Archive for February, 2013

28
Feb
13

The fight of and for my life commences

Let me start by saying that I have absolutely no right to even be alive let alone write blogs. If I were God, I would have killed me off long ago. Thankfully I am not God. It is only through His infinite grace and abounding mercy that I am still here to tell my story of personal failure and Godly deliverance.

My life is like a huge tapestry, woven with threads of beautiful hues but marred by huge strands of black and red. It could have been a masterpiece, but instead it is a tribute to what could and should have been. I understand this, accept it and have chosen to live with it. I refuse to rationalize the past or deny I allowed things to distract, disrupt and ultimately destroy the ministry God gave me to bless His people.

I am fully aware of the horrible things I did in God’s name in the early 1980’s. If I were in a court of law, I would plead “no contest” to the various accusations of wrongdoing. I allowed myself to first consider the lies of the enemy and then fall prey to them. Although warned by both God and men, I considered myself invincible and worthy of special privileges due to my ministry position.

By the time I finally awoke and saw what had happened, my marriage, finances, health and ministry were as broken glass shattered on the floor. A once promising future had been squandered and the stark realities of what my life had become were like a never ending horror show. Everywhere I looked, there were people I had hurt, situations I had bungled, opportunities I had missed and traps I had walked into with my eyes wide open.

I was too proud to ask for help and too deceived to accept help even if I had asked. I had allowed demons to possess me and in so doing, right had become wrong and wrong had become right. I could justify everything I did in my own mind because my mind did not think whole thoughts but rather the sugar coated lies of the enemy. To say I was a mess would be the understatement of all time.

I was trained to be a ministry leader but in reality I was trained to be an actor. It was engrained in me to put on a good front no matter what was happening. I was taught to always appear to have it together even when I was a mess. I was instructed to look like a great man of God even if my heart was cold and dead. Years of acting lessons ultimately prevented me from seeking help and kept others from seeing the dire shape I was in.

Off and on I would be confronted with my sins and I would repent and change for a season. But, due to inherent elements of my situation I fall back into bad habits and would embark on another season of not doing God’s will in my life.

I was at my worst between September of 1981 and March of 1982. I hurt many people due to my immaturity and/or stupidity. I had been thrust into a ministry position I was not prepared to handle. My sins were confronted in March of 1982 and I truly did repent. I was crushed by my weakness and despite my pleas to resign, I was not allowed to. Slowly God mended my heart and I tried to mend the hurt relationships with others my mistakes had caused.

By July of 1983 I was doing better than I ever had in my life. I had my body, soul and spirit in fellowship with God and I was doing what I was supposed to be doing for myself and others. My confidence had returned and with it my ability to minister to others with authority and power. I honestly thought my past was a memory and the future as bright as the promises of God.

In August of 1983 the founder and retired head of the ministry sent me a letter out of the blue condemning me for what I had done a year and a half earlier. I was given no chance to give my side of the story but was informed that I was officially considered “dung” by this man and his inner circle. I faced public humiliation, was ignored by my peers and told repeatedly that I should just resign.

Over the ensuing year I became more and more depressed, frustrated and angry. Feeling isolated and defeated, I drifted into behavior that was not only wrong but in time destroyed me. I honestly did not care for I figured my ministry was over and my life’s dream of walking for and serving God was finished. I do not know why I was not “fired” but instead I was allowed to flounder in a sea of despair and confusion with no way out. I believe this is what the people in charge wanted to have happen to me.

In August of 1994 I was officially “sent out to pasture”, released from my ministry position and more or less was on my own. Not one ministry leader wanted me in their state. I was a marked man sent out into the wilderness to in due time be consumed by wild beasts or succumb to disease or injury.

As Thanksgiving of 1984 neared, the stupid and sinful things I had done the preceding year started piling up and their consequences buried me in an avalanche of irate people wanting to rip me to shreds. The wild beasts were indeed circling around me, licking their lips and salivating at their upcoming meal.

The mental pressure I was under soon manifested itself in physical pain through an ongoing infection that steadily got worse and worse. The wild beasts always go for the weak and I was certainly just that.

On the day before Thanksgiving I received a call from someone who let me know that he was personally going to make sure he destroyed me once and for all. He had incriminating evidence that would forever render me useless to God and worthless to the ministry. He urged me to either move to Antarctica or go drive off a cliff. I chose to do the latter.

I was trapped and hopelessly ensnared in the web of deceit and lies which I had woven the previous year out of anger and frustration. I knew everything was getting ready to blow up and what was left of my dignity would soon be completely destroyed. With nowhere to turn and no one I trusted enough to talk to about what was happening, I decided the best thing to do was just end the horrible excuse for a life I was living.

Thanksgiving morning I drove 50 miles to the top of a mesa overlooking the valley where we lived. It was a beautiful drive and there was a parking area which looked out over the city. Behind the flimsy guardrail was a cliff that dropped about 2000 feet straight down. My plan was to drive through the guardrail and fly to my death on the rocks far below.

Thankfully I decided to ponder my life and what had happened to it before ending it. In the midst of the worst storm of my life, I finally opened my heart up to God and poured out everything in it to Him. I wept and wept and wept some more. I got out of the car and lay in the dust on my stomach crying out to God “I’m sorry”. Soon the dust turned to mud because of my tears.

I was indeed a broken man, consumed with guilt and shame and ready to face whatever the final judgment of my life would hold. No words I could write would ever convey how I felt that morning in 1984. My life and ministry had already been destroyed, now all that remained was the ending of my physical life.

As I got back into the car and contemplated what to do next, amazing and miraculous things started to take place around me. Almighty God was not going to let the enemy win without a fight and the fight of and for my life commenced…

27
Feb
13

I am ashamed by how far I fell and humbled by how much God loved me to rescue me

In 1969 God rescued me from many things, including emotional and genetic flaws.  I know this and as long as I believed it, I was able to walk for God withstanding the ups and downs associated with living.  With time, I drifted away from the reality of what happened in 1969 and slowly migrated back to the way I used to be emotionally and subjected myself to the genetic weaknesses bred into me.

We are who and what we are due to a combination of genetics, environment, experience and instruction.  The enemy knows this and devotes massive resources to research and watch God’s people so as to find weak points to aim his fiery darts at and to exploit via temptation or pressure.  It is no secret that the enemy knows us, not by what and who we are on the inside, but by what and who we are on the outside.

Our enemy, satan, patiently waits for a time when he thinks he can beat us.  Even during times of peace and rest he is lurking in the shadows laying traps, planning schemes and setting up things to steal, kill or destroy us.  Jesus Christ knew this and dealt with it every day of His life.   It would serve us well to know and do the same.

When I look back on what took place in my life between 1969 and 1984 it is no mystery how and why I fell so far as to even consider taking my life.  In the course of 15 years, the enemy slowly wove a spider web of deceit and lies that in due time, out of both ignorance and stupidity, I got caught up in and trapped by.  It was not God’s fault I ended up where I did, it was my own because I knew better.  But, because God knew my heart still belonged to Him, He delivered me.

If someone with 15 years of intensive Biblical research could fall prey to the slyness of the enemy, what about someone with only a casual knowledge of the Bible or none at all?  If someone who knew all about the devil’s schemes fell for them anyway, what about someone who doesn’t even know or believer there is a devil?

Suicide is the ultimate goal of the enemy.  As the god of death, he wants nothing more than to kill a person, especially if they are a child of God.  For the enemy to succeed he must set a trap custom made for the victim and the victim must willingly be led as sheep for the slaughter into that trap.

There is absolutely nothing in this life I am more ashamed of (and I have plenty to be ashamed of) than that I put myself in a position where unless the Lord personally intervened, I would have allowed the enemy to kill me.  I could have kept this a secret for no one knew what happened that day except me.  But I have known for nearly 30 years that one day I was expected to share my testimony for the sake of others.  Guess what, you are the people who get to hear my story.

The next two days, God willing, I will lay out what led up to the events of November 22, 1984.  I cannot adequately write this in my normal 500 word blogs so if you have the time and patience to read what I have to say, I think it will be worth it to you.

If the following song had been in existence back in 1984 it would have summed up my life at the time.  It wasn’t but it is now.  “In the storm” by Casting Crowns continues to be in my personal top five favorite songs and I leave it with you today.

 

 

26
Feb
13

The genetic flaw that leads some to suicidal thoughts and the need for families to be open about it

When I was 13 years old, I was abruptly taken to my grandma’s apartment with no explanation. I stayed there about five days and then my mom picked me up and took me home. Nothing was ever said for nearly 40 years about those five days until one day in 2003 when my mom abruptly told me the “rest of the story” as I drove her to one of her countless medical appointments.

My dad was an alcoholic. In 1966 he was about to lose his dream job with the Postal Service because he showed up to work drunk, called off when he had a hangover and did not do his job right much of the time. He was called into his supervisor’s office and told that one more incident would mean his immediate termination. Finally something shook him up, but not in a good way.

Unbeknownst to my mom, my dad emptied their checking and savings accounts and disappeared. After many frantic calls, it was discovered he had driven to Minnesota (his home state) and was out on a drinking binge with his brothers. Word soon reached my mom that my dad was planning to kill himself near his childhood home.

My mom had no car and no money for my dad had taken both. She had to borrow money from my brother and take a bus to Minnesota, praying all the while she would not be too late. With the help of her sister-in-law, they found the spot my dad had gone to end his life. He was so intoxicated he could barely talk, and he angrily told my mom to leave and let him put an end to his miserable existence.

My dad bounced from one job to another all his life. He could be an excellent salesman but his drinking always got him in trouble and ultimately fired. When he got the job working for the Postal Service in 1957 it was the greatest moment of his life. Finally, at 43 years of age, he had a regular job with a guaranteed weekly check. That is why when he was told “one more incident”, it drove him off the edge of sanity and prompted him to try and end his life.

Amazingly, my mom and sister-in-law talked my dad into putting the weapon down. He crumpled into a pathetic heap and cried in my mom’s arms for nearly 30 minutes. Once sober, he and my mom drove back to Kansas with a secret known only to them, my brother and his sister-in-law. Incredibly, this secret remained in a secure lockbox until my mom shared it with me 38 years later.

It has been said that things like suicidal thoughts run in families. I spent a lot of time with a man back in 2006 whose dad and only brother had both committed suicide. Sure enough, this man killed himself just a few months ago. Interestingly, one of his sons has already tried to commit suicide three times and he is just 24 years old.

With all of my heart I wish my mom would have shared the story of what happened with my dad long before when she did. Perhaps it would have helped me be more aware of a potential fiery dart and thus motivate me to work at keeping my defenses strong. I have come to learn that some secrets should be kept locked up to protect those involved, but there are other secrets (especially family secrets) that need to be brought out in the open so the members of the family can become stronger.

Looking back, I see now how the enemy used a genetic weak point that I didn’t even know existed, to open the door to the ordeal I went through in 1984. Thankfully God interceded and put an end to both the event and the weak point. I pray that we always look past the outward ugliness of what a suicidal person is doing to see WHY they are doing it. Many times a weak link will be found that points back to a genetic flaw that perhaps, like me, the person did not even know existed.

25
Feb
13

Gaining an understanding of why people think suicide is the only way out

Did you know that on any given day, countless individuals around the world grow so frustrated with life and their inability to deal with what life deals them that they put an end to their life? Did you know that those who choose to end their lives felt they had no other solution to their problems and that no one could possibly understand or help them? Did you know that more times than not, a person intent on ending their life can be talked out of it, given help and never tries to commit suicide again?

Did you know that the most common response to someone committing suicide is anger and not pity as the victim had hoped? Did you know that the predominant reasons for people thinking suicide is the only answer are hopelessness and anger? Did you know that it is a horrible shame this whole topic is shoved into the closet and rarely talked about because it is not pleasant?

People who are mad usually take out their anger on others before ending their own lives. Every day there are stories of someone killing innocent family members or strangers and then killing themselves. Unbridled anger causes people to literally go insane. Their ability to think rationally and logically is erased and what they end up doing makes no sense to anyone but themselves. How else could a person killing their spouse, child or parent before killing themselves be explained?

People who are depressed and whose life is filled with pain (physical, emotional or mental) feel no one understands or cares about them and their situation. They isolate themselves and ultimately talk themselves into believing the only way out is to end it all. Most people who end their own lives absolutely believe there are no other options left and talk themselves into doing what they know in their hearts is wrong.

Nearly 30 years ago I was one of those people who felt there was no way out of the mess I had made of my life and ministry. As the walls closed in around me and everything I had worked so hard at for 15 years crumbled, I didn’t believe I would or could survive. Obviously something happened that prevented me from ending my life for I am here writing this blog.

What took place is so important that I have decided to devote a few blogs to the subject. If God only delivered me and that was that, there would be nothing to write about. But, what took place nearly 30 years ago saved and changed my life then and continues to keep me on solid ground to this day.

Most of us either have dealt with depression or know someone who has. Many of us have known people who have either tried to end their lives or did. Most of us have wondered what we could have done to have helped or even prevented such a thing from happening. Speaking as a survivor, I have a story to tell and I pray my testimony will speak volumes to whoever needs it or can be helped by it.

24
Feb
13

Blaming people’s sin for all bad things that happen renders us incapable of manifesting the compassion and love of God

Why must we be so quick to judge each other and assume that whenever something bad happens to someone it must mean there was a horrible sin involved? Why must we always ride in on our self-righteous white horse pronouncing judgment upon the infidels who bring every hardship in their lives upon themselves because of being a bad person?

A few years ago I attempted to manifest the compassion of Christ toward people (especially Christian brothers and sisters) devastated by natural disasters, illness, addictions, loss of jobs or houses etc. I was shocked and heartbroken when I found out later that men I respected and supported financially thought I was crazy and a sinner for devoting my life to helping people whose sins had brought these horrible consequences upon themselves and their families.

There are not words in my vocabulary to express how deeply I despise this sanctimonious and “holier than thou” attitude. I cannot begin to communicate how deeply it crushed and tore my heart to find out that people who I thought knew a little bit of the Word of God were in reality cold and hard hearted creeps. Needless to say I parted company with these people and have never spoken to them since.

On Palm Sunday in 1965 a rash of tornadoes tore through the country killing scores of people including many who were attending church services. Were these people killed because of their sin? Were the churches destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the great Joplin tornado targeted by God because they were heathen? These things drive me crazy because they make no sense and hurt people.

Was Abel killed because he had sinned? Was Noah forced to live on a boat with stinking animals because he had sinned? Was Abraham deprived of a permanent home and a child for 99 years because he was a sinner? Was Joseph sold into slavery because he was a sinner? Did David have to live in caves and fear for his life daily as Saul hunted him because he had sinned? Was Jeremiah buried up to his chin in dung because he was a sinner?

I remember hearing a preacher once say that David was hunted by Saul because he had an illicit relationship with Jonathan and God punished him. Recently I read that Stephen was killed because he decided to be a preacher instead of waiting on tables. Were Peter, Paul and all the apostles (except John) executed because they were sinners?

It is high time to cease fixating upon and assuming that all negative things are a direct consequence of someone’s sin. We have an enemy whose sole aim is to steal, kill and destroy us. We have a God who has told us that He will test us so we can get stronger. There are many reasons for bad things to happen to a person, family, church or city. Sin is certainly one of those reasons but not the reason every time.

I pray that I never defame the heritage and legacy of those who gave their lives for daring to speak the truth in love. I pray that I never allow a self-righteous or sanctimonious attitude to render me nothing more than a Pharisaical hypocrite incapable of manifesting compassion, empathy or the love of God. I pray that we all search our souls and cleanse ourselves of anything that makes us hardhearted judges unable and unwilling to manifest the precious and healing love of God.

21
Feb
13

With every ounce of my beling I long to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

With everything within me I yearn for the moment our Lord Jesus returns. Absolutely nothing in this life could compare with the glory that we will enjoy when we, in an instant of time, find ourselves standing face to face with the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

As wonderful as this life is at times, I long for an end to the pain and aggravation each day brings having to put up with this body and this world. With all of my heart I hold on to the promise that there will be an immediate end to all pain, suffering and tears when Christ returns or we die and go to Him.

I do not know when Christ is coming back and have no desire to debate the issue. All I know and believe with every fiber of my being is that He IS returning soon and that when He does, I will cease to be a citizen of this world.

For nearly 45 years I have held firm to the belief that Christ is returning soon. Many have told me that I am delusional and have “ruined my life” by holding fast to this hope. I have been scolded, castigated, rejected, and mocked for my ironclad faith in the hope God has set before us.

If given the choice of taking a pill and being given 100 more years of this life or departing for glory tomorrow I would be first in line, ready to depart. Nothing in this life compares to that which awaits us once we depart this life, through death or the return of Christ, and join all the believers from all the ages heaven’s golden shore.

I have no desire whatsoever for worldly fortune or fame. I have no desire whatsoever to receive the accolades of man for being a good humanitarian. I have no desire whatsoever to stand upon a stage and receive degrees of accomplishment in worldly matters so as to spend the rest of my life laboring to stockpile earthly treasures.

With all my heart and soul, I desire nothing more than to please my Savior in this life and be with Him forever and ever. Nothing means more to me than knowing in my heart that I have done the best I could do for God and that one day I will receive my just reward from Jesus Christ Himself for what I have done for Him in this life.

It is my firm belief that the closer a believer is to the Lord, the stronger the desire for His return. Conversely, those who appear to be pillars of the faith but are not, have no great desire for the return of Christ because their reward is limited to this life.

I feel sorry for those who scoff at the notion Christ may soon return. I pray for those who so enjoy this life they do not want Christ to return. My heart rejoices with those, who like myself, long for Christ to come quickly. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

20
Feb
13

Is your heart and soul for sale?

It is no mystery what my attitude toward this earthly life is and what, in this life is important to me. I have stated over and over again my heartfelt belief that this world is not my home and that I am just a transient spending some time here.

It is my firm belief that our lives are NOT supposed to be spent making money, accumulating things and rising up the corporate ladder. There is not a shred of evidence in the NEW TESTAMENT to support the idea that a person should get saved to gain worldly fortune or fame. In fact, this propaganda has succeeded in turning countless believers into nothing more than worldly people who attend a church once in awhile. This I believe defines hypocrisy.

What God has done for us in Christ is a matter of the heart and not the outward trappings that define success according to the world. Starting when Jesus called His first disciple to follow Him and continuing throughout the Book of Acts and beyond, the “call” has been to be set apart from this world by way of undiluted and fervent faith in God. Jesus did not groom His disciples to go back into the world to be super successful fishermen, tax collectors or businessmen.

There are, no doubt, individuals where the call of God in their lives is to excel in their profession so that they can give witness to Christ. Some very successful professional athletes have proven this to be true. But, for every person who actually gives credit to God for their success, there are fifty who keep their mouths shut so as to protect their assets and marketability to the world.

Although my wife and I spend many hours per week working at our on-line business and my wife works 40 hours per week at her job, we do not do this to become rich or so we can retire in a few years on a golf course and buy a RV to travel the country. We do this because the Word of God says to WORK and to have the means to pay bills and to GIVE to others.

It is truly sad whenever a child of God sells their soul to the world to gain financial security. It is truly sad whenever a person who has given his heart to God takes it back so they can sell it to the world’s highest bidder. It is truly a shame that anyone would turn their back on God to receive what the world offers.

Many years ago I rejected various job offers that demanded all of my heart. I have never regretted the choice I made to not gain the world by losing my soul. I will always be thankful that I decided to put God first in my life even if it has meant sacrificing worldly fame and fortune. This choice has allowed God to provide, protect and bless us, which He has done faithfully.