Tag: spirituality

The Evidence

There is nothing like ripe, fresh fruit.

To be able to pick a piece of fruit from the tree and eat it is one of the great experiences of life.  

I remember, years ago, when I lived in Oak Harbor, Ohio and experiencing the thrill of picking cherries from our trees in our back yard.  I still remember climbing those trees and sitting high up on one of the branches and picking and eating fresh cherries by the hand full.  I still reflect in amazement that was part of my childhood.  I surely did not appreciate the experience at the time.

I am not sure that I can ever remember eating cherries in my adult life that were as fresh and sweet as those I picked back in those days.

Fresh fruit is the ultimate sign of life from a fruit tree. It tells you, without any doubt, this tree is alive!  And because of that life we enjoy the fruit.

There is one more thing I think about when my thoughts wander to this topic of fruit-  fresh fruit has a sweetness to it.  It’s as if one of the great evidences of fresh fruit is a sweet subtle taste that makes you want more.

So what is the evidence of life for the Christian?

What tells the world, as they walk by, that you are alive in Christ?

It’s the fruit!

Here’s how Paul describes the fruit that comes from us when we are alive in Christ,

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

The thing about this kind of fruit is that others should be drawn to it, there’s a https://syntheticgospel.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/good-tree.jpg?w=1108sweetness about our lives that should make them want to be around us.  The fruit of the Spirit coming out of our lives should draw others to us and ultimately to Christ.

It’s the same thing that happened when Jesus was here… people loved being with Him.

The fruit of his life was sweet and refreshing.

So this is what I am pondering today. In clear self-evaluation, I am wondering if the fruit that I produce is pointing others to see Christ in me?  I want to be recognized by the fruit of the Spirit.  However, I am reminded of the times that no one could see Christ in me because I was too full of myself. 

There was no room for fruit to grow.

Too often, I was caught up in the throes of the dogma of religion and not in living in the freedom that being alive in Christ brings. 

As I reflect, my challenge to you, is for you to evaluate what is the evidence of the life of Christ in you?

Does the fruit of your life have the sweet taste of God’s presence or the bitter taste of self and religion?

Is there evidence that you are alive in Christ?  How does it taste to those around you?

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Too Much “Stuff”

I’ve been thinking about the clutter of my life…the things that are around me that I bought or gathered to make life easier. It seems to have actually made my life harder!

 too_much_stuffHow is it possible that things accumulated over time can actually make life harder?  It’s the clutter of things that most of us try to maintain, that most of us really enjoy, and yet I’m realizing that my “stuff” has become my burden as well…all the stuff I have gathered now has taken over certain areas of my life. 

This week, a few of us at work talked about the desire to “have things”.  Not just about the desire to have things but to have that which we never use.  There are so many things that I wanted and thought I needed only to realize that I have rarely used that item I coveted.   With the accumulation of all those things we find life harder, more difficult.  I thought about it this morning and realized I have boxes in my garage that haven’t been opened since I moved into our house 14 years ago!  Why do I keep this stuff?  What’s in those boxes?  What stuff is hiding there for me to discover anew?

All this to think about the challenge of our discussion…the challenge to “deaccumulate” our lives.  I wonder how much of the stuff of my life I could actually do without? I wonder how many things I really “need”?

I thought about the fact that you can tell what’s important to a person by what they do when they know they are going to die.  As we close in on Easter and spend a few days reflecting on what Jesus did,  I wondered, what is it that Jesus did before he entered Jerusalem during His last week?  He knew that He was going to die and one key story that is told in the Gospels, right before Jesus declares to the disciples that He is heading to Jerusalem, is the story of the Rich Young Ruler.

Luke 18:18 The rich ruler asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds by telling him he must keep the commandments. The rich ruler tells Jesus he has kept them all. Then Jesus says, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Then the rich ruler became sad because he was so rich and did not want to let go of his material possessions.

Jesus was making His preparations to give up everything for you and I on the cross.  Jesus also wants us to give Him everything.  He wants us to give Him total control of our life.   If He asks you, are you willing to give up all that you have for Jesus?  

Jesus typically pushes us out of our comfort zone.

For most us, our comfort is found in how much money we have.   If it’s not money then it is related to money, like possessions or other things money can buy.   Are you willing to give God your possessions?   What about your title at work?   What about your dream to be a famous musicispiritual-spring-cleaningan, sports star, investor, writer, etc.?   Are you willing to give God a percentage of your money?   Are you willing to give up your success?   Are you willing to give God your retirement funds? 

Jesus invited 12 men to leave everything and follow Him.  That same call is given to each of us today. 

What “should” we let go of today?  What “can” we let go of?  What “can” we live without?

I can’t answer for you… but I know my life (both physically and spiritually) needs a thorough Spring Cleaning.  I need to get rid of the “stuff” that keeps me from being what God wants me to be. 

“And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”     Luke 9:23-24

The Truth Is…

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I did not sit down at the computer to write for over 30 days. 

It has been a long 30 days.

The truth is… I felt lost.

Even when I would take each September off,  I would still write, I just wouldn’t post it.

The truth is…my intention was to take some time off and not write or post to this blog.  I was excited because this new year was like a blank canvas.  I thought about the coming year and I was thinking about what picture I wanted to paint this year with my life.

The truth is… I had to take a long look at myself.

What do I want to do with these days ahead?  What will the year look like when I’m done with it?  

The truth is…I have discovered the hard way that words are easy to write and to say… it is hard to live up to those words.  I do not want to deceive anyone, especially my family because they know if my words match my actions.

The truth is…I won’t get to erase my words if they see me fail or not live up to the words I write.  Each word is like a stroke of the brush that leaves paint on the canvas.  Each decision, each word, each action is like a brush stroke full of paint….it continuly changes the painting daily and it becomes part of the finished product.

The truth is…I know I’m not a gifted writer, but it’s all I have.  I’m trying with each word to create something that pleases God.  I’m trying to take the canvas of this year and make it a work of art.

The truth is…I still feel like I am painting with old, used and ratty brushes.   The ability to paint a picture with clean lines and beautiful blends of colors are hindered by my failure to take care of the brushes that God gave me all those years ago. 

The truth is…my painting, as I finish it this year can still be a beautiful reflection of the grace of God and of Jesus Christ seen in my life.

What will my canvas look like at the end of 2013?  Each day I will be making brush strokes on the canvas of this year.  Each word that touches my canvas and each action leaves color behind.  May it be found with faithfulness to my Savior Jesus Christ and may it be a reflection of the real me as I show others that my actions back up the words I write.

The truth is… I am excited to see the final picture of my journey. 

Come along with me, paint the canvas of your life with the love of Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah-29-11

Sweet Words of Healing

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

This week I had the honor and privilege to attend the funeral of Nancy Schueren.

Nancy SchurerenI was saddened by the loss of someone who for the greater part of my elementary years and a good portion of my adult years treated me like a son.  Her son Steve and I had bonded as friends in early 1971 and she immediately took me in and thus started her influence on my life that has lasted over 40 years.

I could no more deny the influence of the Schueren family in my life than I could deny the influence of my own family.  I have written about my friendship with Steve in my post called,  “Save Me a Seat – A Tribute to Steve Schueren” (Click to Read)   This was my tribute to honor Steve and his life.  I wrote it because I had been carrying a lot of guilt and shame because I had let him down in our friendship.  I wrote it because I could not bring myself to go to Steve’s funeral, but I had to in some way give honor to him.  I just could not go and face the Schueren family with my guilt, shame and embarrassment of my failure in my Spiritual walk, not to mention my failure to be the friend that I should have been to Steve and to his family.

I did not write it to get a response from anyone.  It was a just an attempt to clear a burden and weight on my soul.  To my surprise, my tribute to Steve has been read over 7,000 times since I posted it.  I am thankful for that because hopefully people will see what a good man he truly was.

Now to the rest of the story…

For most of the last eighteen years I have spent a lot of time and effort avoiding situations where I would feel uncomfortable and most assuredly I would avoid those situations where  I would make people feel uncomfortable with my presence.  Mostly it was spent in avoiding those who knew me from my former life.  When someone in the ministry fails in their walk with Christ there is a very high price that is paid.  Forgiveness is not something that is offered from other believers easily.  I would avoid as much as I could so as to not cause offense.  When I would be in situations where I would be around someone from my past I would try my best to avoid any direct interaction and most assuredly I would avoid eye contact at all cost.

One Sunday morning, just after Steve passed away I was walking to my car after the morning church service.  I was doing my usual head down and walk in a straight line out to my car.  No eye contact.  No conversation with anyone.  That is when she stopped me.  One of those 7,000 views of my post was read by Nancy Schueren. There was no avoiding the contact.  There was no avoiding the conversation.  I had no idea what to say and I surely had no idea of what she was going to say to me.

Nancy had indeed rforgiveness-2009ead my post about Steve and she grabbed my hand and pulled me in close and looked me in the eye and her first words were, “Thank you for your kind words about Steve and know that I have forgiven you.”    I cannot tell you the  weight that was lifted from my heart.  I have to be honest with you… this was the first time a fellow believer had ever looked me in the eye and told me they have forgiven me since my divorce which at that time was 16 years earlier. 

Those words spoken by a woman broken by the loss of her son were sweet words of healing to my soul.

It was the beginning of the healing of some of the wounds to my heart and while I still struggle with the lack of forgiveness and acceptance from other believers I will always savor the reconciliation and forgiveness from a woman I have looked up to for all of my life.

This week, as I dealt with her death, I remembered  as I listened to her son John and her grandson Jared speak at her funeral, although wounded and hurting from their loss, they were using words of love, healing, and encouragement as they honored a mother and grandmother that was now in arms of Jesus Christ.  These spoken words were sweet, healing, like a warm blanket to the hearer.  I longed to hear more.  I was amazed as I listened.

Our words make a difference.  They can  heal and comfort or hurt and cut to the heart.  We are most Sweet Wordscreative AND most destructive when we speak.  We choose which we will do…build up, encourage, love and comfort or hurt, destroy, and wound.  Our words are powerful!!! Our words are a reflection of our heart.

The Schueren family,  hurting from the loss of their mother and grandmother, was encouraging and comforting others!  Sweet and healing only begin to describe what the kindness of the lips can do in the lives of others.  We all need to know we are loved, to know it from those we care about and when the words of another are encouraging, healing, and loving it changes everything.  It changes us.

I’ve been thinking about these things since I left the funeral.  I am embarrassed at the thought of what may be said about me when the time of my passing is announced.  The footprints of the legacy I left behind will speak for itself.  I cannot change the legacy that I have left behind nor can anyone else that reads this post.  The only option is to live today with the hope that people will find the last years of our life will be found to have been lived in faithfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that we spoke words of forgiveness and love for our family and to those who we met along the way.

What I saw in the Schueren family this week were sweet words, kind words, encouraging words.  I wonder how we could change this world if we decided to only speak those types of words.  I long for the day in heaven when those are the only words we will use.

I know that the last 15 months since Steve died were so hard on Nancy and she paid a price with her physical body as she dealt with the loss of a son.  A parent is not supposed to out live their child.  It is one of the hardest experiences we face here on earth.  I am comforted only by knowing that she and Steve are re-united in heaven.  

Thank you Nancy for your influence and for your forgiveness… maybe you will be there when Steve saves me a seat next to him on my first day in heaven. 

 

I Have Nothing More to Say

You may have noticed I have been writing less as of late. Perhaps the best way to explain this is bynothing-to-say reference to that well-known advice your mother may have given you: “if you don’t have anything good or positive to say, don’t say anything.”  For a while now I’ve been at that place where I have nothing profound or even boring to say or write so I’ve been absent.  The tank has been empty!  

Well…if I have nothing to say, why am I blogging about it? I will tell you…

The last few days I’ve been dwelling on something that I have asked the Lord to give me clear direction on what He would have me to do.  Seems like since I made that request nothing has gone right.  It’s always been clear to me that nothing of God will ever happen apart from Him doing it.  I can want it, beg for it, try to create it, but if God isn’t behind it…it doesn’t work.  I know God wants to do something in me, but at the moment I can’t see what it is.  I’ve been at this place before.  I don’t like the wait, but I know God will give me insight.  Until then… I wait.

My experience in waiting for God is most often about Him waiting for me.  He’s waiting for me to get out of His way.  I believe He gets tired of the way I’ve been doing things.  He’s waiting for me to give up my pride and my thoughts of doubt.  What seems like me waiting for Him is most often Him waiting for me.  I have to admit it is an embarrassing statement to make, but it is true that God is more willing to work in my life, to speak to my spirit, to lead me, to do anything than I am willing to let Him.  It takes some work to break up the hard soil of my heart before anything could grow anyway.  I know there are things that the Lord wants to do in my life. I just get near-sighted and cannot see it sometimes.

This battle of flesh and Spirit is such a subtle thing.  The battle wages on even when I think I’m doing well.  I struggle with my heart desiring to do things MY way.  Even in my desire to please God I often discover that I want to please Him MY way and in that apparent desire for good the flesh is in control. Pleasing God must be HIS way, done by surrender to His work and His leading in my life.  For all my efforts to be a “good Christian” I will fail completely in the quest unless I once more raise the white flag of surrender to Him and His will, plan and timing in my life.

Frankly most spiritual warfare for me happens in my heart and soul.  It’s a battle for Lordship.  Only when Jesus wins, when He is allowed to be King, do I truly please God.  

That is the war of this world, isn’t it?  It’s a war for who is King.  Will it be me or Christ?  

So, on this cold evening in December I’m praying,  trying to give up my fight to “get God to do something” and letting Him do as He wishes…..whatever that may look like.  

So if I don’t post for a while it will be because I am still waiting for clear direction and what my future holds in my service to Him.

I have nothing more to say.

Your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Write On

Sometimes you just can’t win. 

Some well-meaning friends have taken a portion of their time recently to provide some insight into my writing.  It’s not that I am not appreciative of the input.  Like everyone else I like to be liked. 

Some encouraged me to write the same way I have been writing for the past few years.  Short illustrations of what God is doing in my life and trying to be an encourage people to live for Christ.  They tell me to write for the sake of others who are facing similar struggles and goals for their life. 

Others feel that I write too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even a few asked me to spare them the gruesome details of the failures in my life. They say,  “Don’t hang out your dirty laundry for all to see.”  They tell me that it is self-serving and it shows that I have not truly moved on in life.

Honestly, I don’t feel that I’m doing that.  But what do I know?

So, who do I listen to? 

I see the casualties in the blogosphere.  Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to start 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 1,000 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. 

If anything I struggle with that.  I am open to the fact that my writings may be repetitious on some level.  I have fallen in to the cycle of being torn between wanting to quit or being compelled to continue on.  Then just about the time I am about to quit, I ask myself,Have I caused others undue heartache and pain through my actions in this life?”   Without a doubt!  Am I pleased about that?  Absolutely not!  “Do I want to correct the pain I caused others in this life?”  Of course! I have found that the only avenue I have to try to make these crooked paths I once walked straight again is to write.

There is no doubt that my failure in my life is something that is still not completely healed.  The pain of it sits just under the scar that I carry on my heart.  Sometimes the fog of life only lifts long enough to allow me to see the face of God, the Scriptures He left to be our lifeline or even the outstretched hands of family and friends.  I am thankful for those times when I see Christ so clearly but does one’s heart or spirit ever become truly immune and insensitive to heartache?  Immune in a sense but the pain still persists.

At times I am blinded by circumstances and need God’s healing hand lovingly applied to my scars that I carry.  The evidence of a scar does not always show the true damage that was done in a person’s life.  That scar we carry on our heart and in our life is only an indicator that the healing process has begun.  It is no longer an open wound but is still a long way from being completely healed.  I fear that some of the pain I carry will be with me until the Lord calls me home.

But this I know… in my heart,  I know that for every scar I carry and the pain that sits just below the surface, I am reminded that it is just another opportunity to tell another story.  

At this point in my life, I will listen to these promptings and I will continue to write!

So here I sit, baring my soul.  Some will be blessed by my comments, encouraged to know that they are NOT alone.  Others will be critical that I have been so honest and transparent.  Some will stop reading because all I talk about is my relationship with Jesus Christ.  For those that would stop reading because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I am honestly saddened.  It is not my intent to cause offense.

Because only the sovereign God knows my heart, my struggles, my joys,  my pain, my all. 

He knows why I do what I do. 

In the end, only God will be my judge and for now He wants me to “write on”.

And so I shall…

What Do You Live For?

“And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.”           2 Corinthians 5:15

It is so easy as a Christian to embrace the Gospel, praise God for the message and promise of the Gospel and still miss the full depth of it. And I know that may seem as a huge overstatement but I know that in the different seasons and moments of my life it is true.

I thank God for my salvation, I thank God for reconciling me and changing my reality from an enemy of Christ to a friend of God.

I truly am grateful for that, but at times my flesh and my faith can be so weak, that I can quickly revert to living this life  with my focus on my own desires and plans without much consideration for the price He paid for my sins.  I can quickly put my desires and plans in the center of my world instead of His will and desires for my life.

I must focus on the fact that Christ died not to make much of me, but to make much of Him and of the Father.  I want to make sure that I do not ask for anything from Him.  I want to simply say thank you for all that He has given me.

I must stay focused on the fact that Christ died so that my old life would be crucified thru Him and my new life hidden in Him as well. I must set at the forefront of my mind that Christ died so that I in turn would live for Him.

Living for myself is what was leading me to a road of destruction, living for myself is what caused me to feel empty, living for myself is what open the door for failure, living for myself is what tainted every thing in my life, and yet while I was consumed with that type of living, God demonstrated His love towards me by sending His Son to die on the cross for my sin and for my life.

There is no joy or freedom in living for myself.   Truth and peace is found in being hid in Christ and living for Him and Him alone.

I am praying that God would lead me to not to distort the Gospel, but actually walk in the fullness of it. I pray that His Spirit will continue to illuminate my heart and mind and convict my heart of the times when I put myself in the center of God’s universe instead of His glory.  The Gospel is the good news and it’s purpose is not to promote me, but to promote God and His righteousness. 

So this Thanksgiving and Christmas Season I am challenged to live for Christ in a manner that would bring honor to the Christ that lives in me.  I am indeed thankful for the price He paid on the cross for me and for my sin.  

I am challenged to make sure that everyone I know or come in contact with will see Christ living in me.  I am not here on earth to promote myself but to promote the One that died for me.   I am challenged when I see other believer’s live their life so flippantly as it pertains to being an example of Christ to others.  I am challenged when I see so many people who do not know Christ and live their life with no concern or regard to others.  What about you? Where do you stand at this point in your life?

What are you living for right now?

Are you living for yourself?  Do you know Christ as your personal Savior?  If so…How are you representing Christ and your salvation?  Can others see Christ in you?  What would your children say about your walk with Christ? What would your spouse say about it?  More importantly… What would God say about your relationship with Him if you stood face-to-face before Him?

You may not want to answer these questions too quickly.

 Before you give the typical quick answer, it maybe good just to take a moment to ask God to show you in a real way the honest answers for you to give.  If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I have a link in the header of this blog that clearly gives the Plan of Salvation.  If you would like to talk to me directly about any of these issues please feel free to write me at “thelegacybuilder@aol.com”.  I would love to discuss your questions with you.

This holiday season could be the best you have ever experienced if you truly do an evaluation of your life and make things right with Jesus Christ.  My prayers for you as you honestly seek God for the answer to these questions for your life.

Thankful For Life

It’s two weeks to Thanksgiving.  A great time to focus on God’s blessings and provision.  Many immediately think of things, but I would like to focus these two weeks on the more permanent, but often intangible stuff of life.  I don’t talk about material things much because that would mean there might be some who might read these words and think they are not blessed because they don’t have this or that.  So, let’s talk about what we can all celebrate and give thanks for.  Let’s talk about what’s really important!

Today I’m thankful for life!  I’m thankful that God has allowed me to be part of His amazing creation and witness His work around me.  I’m thankful for the life he has given me to enjoy.  I am so appreciative of what God has allowed me be a part of.  I love my life and the ones in it.  Daily there are pains and problems, headaches and backaches, heartaches and forgotten memories, but each day I get to be part of God’s amazing creation and live to see His handiwork.

It’s a great time to be alive!!!

Be Not Afraid

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

–  Isaiah 41:10

A friend posted this verse on another site this morning.  It’s always encouraging to be reminded of truth that touches your life in a moment, truth that resonates with your very soul.  This is one of those verses.  

“Don’t be afraid…”  Why not?  And here is God’s reason not to fear, “for I am with you.”  You are not alone. God himself walks with you to comfort you, protect you, to be with you.  That is the most important thing you will read all day- if you are God’s child “He is with you“, you are not alone, it’s not all on you to win the day, beat away the dragons, defeat the enemy.  God is with you.  

Dwell on these four words for a moment… “I Am With You”   How would your day change if you lived like that were true?  

“Don’t be discouraged…”  Why not? Once more, here is God’s reason for this admonition,  “for I am your God.”  I don’t know about you, but discouragement is one of my plagues.  I fight it off frequently.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent a moment to let this truth sink into me that the reason I shouldn’t let discouragement win the day is because God is MY God.  The only God who exists is MY God and the result? I don’t have to be discouraged.  

In the moments that tempt you to fear or discouragement pause and read this passage.  It’s the words of a loving Father calming a distraught child.  It’s the love of a parent holding the broken one sobbing from pain.  It’s the loving hand of the Father reaching out to hold my hand and calm me.  It’s my Father telling me, “It’s ok, I’ll take care of you.”  

What more could we ask of our loving Father?

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.