Breathing the Air Above: Your Letter from Jim

Breathing the Air Above: Your Letter from Jim

I don’t watch television often, so for diversion I have become accustomed to reading classical literature. I’m enchanted again with a second read-through of David Copperfield by Dickens, a master at crafting personality types that we in some way identify with. Here, David is with his aged friend who likes to be called “Mr. Dick” instead of Richard. He is something of a project for David’s aunt who has become his rescuer . . . and David’s. Mr. Dick is a kind man with a benign dissembling of his mind. He spends hours daily writing and then crumpling the papers which he throws away. He made a kite upon which he attached bits of this history called “memorials.” Read David’s description of his kite flying: 

Mr. Dick and I soon became the best of friends, and very often, when his day’s work was done, went out together to fly the great kite. . . . It was quite an affecting sight, I used to think, to see him with the kite when it was up a great height in the air. What he had told me, in his room, about his belief in its disseminating the statements pasted on it, which were nothing but old leaves of abortive Memorials, might have been a fancy with him sometimes; but not when he was out, looking up at the kite in the sky, and feeling it pull and tug at his hand. He never looked so serene as he did then. I used to fancy, as I sat by him of an evening, on a green slope, and saw him watch the kite high in the quiet air, that it lifted his mind out of its confusion, and bore it (such was my boyish thought) into the skies. As he wound the string in and it came lower and lower down out of the beautiful light, until it fluttered to the ground, and lay there like a dead thing, he seemed to wake gradually out of a dream; and I remember to have seen him take it up, and look about him in a lost way, as if they had both come down together, so that I pitied him with all my heart.

The believer is not so different. The confusion of these days with its politicization, polarization, sexualization, and even inflation, keep us ruffled and wrestling and even fearful much of the time. The earth, which is a foundation of a sort, is not so to us. We find it settling rather to peer into the heavens to get our bearing. It is in that dimension that we find a sure and steady foundation for our souls, built upon the faithfulness of God and his eternal plan. We look up and away for our strength, and have no confidence in this world. It never will be fixed until the Kingdom above comes down.

The writer of Hebrews said that we have an anchor for our souls there, within the veil, that is, in the presence of God, the true “Holy of Holies” (Heb 6:19). The Apostle Paul who found the world a troubling place and one consistently adverse and obstinately contrary to him to the point of persistent suffering and eventual death, had the view that looking up was the way to press on against such seemingly overwhelming and unrelenting forces. Yet, by looking up, he could see once again that God was in charge of his world and using him to accomplish eternal good for those Christ came to save, whatever the appearance of things. “Set your minds on things above,” he taught, “not on things that are on earth. For you died and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory” (Col 3:1-2). We only live well if we swim through this world like a person with a snorkel, breathing the air above. Simply put, it is above that we get our strength, our footing, our hope, our courage.

Isn’t this a strange and mystifying way to live? One usually goes down to find a foundation, but for the believer, we go up in our minds to discover what is there in that truth dimension. We open our Bibles like we open a window to see it. And we believe what we read. Each verse is like a paving stone above the fray, well seated upon God’s character and purpose, upon which we can walk safely in high places. Rest on them; they are there for the saints to travel well — to walk above the earth.

You say, “why should I read my Bible diligently as you often suggest?” Because without traversing the other dimension, you cannot take life with all its problems, temptations, discouragements, and opposition. Open, see, and believe! Like Abraham, walk through the heavenly land to see what God has given you in Christ! You have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3)!

The New Year Ahead

We are on the brink of a new year. It commences only one day after the old year ends, but still, it always holds some kind of mystical newness and potential for most of us. I’m anticipating a good year for the lives of our team and this ministry. Let me elaborate on my optimism: 1. God is able to do great things “beyond what we ask or think.” 2. We are already putting down on our calendars some very exciting engagements (and there is room for more!). 3. We anticipate some additional books finished to help the churches and to explain the great news about Christ. 4. We’re seeing more and more valuable truths in the Bible that we will hopefully pass along. 5. We have an encouraging family of friends who love us and motivate us to continue on.

As you know, we have no debts to worry about as we enter this year, nor have we ever had debt in our ministry. We don’t have to say to you, “This is a ministry of faith. We must have your help!” No, rather, God supplies everything we need faithfully by the time we need it. We have never seen God fail to do this though we have never asked any human for help. We are on as good a ground financially as we can possibly be even if we were to have in our possession only one dollar. With God as our benevolent Father, who has invited us to ask him for what we need, what more could we possibly work out to have any greater guarantee that our needs will be met?

We mentioned last time that our beloved Rachel Farney continues under the great trial the Lord has allowed, and Kole continues to care for her at home. The board has chosen to move him to contract labor status for the things he can do for us as of the beginning of 2023, as is our normal practice for those who are not traveling. Kole is simply not able to do that now, though he is immensely gifted for that. If you wish to contribute to his needs, you will need to contact him and send directly to him ( Thanks to so many of you who have been so generous to them over the years.

We suggest that you consider ordering a copy or copies of “My Preferred Way to Read the Bible” for the New Year. As you know, we provide them without charge through our ministry. Feel free to order for your class or church families if it can be of help. Go to our website,, under “books” to order for this or other items.