Month: June 2012

Influence

For most of us who live in Northwest Ohio, it really isn’t that big a deal.  We are used to it.  Every opportunity we have… we carefully plan our escape.  We can’t wait to get away from here because we are bored and think there is nothing to do.  So we plan expensive vacations to visit the Navy Pier and other sites of Chicago, Times Square and Ground Zero in New York City and the Disney machine and beaches of Florida.  These and many other sites of destination are all in our dreams and in our plans to escape the confines of Northwest, Ohio.   However, we fail to realize is that when we make the trek to our planned destination East, West , North or South, we are passing thousands of other people who are heading our way.  Coming to the great place of Northwest Ohio.   Like it or not, we are in a place where thousands come for vacation.   For many people,  Cedar Point, Kalahari Water Resort, Put-in-Bay and South Bass Island of Lake Erie and other attractions make this  the “Vacation Land” of  the mid-west.  Boating, fishing, good food, shows, music and thrill rides….everything you could want for distraction and entertainment.  It truly is an amazing place.  Those of us that live here forget that.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were in Sandusky, Ohio.  We were doing some shopping and we were heading to the Mall.  Now the stretch of road that we have to drive from the expressway to the Mall normally takes us about 2  1/2 minutes in the winter.  In these early days of summer and the vacation season, it took us just under 25 minutes to travel the same distance.  Traffic is horrible and if you pull off to one of the many strip malls along the way it is almost impossible to get back onto the road again.  It is a frustration but one I am willing to put up with because I know that this is good for our economy.  All the hotels are booked and these visitors are pumping dollars into Northwest Ohio.  This is a good thing.

On our journey to the Mall, we decided to stop off at Cold Stone Creamery.  It is a treat we do not normally do, but I had received a gift card and the timing was perfect.  So we pulled off the road and into the strip mall.  After we finished our ice cream, we got back into our van and pulled up to get back on the road to the Mall.   Passing by us, as we looked for an opportunity to break into the long line of traffic, are thousands of others.  Old and young from all over the country. All gathered to see this amazing place and rest or play for a few days.  We sat there for a while trying to take our chance and get moving down the road again.

As I am watching all these people pass us by, I start to wonder about them.  Where are they from? What are their lives like?

I realize that as we move through each day a bit of us is left behind in the lives of those we encounter. We can either leave a smile or a frown on the face we encounter.  We can find a new friend or someone who wishes we would just go away.  Moment by moment and day by day we leave bits of our lives in our wake as we encounter other lives.  What follows in our wake?  What memory did we leave?  How did we touch that life?  What did we leave behind?

As a man who is part of a greater kingdom I often think about these things.  I’m representing what God has done in my life  as I leave bits of my life behind each encounter with another person.  Have I drawn them closer to the kingdom of God or pushed them away?   I have heard it said that many times people don’t reject Jesus Christ.  They reject the Jesus Christ they see in you.  As I apply that to my life, I am challenged to have my walk through life be an example of what God has done in my life.  I want to leave a trail of encounters that touch other lives in a positive way.

I wonder, do you realize the impact you make in the lives of those you meet?   Do you walk as citizens of the kingdom of God in a way that draws others to Christ or pushes them away? 

This is the challenge for you and I today…

“For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.”                                                                           John 13:15

 

Choose A New Direction

Even after more than three years of writing this blog, I am still amazed at the direction it has taken me.  Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been shocked at the total number of people who have visited my blog site.  I have already exceeded my record of monthly total visitors and have set new daily records five out of the last seven days.  In the past six months, I have had more visitors than the previous two years combined.  It has been fun to watch.

I do not want to come across sounding brash or over-confident about this.  Truth be told, I am extremely humbled by it.  I am aware that my writing skills are not up to par to ever be truly considered a writer and most times the thoughts in my head come across somewhat different when they get translated by my hands on the keyboard.   

I look back at the time when I started to write.  I  intended to make my writings private and only for my children to read.  I called it “Letters to my Children”.  I started to write and share some stories about my life.  My children do not remember the time in my life when I was in the ministry and they are filled with memories of a man who was in a free-fall in his life.  Their memories tainted by images of a man who lost his ministry, his marriage and a man who was consumed by bitterness and unforgiveness.    Their thoughts poisoned by gossip and accusations from people who are Christians and once called their father a friend.  Now that my children are now on the path of adulthood, they have shared some of the things that they were told.  I am sure they have only shared a small portion of what they truly endured in order to not have to relive the memories or to not stir up the past. 

I know that one day I will stand before God, He will address my sin and my responsibility in how I dealt with my children.  However, there will be others that will have to give account for their actions that affected my children.  I have had a number of these people come to me over the past few years and ask for my forgiveness.  Honestly, I had forgiven them years ago in my heart, but the damage has been done.  The rumors and accusations simply were not true.  But that does not change the fact that my actions and theirs impacted my children more than I want to admit.

Father’s Day is still one of the most difficult days for me to endure.  Over the past few years it has been better.  I think that my children have seen the change in me and that I am no longer wandering  in the backside of the desert like Moses.  That still doesn’t mean everything is ok.  My children have emotional and spiritual scars and as a father I am responsible for many of them.  

Now back to my blog site…  I shared that I have written a private blog for my children.  It was during that process that God started to melt my heart.  It was during those early days of writing that God held me in His grasp and helped me to ask for forgiveness and to forgive those that hurt me.  He softened my heart and took away my bitterness.  I struggled for a few years with forgiving myself but eventually, that too was taken away. 

Make no mistake… sin has its consequences.  On this earth, I will pay for many of these sins for the rest of my life.  In eternity, I know that God has forgiven me and I will be judged by the One who is allowed to judge. 

As a divorced man, I was no longer qualified to be a pastor.  This was made very clear to me over the years.  I believe that a man is “called” to be a pastor and I never believed or felt that I was “called’ into the ministry to be a pastor.  However, I still longed to be involved in a ministry.   I was not the man that I once was.  I was more than I had been and I still had something to give.

God’s Love will break you.

On a whim, I started another blog called “Maybe It’s Just Me”  It was blog to where I could share my perspective on my journey to find forgiveness and how I dealt with the spiritual scars that I had earned in that process.  Soon I changed the name to “It’s Just Me” to better reflect that this was who I was and not just my perspective.  Just as I have grown and journeyed  down a path filled with stepping-stones and stumbling blocks, I wanted to show that I had changed and God was working in me to soften my heart.  It was great to just put my beliefs and what God was doing in my life in words.

I’ve learned that God’s direction isn’t a path clearly marked out for years to come, but instead its guidance for the moment.  God’s direction for life are much like a GPS… “In 1/4 mile turn left…”

The directions of the GPS are as you need them.

Walking with God is much like that.  It’s not a course revealed for the next 40 years, but a walk of steps and turns and moments.  Each day is a new day.  Finding God’s direction for you in the moments, in the encounters of your life.   As it clearly has done for me, the direction, as it looks to you, might go around in circles for a bit, but God has a plan and it’s only revealed as we come to each turn in our journey.

That leads me to announce the  latest change in my blog.  I have made a change that will probably be the last one as it concerns my writingI have changed the name to, “Footprints of a Legacy Left Behind”  I chose the name as a reminder to me that I leave a legacy wherever I go.  I leave a “footprint” and  an influence on those I come in contact with.    My prayer is that for the rest of my life that I will leave a legacy of faithfulness and love for Christ in the footprints I leave behind.

For so many years, I had been caught up in waiting for God to open doors for me to be able to teach from God’s Word again, that I made myself walk that desert longer than I needed to.  Somewhere near the absolute end of my journey is where I began to find myself.  I realized its okay to start over. 

The same is true for you as well. 

For now… this is my ministry.  I embrace it and am thankful for it.  Now I know that I am not doing anything epic or maybe not anything significant that changes lives, except for mine.  But it is what God has provided for me where I am allowed to express my love for Him.  I have a ways to go in growing in Jesus Christ but I honestly want to live for Him with the same compassion that He had when He died for me. 

Maybe it’s not to late for my children to see that.  Hopefully there will be clear footprints of a legacy that I show for the rest of my life.

You don’t need to know the route, you simply need to obey God’s direction for today and forget about tomorrow.  You may not know all the turns and twists in your route, but you simply need to trust the guidance you receive as you walk with God through the moments of life.  

Walking with God is a fascinating adventure.  You never know who you will meet, where it will take you.

Want a new direction in your life?

It’s up to you.

 

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6