Month: July 2015

A Confession

I’ve made some seriously stupid mistakes.

I know you’re shocked right? You shouldn’t be.

Now I have been told that I don’t look or act like someone who has made stupid mistakes, but I can assure you, I’ve definitely knocked it out of Stupid Mistake Park before – multiple times. I’ve rounded those bases more times than I care to remember.stupid-mistakes

I am sure that everything happens for a reason.  But I cannot avoid the truth. Sometimes the reason for things happening a certain way is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions.

That would be me. I know I’m not alone though. Remember that stupid thing you did that time? I’m not talking about your most embarrassing moment that makes for a cute story at dinner. I’m talking about that big kahuna mistake, the one that could take you down if you ever ran for public office.

I sometimes have a really bad dream.  It is the same dream each time.  All my co-workers are gathered in the conference room, watching  each and every awful secret of my life played out on a big TV screen. The next thing I know, I have nowhere to hide and I just start running away as fast as I can. I can hear them talking about what they are seeing.  I can hear myself talking and telling the joke you privately made about your friend’s baby’s ugly cone head and it didn’t stop there. Not only were they watching my actions and hearing my words, but they could read my thoughts. Yeah, I kept running because I knew it was going to get worse.

It is then I wake up in a cold sweat.  The nightmare is over but I usually toss and turn the rest of the night because it seemed so real. I have had this dream many times in my life. Each time it ends the same way… me running as fast as I can to avoid the truth of my stupid mistakes.

To clarify… when I refer to “my stupid mistakes” I need to come clean and call them what they really were… “my guilty sins”.

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve got a nice, juicy handful of stupid things like that in your past (maybe even from this week). Believe it or not, despite our inclinations to the contrary and how hard we try to hide them, I think that the people who know us best ought to be well-aware of all of confessionthose things in our lives.

However, due to the fact that we all spend a great deal of our time trying to convince everyone we’ve got it all together, sharing this kind of sinful baggage with others doesn’t come naturally for most of us. But whether it comes naturally or not, if you’re on board with the Biblical message of confession, God requires us to verbally unload our sins with Him.

No fun, I know.

Wouldn’t it be even better if we could just pretend we never did that completely stupid thing that night, way back when?

Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just kind of mumble a generic prayer to God every time we screwed up? Oh wait!!! Isn’t that what most believer’s do?  I am convinced that many believer’s have never really confessed verbally the depth and magnitude of the sins in their life to God.  Many times it is masked by the line, “God, please forgive me of all my sins”. 

Now… I do not want to be misunderstood.  I believe that God does forgive us of all of our sin when we have prayed even that simple line.  I just feel that the reason many people struggle with the forgiveness of their past is that they have not verbally laid it at feet of our forgiving God.

if-we-confessWe are, indeed, told to confess our sins to God, who is “faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. But then we are also told, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.

Assuming we all agree that we need to confess our sins to God (even the sins from that night way back when), then this raises two big questions about the need to confess our sins to one another. First, how do we know who to confess to? The second question is why it’s even necessary to air our dirty laundry to others.

For me, the first question of to whom do we confess our sins is fairly easy:  I believe that we need to confess to the sins to another believer that I am accountable to.  I believe in the concept of accountability of one brother to another. I don’t believe you should stand on the corner and confess every single sin you have ever committed to just anyone. I believe you need to confess and be accountable to another believer. Find a brother in Christ if you are a man and a sister in Christ if you are a woman. Find someone you can be held accountable to. That being said… in confession… I don’t do this as often as I should.

JamesRegarding the second question as to the necessity of confessing to each other, why can’t we just confess our sins to God and be done with it? Why does God want us to drag other believers into it?

I think it’s because God understands how easy it is for us to cough out a confession to Him while we stare at the ceiling or to cry our eyes out until we feel like we’ve proven how bad we feel about being such losers. We sort of move on, but we never really know the pain of looking someone in the face and telling the truth about ourselves, nor do we experience the joy of receiving forgiveness in-person.

The aspect of confession has been on my mind and heart all week.  God has reminded me in a clear way that He knows who I am.

He knows who you are.

We’re not fooling Him, and we’d do well to stop trying to fool others.

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Life is Never How You Draw It Up

Life is never how you draw it up.

Today, Saturday… July 11, 2015 will always be a special day for me.  Sometime today I will surpass 500000-sand500,000 visitors to this site. 

To think I would have a blog / website that would have over 500,000 visitors is beyond my comprehension.

It was never my intention.

If you look on the sidebar you will see that it says that I am at 498,363 visitors since September 3, 2008.  Well… in poetic justice it has been stuck on that number for a week or so now.  I have no idea why.  I have tried everything I know to do with the website that tracks such things and to avail it seems to be forever stuck on this number.  My only recourse is to reset the number back to zero.  It is not that important and in some odd way it is better to leave it where it is.  Maybe it is God’s way of keeping me humble. 

Anyway… I have access to the daily number of visitors and I am now only a hundred visitors away.  I will pass the mark sometime today.

A little history…

Writing a blog is hard.   It seems easy but it is hard to maintain and keep going.  It probably is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my walk with Christ.

The last 100,000 visitors took three years to get.  Again… it’s hard.

Most people fail in writing a blog. It is common aspect in the blogosphere.   Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to blog_behind_blogstart a blog and start writing.  Some with the delusional idea that they even want to write a book.  It starts with the premise that they believe they have something to say, something that will be a help and will be an encouragement to another person.  It is done with all the vigor and excitement that they can muster.  The ideas are just flying all over the place. They sit down and empty themselves into a post and when that first post is revised a 100 times they finally post it and in many examples it usually isn’t that bad.  

Then the problem starts.  It doesn’t take them long to realize that writing is hard.  They spent so much emotion and personal information in that first post that they find as they sit at the computer, they are staring at an empty page.   If they are lucky, they may post a few more and then it happens. 

They quit. 

As it does for the vast majority of those that start a blog it sits empty and eventually deleted because of inactivity.  It is like the one-hit wonder of a rock band.  They get one good song and they can’t seem to get past it and eventually the creativity is just a rehash of the original song.  They all just start sounding the same. It is a common problem and one that I struggled with as well.

God has really blessed me with the opportunity to share my faith and I received a lot of encouragement along the way from other believers.  I have made friends that I will never meet in person until I get to heaven as a direct result of this blog.  I also have had my share of detractors.  There are those that have taken the time to be extremely critical of things I would write.  For the most part, I didn’t know those who would be so critical, but I have to admit there are a few  people I once called a friend that have made known their displeasure in me and in the things I write.

Whether or not people read the words I write is really not that important.  God knows the words I write because they are the words that reflect my heart.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that writing this blog was what I was supposed to do over these past seven years.  It was my purpose in life.  It was what I was supposed to do and more importantly it was a way I could still share my faith and have a part in a ministry that could help others in their walk with Christ. 

What I have learned is that in spite of the failures in my life, God can still use me.  I have failed a thousand different ways over the years and when I came back to Him, He was faithful and true to forgive me and though I cannot be used in the same way He did years ago.  He still has a purpose for my life.

So… If you’re headed towards the brink, know that there is a way back. 

I’ve learned that it doesn’t all come back.

But in all the change, loss and frustration, I never lost my faith.  I never stopped believing.

I wouldn’t trade the lessons learned. I’ve learned things I never thought I would have to learn.

There are still layers to restore. Some will never be the same.

There may or may not be more blog posts to come. In truth, I will probably post more.  It is just that my blog waaaill no longer be a priority to me.  If I feel like writing… I will.

I am in the process of making a copy of all my posts so that there will be a hard copy to pass on to my grandsons and future grandchildren upon my passing.  I want them to have something that was from me and my heart. Maybe 50 years from now they will read it and smile.

One thing I’ve always tried to do is share my journey and to do so honestly.

Sometimes that’s not for the best.

Thanks again to all those that have extended kind words and played along.

Some footprints leave a deeper imprint than others… those are the ones that later tell a story.

Life is never how you draw it up and sometimes that is a very good thing.

Until next time.

Mr. Lee Died A Long Time Ago

The other day, a co-worker asked me some questions about my career in Education and my time of being a principal back in the day. When I began talking about it, I suddenly felt myself getting stressed.  I unconsciously began fidgeting with my hands, my voice changed slightly, and my breathing became shallow.  

It was like I was back in my old office again.

I quickly answered his basic question and laughed it off with a line I have used for some time now,

“That was 25 years ago, and Mr. Lee died a long time ago.”

I get different reactions when I say that.  Some get it… they realize that that was a long time ago.  I am no longer that person.

I have often told my wife that I have blocked out most of the memories of that period of my life when I was a teacher and principal of a Christian School in Fremont, Ohio.  Although she doesn’t really believe it, I hold to the fact that the statement is true.  I have watched videos that were taken during that period of me speaking and I don’t recognize the person that they say is me. I don’t know who that person is.  It surely is not me. It bears a resemblance of me, but I struggle to remember being a tca1part of any of the events.

For me, the years I spent there are much like watching a documentary on the History Channel.  I remember being taught that the events took place but I am not part of it. I vivid memories of the time I was in college.  My days at Liberty University are clear and I have wonderful memories of college life and being part of a missions team that traveled across America and around the world.  I can remember specific events and even conversations I had with people. I remember and think of these memories often, but memories of the school not so much.

In truth, I know that the memories are there.  I choose to block them from being in my daily thought process.  It is better to leave them where they are.  When I run into former students of mine, my memories of them are still stuck in the 80’s and 90’s.  They have not moved on in life and in my mind they are still in 8th grade and not the 40-year-old that stands before me.  When they address me as Mr. Lee, I quietly ask them to call me David.  Again… Mr. Lee died a long time ago.

When my co-worker asked me those questions, I was shocked at how easily I plunged back into that old reality.   It has been over twenty-five years since I was Mr. Lee.

I post that as a simple statement of the fact. If you think I make that statement as a reflection of something I view as negative, let me make something very clear… I don’t. 

I don’t view it as a negative time in my life at all.

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 not remember. That includes both 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 these memories are dredged up in my heart and mind I am reminded of the times I was in my office working or in the classroom teaching.  Those were the times I cherished and when I had clarity that I was doing what I was intended to do at that time. I was confident that I was doing what God wanted me to do.  

That was and is a wonderful place to be.  Being confident that you were doing exactly what you were supposed to do.  Not many people ever get to really experience that in their life. I am grateful for the 12 years I spent there. I cannot deny that there is a part of me where that office still resides deep inside of me.  Even after all these years, I still have a space in my soul that defined who I once was.

After I resigned my ministry, like a prodigal son… I ran.  theprodigal

I ran from God for a long time. As a matter of fact, I ran from Him for almost as long as I was in the ministry.  Twelve long years.  I avoided anything that had to do with my life as Mr. Lee.   I worked real hard to kill him.  I could not find any peace with God.  I could not forgive others and more importantly I could not forgive myself for what I allowed to happen.  I made sure that Mr. Lee was buried before I stopped running.

A prodigal son.  We all know one, have been one, or are waiting for one to come home.

Then a miracle happened.  No… I did not walk on water and no water was turned into wine.  But it was a miracle in my life and it’s significance could not be any less than of those.  I found a place where I could heal and I did not have to carry the baggage that I carried for all of those years.  I think of it in terms of being spiritually rescued. I had lost hope and a life line was thrown to me when I was about to go under for the last time.  Grace Community Church of Fremont, Ohio was that refuge that I needed and when I felt there was no place for me to turn to, I felt the warm embrace of fellow believer’s allowing me to sit in church without the  judgement and disdain I had felt in other places. 

I needed to sit. I needed to heal. I had felt so betrayed by the pastor’s I had worked with in the past that I had sworn that I would never be “pastored” again.  After running so long on my own, I realized that I needed to be under a pastor’s teaching and leadership once again.  I found that in Pastor Kevin Pinkerton.Grace-Logo-Color-011

So I sat.  I took the time to sit and be still, heal and be forgiven. Slowly God began working in my heart and I started to have forgiveness towards those I had felt had done me wrong.  I started to write this blog in 2008, and there is no doubt that for the past seven years it has almost filled the hole in my heart.

Finding a place to heal and recover from failure was a miracle to me.  We’re foolish to assume that miracles don’t happen anymore. I have learned that miracles come out of a gut-wrenching need and your last flashes of hope. If were not this way, we would not think of it as a miracle but as something common and not from God.  All things would then just be taken for granted. Finding a place to sit and heal, finding a place to forgive and be forgiven is nothing short of a miracle and I will never take it for granted. Still it took years to forgive myself.

Walking on the water means burning doubt and the terror of roaring seas, it’s not an option you choose for fun. It’s what you pick when you have to know that Jesus is big enough, and that He can come through when it’s devastating. Believing in miracles is one of life’s hard lessons I have learned.

I choose to still believe.

It is with that aspect that I still wonder what the future holds for me. What is next for me? As I wrote a few weeks ago in my post, The Next Big Thing  I am no longer looking for something “BIG” to happen for me. But I can say that I am open to whatever God would have me do.  I am looking for open doors of opportunity. 

Mr. Lee died a long time ago.  I want to leave him buried where he is.  I have no desire to bring him back. In so many ways…  I am a much better person than he was all those years ago.

The next stage of my life will not completely take the old memories away, but it will continue to redefine them and I can always pray the prayer from Psalm 139:22-23,

Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Try me and know my thoughts.
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.