You Got Me?

The first time I knew that he said it was on June 1st.  My son-in-law, Clay and my grandson, Indy were at Cedar Point when they were getting ready to go on a roller coaster.  Clay tweeted the following…

Melt your heart moment of the day: on a little kid coaster Indy grabbed my arm tight and said,

“You got me Daddy?”

Since then my wife Pam and I have heard him say this a number of times.  He has even directly asked me that.  I was upstairs in the bedrooindy44m, Brody and Indy were playing and wrestling around on the bed.  I was there keeping a close eye on them to make sure they did not get too rough.  Indy was being very careful to not fall down and he was unsure of his footing.  He looked up at me and asked, “You got me, Grandpa?”  I said, “Sure Buddy… I got you.”   He looked at me with a smile and with confidence in his eyes continued to play, knowing that his grandpa was watching over him.  I smiled back at him and made sure that he was safe and that he was not going to hurt himself.  I never really gave it another thought.  It was just another cute comment that I have heard come from Indy since he could talk.

Then a few days ago, “Grammy” (Vickie Kirchenbauer), posted  the following on Facebook:

Lessons from Little ones..…When Indy is nervous, afraid or unsure he will say to one of us, “You got me?”. Of course we always answer, “Yes Buddy we got you!” He doesn’t question how, analyze the process we choose to use or worry whether we heard him…… he just simply trusts us to take care of him and confidently moves on.

We can do the same!! Whether we are sad, afraid, unsure, discouraged or whatever is heavy on our hearts, we can say to our Father…..”You got me?” His answer is ALWAYS, YES!!

The truth of Vickie’s post hit me like a ton of bricks.  

I missed the truth that was found in the words of my grandson.

Many times in our life, when things become difficult, we consume our life with worry.  We allow the strife of this life to overtake us and all too soon we begin to doubt that there is anyone who really cares.  Discouragement, hurt, resentment and regret cause us to lose sight of the fact that God, our Father, has all of this under control.  He always keeps us in the protective shield of His love for us.  So we can honestly ask God, “You got me?” and the answer is always YES!!!!

Thank you Vickie for the reminder…

 

Questions For God

I have heard people often say, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God…..”  and what follows is their pressing question, their unanswered prayer, or their pain from when it seemed God wasn’t there.  

questions-for-godOften it has been, for them, a stumbling block in their walk with God.  Why didn’t God answer my prayer? Why did He let my child die? Where was He when……?

All of those unanswered questions can shake our faith or at least make us wonder about the plan and goodness of God.  And yet,  in the midst of the unanswered question, we know there is an answer, and it nags at us that God has left us with a question mark, an empty place, a doubt.

Why didn’t He?  How could God allow that to happen to me? 

My experience is that most often we blame God for something we actually caused!  

We go where we know we shouldn’t.  We make bad choices.  We basically ignore God until we are in trouble…then we blame Him for not protecting us from our own choices. 

So why didn’t God make people so they wouldn’t sin? If that were the case, we would be like robots with no will of our own.  God did not make us that way. He gave us the ability to choose. So when we look at the tragedies in our world, in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us and ask why God allowed it, we find the answer by looking at a very similar question that was asked of Jesus.  

Apparently a tower had fallen on a group of Gentiles, and some were suggesting that it happened because it was God’s judgment. But Jesus said, “Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too” (Luke 13:4–5).

Effectively, Jesus was saying, “Look, guys. People die. Bad things happen. We don’t always have to say that it was God’s judgment. This happened, and it doesn’t always make sense. But listen. You had better get ready, because you could die, too.”

Death will knock at every single door. No one is exempt. It could happen to any of us. It could happen tonight or tomorrow. The statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of every one person will die. You can’t escape death. We all have an appointment with it. Job said, “O God, remember that my life is but a breath” (Job 7:7). And the Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).

We don’t want to talk about death. We don’t want to discuss it. But we can’t avoid the inevitable.

So here is my question for you: What will happen to you after you die? According to the Bible, therquestion marke are two options. There is heaven, and there is hell. There are no other choices. Maybe instead of asking the why question, then, we should be asking the what question: “What do I do now?”

The answer is to turn to Jesus Christ. No one ever suffered like Jesus did. Though He was God, He also was fully man. And when those spikes went into His hands, He felt pain just like you and I would feel. Real blood coursed through His veins and spilled to the ground as He hung on the cross and died for the sins of the world. It was real rejection that He felt as His own, handpicked disciples turned away from Him for the most part. It was real loneliness that He experienced as He hung on the cross.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me” (Philippians 1:21–23 NLT).

I don’t think Paul was saying that he was looking forward to dying. Rather, he was saying that he knew what was on the other side. He knew what he had to look forward to. I think he also understood that in heaven, all of his questions would be answered. And if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then all of your questions – all of your whys – will one day be answered, too.

So here is the proposition for the day-  if you could ask God just one question what would it be?

A Work In Progress

The Bible gives me great hope because it’s clear that God is not done with me yet.  

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.     Psalm 138:8

logo_work_in_progress2I may not be the man that I wanted to be….but I’m not the potter….I’m the clay. He has in mind what He wants this piece of clay to look like. I have no idea what this work of art is to look like….I’m still being molded, but one day He will finish with a smile and declare that His work of art is finished.

I find it humorus to think that I’m that work of art!  But it’s true.  I’m still on the potter’s wheel, still being molded, still finding lumps that the potter must work out so the fire will not crack me. I’m still being formed into the masterpiece the Master plans to make.

What thrills me about the verse in Psalms is that God will not give up on this little piece of clay until His masterpiece is done!  I might not look like much yet, but just wait….just wait till the potter is done.

Paul writes about this in Ephesians 2 when he says,

” For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

How exciting….not only am I a masterpiece, but I’m a masterpiece with a purpose! I still have things to do that only the little piece of clay, this masterpiece of the potter, can do.

“The Lord will accomplish what concerns me.”   In other words He won’t quit working in my life until He has finished His masterpiece and signed His work.  I love that artists sign their work. They want the world to know who made it. They are proud of what they accomplished. And like the artists of the world, God says one day He will write His name on me….a finished masterpiece designed by the creator of the universe with works for me to do.

I’m so encouraged that the great potter plans to make a masterpiece and won’t stop until I’m complete.  I can’t wait to be that finished product….that masterpiece that glorifies Him….and I pray that He will be glorified in my life….even while I’m still a work in progress.

That is true for all of us.  We are a work in progress and the potter will not stop until His work of art is complete.  God’s working in your life.  Celebrate that today because one day we will see what God has done!!!

Fighting Fear

I’ve lived for over 53 years…I thought I had seen it all.

I remember clearly the images of the Vietnam war on the news each night.   I remember practicing “emergency fighting feardrills” in my early elementary years, where we would hide under our desks and put our head between our knees in case there was a tornado or some kind of threat.  I remember that sick uneasy feeling in my stomach when I heard preacher’s say that the Communist’s were going to overtake America and that they would kill all Christians.  I remember growing up in the “Cold War” when  the threat of nuclear war seemed inevitable.

Most of all… I remember 9/11 and the fear it instilled in me.  Not fear for myself but of the fear for my children and grandchildren.

I thought I saw it all but to be honest, I’ve never seen a time when fear is so dominant in our lives than it is today.  This week I’ve watched as radical Muslims have killed hundreds in Iraq.  I’ve watched as fear begins to rise in the cultures of the world….fear of man, fear of economic crisis, fear of disease.   It seems as if most of our life we are fighting fear.

Fear is in the very air we breathe.

No one is immune to the temptation to fear.  We are surrounded by the opportunities to fear.  Companies downsizing, layoffs all around, economies is crisis, Ebola spreading…..shall I go on?  Fears are abundant!

As much as I want to say we are in unprecedented times… I really can’t.  This is nothing new.

King David lived in days when his very life was often on the line.  He found himself, more than once, running for his life.  Fear was part of his reality too, but he made choices to deal with the fears.

This Psalm is one of them.

O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me.  My foes attack me all day long.  I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me.  But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?            Psalm 56

In verse 3 he writPsalm-56-3-Bible-Versees, “but when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”  David never said he didn’t fear or that fear wasn’t real for him.  He gave us his choice when fears arrive.  When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.  What a profound and rich statement of faith.  When all I see around me is an opportunity to fear I will choose to trust the God who loves me. 

So what is your choice when fear comes, because it will.

What do you do?

Do you fret, get anxious, drink too much, pace the floor, take a sedative, panic!  What do you do?  It’s a choice you know.

Fear will come, what will you do when it arrives?

David said, “When I am afraid I will put my trust in YOU!”

What will you choose?

Heal The Wound But Leave The Scar

Earlier this month I posted the following statement on my Facebook wall.

Listening to throw- back Thursday on Proclaim FM… They are playing Michael W Smith’s “Friends are Friends” song. Suddenly… I am over whelmed with memories of a time in my life that I buried a long time ago… a time when I was known as Mr. Lee. He’s been dead for 20 years now.

I had posted that as a simple statement of the fact that the song brought back some memories of a time in my life when I was the Administrator of a Christian School. I had a few comments to my post about how that time in my life wasn’t all bad and I basically shouldn’t think of it as a negative time in my life.

Let me make something very clear…I don’t. 

TCAI don’t view it as a negative time in my life at all, but there are some memories from that period of my life that I would like to forget forever.  To be honest, there are things that I have honestly blocked out of my mind.  I will have former students come up to me and remind me of something I did or something happened in the school and I just don’t remember many of those events.  No offense to any former student or staff member during my tenure there.  It is just some of those memories I’d really just rather forget.   That includes both the good and bad memories.

I hold that time in my life as very precious and it took years for me to be able to move on.  It took me years to come to grips with the loss of my ministry.  When a song like the one mentioned above comes on and the memories flood my mind it brings back the hurt that I caused and it reminds me once again of my failure in my ministry.

God has been very gracious to me and has allowed me to move on.  The hurt is not what it once was and there are periods of times in my life that I don’t remember the hurt at all.  God has taken away much of the pain but the one thing He has not done is remove the spiritual scars that I earned during that time in my life. 

Truth is… I have many scars.

Not as often as in the past and honestly the only time I see the scars that I carry is when those memories are stirred by a conversation.  Or as in this example, a song.  The memories can be so vivid and that they  take me right back there again. I usually wrestle with the Lord a little, wondering what is the purpose of this remembering.

Why do we need to feel it all and hurt so much again? Now, it never goes away, there is always pain, but it may not be as intense as it can be sometimes. Something reminds us and the pain comes again. What is the Lord’s purpose in those painful memories and why are they still necessary?

Over the past few years I believe that I am coming to terms with accepting these memories.  I am starting to understand that these memories come up so we can remember not to lose our compassion for others, especially when there are many people are struggling in their life. Maybe we need to spend more time praying for others who we know are hurting.  Maybe we need to reach out and give a hand to one of these people.  It obvious that sometimes it takes a lot for the Lord to get our attention off our selves and put our focus on others.

I want to keep my scars.  Not from a sense of pride but for a reminder of what happens when you take your eyes off of Jesus Christ.  I have always been amazed that Jesus kept his physical scars.

Did you ever wonder why He kept the scars?  If He was the son of God, why not completely heal those hands and feet.  Why bear the scars?  Why did Jesus keep the scars, show the scars and why does He through eternity keep those scars?

Was it simply to show them that he was the same person that had been crucified?  Was it simply to historically verify that the same person who had been brutally treated, died, was buried, came to life again? Or was there a My Scarsdeeper meaning in his scars that he so willingly showed his disciples?

The most obvious reason He showed His disciples the scars, and continues to wear the scars even in eternity is because scars tell a story. Probably if each of us to survey our own body, we would be able to tell the story of virtually every scar that shows.  The reason for that – scars tell a story.

We all have wounds in our hearts, either from sin in our lives or painful things that happen along the journey. Whatever the wound is from is not important, what is important is that we have that scar to remind us of what God taught us through the pain.

My prayer is that each wound the Lord heals in my life I only hope He leaves the scar so I won’t forget.  Our scars should lead us to honor God for His mercy and remind us of His love and mercy for us.  They should lead us to have compassion for others.  

I thank the Lord for leaving the scars in my life.  I hope that they continue to tell a story of God’s forgiveness and healing in my life. 

May this be your prayer as well. May we always ask God to heal the wound but leave the scar.

Life Is A One Time Offer, Use It Well

Depression took another life yesterday.  Robin Williams is no longer with us.

Who can pretend to understand the brilliance like  Robin Williams had?  Meteoric, volcanic, fast, furious and funny.

Perhaps there is a price for such brilliance.

As I read about his life today, it is apparent that Robin Williams had lived for a long time with a darkness at the periphery of his vision.

I could not help but reflect on the fact that life is sshort-life-quotes-1hort.  

The Bible says repeatedly that it’s like a vapor, a mist that is quickly gone.  We are here for just a few years and then…..we are gone. 

Doesn’t seem fair but that is the way it has been since the beginning of time.

Robin Williams obviously was dealing with more than I can understand but what I do know is that all of the success and fame did not bring him the happiness and contentment he was looking for.  He was searching for something more than what he accomplished.

What do you think he was looking for?

I have lived long enough and have experienced enough loss that I am keenly aware that this life is a one time offer, use it well.  I am also at the point in my life that I am looking towards the next phase in my life and I realize that many of the options I had in life I once considered possible are not.

So… life is short…  what do you want?  What do you want to do?  What do you want to be remembered for?  What do you want to accomplish?  

I think, if we were honest, most of us would reply, “I DON’T KNOW!”

Our simple answers of wanting happiness, success, significance and other words freely spoken in our culture just don’t get to the real heart of the question.  Many philosophers have asked this and tried to answer it from their perspective.  It begins with “Why am I here?”, “What’s my purpose?” and ends with ultimate destiny, but let’s not goFigure-Out-What-You-Want-to-Do-With-Your-Life-in-8-Easy-Steps there today.  I would rather get to the heart of the question.

These are questions I’m pondering as I enter this next phase of my life.   What do I want?

It’s a hard question!  I could easily respond, I want to be happy.  I want to be remembered.  I want to do something significant with my life, but honestly…maybe too honestly…none of those are in my control.  

They are the things I hope will happen, but I can’t pursue them.  It just doesn’t work that way.

How about you ? What do you want?  

At the core of who we are comes down to the fact that we all want meaning. We all want to know our lives are not a waste. We want to matter.

Built into us as humans is a desire for something more than food and comfort.  We want to matter!  That’s not an animal instinct.  That comes from our Creator.  He made us to ask this question. God made us with a desire for more and it’s not success, a title, a name that’s remembered, a lot of money, a nice house or car.

It’s none of these things.

I personally believe that true contentment in this life can only be found in having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

As we ponder the death of a celebrity that was as gifted as Robin Williams,  we have to accept the fact that all of his success was still not enough for him to feel content in this life.  I have my personal opinions on where he will spend eternity, but I am not going to judge Robin Williams… like all of us, he will have to give an account of his own life when he stands before his Creator.  For all of his talent and for all of his success he will still need the very same grace that we all need to be reconciled back to God.

My prayer is that for anyone reading this will accept the gift of salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.  Find your contentment in this short life through that relationship with Him. 

Because this life is a one time offer, use it well. 

Live What You Believe

The month of July seemed to just fly by.  My wife and I have been so busy this summer that I am afraid we are going to be knee deep in snow before we know it.  I really have not had time to write like I used to julybut I guess that is alright because we have accomplished so much this summer.  My wife and I have purged the house of  “stuff” we have accumulated over the years.  We had an epic garage sale that was one for the history books.  We had a tremendous turnout to the sale and it was a great success.

Somewhere along the line I had another birthday come and go.  I am at the point in my life that I really don’t pay any attention to the birthdays as they come and go.  About the only thing I look forward to is some of the “Happy Birthday” notes sent to me from friends and family.  One of those wishes came from a friend from my college years that I had lost contact with over the years and I was surprised to hear from him. 

He asked if I had any wisdom to impart that I’ve gained in my many years.

My first response and thought was nope.

I pondered what I could possibly share. What wisdom have I gained? What words can I share that I haven’t already shared?

I’ve got nothing.

I’ve spent weeks since my birthday, going round and round about what I could write that would express the wisdom I have gained in my 50 plus years. What I have learned in these years that I can pass on to my grandchildren and anyone else that might read this?

Then today it hit me….while I was thinking back to a friend that had a birthday close to mine.  Sadly he is no longer here.  We lost him all too soon.  I thought back to the words I spoke at his funeral.

A simple sentence that I still believe sums it all up…

You can say what you think but you’ll live what you believe.

LiveBelieveThat’s it. It’s funny that I share that in a blog post. I’ve said multiple times that it is really easy to sit behind the keyboard and act like you’ve got the world on a string. For over 5 years I have posted thoughts and hopefully, shared the struggles too.  Social media has exploded over the years.  Now more than ever before I believe that statement has to be our filter. It’s easy to only post the great moments, the times when everything is going great.  But it is hard to write and share when things are going horribly wrong.  Hopefully you’ve seen my not so great moments through the words I write.  Hopefully, everyone will see my intent is to live what I believe and that the words I wrote were not just words on a page.

Either way, I hope that whenever my number is called and the Lord calls me home, those that knew me personally or from afar will all be able to say the same thing.  I hope they will say that I said what I thought and it matched the way that I lived and what I believed.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just speak highly of my wife, I honestly treasure and honor her above all others.

I hope you’ll see that I wasn’t bragging on my kids and my grandchildren, I made it my goal to treasure each moment and never leave a doubt in their mind as to how I felt about them.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t throw around the word “friend” like it’s something you accept on a social media site. I believed that relationships are important and that people – no matter who they are – matter.

I hope you’ll see that I didn’t just talk about faith to be high and mighty. I live a life filled with questions, doubts, struggles, fears and wrestled through the journey to be not high and mighty, but second and humble.

So that’s the best I’ve got.

The calendar turned on me and I am another year older.

It’s another chance to say what I think and most importantly….

Live what I believe.

Footsteps of Grace

I remember when I learned my first real lesson about grace.  I guess I should say that it was the first time I really understood the concept of grace.

I heard my mom’s footsteps outside of my bedroom door.  I knew it was time to pay the piper.  I took something that wasn’t mine.

I had been holed up in my bedroom for hours because I knew that I had to face my mom and give account for my actions.  She was going to kill me (or so I thought).

graceQuivering lower bottom lip.  Embarrassment on my face.  Tears forming in my eight year old eyes.  I opened my bedroom door.

It was judgment time….

While my human nature was screaming “I DIDN’T DO IT”, there was a still small voice.  It softly whispered “you know you are guilty… accept the penalty. ”

My mom motioned me to come and sit on her lap. She then wrapped her arms around me and simply, softly whispered that she knew what I did.  She explained that she knows what she is saying when she asks me to not do certain things.  She told me of the punishment I deserved.   She then told me that she loved me.  She told me that it was okay and that I had to make things right with the person that I wronged.

She wasn’t going to kill me.

A lesson taught and a lesson learned.

Grace.

Suddenly I was back in bed, my heart and spirit were still intact. 

Even now, some 45 years later,  there aren’t many days that go by that I don’t remember that event in my life.  It has convinced me that a parent’s love is a lot like that of God.

How many times have I done what I knew I should not have done?  How many times has it gone as predicted? How often have I experienced God’s grace in those circumstances? God has every reason to hold my every foolish decision and move over me. My list of wrongs is much longer than the list of things I get right. 

Every day I experience and appreciate  grace beyond my understanding.

Grace.

There’s only grace
There’s only love
There’s only mercy
And believe me,
it’s enough…

-Matthew West

I Am Cleveland (Thoughts on Lebron)

It’s been over 48 hours now.   You and the rest of the world now know that Lebron is coming home.

I wanted to write about this yesterday but this is my first opportunity to get enough time to gather my thoughts together and put it all into words.

Before I really get into it, I need to unpack my mind of a few things.  Hopefully you’ll stick around for the whole post. Especially if you’re not from Cleveland or Ohio.  Even if you swore you’d never forgive what Lebron did or if you, like me, could care less about NBA basketball.

I need to make sure everyone knows… I AM CLEVELAND.  However, IACI was not born in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was born in Sandusky, Ohio.  That is about 60 miles from Cleveland.  Lebron James was born in Akron, Ohio which is about 40 miles from Cleveland.  Lebron says he is coming home and if “home” is 40 miles away from Cleveland then I will take liberty and say I am from Cleveland as well.  I mean what does 20 miles make when it comes to being home?  That being said, I have no ties to Cleveland other than the fact that it is “in Ohio”.  

My first loves of sports teams did not start in Cleveland, they were found in Baltimore.  Where Johnny Unitas threw the football and the Orioles were playing in the World Series. I did what kids have done since the beginning of time… I just followed where the championships were won and became a bandwagon fan.  Not because of the love of the team but because at the time that was all you could watch on TV.

Then as the championships faded away and those Baltimore teams fell into mediocrity, I became less and less interested in following them.  I could not identify with them. Then just like the first time you realize the existence of girls, my twelve-year-old mind and heart started searching  for something real, something I could love forever, something I could identify with.

I found it… or rather it found me in the city of Cleveland.

I don’t need to go through the list of heartache the City of Cleveland has endured cleveland-city-1when it comes to sports. The list is long and heartbreaking. I can tell you where I was when a majority of them happened. The City itself has had it’s share of tough times. It has rebounded and fallen again. It seems like just when the sun starts to shine on Cleveland, something happens and the clouds arrive again. I think that is why the people who love Cleveland live and die (more die than live) with their beloved sports teams. It’s their escape.  No matter how bad a team is, each season begins with it a hope that this is the year.  That “just once before I die” finally comes true.

It’s well documented but Lebron was one of our own.  He knew our long history of failure.  In a way that was both unhealthy and unfair, we thought he was going to be the guy.  He was just out of high school and we thought the storybook ending of one of our own delivering the thing that has eluded the city for so long was perfect.  I have always maintained that I wasn’t mad about his “decision” to leave. I was mad about HOW he went about it.  The “Decision” that took place four years ago wasn’t supposed to happen.

For the past four years I have always felt that Lebron was never comfortable in the role of villain.  He never wore that well.   He regretted the decision but it was something he had to do. Don’t we all chase something at some point in our lives? Sometimes it turns up as expected, but often it does not.  I always believed that Lebron would someday return, I just didn’t think it would happen now.

As the days passed the tension in Cleveland began to build.  I believed that if he chose Miami or anywhere else this time, it would crush Cleveland once again and I braced myself for that to happen.  This was not the 2010 decision.  He remained quiet.   Social media, national media and fan hysteria began to build like a title wave.   For days, twitter was a constant refresh and sports talk radio was filled with talk of Lebron.  Where was he?  What was he doing?   Who wewtam1100re the sources?   How would we know?   Web sites crashed.   Planes were tracked.  It was all a bit too crazy.

Then on Friday, I was driving back from Elyria with Cleveland Radio blaring in the background.  I also had my phone on just in case some news broke.  In a “where were you” moment, a “breaking news” alert came across the radio and my phone rang.   I listened as my brother-in-law (a devout Piston fan) yelled into the phone, “Your boy is coming home.”  Even he admitted that it was good for the people of Cleveland.

One after another after another, tweets linking Lebron’s essay on SI.com.  Apparently, Lebron wrote a letter explaining his decision and it was used as a press release.  The local radio hosts were going insane. It was a moment I will never forget.

And then they read the letter…..  (Click here to read)

I was smiling ear to ear as they began to read Lebron’s words.  Chills covered my arms and legs, as the radio host james16closed out the final words of his letter, he couldn’t finish.  He was choked to tears.  He paused, gathered himself and finished it out.  I understood everything he was feeling because I was misty eyed too.

Lebron was coming home.

But the emotion I was feeling wasn’t about Lebron… this wasn’t about basketball and it certainly wasn’t about sports.  This was about a love for a city.  This was about the city of Cleveland and it’s people.

I said this before and I say it again….with every fiber of my being, this is not about the Cleveland Cavaliers.  For me it’s not.  I am not even a fan of the NBA.  Oh sure… I sort of paid attention when Daugherty, Nance, Price, Hot Rod and Harper played for the Cavs many years ago.  But I am not even sure I will watch much more NBA now that Lebron is coming home than I did this past year… which was almost none.

I’m sure there are people who celebrated yesterday just because they believe this man will bring home a title.   For me, the last thing I thought about yesterday was titles and wins.  I thought about a City I call “home.” I thought about the financial implications.  I thought about the closed bars, restaurants and businesses that sit around the arena.  In true Cleveland fashion, they have fought and tried to come up with ways to give some kind of life to these establishments.  It’s been a struggle but they never quit.

With those three simple words, “I’m coming home”…  life and hope were delivered to a city I love.

People will come to downtown.  Life will be breathed into a city that desperately needs it.  People began to gather downtown as soon as the announcement went live yesterday.  The Cavs sold out their season ticket packages in record fashion.  Those are dollars that will be invested into the City.  They will arrive early and stay late.  They’ll support local businesses before, during and after the games.  Hopefully, they will continue to see a winning product on the court for years to come.

I can’t speak for all of us that are fans of Cleveland, but I think I can.  They, like me, love the City of Cleveland.sports They’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly and I’m not just referring to their sports teams. They want to see their city alive like we’ve seen it before. They want Cleveland to be something other than a punchline or report of some bad press. They know the beauty that lies on the shores of Lake Erie. We’ve heard all about the “mistake” by the lake but we know the “potential” of what Cleveland can be.

I don’t know who’ll read this. I don’t know what city you’re from.  Maybe it’s a city that has always been on top.  It’s easy to cheer for a winner… it’s tough to taste heartbreak and loss.  Maybe you rolled your eyes at the endless string of Lebron posts on social media sites yesterday.  Maybe you’ve never understood “Cleveland Fans” or their reactions to the misery. 

If you feel the need to hold up your hand and show how many championships your team may have won and/or you feel the need to always make Cleveland the butt of a joke then you just don’t get it and I feel sorry for you.  Because you will never understand nor appreciate what it is to be a Cleveland fan.

For one day, for a few crazy hours, Cleveland fans lost their mind.  Emotions ran wild and this time it was mostly positive.  Frustrations were released.  Like I said, many probably are dreaming of championships and now place a huge weight back on the very broad shoulders of Lebron James.   Fair or unfair, that challenge is going to be his responsibility to make it happen.

Today… I celebrate for the City of Cleveland.  I am glad that Lebron is coming home.

After all… I am Cleveland.

The Broken Parts of Us

One night last week I was using super glue to fix and re-attach the handle to an antique porcelain tea-pot.  As hard as I tried, I cophoto-1uld not press the parts together hard enough to make the cracked lines disappear from the handle.  It frustrated me because this was such a nice collectors piece and I was disappointed in the results of my work.  I knew that it was broken and that I would never be able to get the true value of the piece because it was flawed but I wanted it to look better than it ended up looking. The handle was re-attached with all the skill and effort I could muster but it was forever flawed and it never would be as perfect as it once was.  It will forever carry the scars of the broken handle until one day when it will be thrown away and discarded with the trash.  I guess that should be expected because the once perfect little tea-pot had been damaged and whenever something is damaged it never really is “as good as new”.  Yes, it was functional and could be used again but it never again would be defined as in “mint condition”.

I placed the tea-pot on a shelf to dry for the night and I never gave it another thought.

The next morning, I was driving to the BMV to renew my license and I had the radio on.  Some preacher was talking but I was not listening to it at all.  The radio was just blaring but it was just background noise as I was thinking about what I had to accomplish for the day.    As this man finished his message, he closed in prayer… and while I was not really paying attention something made me clear my thoughts and I focused on the words of his closing prayer.  I heard him say these fateful words…

Lord, don’t allow me to hide the broken parts of me that I need to see.

Uh oh… I just got spiritually slapped up along the side of the head. 

What did he just say? What in the world does, Lord, don’t allow me to hide the broken parts of me that I need to see” mean anyway?  Flashes of my broken parts suddenly flood my thoughts.  Many of my broken parts are still lying right where I left them years ago… never fixed or cleaned up.  Just lying there, dormant in the recesses of my memory.  Some of my broken parts have been safely locked up in the corners of my mind.  Protected… safe and secure from further damage.  Some of the memories of my broken parts are like a puzzle… missing pieces that create empty spaces where something once belonged. 

Yes, many of my broken parts have been glued back together.  Some of these broken pieces you hardly see the crack but like the tea-pot, the scars of the damage will forever be there.

Broken parts of me that I have been hiding for years.

At least that is what I thought.

Then I realized that besides God there is one person in my life that knows all of my broken parts.  I mean ALL of my broken parts.

Yikes. 

I’m pretty sure my wife shouldn’t have to deal with the broken parts alone.super glue  She’s amazing, but that just isn’t fair. There’s a lot of weight there for her to carry.  She deserves better than that.  Plus she cannot carry enough super glue to fix me.

Not good.  Not good at all.

I don’t know what the standard for amount-of-people-that- should-know-your-broken-parts is, but I am guessing that one isn’t anywhere close.  There should be a community of people, brothers, friends around me that know those broken parts and are okay with them. People that know those ugly things and love me anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I know folks that love me….they just don’t know the broken parts.

It’s not how we were meant or designed to live.  I know that God knows and He doesn’t want us to bury those broken parts in our hearts.  He wants to fix them.  Like the tea-pot He wants us to be functional again.

God knows our sadness and the brokenness we try to hide from Him.

I have spent the greater part of the week since these events thinking about what lesson can I take from these illustrations and I have come to this conclusion.  I think we all try to put out the “best” of what we are for others to see.  We try to convince people that all is ok with us and the truth is they have no idea of the burden and weight of the world we carry on our shoulders due to those things we hide.  We try to hide that part of us we consider broken.  Like a discarded toy in the bottom of the toy box, we think we have buried it but the truth is all of that “broken stuff” that we carry in our heart and in our mind keeps us from being who we are meant to be.

So how do we fix these broken parts of us?  As I thought about it this week I just wish that God would talk to me directly and say, ” David… these things need addressed and you have to do quit hiding these things I want to fix” .

Honestly? I never understood what people meant when they said “I heard God’s voice.”  Because I never have.

I guess I always imagined that it would be a booming, loud shout from the heavens above sort of thing. Or maybe a smooth, soft and gentle whisper, like an easy listening radio DJ.  Or I’d be walking down the street and a bush would blow up in flames and out would pop Jesus!

I don’t know, really.  I am not sure what I would ever imagine God talking to me would be like. But a definite, audible voice, right? Yes. I assumed I would hear a voice.  And well, sorry, but no. Can’t say that ever happened. 

But make no mistake God was talking to me all this time.  I believe He was talking to me through the people He put in my life.  I believe that over the years God has sent people in my life to help me fix the broken parts of who I am.  My wife is a prime example of someone who has come into my life that has healed many of my broken parts. The problem is that there is more of me that needs fixed.  As I look back of the road of this life, there have been other people who were sent to lo7 daysok for me. They were there for the broken parts. I just never shared them. They did their part, I didn’t do mine.

I have always been waiting for the right moment, the right time, the right day to deal with the things I need to fix in my life.  That “someday” isn’t coming.  Life has taught me this lesson well. ‘Someday’ is never coming. If I want to be happy and healthy – if I want to love the work I do – if I want great relationships with my family, my community, myself and God, I can’t wait for some magical event to make it so.  It’s not gonna happen. The life I want doesn’t happen by accident.  I need to allow God to work in my heart and expose those parts of me that need fixed.

So today as I sit here at my desk, I look at that broken handle on the tea-pot and suddenly my heart is over-whelmed with the these words…

IN THE BROKEN PARTS, I AM THERE.

I do not recall thinking that up on my own.  I do not recall ever writing those words.  But what I do know is the all-knowing and incredibly moving emotion that is washing over me.

Maybe God does talk to me. Maybe not in a booming way.  Maybe with no harps.  He is not popping out of burning bushes, or soothing me with his easy listening voice.

But He is here.

He talks to me through broken handles. He speaks to me through random radio programs.  He talks to me by the people He puts in my life.  He is everywhere and anywhere, and He is most present in those places I expected He had abandoned.  Hiding in my wounds, resting in my broken parts, fully and beautifully alive.

He is there for you as well.  Placing people in our life and speaking to us through the most random things.  He is waiting for us to respond.  He is waiting for us to allow Him to deal with those things we try to hide even from ourselves.

Today is the day… open up and allow Him to make into all we can be for Him.

Because make no mistake… IN ALL OF OUR BROKEN PARTS, HE IS THERE.

 

 

 

 

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