips I declare all the ordinances of thy mouth. In the way of thy testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on thy precepts, and fix my eyes on thy ways. I will delight in thy statutes; I will not forget thy word” (Psalm 119:9-16).

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 55: Singing Worship: Weapon of Intimacy

My Son,

 

Worship is a most effective and supreme weapon because it invites a deeper intimacy with God. When doubts cloud your mind, when you sense the Enemy is close at hand, or when you are in the midst of a trial, simply sing worship aloud to your Father in heaven. This produces a double effect. It will repel the Enemy because he simply cannot stand being in the presence of genuine worship to God. It will also draw God close to your heart. The psalmist once said that God is “enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). Singing worship is a way to fulfill James’s exhortation to “submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8).

The foremost aim of singing worship isn’t that it’s an effective weapon against the Enemy, but that it will help you to abide in Christ. In the shower, on the road, in your room, outside or wherever, singing worship is a sure way to draw your gaze upon the Worthy One, Jesus Christ. Worship is a sure way to allow the Spirit to flow through you to others. Paul tells us to “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:18-20). Sing alone, sing in community, sing whenever and wherever.

There was a time in my life where the Enemy had so gripped me that I could not physically sing worship to God. After I had experienced deliverance from this bondage, the healing process took some time and I even spent a little time in a hospital. After a couple days in the hospital I still was not able to sing worship to God. I was desperate to worship. I was desperate for God. A very kind chaplain led a service and asked me to lead the singing of Amazing Grace. He had given all of us patients the words on a piece of paper so I tried to start singing but I couldn’t. I started to cry, but the other patients came around me and helped me start singing. We all stood up together with our arms around each other singing Amazing Grace. I was weeping and singing at the same time because I was so overwhelmed at the love of God. God gave me so much grace; grace to worship him again. This was a powerful moment for me. It was probably one of the sweetest pictures of church I have seen in my life and it happened while singing worship during one of the darkest hours of my life!

The ability to sing worship is a grace from God. Cherish your ability to sing to him, my child (even if you’re like me and don’t have the best voice). Let your worship ring out with joy. Let your worship fill the atmosphere. Let your worship be an invitation for God’s presence to immerse you.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 54: Constant Repentance & Assurance

My Son,

 

We are called to be holy as God is holy. In all our thoughts and actions it is important to have a clear conscience before God and others. Therefore, it is good and right to make an examination of our conscience at the end of each day and plead for God’s mercy to strengthen our resolve to follow him.

Repentance is a gift to be exercised daily, my son, in drawing ever nearer to God. In my own life, it seems I’m in a constant state of repentance. To repent is to turn away from sin and to turn toward God. In this turning, we are allowing God to further cleanse us and sanctify us. It is a beautiful gift. For it is in the act of confessing our sins to God and in pleading for his mercy that we can feel our burdens being lifted off ourselves and given to Christ. We can feel the waters of the Spirit washing us clean and presenting us to the Father without spot or blemish.

In the midst of our acts of contrition to God we can also have the full assurance of his grace to renew us. One of the most profound moments in my life happened when I told an older friend of mine that I felt like I always had to apologize to God. As I wept in his arms, the man told me that I didn’t need to always apologize. He said that God knew me and cares for me as a father cares for his son and as a friend cares for his friend. He said I could be assured that God is gracious toward me. In that moment, I realized, God is my Father and Friend. With my earthly father or my earthly friends, I do need to apologize each time I sin against them, but to constantly apologize rather than enjoying those relationships would be a mistake.

So, with God should we be in a constant state of repentance or a constant state of assurance? I say yes and no to both. As our conscience bears witness to our faults, it is good and wise to confess and repent. The important point is to then move on. Don’t let the guilt of past sins weigh you down to the point where you are still apologizing for those things. Rather, enjoy the freedom you now have from that sin that God has cleansed you from, and enjoy that full assurance of the grace from the Father. On the other hand, don’t pretend to have full assurance from God that everything is okay between you and him if there is still sin in your life you are knowingly not repenting from. It is a delicate balance of holiness and love intermingled in a dynamic relationship with God. I advise you to examine your conscience while resting in his mercy each and every day.

 

“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do through my own fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.” (Daily Roman Missal, The Introductory Rites, p. 715)

 

Love,

Letter 53: Debt Is Slavery

My Son,

 

“The borrower is the slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Our culture has made debt “normal.” It is “normal” to get mortgages, student loans, pay for something on credit without the cash reserve to back it up, etc. The U.S. Government seems to accumulate debt like it’s going out of style, but so do businesses and individuals. At every level of society, debt has shown its ugly head.

Debt enslaves people, but it’s not necessarily morally evil. If you choose to go into slavery, it is not evil, but it sure seems foolish. It is not bad to get a student loan or to get a mortgage. However, just know that getting a loan means that you are trapped until you pay it off. Many young people are enticed to get student loans that end up taking half their career to pay off. In certain circumstances, a student loan may be the only good option so long as it is done wisely. Perhaps choosing to go to a less expensive school that is affordable would be a better option so that the student loan is less or not needed. Piling on excessive debt or getting in the habit of debt is what I’m really warning against. Debt is a dangerous entrapment, but hopefully, when you begin to view it as slavery you will be more averse to getting into debt.

So, if you don’t want to be enslaved by debt, what is the alternative? Hard work and savings. Many people rack up credit card debt and spend money as soon as they get it. This is not wise. Diligence, discipline, and patience must be cultivated for a debt-free lifestyle to emerge. It may take someone longer to afford a house without acquiring debt, but through diligence at work and diligence in saving money from work, it is possible to live a debt-free life. If you ever find yourself in debt, then it is hard work and savings that can help you climb out. In all things we are called to work hard and cheerfully for God anyway. So be diligent, be patient, and save as much as you can, and never spend money you don’t actually have. If you live under these principles you will be free from the slavery of debt.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 52: Giving

My Son,

 

Giving is not only a commandment of our Lord Jesus (Matthew 6:2-4), but is also a means by which we protect ourselves from the love of money. Why do we give? Because God first gave to us, and since we are created after his image and likeness, we are to be generous givers as well.

Unfortunately, many have twisted the virtue of almsgiving as something to boost one’s ego, and not something done out of love for neighbor. Jesus tells us the wrong and the right way to give; “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-4). So we are not to give to others in order to be seen by others, but out of genuine charity toward others.

You will reap what you sow. Therefore Paul says, “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Even though you ought to give because you are commanded, you ought not do this begrudgingly, but out of cheerful obedience to the Father.

I must warn you my son, there are false teachers today who make false promises that if you give 10% to your local church he will return even more money to you. God will bless you, but don’t equate blessing with money. God may choose to increase your wealth, or he may increase the joy and freedom in your heart that comes with being a generous giver, or he may even choose to increase trials in your life so that you will be refined like gold and receive even more treasures in heaven.

There isn’t an exact amount you need to give, only make sure to give from your heart. In practice, I would encourage you to give the first 10% that you make to your local church, and to give above and beyond another 10% to others in need, or to charitable organizations doing corporal works of mercy. Keep in mind that Jesus praised the widow who gave her last penny to the temple treasury and not those who merely gave out of the abundance they had (Mark 12:41-44).

We are to give our whole selves fully to Christ. When we give to God, we are giving what he has already given us. He doesn’t need it for his sake, but wants it for your sake. Be generous, my son, not looking for what you may receive in return for your giving, or to be praised by others, but out of a cheerful and obedient heart. Your heavenly Father sees your giving and smiles upon you.

 

Love,

Dad

Letter 51: Riches Make Entering the Kingdom of Heaven More Difficult

 

My Son,

 

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Matthew 19:23-24)

How ironic it is that so many people live their lives chasing money when that is the very thing making it harder for them to enter the Kingdom of God. People want to be happy and successful, yet they tend to pursue things that will give them neither happiness nor success in the long term. In regards to happiness, the very consistency of the Kingdom is unending joy. In regards to success, being in the presence of God is the epitome of success. Why would you make “getting rich” a goal in life when that actually makes it harder for you to experience the Kingdom of God?

I once heard someone say, “the more money you have, the more good you can do.” To some, this philosophy makes sense, since the more you make the more you can donate, but this way of thinking is both ridiculous and dangerous. Ridiculous, because Jesus Christ lived his life in poverty and he did more good than any who has ever lived. Dangerous, because “the good” someone can do is linked (in this mindset) to the amount of money they can make.

Jesus stands countercultural to our world’s way of thinking. He even says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Mammon is the spirit behind the love of money, which Paul says is “the root of all evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). So we are told to hate money, despise money, and not to serve it. Why? Well, don’t you want to enter the Kingdom? These are words of love. Riches can so easily ensnare the heart of man. Being free from the love of money sets you on the path to concern yourself with the things of God. The Father wants you to be the good soil that causes the seeds of the Kingdom to produce much fruit, and not the thorns that grow and choke the seed. The thorns represent the cares of the world and the delight in riches that so easily grow and choke the word (Matthew 13:22). Beware of delighting in wealth, lest you corrupt your desires for God. Generous giving is a good antidote for such greed. In Christ, and not in money, is life to the full. So pursue Christ with reckless abandon!

 

Love,

Dad