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Friday, October 29, 2010

3. Joy Filled Fear

Psalm 128: How joyful are those who fear the Lord, all who follow His ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful and prosperous you will be!  Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.  Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.  That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear Him.  May the Lord continually bless you from Zion.  May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.  May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.  May Israel have peace!

How do you put joyful and fear together?  Well the word fear doesn’t mean things like terror, fright, alarm or apprehension.  The word fear is more of an awe of who God is and what God can do.  In other words, how joyful am I, in awe of the Lord, as I follow His ways!  That would be Awe with a capital A.  It’s still difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that the creator of all of the galaxies, planets and universe wants a relationship with me.  He created the heavens and the earth. 

And let me pause right here and say, I have joined the ranks of believers of the big bang.  Now hear me out for a moment.  When God SPOKE the world into existence, He created something from nothing!  Can you imagine the sound it must have made when it appeared?  I believe that would have been a really BIG Bang! 

So as we look at the Old Testament, nobody was able to be in God’s presence except Moses.  When he came down from Mount Sinai, he had a glow from God’s glow-ry.  But the rest of the time God hid himself in a cloud, in a burning bush and wasn’t able to be seen.  In the New Testament, when Paul was knocked down by a bright light and blinded, it was the presence of the Resurrected Christ.  Talk about AWE!  Yet He invites us into His presence anytime anywhere through prayer.  So that is the Awe I’m talking about.   

By the way joyful does not always equal happy either.  You can be joyful and in awe of God, but not feel very happy. 

As I tumbled to the bottom after losing my family and my job, it took a while, but my heart and my mind became aware and in complete awe of God.  And though I was joyful that I had finally succumbed to His desire for my life, I was not in a happy place.  I was relieved that I had started the process of being broken of my patterns.  But during my darkest days of brokenness the word happy wasn’t really a part of my vocabulary. 

It was only after my complete brokenness and spiritual awakening that joyfulness and awe of the Lord materialized in my life.  The second part of verse 1 says, “all who follow His ways!”  Once I was on my way to the bottom, that’s when the duh factor kicked in and I knew I needed to follow His ways.  Does that mean living a performance based life for God?  The answer to that is an emphatic no!  Living a performance based life just sets you up for failure.  Because neither you nor I will ever be able to live up to the standards set before us.  As I tried, in the flesh, I failed.  And when I failed I became disappointed in myself.  And when I was disappointed in myself I didn’t like myself, let alone love myself. 

In Luke chapter 10 an expert in religious law had asked Jesus what the most important commandment was.  Jesus then asked the man what the Law of Moses said and in verse 27; The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
So what does that look like?  Well if I couldn’t love myself, how is it possible to love God, my wife, my family or my neighbor?  It was, and is impossible.  Loving the Lord my God with all of me is the awakening I’m talking about.  A spiritual awareness that He is alive, loving me, living in me and we are walking and talking all the time.  Then I can love myself, and my neighbor. We should definitely be concerned about how we live our life.  But if that’s the only thing you focus on, you will be miserable.  And I was miserable.  Miserable for keeping the secrets that I kept, miserable for failing my marriage vows, miserable for letting down my heavenly Father, my family and my friends, all while hiding behind a mask that everything was okay or FINE.  I was at a conference on relationship addiction and the acronym of fine was given as; Fearful Insecure Neurotic Evasive.  I’ve heard others too but that really spoke to me!  Because I was all of the above. 

If you live a performance based life, you are living under the law and you will be miserable.  Christ came to fulfill the law so that we now live under Grace.  So if you do love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind, He will be on your mind all the time and your heart will be filled with the desire to hang around with Him.  You will love Him with a love that surpasses any earthly love you can think of.  After all, as a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you and everywhere you go, He goes.  Everything you do, He does.  For many, that’s a very scary thought.  It is actually horrifying to me to think of some of the things that I put the Holy Spirit through in the ways I lived my life before hitting bottom. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t praise the Lord and thank Him for His forgiveness of my past.  Here is the most incredible part of that.  When He forgave me of the past, the very first time I confessed and repented, He forgot about it.  He cast it as far as the east is from the west.  So when I come to Him and praise Him for forgiving my past, He just says, “I have no idea what you are talking about, but you are welcome.  I love you my child!”  God loves with a reckless kind of love we can’t even imagine with our finite minds and hearts.  His reckless love alone should give us an incredible amount of joy and put an awe or fear of the Lord in our hearts so that we will have the strongest desire to follow His ways.             

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2. The Break Of Dawn

Job 33: 27-28  He will declare to his friends, ‘I sinned and twisted the truth, but it was not worth it.  God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’

About five months after finally hitting bottom I heard Him say in my heart, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”  Words I really needed to hear at the time.  I was lying in bed and as I opened my eyes, I literally could see nothing!  Not even the hand directly in front of my face.  I was in the midst of darkness personally.  Financially I had just a few dollars to my name.  A week or two later He said, “Don’t let the break of dawn affect our relationship in a negative way.”  By this time I had started a quiet time in the morning that consisted of lots of prayer, a daily bible reading program and journaling.  So I made a promise that I wouldn’t let the break of dawn affect our relationship in a negative way!

Then six months after hitting bottom, I was beginning to see the break of dawn in ways that included personal finances and part time employment.  It was then that I heard Him say, “128.”  That’s it!  Just “128.”  The day I heard this was January 23rd and I thought that 128 might have meant January 28th.  So I waited the few days to see what God had planned to do on 1/28.  The day went by with no great occurrence or revelation.  I questioned Him, in prayer, what 128 might mean.  Then, again in my heart, He said, “Psalm 128.”  I read it and wept.  It seemed like a promise that was meant to give me hope that restoration with the family was possible.  I can definitely see my ex-wife as a fruitful grapevine.  With 3 grown children and 2 little ones that we were in the process of adopting, I could see them as vigorous young olive trees around the table.  My ex-wife has since adopted the kids as a single mom.  A year after reading Psalm 128 I’m not positive it was a promise for me because of the previous choices I’ve made.  I still believe that God can do anything, but I definitely feel like Psalm 128 is a message that I can share with all men, single or married.  And not only men, but women too.  My prayer is that men and women might see the following pages as encouragement for what God wants to do in your current marriage, or what He has planned for you in the future, if you are single.  I would never want any man to have to go through what I have gone through.  Greater still, I don’t wish what my ex-wife has gone through on any woman.  And when it comes right down to it, I don’t wish the pain of what our adult children have had to endure on anybody.  But for me, the experience of growth and healing has been priceless, I can’t imagine not going through it.  The only thing I would have preferred is for it to have happened 30 years ago.  If this can help one person, it is a blessing to have been able to share the information on the following posts.  Praise be to God.     

Saturday, October 23, 2010

1. Falling To The Bottom

Psalm 88: 16-18 Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me.   They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.  They have engulfed me completely.   You have taken away my companions and loved ones.  Darkness is my closest friend.

My trip to the bottom was 30 years in the making.  Back in June of 1979 I married my high school sweetheart.  From before our marriage, I carried secrets of wounds in my life that I didn’t even know I had.  Other secrets I carried that I did know about were those of infidelity.  Prior to our wedding and then through our nearly thirty year marriage I had cheated on my wife.  I had a pattern of lies, and infidelity.  It would come and go in waves.  There would be lying and cheating, then fidelity.  While in these patterns I had no idea the internal issues that caused me to lead such a despicable double life.  I know for a fact that I truly loved my wife.  The fact is that to this day, I still love my now ex-wife with all that I am. 

There were warning signs in the past.  A few years before I was caught a second time, I had a dream that shook me up.  In this dream I was driving my car up a road called “Zion Street” near the town that I live in.  Interesting street name, huh?  I approached a corner I had been to many times.  In fact on the southwest corner of this intersection was the local Armory.  I leaned over to change the radio, as I did, something in that corner of the intersection caught my attention.  I looked in its direction toward the ground.  There was a post.  From this point on in the dream it was all slow motion.  Slowly I gazed up the post and saw His feet pierced to the post by a large rusty nail.  As I continued my upward motion I knew it was Jesus on the cross.  There was his body, the side where the sword had stabbed Him, then up to his arms stretched out with His hands nailed to the cross.  I kept looking up and when I got to His face, He was bowed looking at the ground with the crown of thorns still causing blood to ooze from His head.  He slowly moved His head up until our eyes met!  As they met I could see the pain in His face as if He was saying to me, “I died for you once already, why do you keep putting me back up here on the cross?  Let me LIVE in your life!”  He and the cross then, still in slow-motion, fell forward.  As He hit the ground face first I woke up in a cold sweat!  That apparently was not enough to shake me from the patterns I had developed in my life.  Those choices that I had been making, and were caused by a number of issues continued.  Even though I had tried to reverse those patterns and choices of the past, I was trying to do it by my own flesh.  You can’t do spiritual things by the flesh!  I found out the hard way. 

The wounds in my life included an emotionally absent father, an over bonded mother and sexual molestation by a male friend of mine as a young teenager.  These, along with the wounded heart that we all are born with, led to many poor decisions and numerous occasions of infidelity during my marriage.  I’m not blaming my choices totally on these wounds, but they definitely contributed to my patterns.  The affairs were ways that I used to numb a pain that, through the years, I didn’t know existed.  After being caught for a third time in our 29 year marriage, I finally realized “I have a problem!”  Through biblical counseling I found out it was a serious “spiritual problem!”  The problem I had had all along, led to other troubles.  These troubles now started my tumble to the bottom.  I lost my job in a career that I had for over 30 years, my wife filed for divorce, my family was devastated, and ministries that I had with people who had trusted me and even looked up to me had been destroyed along with those friendships.  It was like free-falling into a dark hole.  But when I hit bottom, I was NOT in Wonderland or Narnia.  I was in darkness and silence. 

I was exactly where God wanted me to be a long time ago.  I was completely BROKEN!

While my trip to the bottom was because of lies, secrets and infidelity, there are other ways to get there.  Addictions, bad habits, poor spending choices and other self-centered patterns that satisfy a need that maybe you don’t even know about.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 90:8 in a prayer from Moses: “You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all.”

My darkest secrets were out and my darkest days were ahead of me.  And God loves me so much, that He finally brought me down to a place where He could actually begin a healing in me, as well as restoration and renewal. 

God tells us that nothing is secret from Him, nor are our intentions.  In 1st Corinthians 4:5b, Paul says, “For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives.”  

The bottom, for me, included humbling myself before family and friends and confessing my sins, asking a close friend for a place to stay, and receiving divorce papers from the woman in my life that I truly love.  She did the only thing that seemed possible for her to be able to survive and move on.  Understandably she was tired of the lies and cheating.  There was no other way. 

I had a lot of work ahead of me.  The exciting thing about the bottom for me, if you want to call it exciting, is that God knows His plan for me and He had to get my attention to be able to work that plan in and through me. 

By hitting bottom I had nowhere to look except UP!  And I found myself getting immersed in His Word, praying and reading books that would point me in His direction.  As I grew sensitive to His voice, I actually heard in my heart things He would say to me.  I’ve always been skeptical at someone who said, “God told me…” or “I heard from God…” until I started hearing from Him myself.
--To be continued--

Psalm 128 A Call To A Spiritual Awakening



How joyful are those who fear the Lord, all who follow His ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful and prosperous you will be!  Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine, flourishing within your home.  Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees as they sit around your table.  That is the Lord’s blessing for those who fear Him.  May the Lord continually bless you from Zion.  May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.  May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.  May Israel have peace!

INTRODUCTION:  The first time the Lord brought this Psalm to my attention was after I hit bottom. 

Have you ever been there?  To the bottom I mean.  The scummy, slippery, yucky bottom.  Have you been to a point in your life where you have nothing except God?  I think the absolute bottom can be different things for different people.  It doesn’t have to be losing everything and becoming jobless and homeless, although it could take that.  It did for me.  Whatever “bottom” is in your life, if you haven’t ever been there, Praise The Lord!  I hope you never have to go there.  But imagine you do end up going there.  It’s a place I wouldn’t wish on anybody and at the same time a place I think everybody should be aware of.  Having been there myself, I would not exchange the experience for anything. 

It’s said, you can’t sing the blues unless you have had the blues.  I’m not sure I completely agree with that.  After having the blues, I think it’s easier to sing the blues with feeling as you go back and reflect on those times.  
While I have been a believer in Christ for over 30 years, I have only been a sold-out follower and disciple of Jesus since hitting bottom in July of 2008.  So if you can be a Christian, but still be lost, that’s where I have been. 

In the upcoming days weeks and months the postings that I make will depict the ugliness that caused me to hit bottom, but will also show God’s reckless pursuit of me, a man who loved God, but had a lot of issues I wasn’t even aware of.  Let’s start with the trip down…..

Coming soon

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Well I have been encouraged by several people to start a blog.  So here it is.  Over the past two years my life has made the biggest changes in the over 50 years that I have been on this planet.  God has seen it necessary to take me all the way to the bottom so that He could get my attention for what He really has for my life.  Throughout this blog, I hope to share with you the ways He has shown me His mercy and grace.  How He has grown me, changed me and how He wants us men to be what He created us to be.
In the coming days I will be posting my writing, "Psalm 128 A Call To A Spiritual Awakening."  Primarily written for men to be able to "get it" before they have to hit bottom.  Although I believe women can be encouraged as well.  My prayer is that through whatever God does with this blog, He will be glorified and that even one man might come to that "Spiritual Awakening" that it takes to be what God calls us to be.  
I have found over these past couple of years that Christianity is not a part of IS Life!