Tag: David Lee

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
                                                                                               

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Questioning God and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I just don’t get it.  Sometimes it is just too difficult to try to figure out.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Over the course of this past month, I have personally witnessed families devastated by the loss of a loved one.  I have seen people lose their jobs, get bad news from their doctor and I even have a friend that was robbed at gunpoint and even kidnapped for a few days.  All good people…all people who did not deserve what they received.

So this week, as I was trying to filter through all of the things that were happening to the people around me, I really started to question God.  Why would such bad things happen to good people?  I mean, I completely understand why bad things happen in my life.  There are some things that have happened to me that I absolutely deserved.  I can rationalize these events and say that that may have happened because of something that I did or did not do.   But when I look at some of the events that  have happen to good people, I wonder what is it that God is trying to tell us?

How  can a loving God allow bad things to happen?  I have thought long and hard about this and I am not sure if I ever will totally understand the “whys”  but I am coming to a better understanding the end results of such bad things.  I have come to the conclusion that can be summed up in two thoughts…

My first thought is to try to put the “bad things” in perspective.   I’m reminded of  Romans 8:28  where it says,

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…,”

When God says “all things” that means that there are good things and there are bad things that will happen in our life.  No where does God promise us that our life will be worry free and wonderful.   I don’t understand it all, but I do know that for whatever the reason, God does have a plan and it is my job to remain faithful no matter what is placed in my path.  Good or bad.

My second thought is chocolate chip cookies.

I compare life to chocolate chip cookies. Why? What’s in chocolate chip cookies?  There are some really good things like chocolate chips and sugar, and then there are some things that taste nasty if left by themselves, like flour, baking soda, raw eggs, and vanilla extract.   Have you ever tasted vanilla extract?   If you haven’t, just put a drop on your finger and lick it.   It’s one of the most bitter things around.  BUT when you mix all the ingredients together (the “good” and the “bad”) and put them under heat (the pressures of life), what comes out is delicious chocolate chip cookies.

So, though some experiences may look bad in and of themselves, when mixed with the good, and baked in the heat of life, the ultimate end is good.

One condition does remain: “to those who love God.”   Without the reference point of God, the bad things won’t make sense. We must believe that He is Good AND Sovereign (in control).   If He were good but not sovereign, then He would be a powerless philanthropist.   If He were sovereign but not good, then He would be an inconsiderate dictator.   But He is both good AND in control, so we must learn to trust Him.

We were all born as sinners and must accept the grace of Jesus Christ in order to be freed from that sin. His substitutionary atonement on the cross put my sin (and yours) on His shoulders and His righteousness on mine, if I accept it.   The result of faith in Christ: receive eternal life in heaven with Him, instead of eternal life in Hell apart from Him.   So, when “bad things” happen, I think of them as God drawing us closer to Himself.   Everything that happens is part of His grace.   And in the end, we’ll sit down to a heavenly feast with Jesus.

Who knows?

Maybe there will even be chocolate chip cookies served.

Sometimes the Truth is Not What You Want It to Be

Have you ever had a situation that didn’t make any sense to you?   You know the situation I am talking about – you hear one thing – even have written evidence to prove it – and yet – it still doesn’t make sense to you?

Things don’t feel right – things don’t add up?

Yeah – this just happened to me.   I thought I was losing my mind – and over a long period of time – more than a year, I had facts, circumstances and written word – only to confuse what I knew – things that only I knew to be the truth.

Truth is…sometimes the truth disappoints.  Sometimes the truth really hurts.  There are times I really do not want to hear it.  Sometimes I just want to deny the it and live in my own little world where I do not have to face the truth.   The reality is, is that truth is a funny thing.   As bad as it can be sometimes, we all need it.  We need the truth.  When we have it operating in our lives – the inconsistencies will no longer be there.   The nagging questions and things that don’t make sense – suddenly will be clear.   The fog lifts and we are free.

Yes – I have had a “revelation” of sorts.   Things I had wondered about – prayed about – struggled with and questioned – and had given up trying to figure out – those things are now clear to me.  In my heart of hearts – I knew it was always this way.   I knew it all along – and still I allowed myself to doubt.   Why did I fight so hard NOT to believe it?   Because I try to see the best in people and in circumstances.   Sometimes I have had to learn things the hard way.   The very worst way possible – where people get hurt and things are misunderstood and things don’t make sense.   There are lives and friendships in the balance – and we live with guilt, remorse and pain.

Yesterday my eyes were opened to the truth.   I now can see it clearly.   You can have words from someone but if they are not followed up by consistent actions then it is not the truth.   I take no pride from the fact that I knew I was right all along.  I should have trusted my first instincts – even when everything else pointed to the contrary.   Actions must follow.   Things must add up – even when we are told they shouldn’t or can’t.

It is easy for truth to get in the way and allow us to be blinded  by our own issues and fears – we sometimes fail to see what is right there in front of us.   We can learn from these mistakes – if we STOP trying to “help God” make sense of it.    We cannot control how others act towards us – we can only control our own thoughts and motives – and our own actions.   I believe if we can clearly get our emotions out of the way – we can begin to see what was there all the time.

The truth.

But be prepared…sometimes the truth is not always what we wanted it to be.  For good or for bad it is what it is.

Simply put…it’s just“Truth”.

I pray that today – you will seek truth – even amidst contrary circumstances – even if it goes against everything you have been lead to believe – even if it rocks your whole world.   Even if you dare not believe it – because it will change everything.

Truth has a funny way of doing just that…it changes everything.

Letters From The Heart

One of my prize possessions is a letter dated January 13, 1972.   Just a short two page letter that was handwritten by my grandfather.   He sent it addressed to “Master David Lee”.  (In today’s society, the use of “Master” as a form of address is extremely rare.  In my grandfather’s time, it was more commonly used  for addressing  young boys in formal situations )   It was the first real letter I had ever received.  There would be more over the years that he would write but none as special as this first one.

Now nearly 40 years later, my hands still tremble with excitement when I open that envelope.  I am amazed that he took time to hand write a letter to his grandson. The letter is just a two page note he had written from his winter home in Florida.    Nothing of any great importance in the subject matter of the letter, unless you consider how he expressed how much he missed me and how much he looked forward to the time we would be spending together during the summer months.    But most of all, he expressed how much he loved me.

My grandfather was a writer.  Not by profession, but by practice.  He wrote letters.  He had very nice cursive writing style and his writings were easy to read and easy to follow.   My writings pale in comparison.  I only wish to be as good as he was.

I often wonder if he knew what he was doing when he wrote this letter? Did he know he was leaving a piece of himself with me? I like to think that he knew that he would be making his grandson feel real special for a few days because he received a real letter from his grandfather.  It worked, it made me feel very special. Maybe he knew something that I am just learning.  Maybe he knew that he was leaving a part of his legacy.

In this day and age of technology and e-mail, very few people hand write anything anymore.  Most people do not hand write anything more than their signature on their credit card charge receipt.  I would like to change that.

This past year, I’ve written several letters to friends.  Many of them are living in my same hometown.  Typically, many people think of letter writing as something done with people living far away.   I don’t, however, it does  seem a little strange or even odd to write a friend I just had coffee with yesterday.    But I find many opportunities to write friends, who I see “face-to-face” in my daily life.   Why?  Because writing a letter gives me the opportunity to say thank you or give words of encouragement – not that I’m unable to do those things in person.  For I have a great desire to converse openly both in letter and in person – especially words of love, respect and gratitude.  With a letter, one doesn’t have to find the right moment, or set aside time to say what one wishes to say.  Letters provide a very intentional opportunity to communicate precisely.

One also feels pretty certain they have a captive audience from the reader – that is if they choose to read the letter.  So I’m curious, do you write letters to friends you see regularly or just those far away friends?  Do you even write at all?

My challenge is writing letters to the members of my family.  I have a web site specifically designed for them to read long after I am gone from this world.  But that is not the same as receiving a handwritten  letter from me.   I want to spend the rest of my life being a writer…much like my grandfather, not by profession, but by practice.

If I can, I want to write a handwritten letter to each of my friends that stood by me during my most difficult times in life.  I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the support and friendship over the years.   One thing my grandfather always taught me was the importance of saying “thank you” properly to those in your life that deserve the recognition.  I want to write letters of thankfulness from my heart.

I want to encourage all of you reading this post to take this challenge today.  I am asking that everyone take a pen or pencil out and write your loved one a letter.  Challenge yourself, to answer the following questions:  When was the last time (if ever) you wrote a letter to you spouse?  Men when was the last time you wrote a letter to your wife?  To your children?  To your mom or dad?  To a special person in your life, maybe a teacher or friend?

The window of opportunity is growing smaller everyday.  Do it today…before you regret not doing it after they are gone.

Spend some time today, enjoying spring and writing some words of sentiment to a loved one – in a letter of course!  I know I am.

The next letter you receive may just be from me…

Putting pen to paper,

DleeSignature

 

Words Make A Difference

He was one of  “those kids”.   From junior high school through most of college,  no one could really tell him anything.  He relied on his instincts to get him through most  tough spots.   When his instincts weren’t enough, he would go on the attack, figuring that the best defense was a good offense.  Sure he was a Christian, he had accepted Christ as his Savior at the age of nine.  He was very active in the church, but he struggled making application of the things he needed to do in his life.   Very few people got through to him during those years.  It did not get better with age.  He carried that chip on his shoulder until he was 45 years old.

There were destructive things going on in his life, mostly behind the scenes where most people couldn’t see.  Things only a handful of folks really knew about.   The outward appearance was many times a mask that covered what was going on in the inside.  There were times that he was able to “do good” and really walk the path that he was intended to walk.  But it was hard for him to stay on the right path for long.  It was a constant struggle, trying to balance his temper with the frustrations and anger that he had built up in his life.  He was hurting and hurting bad.   He had learned from past experiences that when you show weakness, you open yourself to attack.   So he didn’t open up.   He didn’t care to share what was tearing him apart inside.   He wasn’t going to expose himself and get ripped apart by someone else he should have been able to trust.   That had already happened way too often.   Therefore, if someone did come with good advice, he wasn’t going to show that he accepted it,  even if he had.  That, in and of itself, would be showing weakness and leaving him open to attack.   Needless to say, he wasn’t a very nice person to be around and he was nearly impossible to be a friend to.   But he was always listening.   Other people just couldn’t tell.

We cannot control whether or not a person will listen to what we have to say.  We can only control whether or not we deliver the message.  What is the message?  How about a message of forgiveness? A message of love, encouragement and hope?  A message of the salvation that can be found in Jesus Christ?

If we don’t deliver the message, there is no chance for the words to do any good.  The person will not hear them and can’t respond to them.  We must reach out.  We must seek to counsel, to advise, to encourage, to support.  Sometimes it means we get through to folks, sometimes it means we don’t.  Many times it means they will ignore us.   Sometimes it means they respond back with a response that isn’t always positive, especially if we are trying to gently confront them on an issue in their lives.    But still, we must try.

After all, Paul wrote a little something about love that went like this:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Sometimes love means sticking by someone who seems impossible to love.  Why do I say this?  Because the person that carried that chip on his shoulder until he was 45 was me.  I was one of “those kids”.  And speaking from experience,  I was indeed listening.  I heard the words that were spoken to me in love…I  just did not act like I did.   It took a long time to have those words melt my heart, but make no mistake, those words impacted my life.

I have a handful of friends who stuck by me during that very dark period of my life.   I am thankful for them, because I did listen to them.  And eventually, as God shone His light upon me, I began to climb out of the darkness that was my life.   These friends were examples of patience and they endured me and they bore some of my burdens upon their shoulders through prayer and attempts to reach out to me.   Some even tried to intervene in the situations in my life which were so destructive.   I am here today because of a God who loves me and rescued me and because of the friends He sent my way to keep me alive during those tough times.

And that’s why we can’t give up.

When our message seems to fall on deaf ears, we must persevere.  We may be the lifeline God has sent to someone who desperately needs our love.  Don’t give up.  Rather, keep loving, keep praying, keep reaching out.

It may make an eternal difference in someone’s life.

It did for mine.

She’d Like Mornings Better if They Started Later

I am a morning person.

My wife isn’t.

The only way she would like mornings is if they started later.

But for me, I love the morning.  The world is so peaceful and it’s great to have that time to get ready for the day. I always get out the right side of bed.  I’m always cheerful and bubbly first thing. Most days I am up after only 4 or 5 hours of sleep.

I just like the feeling of being awake while everyone else is asleep. There’s a calming kind of privacy to it. I have plenty of time to mosey around.  I hate feeling rushed.  Why does the world have to move so fast?   When I have all that time in the morning I find myself doing the tasks that I generally procrastinate doing.

Even now, as I sit here in the dark, with no light but that from my computer screen, it’s so serene.

Sitting here, it feels like this is how it’s supposed to be.  It’s just right.

It’s also when I get my best work done.  It’s when I’m most focused.   My brain just kind of shuts down after dinner.  I’d much rather write in a morning setting, than late at night.

But recently I have run into some problems in the morning.  Over the past few months,  God has been opening my eyes to some areas of my life that are in need of some attention.  In particular, is the time that I spend in prayer and Bible study.   This has meant reestablishing a priority of glorifying God and reinstating the principle of rising early to spend time with Him.    Rather than watching the news or reading the paper in the morning, I have been challenged to use that time more wisely for a quiet time with God.  I figured that since I am a morning person this should not be a problem.

WOW…  was I wrong.  Ever since I made the commitment to have my devotions in the morning it seems like I am soooo tired and can’t get out of bed.  I, now,  have a million and one excuses to keep me in bed in the morning.  “My schedule keeps me up late.”, “I need my energy to accomplish all I need to do.”, “I’ll be too tired to get anything out of my quiet time.” I’ve been using these excuses (and more) off and on over the past few weeks.  The snooze button on the alarm gets more use than ever before.  The bottom line is that it has been a struggle, but I know it is just a distraction to try to keep me from growing in the Lord.

It has not been easy, but I haven’t regretted the truly quiet time I’ve spent with God in these early mornings.   I may not always be wide awake.    I may need to continually ask the Lord to make me alert.   I might even have to turn on more lights and drink some coffee.   But, in spite of my sleepy eyes, this discipline is bearing fruit.   God is showing His hand in answered prayer, and is growing my heart through His Word.

Now, let me be clear about one thing.   Getting up early is not magical. There’s no godly pixie dust that’s sprinkled on me for reading the Bible.   Having my morning quiet time will not make God like me more.   God doesn’t give brownie points for it.

  • NOTHING I do (or don’t do) will make God love me more than He already does.
  • NOTHING I do (or don’t do) will make God love me less.
  • Jesus already did all of the work required for my salvation.
  • My “sin” debt is paid.   My punishment is forgiven.   Period.

But, rising early to spend time with my savior will bring many blessings.    Not because of what I do, but because of what Christ already did for me.   Being reminded of this changes my outlook for the entire day.   I’m much more likely to react appropriately at work when problems arise during the day, if I’ve already been in prayer that morning.   And I’m much more aware of God’s work in my life and in the lives of those around me.   I notice when He answers my prayers.   More importantly, I am more humbly conscious of His grace.

So regardless of how “tired” I will feel in the morning….I’ll set the alarm.

Everything else will fall into place.

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)

Wasted Words?

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.

~Jean Paul Richter

Wasted Words?

There are very few days that go by that I don’t wonder if my children heard anything that I have ever said.   Sure, at times, there was a lot of head nodding and seemingly acknowledged understanding.  Yet, responses by action didn’t always jibe with those words of “sage” advice I had offered.

Then, one day I overheard my son talking to a friend of his.  I don’t recall the detail but he repeated something that I had spoken to him earlier as if he was now the authority. I initially smiled to myself and accepted that they listened even when it appeared not to be so.

However, now when I think of this event, brief moments of anxiety fall over me.   I just cannot stop thinking about the many times I said something that was less than “sage”, maybe even damaging.  Words of anger and words of hurt.  It makes me want to go back and change somethings I have done in the past.

What would I do if I could go back and do it all over again?

I would hold my kids more and maybe a little longer when they were babies.

I would turn off the T.V. and play more games with them.

I would laugh with my children more…at our mistakes and our joys.

I would listen to them more and talk less.

I would be more encouraging and bestow more praise on them.

I would be more honest with them about my weaknesses and stop pretending perfection.

I would pay more attention to the little things they did.

I would cherish more the words of love and kindness they gave me.

I would be a better example of a man who loves them more than life itself.

I wish I could go back and change a few things.  But I know all too well…I cannot change the past.   I have learned that understanding the mistakes I have done,  gives me an opportunity to change moving forward.

At the end of the day, the experience of listening to my son repeat my exact words, make me now weigh my words more carefully.

I want to make sure that I don’t waste any of them.

Because, they are listening.


Holding On to Your Faith… Even When God Doesn’t Make Sense

This week was an interesting one for me.  I had the opportunity to talk to a man (Chuck) that has been going through a really hard time in his life.  For whatever reason our paths crossed and we just started talking and he shared that he felt like everything around him was crashing down.  He wondered where God was and why would He allow a believer to go through all that he had gone through.    He felt alone.

I let him talk.

From my personal experience, I feel that we all need the time to vent.   I know when I was going through my darkest times all I really wanted was to say it out loud.  I did not want sermons or advice, nor did I want someone to tell me they were praying for me.  What I wanted and needed was someone just to let me say it out loud.  Even though I was my own worst enemy and created my own problems, I needed to verbally express my frustration with my situation.  I was not blaming God, I just wanted to say it without the judgment of other believers.

Chuck was no different, he had been experiencing a bit of the dark deep void that Christians occasionally face.  This isn’t the first time that he had been through a period of what felt like he was totally alone.

We all have been there, you know what I mean, you can’t concentrate when you read or study the Word, the music that lifted you up or quieted your soul either irritates you or leaves you feeling numb, verses that you know by heart and depend upon to comfort you seemed to have been erased from your memory.  And your prayer life?  What prayer life?  You stumble and stutter, get so sleepy, too busy, hit the wall and “bounce prayers off the ceiling”.  That is the picture of Chuck’s life for the past few weeks…we have all been there too.

In the past, when this would happen to me,  I would be rather frantic trying to figure out why this was happening.   I would be angry and start railing at God for “forsaking” me.     Sometimes I would even  profess that I was giving up!

I am thankful that I made it through those times.   I did not have anyone to verbally say it out loud too.  So I would drive in my car, miles and miles of driving.  Radio off and at times,  me screaming at the top of my lungs of my frustrations and my pain.  My Christian friends were not there.   But I did not do it alone.  There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother…and although I was always taught that I needed to be reverent when I prayed, I’ve learned that sometimes prayers can be done in different ways.  In my times of frustration and loneliness, when I thought all was lost and there was no one there, I cried out to God and He was listening all the time.

In times of struggle and frustration, it is okay to question.  It’s okay to cry out.  You do not have to always understand why you are going through hard times.  You don’t always have to feel happy about the way your life is going.  Your salvation is not dependent on your feelings.   Hard times do not equal displeasure from God.

So I let Chuck vent and get the burden off his chest.  He was doing a good job at expressing his feelings about things.  In the middle of a particularly rough segment, I started to see some of the stress leave his face and heard some relief in his voice.  He suddenly stopped talking.   He realized that he had gone on for 10 minutes and I did not say a word.

And Chuck said ” What am I supposed to do?”

I wanted to make sure that I didn’t fall into the  Christian clichés  I had heard all my life.  While they may be true on some levels…these kind of statements don’t always help in times of real trouble.  They come across as real impersonal.

  1. “Just pray about it…”
  2. “I’m praying for you…”
  3. “You just need to ask for forgiveness…”
  4. “You have un-confessed sin in your life…”
  5. “I feel sorry for you…”
  6. “Jesus loves you…”
  7. “You’re running away from God…”

I am sure that there are many more that could be added to the list.  Again, all of these responses have their place.  They are indeed true when applied correctly.  Unfortunately, I have seen these used in the wrong manner and at the worst times.

I thought for a moment and I tried to remember what would have helped me when I was going through similar things.   Only one thing came to mind, I said…

“Hold on…hold on to your faith…even when God doesn’t make sense.  It will be okay,  just hold on to your trust in God! “

I waited for a second to see his reaction.  I began to see the edges of his mouth slowly move and he started to smile.  He looked at me and said that this was the first time someone did not try to convince him that he was so full of sin and that he should question his salvation because he did not understand why God would allow him to go through hard times.

What is the Lord teaching all of us in times of trouble? In the bad times like Chuck was going  through?  I believe the answer is simple…

Hold on.   That is all, just hold on to your faith and your trust in God.

Hold on when you can’t see the end of trouble,  hold on when you cannot hear God’s small voice and hold on when you do not feel like God is there at all.   The lesson learned for all of us is that God is holding on to us even when we don’t feel His arms around us.

Instead of me just telling him to just pray about it, I was able to help him see that God allows us all to go through things in our life that we don’t understand.  It is part of the “testing” of our faith.  This “testing” does not always mean you are in sin.  There are reasons why God allows it.  Sometimes in life we see clearly why, in other times, we will never really know until we get to heaven.  The bottom line is that God wants us to remain faithful and holding onto to our faith regardless of the situation in our life.

If you are struggling with hard times.  Times where you feel so far away from God.  Reach out and just hold on.  Remain faithful.  Determine to stay the course.  You can trust that our Lord will take you through the deepest, darkest, loneliest times.  Just Hold On.

May you be blessed abundantly today and every day.


“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”

Romans 15:13

Need A New Perspective? Change Your View

Maybe it’s just me but I hate snow.

There are no words that really allow me  to express my true feelings about how much I hate snow.    The only thing I can think of that is remotely positive is the fact that is does make my yard look as nice as my neighbors.

This week we had our first big snow storm of the year.  Now mind you, it wasn’t the blizzard of 1978 (that I survived), but it was a pretty big one.  Schools canceled, businesses closed and the shelves of bread and milk were empty at the grocery stores.

We have a policy at work that if the county in which you live declares a “Level Three” snow emergency, we do not go into work.  So just like the days when I was a child and would watch endless hours of TV to see if school closed, I watched and listened for every news outlet to see if my county would be declared a level three snow emergency.  No such luck.   I had to get up, shovel the sidewalk, the driveway and try to make my trek in to work.

They had to have made a mistake, because from inside my house looking out my front window, I could see snow, lots and lots of snow.   Our front yard was buried and I couldn’t see the street that was a mere 25 feet away.  It’s all blended in with nearly seven inches of snow.   The street, the sidewalks and my yard were all covered.   From my perspective of looking out my front window, it was obvious that there was way too much snow to go anywhere.

But I did.

After shoveling for what seemed  an eternity, I drove two blocks down to the main street of our neighborhood and the view was much different.   The road at the end of our street was clear.  It had a few wet spots, but for the most part is it was dry and easily passable.

Sometimes our perspective on things keeps us stuck where we are.  If I judged whether or not to go out based on what my yard and what the neighborhood looked like, I would be at home for the next month.  But it was ok to venture out, in fact, once I reached the end of my street, things were better than they were in front of my house.  I would never had known or experienced the difference had I not left my driveway.

The conditions I observed just a mere two blocks away changed my perspective on how bad the situation really was.  Have you limited your options because of your perspective?  Have you not trusted someone to help you pull out of your comfort zone to something better?   We have all done it – in our jobs, in our relationships (or fear of relationships), in our life experiences.  We have stayed inside our safe, warm homes thinking there was snow and ice everywhere, and not trusted those who have gone before us.

Sometimes at work if I’m trying to work out a problem or detail on a project I will sit on the other side of my desk in the visitor’s chair.  Changing my point of view, changing my perspective many times brings new ideas or fresh answers.

Be encouraged to step out and explore a little, change your scenery and you might change your mind and heart about some things.  Let me know how it goes.

As for me… right now my perspective is being viewed through the warm thoughts of summer…

I don’t know about you but that is…”just me”.

Are You Sure You Want to Wear That?

There was an unfortunate fashion incident.  At school.

I was involved.  Memos flew and phones rang.

If I told you the details, I’d have to silence you.   Or move to Minsk.

So the details of my unfortunate story will remain untold, at least until I feel I can post it and still keep my dignity.

That being said, for whatever reason — cultural, spiritual, X-chromosome deficiency — I am a clumsy dresser.  When my wife stands in the closet, she is planning, inventing, dreaming.   When I stand there,  I am wondering what time the game starts and what I am going to eat for lunch.    So I keep things simple — three or four outfits max.   Wear them over and over and over….

A few months ago, I needed to buy a new suit.  I had not worn a suit in 16 years.   I was in need a new one.   So I set out on my journey to find me something nice, something classy.    As I walked the isle of  Value City’s Big and Tall Men’s Department, I was trying to find that perfect suit that would be just that…classy.

That is when Bob, the 20 hours per week, minimum wage earning, white socks with penny loafer wearing attendant in the men’s department came up to me and said,  “You know ‘they’ say…How you dress tells everyone how to treat you. Your clothes say quite a bit.”

I was afraid to ask what he meant.

“They” say that fashion takes only common sense, but that begs a question: Who the heck are “they,” and why are “they” making my life miserable?  Is there a round table where “they” decide what is in style?  It is like the bad experience from my high school days when the Cool Committee decided what was and what wasn’t cool.

And there’s the rub:  white sock, penny loafer Bob was right…the  clothes you wear do say a lot about you.  I was afraid of what my clothes were saying about me…

When I returned home, I couldn’t look my clothing in the eye. The shirts seemed to slouch on their hangers.  Sliding through the hodgepodge, I realized that my only hope was a closet fire.

If it is true that what you wear says a lot about a person then I wonder what Paul the Apostle meant when he wrote in Colossians 3: 12-14, 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I believe that Paul  is sharing that it is also important to wear the wardrobe that God has for us.  He uses the analogy of clothing because our behavior is something that people see about us.

Just like a bad suit, we look bad in negative behavior.

Instead, Paul admonishes us to clothe ourselves in love.

He then says to accessorize this love with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.

What an ensemble.

Can you imagine if we were intentional in putting on this behavior everyday?   What a difference it would make in our life and the lives of those around us.

Today, decide what you want to wear.   It is your choice.

God has custom made an outfit just for you. The clothes fit perfectly and bring out your true self.   Go ahead, find a quiet changing room and go change.

Clothe yourself today with love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.

These things are what I want to wear today…

and that it is…  “just me”.