Thank you and welcome to my booklet,
A new frontier, not far away over mountains and rivers, but directly under our feet.
PATH OF FAITH
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY
COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING
KNOW THE LOCALITY OF REALITY
WHAT DO WE TAKE WITH US ON OUR JOURNEY TO THE PROMISED LAND
TRUST THE CREATOR
WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR
My horse Reba, dog Jill, and I traveling in rural Kansas.
PATH OF FAITH
If like many Christians you have worked hard, played by the rules, made your way in the world, and still you get a feeling that the world is going down a bad path...rejoice, that is the voice of God calling you to a better place.
Example #1: The Pilgrims happened to be white Europeans, but an infinitely more accurate description would be this; they were children of God. Faithful and courageous, they boarded the Mayflower, and within a year, half were dead and the other half had suffered terribly. But they were not fools, they understood their dream to be an “impossible” one, and still they went forward. And such is the power of faith that, nearly four-hundred years later; their dream still lives. Their dream was to live free as a loving God would have them live, and not live according to the mandates of tyrants.
Example #2: There was something very special in the hearts of the Pioneers who arrived at the shore of the Columbia River, having already come thousands of miles through mountain-ranges, deserts, and plains on the Oregon Trail. The Columbia River made up the final leg of their journey. Trail weary men, women, and children, they loaded their wagons and dreams on wooden rafts, then set out to run two-hundred miles of the most dangerous water anywhere on earth. It was an incredibly perilous thing to do, but then again, they had that special brand of courage, that kind of courage that comes with faith. And with that kind of courage all across this land, Americans gave rise to a Nation that became a beacon of hope around the world.
So where did we go wrong? What happened?
Columbus was a human being, meaning he was both wonderful and pathetic like you and I and the Pilgrims and Pioneers and so many others that came here to build better lives and, in the process, built America. This includes the slaves, who were freed through great bloodshed and sacrifice. This includes Native and Hispanic Americans who fought and died for America in World War I and every war since. This includes Asian Americans whose many contributions to America go unheralded. To build better lives, our forefathers and mothers, flawed though they be, mustered the faith and courage to go forward through hardship and danger. They put themselves in God's hands, walked into the unknown, and built something greater than their ability to imagine. Now if you cannot appreciate the courage and sacrifices of those that came before, then you and I do not belong in the same boat. But if you appreciate the sacrifices of those that came before, then like me, you may be old enough to remember the greatness they gave rise to. There are many examples. I remember the small farms and towns of Kansas, with thriving local economies, happy healthy people out and about, and streets so safe that children could run and play without a fear in the world. From sea to shining sea, we were building a great Nation. We all had a part to play, and we were making slow but steady progress. Good things take time, and it seemed that with hard work and dedication, we could accomplish anything, even go to the moon! But no more had we reached the heights then men in high places decided God was no longer needed. We became, as they say, full of ourselves. Without God, we tried in vain to fill our empty hearts with all that money can buy. Without God, we poisoned ourselves with unhealthy choices and then looked to science for salvation even as the miracle of science went hand-in-hand with a national health crisis of biblical proportion. Without God, we set out to rectify our moral failings through the power of the State, and we fell prey to evil forces that attacked our God-given right to feel good about where we come from, what we’re made of, and who we are (children of God). God was declared dead, and the void left in our hearts and culture was filled with garbage from Hollywood, Fifth Avenue, and others in a race for power, money, and control.
Today we are paying the price for going along with those that put power and money above God and Country. So how do we get back to the One that holds our best interest at heart. Who among us will take that great leap of faith, who among us will become the wind in the sails of those that are yet to come? It could be as "easy" as reading Bible stories to your grandchildren (even though it puts you at odds with their parents, even though it is taking ten years off your life). If you truly follow the Lord, he will lead you away from your worldly comfort and security. You might lose all your money, your insurance, and your retirement. Maybe, maybe not. But one way or another, He will lead you out on a limb. And when you find yourself there, you will find Him there beside you, and you will rejoice. And the reward you receive, you will never trade for what you had before.
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
Can you imagine a Nation that is so self- deceived, its people surrender their ability to make shoes, and then dance in foreign-made shoes to celebrate their independence? Can a people who can't even make their own shoes honestly call themselves independent? There are politicians and business leaders that would answer, "yes." The question is; do you want to follow the blind and become a prisoner to their folly, or would you rather walk the path of truth and honesty that leads to Freedom? In order to get big and stay big, big government and big business work to make you dependent on them in a big way, and this can be bad for your independence in a big way. For if they push truth aside for power and money, and they become all important to your survival like air and water, what happens to your soul when you must choose between the truth and the worldly securities they offer? How many Christians have accepted paths made by those that push truth aside for power and money? It is hard to reject worldly comfort and power when it is placed at our feet. It is easy to forget that, doing so might cost us the only thing we can keep forever. The good news is, you only need to put yourself in God’s hands, truly put yourself in His hands, and you will find a new path of such tremendous value, you would not trade it for your life. You will find yourself in a realm of truth, a new frontier where freedom is as real as you are, where the path is as difficult as it is full of promise, trod by hard-working individuals, bound together as a people with a common belief, each pulling their weight, looking out for one another, trusting not in themselves but in God.
Nothing can stop God’s truth from setting us free. The only thing that can stop His truth from shining through is a closed heart, wherein the soul, imprisoned by walls of bitterness, pride, or any sin painted over with self-deceit, believes it has it right when in truth it has it wrong - and in its blindness, it wastes away in a dark dungeon, never to know what freedom looks like because it never allows it to shine in. But when we open our hearts and let God’s light shine in, there will be, in a very real manner of speaking, dawn in God's everlasting masterpiece, a new life in a new realm with virgin mountains, plains, and rivers. But it is like a jigsaw puzzle, and only God knows where the pieces go. And as God would have it, it is our steps, taken in faith, on the narrow path, that make the pieces fall into place, and the picture that comes together in our soul is a gift larger than this world has space to hold.
If you decide to trust God, then probably not very far up the trail of life, you will realize your freedom, and when it happens, don’t be surprised if you lift your arms to Heaven and cry out, “OH LORD, THANK YOU!” It is true. If you show faith, don’t be surprised if, long before you reach your “Promised Land,” God sets you free. And you will know it! It will become the most valuable thing you possess, for it will be nothing less than the freeing of your soul. And with it comes peace where peace must always begin, in your heart. You will have peace of mind. You will enter into the realm of true freedom, without which no earthly freedom is possible. You will no longer look to the world for freedom, but will have found that, because of Him, freedom begins in you (and what else would you expect from the One that gave you the miraculous gift of life). And with the chains that bound you broken, you'll be free to pursue a better life. A better life, not in the eyes of a sinful world, but in the eyes of a loving God that holds your best interest at heart.
THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY
The way to a better life begins when you let God into your heart, and by His light, see the way out of your inner entanglements. Then with God, you will have the inner peace and fire to go forward even if you cannot see what lies ahead.
How many people thought Columbus crazy for setting off into the unknown? How many people thought the Pilgrims crazy for the same reason? And after the unknown had been opened so that it could be entered with a degree of safety, how many hopeful hearts flooded into the New World!
And in that new world called America, a great multitude rolled up their sleeves, the American story was born, and the potential of building on God’s truth was released. In God's hands, they built something greater than their ability to imagine. They did not build a Utopia of course, but they did build a Nation founded on the belief that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They fought wars and made great sacrifices to ensure this right. And as a result, their Nation became a beacon of hope around the world.
Today, same as always, it is as big as crossing an ocean, leaving a dying world behind, and venturing into the everlasting hands of God. But with God, all things are possible. If you want more than a lying world can offer, then step onto God's narrow path of truth, keep putting one foot before the other, and He will lead you to a broad spiritual plane where, looking back, you will know, He saved the one thing you keep forever - your soul - and of course, that made your life great!
COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING
There is nothing racist about a white man who, having witnessed from boyhood the decline of little farms and towns across America, makes a sincere and concerted effort to help his people.
Come together in the understanding that, until we let God in our hearts, we cannot work our way though problems that keep us from happiness because true happiness comes before solving problems. True happiness (godly fulfillment) fosters positive action even in the face of difficulty.
Come together and let God set foundation stones in our hearts that support peace and happiness in our communities; foundation stones of love, like a sense of gratitude for what we have, and of belonging to it, and wanting the best for it, and a willingness to work and sacrifice for it.
Come together in the understanding that God's first commandment to man as a knowledgeable being is to toil, to realize the value of hard work, which fosters strength and stability in our backbones and our souls, and makes us productive members of our communities.
Come together and build on God’s truth by teaching children biblical lessons about right and wrong, about when to be kind and when to be tough, timeless values that guide actions, season souls, and help us stay together on the same page as children of God.
Come together with inspirational stories of our forefathers and mothers, the extra-ordinary accomplishments of ordinary Americans who put their faith in God (celebrate them as heroes and heroines, and even pretend to be them in childhood play).
Together these things act as cultural glue, to form a bond of love and loyalty, to form a foundation of harmony and happiness in our communities, and Nation.
Jesus did not save the world by being a worldly man, but rather, by being a man of his people. Jesus did not think like,"Oh my gosh, if I chose men only from Judea to be disciples, that might appear exclusionary and maybe even hateful...I'd better find an Egyptian, a Greek, a Syrian, and an Italian." Jesus didn't do it that way. And lo-and-behold, by His example of love and loyalty, not the false morality of Pharisees in their temples, but the true boots-on-the-ground love and loyalty between neighbors that makes communities strong and nations great - by this, His example, great numbers of people from those other nations would become part of one family as brothers and sisters in Christ.
As a Nation of every race, can we Christians stand together for the sake of our Nation? Yes, we can come together by way of a simple test, a test that has nothing to do with skin color. The test would be a simple question: Would we put up or take down the Ten Commandments in public places, like courthouses for example? Those that would put the Commandments up without hesitation are brothers and sisters in the family of Christ (including non-Christians that are friendly to our beliefs, and therefore are friends of the family). Those that would take the Commandments down have not yet let God in their hearts and therefore are more susceptible to that pair of hands that is ever working in the dark. Those that claim it depends on circumstances are blind to our circumstances. In large part, we have, as a Nation, allowed the godless to choose our path for decades, and fools are prone to follow the easy path to their own destruction. The good news is, God gives us free will, we do not have to follow fools. We can come together for the sake of our Nation as brothers and sisters in Christ.
KNOW THE LOCALITY OF REALITY
This somewhat odd term, "the locality of reality," that I have only made up, nevertheless means that, if you sincerely believe in God, then He is in your heart, and, at the same exact time, in my heart, and in all hearts that sincerely accept Him. And this is key because; He alone holds our best interest at heart, He alone wants to make us wealthy beyond our dreams in the only way that counts forever, and He alone has the divine power to be in all our hearts at the same time, working His miracles there like the Conductor of a symphony.
The possibilities of what we can achieve when we follow His lead as a people of God are limitless. For while He gives us different assignments, our tasks fit together to create something greater than our ability to imagine.
I spent time with the Amish, and saw many things reminiscent of my own pioneer heritage. One thing that took me by surprise was the sight of an Amish woman driving a wagon, not just any wagon, but a large freight wagon. It had an expansive wooden bed with no sideboards and no seat. She was standing on the bed, holding the reins to a team of four Percheron draft horses that were trucking down a gravel road. On the bed behind her was a very large construct of wood and metal (some kind of Amish-made equipment). The young woman was neither large nor burly, but simply an average looking woman in a pioneer dress with three small children gathered close around her legs. Yeah, it blew my mind! A huge wagon, with a huge freight load, pulled by four huge draft horses is a fairly impressive if not downright frightening sight to see when it trucks by up close. But, add to that a young mother standing atop it all, driving four horses while tending three children! Wow! She was neither nervous nor relaxed, but quite simply, appropriately focused, and her children were perfectly behaved. Now, let’s look at another example that can help us understand why the Amish woman and her children, sinners though they be, were able to do what we would only expect from stunt doubles in a movie about pioneer heroism: Once, while working a horse in a round pen on an Amish farm, I noticed a procession of six or seven Amish girls, dressed like pioneers, walking the country lane. The oldest looked to be twelve, leading the way with direction, but not at all severe. The youngest was about five, and brought up the rear. To my surprise, they turned up the driveway of the farm where I worked. I didn’t know what to think but figured it an Amish thing. I watched as they continued without adult supervision, but each knowing their task, fetched a stocky miniature horse, then a miniature covered wagon. They harnessed the horse, hitched it to wagon, boarded one by one, and as they drove away, they smiled and waved at me. Astonished, I went in the barn to ask my Amish friend what I had seen. He said the girls had stopped that morning and left the horse to be shod before continuing on foot to the one room schoolhouse up the lane. They were not all siblings but children of the community. I’d seen a miniature school transportation system operated by children, working together without adult supervision; efficient, safe, clean, healthy, happy, and yes of course, independent! And of course, independence is FREEDOM.
Now let us imagine a parent strapping their child into a car safety seat for a ride to school while colorful cartoon heroes play on the monitor. And yes it may seem that I've presented opposite ends of a scale with extreme bias, but the Amish are nowhere near the far end of any survival scale, more like in the middle between stone tools and microprocessors. So what am I saying? I am NOT saying that technology is bad. I am saying that we have, without even realizing it, become servants to powerful worldly masters. And in the year 2021, we find ourselves so tightly strapped into their system, we cannot get free even as we know it only requires a leap of faith. God will catch us. The problem is, we no longer trust Him. We say we trust Him, but our inaction proves otherwise.
If we want to be a people of God, we have to admit and accept that we will never get back to Him by walking the path laid out for us by powerful worldly masters.
WHAT DO WE TAKE WITH US ON OUR JOURNEY TO THE PROMISED LAND
To leave Egypt so to speak, and find our way to our Promised Land; we must identify and give up those things that are detrimental to the survival of our souls, our homes, our communities, and our Nation. And we must know what we need to take with us. Some have already been covered in this text. Below are a few more:
We need humility.
We need our heritage.
TRUST THE CREATOR
When it comes to understanding the secret of how God makes a soul, I may as well be a dog sitting before an atomic equation on a blackboard.
Understanding the making of my soul is infinitely beyond my comprehension. And yet, to know the best of it, which is to sense and feel the Craftsman's love and care...I need only let Him into my heart. And now I have every reason to trust Him.
We sinners will never build a Utopia, and we don't need to. We only need to put the Creator first, and He will lead us through His creation on a path of discovery to His realm of eternal life.
WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR
So dear reader, what actions do we take exactly in a frontier of faith to build a life greater than our ability to imagine - what are our parts to play in that divine symphony I spoke of? I don't know what your part is, but God does, and He wants to show you. All you need to do, is let Him into your heart, and follow the instructions that He gives you.
Then, on the heels of my salvation, there came a great opportunity to travel the land, not as a lost man, but as a found man, knowing not of God's intention but simply believing that, as long as I continued putting one foot before the other in faith, God would bring good from my effort.
I did not travel the modern way as I had in the past, but rather, I traveled in the footsteps of my Pioneer forefathers and mothers. I wrote a book about my travels, well written but not mature enough to relate the message God intended me to tell. Without going into the details of how God eventually showed me what he wanted me to know and tell, I would like to tell about something that happened on the way there, a true story, not dramatized, but simply the kind of thing that happens when a man puts himself in God's hands: I got caught in a September blizzard while crossing the Continental Divide. It came on like a roaring freight train, my dog nearly died from exposure. I had to put him inside my coat and carry him while dropping elevation to escape the storm. For 5 days I walked 100 miles across the divide. I ate next to nothing in part because old-man-winter was kicking my tail and, telling me to get back to the safety of civilization. It was during this time, 700 miles into a 4,000 mile journey, having already seen so much, and then getting some serious alone time with the Lord; I began praying for words to help my people (praying, very nearly badgering, albeit humbly). The Lord did not answer my prayer at that time but, upon reaching civilization, looking upon a small town so peaceful in a valley below, surrounded by storm clouds, with a ray of sunlight illuminating a white church steeple, the Lord spoke to my heart, saying, "Just make the journey, James. Just make the journey." I didn't understand, but I obeyed. I was not a mature Christian, I didn't understand that of course the Lord had already laid out what He wanted me to know. And even though I am unworthy of delivering any message from Him to you dear reader, if you have read these words, then you can know He answered my prayer, which of course was His plan all along, and it is no accident that these words found their way to you.
Thank you for taking time to read this booklet.
And may God bless you!
James Sheldon, confessed sinner,
servant of God
My dog UB and I on the Lewis and Clark Trail.
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