Month: October 2012

Leave Your Mark

It is evident to me that, day by day, we leave a piece of ourselves behind in our tracks.  Each day we leave a mark and piece of ourselves in the lives of the people we come in contact with.

Here is a really strange question for you to ponder:

How are you leaving your mark?

Strange question to ask, isn’t it?  

What are you leaving behind you?  How has your presence affected the life of those you work with?  The man in the next car on the freeway?  The cashier at the gas station?

Each day, each moment, we leave our mark into the lives of others.  

What are you leaving behind?  

What will others remember about you?

How have you changed other lives by your influence?

How is eternity changed as you live your days?

What will be the legacy you leave behind?

Better Than a Hallelujah

It’s a quiet night around the Lee household tonight… Pam and I had our grandson over the last couple of days.  A great time of playing and watching him explore and grow.  It is amazing to see how a budding toddler mind processes things.  I have been so blessed with having him in my life.  He has a way of bringing a smile to my face and melting my heart in one swoop.

In celebration of surpassing 400,000 visitors to this blog, I want to post a true reflection of what is going on in my heart. I want to do this for the sole reason to make sure that I have a documented record of the fact that I feel that the season of life I am going through right now are the best times of my life.  

I have to admit that I wasn’t always confident that I would be around to enjoy the blessings that I have in this life.  Having the wonderful joy of having my grandson and the rest of my family be a part of my life is something I do not take for granted.  I have created some messes in this life and tonight as I sit at my desk trying to think of a way to put my thoughts into words, I am so thankful for the time that God has given me.  I know that it is only by His grace am I here.  

So how I can capture the events and all of the wonderful aspects of my life and never forget them?  These are truly the days that make up my favorite things in life.  I keep reminding myself that when life was so hard years ago and when I thought life would never be good again… I have come to realize that love and forgiveness heals everything.  

I honestly believe that.  I believe that love and forgiveness heal all things.  However; they don’t make everything  perfect.  As I have written before…the bad choices I have made in my life and the sin, which is often the result of my poor decisions, left scars.  These self-inflicted scars that I incurred on my spiritual body cannot be fixed by a Band-Aid and a heavy dose of Neosporin.  All of the bumps, scrapes, bruises and cuts I have experienced in my spiritual life are fixed by the tender loving care of my God and the heavy dose of forgiveness that He provides.   The same is true for you. When we ask God to forgive us for our sin and our transgressions, He does just that.  He forgives and He heals.  He no longer sees the scars of our spiritual life.  They are covered in forgiveness and love.

However; the scars that God no longer sees are still in clear view for those around us on this earth.  Most times the only time I am reminded of the scars of my spiritual life are when other Christians point them out to me.  Which has happened more times than I care to remember.  God is faithful to always truly forgive, man is not.  It has been my experience that most Christians never really forgive other believers for the failures in their life.  People around me, brothers and sisters in Christ are still dealing with me as a failed man.   Even though my first marriage failed over 17 years ago, for many of them, they have not forgiven me. I have men who are serving as pastors, deacons and leaders in their respective churches that still will not talk to me to this very day.  I have tried to re-establish relationships with those who were my friends all those years ago and for the most part it has been to no avail.

There is tension. There is pain.  There are scars.  

Forgiveness is not a Band-Aid you slap on an open wound.  And though forgiveness is something profound, it is not everything.  Healing is a broader process in which forgiveness is a stage.  It is when you learn to love again is when the healing becomes complete. 

I am learning to love again and I am learning to forgive. I am not the man I was all those years ago.  I was given another chance.  In many ways my walk with the Lord is so much more real and personal than when I was in full-time ministry.  I have learned so much and I clearly understand what it means to be a broken man kneeling before God.  Please do not misunderstand me, I am not perfect…far from it.  I still struggle with the “old” David some times.  Like the Apostle Paul, I am sure I will struggle with the man I used to be until the day I die.  I still do things and wonder where my head is at. 

At times I still struggle with wanting to ask God a lot of “why” questions. First and foremost, why has God spared me? Why am I here, enjoying the love of my wife and family? Why would God allow bad things to happen to the people I love?  Why would God take my loved ones while there was so much more life to live? Why did God allow close friends of mine to die from cancer?  Why would God not heal a man of God and allow him to suffer from a depression that would lead to him taking his own life?  I ask these why questions because I know that God has chosen to keep me here when He has chosen to take good servants before me.

The “why” questions are so tough, but I ask them even though I know He is sovereign and in control. I believe God is good and that He has the power to change all of my circumstances.  It is not mine to question God, but in the back of my mind it’s harder to understand when He doesn’t change those circumstances and I have to live with what He has placed before me.  The good and the bad.   I am undeserving of the good things in this life that He has allowed me to be a part of.  I don’t understand it because I am not worthy but there’s a reason for that too—and it’s all out of His love for me.

The reality is that He is in control and is taking care of me. I look at my life and I see the years that I created a lot of damage. The years where I can see the ashes of the man I once was… settle on my children and my family.  To this very day, I can still look back and see the places where God took control when what I was doing was not in His plan or desire for my life.  In spite of my actions, He allowed me to walk out of that dark period of my life into the light of His love. I know that I am a better man because of the experiences that God has allowed me go through.

As I move through the second half of my life, I am reminded of the song, “Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant.  I remember hearing the song for the first time.  I was driving my car and I had to pull over because the lyrics spoke to my heart in such a real way.  I know what it is like to be a broken man and I know what it is like to cry out to the Lord when all I felt around me was misery.  During those times when God saw my broken heart, I am sure to Him my cries were just like the lyrics to this song:

“We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody. Beautiful the Mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts… are better than a Hallelujah”

Those lyrics, “Beautiful the mess we are,” and I immediately thought of the verse, “In our weakness He is strong.”  In my greatest times of weakness He was my strength and my sustainer in this life.   He has allowed me to enjoy the fruits of this life. He has allowed me to overcome some things that I could only do because of His immediate presence in my life.  He has allowed me to love and enjoy this season of my life. He gave me another chance to get it right.

Apart from my primary love for Jesus Christ, I am so thankful for the blessings of this life and the following blessings are really the focus in my life right now…

#1. My wife.  

I have been blessed with such a wonderful woman who is a great mom, friend and partner to me. I am a very lucky man. I have been amazed in this season to watch God’s activity in her life. Her passion for Christ, challenges, convicts and encourages me.  I love that God has given me a front row seat to see His glory shine through her. She is so talented and her heart is so in tune to the things of God.  She’s incredible and I am humbled and thankful to be a part of her life.  Thirteen years — that’s how long we’ve been married to one another.  Thirteen years feels like a life­time, yet in so many ways it seems like not enough — so much has changed —  times change — we’ve changed.  We have had our hard times — we have those times when we both want to go lock our­selves in a room just to get a moment of quiet. We have times when we just don’t know what will come, and times when we wish what had come had not. We have per­se­vered over the hard times we’ve faced and those hard times we faced them together, as one.  It has been the most amazing  13 years of my life.  We have come a very long way and stuck by each other’s side through a lot of challenges. She has shown me what its like to love and be loved and that’s my happiness. It’s all I need to have the most amazing life I can possibly have, and thank her for it. She is, by far… my favorite and my best friend.

#2. My Grandson

I have been so blessed with having him in my life.  When he is at my house and I walk through the door and I see him raise his arms for me to pick him up…I am smitten .   This season of my life is so special to me.  I have to admit that I wasn’t always confident that I would be around to enjoy the blessing that I have in having him be a part of my life. 

My promises to him:  

I promise to pray for him always. I will pray for his health. I will pray for clear direction from God for him. I will even begin praying for the right wife for him, even though that’s years down the road.  Above all, I will pray for his salvation.  I pray that he will discover the grace that comes by faith in Jesus Christ.  Nothing is more important.

I promise to always be there for him. I want to be with him as much as we can be together. The years will go by rapidly, and I want to spend as much time as possible with him. I already have plans of taking him on special trips, to football games, or wherever he would like to go. Of course, I don’t know what paths he will pursue, but I will be there to encourage him and to remind him that he can do anything in God’s strength. It will be so exciting to see how God will direct him and how He will use him.

But I realize that this life is brief. I will be gone for most of his years. I pray that I will leave to him a legacy of love, a legacy of joy, and a legacy that demonstrated a heart committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, can I say that my years with him were not lived in vain.

#3.  My Children

I am thankful for my children.  My love for them is immeasurable and I have enjoyed watching them grow into adults. Parenting is the kind of job for which there is no practice.  You give it your best shot, and trust that it is enough.  You hope that God will make your children resilient enough that they don’t suffer too much from the mistakes you have made. 

Know this… I realize I made mistakes.  Sometimes I pushed too hard; sometimes I did not push nearly enough.  At times, I may have seemed distant. At times, too involved.   Sometimes it may have seemed that one or another of you got all the attention, and you were left on your own. Though I do not really think any of you were loved with any less intensity, I imagine you may have felt neglected or unimportant when my attentions seemed focused elsewhere. 

As a blended family of hers and mine… two girls and two boys… thrown together like a modern-day Brady Bunch (probably a bad analogy… we were not that cheesy…at least I hope that was the case) there was no such thing as “step” anything.  I loved you all equally and tried to be the best “father figure” I could be to you.   

Crystal… she has made me so proud. I am filled with joy when I see the home that she and Clay have made together.  It’s hard to believe that they have been married for over five years.  With Crystal pursuing her teaching career and Clay chasing after a career in music, I know how hard it has been for them, but they make it work.  I am so proud of her academic achievements and the teacher that she has become.  I am so blessed to have been able to watch Crystal grow into the strong Christian woman she is now.    I am equally so proud of Clay and the success he has had so far.  More than anything else, I am so proud to see them build a Christian home and be great parents to Indy.

Nathan… I started writing this on his birthday…October 25th.  That day was so magical 26 years ago when God brought him into my life.  I will never forget holding him in my arms for the first time. He brought such joy in my life… he was always “Dad’s Boy”. The burden that Nathan has had to deal with more than any of other children is the fact that he looks just like me.  I am sorry about that.  I loved watching him play sports throughout the years… He has made me proud.  I see him now setting the course of his future and I pray that he will continue to grow in the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Adam… In many ways he is so much like me and in other ways so different.  He is as independent as I ever was and lives his life that way. He is a driven and goal orientated person.  He lets very few things get in the way of the things he wants out of life.  I am proud of the fact the he is pursuing his degree and I have no doubt he will be very successful in whatever he does in his career.  Like me, he will have to learn life lessons the hard way.  I often wish he would choose an easier path in life and though I don’t agree with some of the decisions he has made in life, I love him dearly and I am proud to have him as a son.

Cassidy… I only have one at home now and I am excited to watch her life unfold. Cassidy is the baby of the family.  She and I have a special relationship… during the early years we were not always on the same page as to who was in control.  We had to come to some “understandings” over those early years.  I have loved to watch her grow and when she reached a critical point in her life where she was making decisions that would determine her future… she chose the right one and lives a committed life for Jesus Christ. 

Cass is very talented…her voice is my favorite female singing voice I have ever heard.  I have yet to listen to her sing without tears streaming down my face.  I pray that never ends.  I assume that she has a few more years to go before she will “leave the nest” and she is now dating a fine young man by the name of Andre Guzman, who loves the Lord as much as she does. I am thankful that he is part of her life. 

When I look at Andre, I see a reflection of a much younger me. Now, I don’t mean he looks like me (Nathan has to carry that burden).   I am referring to his situation in life is very similar to what mine was all those years ago.  A young man, on his own, falling in love with a beautiful girl and trying to find his way down the path to his future.  I found my way and I am confident that he will find his.  Just know that Pam and I will always be here to help along the way.   

For all of you… Your mother and I have been blessed to see you grow and find your way in life.  We have watched you stumble, and tried hard to let you trip and fall but still be there to help with your cuts and bruises, as we did when you were small.  I believe that the hardest thing for a parent to do is to let go—whether it is taking off the training wheels on your first bike, sending you off to camp, watching you go to college, or seeing you walk down the aisle for marriage.

In closing, I am thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.  I am extremely grateful for those of you that consistently read my blog.  God has blessed me more than I ever could have imagined. And yet…while I am thankful I realize that God could change my circumstances. There are no guarantees that He will allow me to be here to see how all of this turns out.  With that being said… never question nor doubt… my life has been full and I have loved the second chance that God has graciously given me.  I live with no regrets.  My prayer is that I will always be true to my God and that I will continue to grow in His grace as long as I live.  May I live the rest of my days as an example of a man who loves his God, his family and pointed others to Jesus Christ. 

If these be the last words I ever write…may this testimony forever be… “better than a hallelujah” to the ears of God. 

 

Under the Influence

It’s been a year.

One year since I received the call that shook me to the core. 

My best friend from my high school years took his own life. 

I was devastated.  I was confused.  I was filled with questions. I was overwhelmed with regret.  I was angry.  I was ashamed.  I was frustrated.  I was hurt.  I was all of these things and more. 

I had already been reeling from the loss of two of my best friends that had passed away in the previous two years.  I was now facing a third pillar of my life being taken from me.  

Bob Emrich, Brian Blakely and now Steve Schueren.

I will forever be grateful for spending 40 years of my life with the pleasure of knowing Steve Schueren.  My third pillar in my life.  Steve was my closest high school friend.  I looked up to Steve and I will always hold him in high regard as a man of God. 

It has been a year… and I so wish I could hear him once again debate the political issues that we face today.  He would have had a field day and he was never at a loss for words when it came to politics or his faith.

All the memories I have shared with him will forever be cherished and remembered.  All of us who knew Steve know that he will live forever in our hearts.

<To Read More About Steve Click Here>

Bryan Blakely was my childhood best friend.  The first pillar in my life.  The days of my early childhood were influenced by his presence in my life.  Not much happened in my life from the age of 5 to 16 that Bryan and I did not experience together.  Somewhere along the age of 16, we started to drift into different directions. Over the next 30 years whenever our paths crossed, we would always talk and we knew that there would always be a special friendship between us, but it would never be the same as it was growing up on that alley between Walnut and Washington Streets in Oak Harbor, Ohio.   He died in June of 2009. 

  <To Read More About Brian Click Here>

About the age of 16, I was introduced to a man who would become so influential throughout my teen years.  My second pillar.  He grew to be not only be my friend but he was no less a father figure in my life.  Our father/son relationship lasted for years.  Bob Emrich loved me as a son and he loved me unconditionally.  God took him home after a battle with cancer.  He wasn’t perfect but he taught me so much and I still miss him everyday.   There is no doubt of his influence in my life.

<To Read More About Bob Click Here>

The pain and loss that is associated with the loss of these men is huge.  A mother shouldn’t have to bury a son, a wife should not have to lose her husband and children should not have bury their father before their time.  All three of these men were gone too soon from this life.  They are missed by many and I have to admit that over the course of the past year, I have felt sorry for myself.  I just could not understand why God chose to take those in my life.  I looked forward to growing old and having those pillars in my life for a long time.

For whatever reason, God sometimes allows people to be taken very quickly from us.  Many times, so fast that we never get the chance to say the things we needed to say.   I am still shocked and in some ways I am still not over their loss.

But this is one truth that I have come to appreciate.   I still find myself under their influence.  I can still hear the laughter and the voice of Bryan as I think of the memories of my childhood.  His humor and his perspective on not taking life too seriously will always be imbedded in my memory.

I find myself listening to music and hearing Bob’s voice encouraging me to be better man.  I can see him giving me the cheat signs that we had made up in order to win at our epic Rook battles or laughing so hard at times we couldn’t speak at the crazy stuff we did.  His influence on me as teenager trying to find his way in life has transcended into an influence that still makes want to be a better man.  He is still here with me… the signs are all around me.

It is no different with Steve.  His influence is still evident in my life.  I became a better student of God’s Word because of Steve.   I still do things that I learned from him from way back in my high school years.  Most importantly, he is part of my “Great Cloud of Witnesses” that is mentioned in Hebrews 12:1.

I am still under their influence.

This has caused me to think about what it means to influence others.

I looked up the word “influence” and the definition says:

“to affect or alter by indirect or intangible means; to have an effect on the condition or development of.”

To have an effect on the condition or development of.  That’s huge!!!  All three of these men had a profound effect my development.

I feel a bigger responsibility today as a result of my relationship with them.  As if I need to re-think decisions that I am making or things that I do as possibly having an effect on others, whether positive or negative.   I need to ask myself what kind of influence am I having on others.  What kind of influence do I have on my wife?  How am I influencing my children? my friends? my co-workers? Will they feel my influence after I am gone from this life?  It’s a little overwhelming to contemplate that I could have the same effect on someone’s condition or development, just like the influence of these men had in my life.  

I hope the Lord continues to teach me how to be a man of influence.  To be someone who is to be remembered.  My hope is to be that better man… that better friend to someone.  To be a voice of influence. To be a shoulder for someone to lean on. To be the one who encourages… to be one that spurs others on to greatness.

Until that happens…I am thankful to always be under the influence of Steve  Schueren… Bryan Blakely and Bob Emrich.

I thank them for the time that they shared with me of their life  and I am forever grateful for the legacy that they passed on into my life. 

For now… I am still here.  I look forward to re-uniting with all of them one day. I cannot help but smile when I think of it.   Steve will offer me the seat next to him… Bryan will be telling stories and Bob will be playing music and sitting at the table with a deck of Rook cards in his hand with a big smile on his face.

I look forward to that day…

Make My Life A Prayer To You

Make my life a prayer to You.
I wanna do what You want me to.
No empty words and no white lies
No token Prayers, No Compromise.

I wanna shine the light You gave.
Thru your Son You sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know You’re really there.

Well I wanna thank You now
For being patient with me.
Oh it’s so hard to see
When my eyes are on me.
I guess I’ll have to trust
And just believe what You say
Oh, You’re coming again, coming to take me away.

I wanna die and let You give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope You gave to me
The love that set me free

I wanna tell the world out there
You’re not some fable or fairy tale
That I’ve made up inside my head
You’re God, the Son and You’ve risen from the dead.

Well I wanna thank You now
For being patient with me
Oh, it’s so hard to see
When my eyes are on me.
I guess I’ll have to trust
And just believe what You say
Oh You’re coming again, coming to take me away.

I wanna die and let You give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope You gave me
I want to share the Love that set me free.

This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made

Good morning.  

Another opportunity to enjoy this life and the moments God has given.  

Celebrate each moment.  

Enjoy the smell of the coffee as it’s brewing. Savor each sip.  Relish the food you have the blessing to eat.  All of it, literally all of it, is provided by God for you to enjoy.  Take a moment as you start your day and simply say, “Thank you” to the God who made all of this for our good and blessing.

I am back from taking a month off from posting to my blog.  I use this time to reflect and re-charge my batteries and make decisions on where I want to take this site for the upcoming year. 

Along the way, I set a new daily record and had more people visit my site this month than any other month since I started.  Seems like I am always referencing a new record…but I only do it to share how much I appreciate all of you that play along.  I also want to take the opportunity to thank the Lord for the blessings He has placed in my life.

The Lord has indeed been very gracious to me and has shown me things this past month that I am anxious to share with you.  But now is not the time, I will share these things as the next few months unfold.  However, I will share this… I will be sharing more personal stories for the next few months and will be documenting some significant events that have taken place in my life.  I want to have a record of some of these events before the details get clouded in the fog of time.

We are blessed and there is no better way to start a day in His kingdom than to say, Thank you to the ONE who made it all possible.