Saturday, July 11, 2015

Safe Haven

 
The following is a writing exercise for me in the form of therapy as I write to tell my story that no one else but me can tell.  For over two years now I have dropped off the face of social media. I was nowhere to be found online, my blogosphere got three months of ever more rare and limited posts before total silence and Facebook only got an occasional (always impersonal) post or share, mainly pictures of the kids. It was only several months ago that Facebook became a regular thing for me again.
It extended beyond social media though. Friends struggled to get a response from texts they sent or calls they placed and voicemails they left. I suddenly disappeared from everyone except my kids. People who ran into me would say, “Aren’t you pastoring"  With virtually any question asked next I would visibly lock up and mutter some quick, conversation killing or altering comment. Over the past 2 years now some people have heard some things that has led to some information being somewhat public in some cases. Most people have no idea though of a pain worse than death that exist as the Bible suggest.
This blog post is several things for me. It is a reemergence into the social media world, maybe even the world as a whole. It is deeply therapeutic. It is a symbol and manifestation of my personal progress. It is me choosing to own my story. It is an outlet for some of my strengths (and likely weaknesses). It is evidence of hope and peace.
For years I was a consistent blogger, reaching out through Facebook and Blogs to the world in general for Christ. The blogs were about the ministry I had, showing what God was teaching me. Then I went silent. I want to return to the blogosphere with the hope of being a writer/communicator who shares what he is learning about God and life. The only way to do that with any merit is for it to be personal though. The only way to be personal is to open and honest. The year plus of social silence has been because I did not want to nor did I know how to do so well or appropriately anymore. This is my attempt.
5 years ago this summer marks a deep tragedy in my life. It was the beginning of a long, painful journey that I admit I am still on. It is fair to say that nothing I’ve ever experienced has shaken or tested me like this. I am still learning how to heal, cope, survive and thrive.
Here is a secret about me: My deepest desire in life is to make God happy. Guess that’s not a secret anymore. I don’t mean happy as in appeased. I don’t think God is awful and terrible and seeking sacrifices pleasing enough to make Him content. I mean I wanted to make God happy. Sometimes that’s a good thing and I live because I know and trust Him to be the epitome of good, love, truth and peace.
This desire was the root of several things: trying to be the best husband possible, seeking out how to be as loving as I could be for others, and so forth.
One year ago I was spent. I had overly given of myself to others, the church and my wife without knowing how to set boundaries or say “no”. I was even told so by the good counsel of a wonderful friend. But I didn’t understand and I just kept going. At minimum I consider myself guilty of pride, arrogance, foolishness, youth and lack of self worth.  My wife had an affair, then another, and yet another. I lost my marriage. Family was my life...my dream...my world. I was one of those who fought for and worked endless hours to make a future for my children and wife like no one else could, making a future that now...no longer exist.
I’ve never in my life considered divorce an option. I’ve always considered marriage vows binding. If you say “til death do us part” then that’s what you mean. Once married, I thought that unless one of us died, we would always have each other.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy either. I actually got married at a time where my usual optimistic romanticism had been thoroughly tainted by cynicism. I expected hard times with bad emotions and was ready to commit through them, ever pursuing love and joy. I was abused as a spouse. One time after the first affair I packed my bags and was leaving...it ended in her strangulation of me until I passed out on the back porch. Cuts and burses from her fits of rage that I kept hidden from the world, that my parents didn't see until after the divorce became more evident of the struggles I faced in marriage.
I will never forget the night that I was blindsided by a report of parents of a 21 yr old caught on the phone with her at 33 yr of age. It could not have been more unexpected for me. Not only had it come with no verbal warning but it came right after I had purchased a $800 gift card to dicks for her to get things she has expressed liking. I had finally scrapped and saved for to give on our 14th anniversary.
In a moment I went from focusing my energies on means of making my marriage better to being told it was going to end without my consent. It was over six months later before I was able to accept or grasp that the divorce was inevitable and out of my control. A marriage is not made up of one person’s resolve. No matter how deeply you love, you cannot alter the freewill of another. They always have the freedom and ability to make their own choice.
After six months of hurt, struggle, and sacrifice to save something, I accepted it was all gone forever. A deacon forced us to leave to protect his children from her new addictive sinful lifestyle, I also received a pledge that they would work against us in all we do, even threatened to never receive a check or benefit again financially. I briefly considered having the church to vote on it, but quickly realized it would cause a division, and that is not what I was called to do. So we left, without the churches knowledge why, and letting those men left to lead them, with lying hearts. I lost my job, my spouse, my kids half the time, and all my income in the blink of an eye. Then I got a job in masonry, selling firewood, logging, any odd job really to keep the house for the kids. Alimony was not an option for me as I am not a tyrant, nor greedy, although my lawyer told me I could receive half her check! Events years later would show her greed, but her heart is lost...searching for a shadow, only to see it vanish as she grabs. Sin does that. The house to me is worthless...just a place of broken dreams...lost hope...and endless sorrow.
My intention for the separation was for it to be a time for us to get individual help before reuniting and  getting marital counseling together. In a little over a year, she had cheated on several other men and they all ended up contacting me and spilling the beans...and seeking the truth. Lies had according to her become a habit she couldn't break. She even said she lies to herself. I possess a physical copy of the papers, she sued for divorce and full custody of the kids, but that was impossible to take place. The kids beg me to not send them back to her constantly, crying as they leave...heads down dragging, but always running to reunite with me smiles all around..to me that tells the tell. And I am still learning how to protect them with out being there with them. Her verbal abuse continues on in them sadly. My 6 year old could rip out your heart with the stories he tells of how they are treated.
 
I was a youth pastor of a church. I was a husband (my joy). I was young and full of hope and thoughts of the future. My life had a trajectory. Suddenly, it was all stripped from me.
I am now a divorced man. Many Christian communities would not accept me as a pastor on those grounds alone. The "elite" pastors of our community treat me as if I had cheated...and as though I have the plague. I have seen men of Baptist renown, as pure hypocrites now whom I use to see as heroes in the faith. I realize today more than ever...we need champions of love in the church, in which we have none.  I’ve always wanted to live as a missionary in foreign countries. The missions organization I most desire to work for has already informed me that because I have been divorced I can never work for them. Nothing was asked of the circumstances. The label is enough that I am disqualified. To live out my calling as a pastor and/or missionary is now inevitably going to be a difficult path for me to search out, and perhaps impossible.
For over 18 years my life was tied to a person who has now rejected me, and finally now, I them. I am now teaching History at a high school. I had a degree as a back up plan as I had been done wrong by my home church before and knew better than to rely solely on the church for finances. God loves the church, but sadly the church does not always reflect that same love. I commented to the deacons that I was still burdened to pastor at the church I had served as senior pastor for 10 years. I used Charles Stanley as an illustration that it could be done as he has faced identical divorce from a spouse running to the world....the response he gave was that "I was no Charles Stanley". Words cut deeper than swords. My intent was never to compare myself to such a man, but to illustrate it could be done. My heart was broken...rejection from a spouse, from those who were suppose to be my friends and even pastors who told things that were shared with them in confidence...my faith in man was at bottom. My dad is the only man I trust and my best friend.  So now what do I do?
I am 38 and feel like I’ve been set-back a lifetime. I’m through 2 years and I’ve dedicated to healing before trying to live life as usual.
     I need to own my story. A better way of putting that might be “come to terms” or “accepting and realizing”.  That’s what I have been reminded of over and over again. I feel shame and failure because of my divorce, even though I gave it my all, and her words were she was treated like a queen. I believe in striving ardently to have only one marriage and staying true to those vows. I believe in the spiritual symbolism behind marriage. I believe in love. And because of a circumstance I had not imagined, I am here today divorced knowing that God is gracious, that covenants can be broken and honored as such and that though divorce is ALWAYS a tragedy, sometimes the fault is not wholly two-sided. Sometimes someone is a victim of divorce, not a participant. She was simply set down after 3 affairs and told...to chose..and she left. She likes to tell people she was kicked out, but that is a lie she tells to feel better about herself and she loves to have people feel sorry for her to show her pity. I sat the kids down on her departure and made her tell them why she was leaving. Her words were "me and your dad have tried and cannot get along" I smiled in pain...and quickly stopped her..and told the kids I was indeed willing to forgive all her wrongs to me and them and make it work still, but she was not interested in our home but other men. She agreed and they heard the truth, which was why I wanted to do it all together so she couldn't tell that lie I knew she would in front of them later on. The kids know.
      There is a lot more that I’ve been learning through this. There is infinitely more that I do not know. I have a long road before me. I’m still very broken on Holidays, they are the worst. I will carry this with me for my entire life. How I respond is my choice; the situation is not.
I don't see any easy avenue to grow in God. I need to be myself, living out of my giftings and strengths. That means also displaying my weaknesses. I need to love like Jesus, which means loving myself and loving my enemies. I need to heal and be living evidence of the restorative power of Christ. I am looking to start over, finding the right one who will view marriage as binding and know that with me they will always be safe. The right one will surface...I do not believe it is Gods plan for me to remain alone...patience is a difficult thing...and that is what God is teaching me...which is not good for me :)....patience.
I hope that sharing my story helps someone. I hope that my honesty and vulnerability are treated with care and respect.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Christmas Blues



The history of American music finds its roots in what we call today blues. Country music finds its beginnings in bluegrass. Those songs of this world tell of the valleys in life, and the songs were a reflection of how they dealt with the hardships, thus "Blues", feeling blue, lowness, sadness, bluegrass, it is how they coped by singing. Christian music on the other hand almost always begins in the valley as well, for we have sadness and heartache being people too, BUT the kicker is, when we sing, the end of our songs ALWAYS end on a Mountain...Amen!!! I say Glory to Jesus. He is the reason for the season,,,"Go tell it on the Mountain!"

Whom is your master?



                                              Whom is your master?                                            


So many in this world feel they are beholden unto none....but the harsh reality is we all serve someone! If we are Christians, Bible reading, born again, blood washed Christians we know that we are not our own, for we were bought with a price! We are slaves and servants of the most high King, and Jesus is his name! If we say "it Is my life I can do with it as I ...please" then we serve self and the flesh which in reality is serving sin, and the devil whom is the father of sin! A true Christian does not serve self, because we follow Christ example and sacrifice our life for the benefit of others, such as a spouse needs, or children desires, or even neighbors.  Gods plan has structure and substance which you cannot find anywhere else in this chaotic world. Children are subject to there parents (Col 3:20), but oh the love and joy that is exchanged - its not a task master type relationship. The wives in turn are subject to there husbands (Eph 5:24)- nor is this a task master with a whip relationship, but one of love and joy as well. To the men, the husband is subject unto God in how he leads his home. I can testify that walking with God by example is one of the greatest joys I have ever been afforded. There is no greater walk in this world to be found. We are all subject unto Gods will and structured plan. And in that solace you will find peace and joy, and true happiness knowing all else in the world is mass disarray and turmoil! So the question remains.....whom is your master? whom do you serve? There is no in between! No purgatorial stand can be made here on these grounds, you are either for God or against him!

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Matthew 6:24

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

 
Does God Gamble?
Don't Bet on it!
 
 

      Sad to say but the arrogant "we told you so" just doesn't seem sufficient to the voters of NC. Lies of the "Education" lottery bringing more money to the school system certainly has given the school system an education as they have once again began cutting spending and X-ing out more and more jobs. Of course if we do the unpopular, politically incorrect thing of actually reading and believing the Bible we would have know from the beginning that embracing the lottery could only bring death to the school system. Sin never brings life in the end, only death. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. A fool is one who comes into quick gain. We don't have to travel far into the Bible to see that God disapproves of the lottery, and sees it as sin.
Although the words "gambling" and "gamble" do not appear in the Bible, we cannot assume that an activity is not a sin simply because it is not mentioned. Looking at pornography on the Internet and using illegal drugs are not mentioned either, but both violate God's laws. While casinos and lotteries promise thrills and excitement, obviously people gamble to try to win money. Eccl 5:10 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this [is] also vanity." 1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
      Gambling is a way to bypass work, but the Bible counsels us to persevere and work hard:"He becometh poor that dealeth [with] a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."  Proverbs 10:4One of the key principles in the Bible is that people should be wise stewards of everything God gives them, including their time, talent and treasure. Gamblers may believe they earn their money with their own labor and may spend it as they please, yet God gives people the talent and health to carry out their jobs, and their very life is a gift from him as well. Wise stewardship of extra money calls believers to invest it in the Lord’s work or to save it for an emergency, rather than lose it in games in which the odds are stacked against the player. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening or eaten by a shark than hitting the winning numbers.
      Ignorance is bliss. The lottery according to one Appalachian State professor is a poor mans tax! I would have to agree. The rich do not play the lottery, because they have no need to, yet the poor flow their money into the lucky 7, and power ball without being asked to for a chance at a better station in life. Need I remind every child of God that if the Lord is your shepherd you shall not want! Contentment is a rare thing, are you content? Basically why would the rich not be opposed to the lottery, and the answer is their taxes are not raised since the poor give the money freely!
    

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bumper Sticker on a Farrari



     It seems that today children are crazed about inking it up. According to History it is a heathenistic practice, by native tribes globally from Africa, to Australian, and in America. Prison tattoos are a sign of bondage and repression as illustrated in the Holocaust picture above. Your body, for a follower of Christ, is the temple of the Lord. Christ in you the hope of glory. If God dwells in you as you are in a house or church, we should take care of it. How would graffiti look on the side of your house? Your church? Of course that goes father than just tattooers. Pruning, cleaning, and upkeep are also necessary for a temple to exist correctly. We are aware of the fact people desire to express an idea, verse, picture, or some other "highly" significant meaning. Sadly those things leave scares if removed and are in fact permanent. Your body, being the temple of the Lord,  should be treated respectfully. You are valuable, of Hugh significance to God. Nothing more sacred and Holy as a place of worship....a temple. So in the words of one of my former students who told a tattoo artist that approached her seeking business, "why would I want to put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Senoir Week

                                                                       
 
 
 
 
                                                                        Senior Week
             In light of many teenagers living it up this week at the beaches etc, take heed to these words! If a flower is picked before it's time to bloom, the beauty God intended you to see, the fragrances to smell, and enjoy will be lost forever - you will never see or experience the perfect plan of God in fornication! An apple picked from the tree before it is ripe leaves a bitter taste i...n your mouth you never forget, but that same apple eaten when ripe (inside of marriage) causes the taste buds to explode with juices overflowing and mouth watering for joy!
             True love never asks "If you love me you will do this for me, never, never , never!True loves is what can I do for you, and doing it. Real love is enduring. How do you know, one might ask! Because I have talked to the author of Love, Jesus Himself. God is love. He loved the world and gave. Our culture defines love as "getting", God said to it's very core it is "giving". Today we have to many on the dating scene who only have a romantic obsession, which to no surprises lasts only about two years. Love grows, so to fall in love is to say it takes no work, makes no sacrifices, and needs no effort put forth. If you have ever planted a flower you know it must be cultivated (worked on). True love begins with a commitment (I'll go die for their sin Father), and then gives and invest in that other person (Jesus walked on earth for 33 1/2 years for others benefit.)True love is known and concluded in sacrifice (Someone did die on a old rugged cross for you - have you experienced that kind of love?) May the Holy Ghost shoot conviction and keep you safe and pure!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Biblical Union

 
 
 
 
                                                             Why is marriage so important?

      In light of recent days it is clear that one or both sides are unclear about issues of marriage! A vote promoting biblical marriage is viewed as taking a step backwards! Why do Christians hold marriage as so valuable? Why would a child of God make such a strong voice heard about this and not about drugs, alcohol, or other issues? Pause for a moment with me to u...nderstand why over 65 million Americans felt like it was necessary to protect marriage!
      One reason is because it is God’s perfect plan and design for one man to desire to spend his life with one woman! Those who hold the Bible as the gospel truth know it is designed as God’s perfect plan. If there were only people together who were married no STD’s would exist! No aids epidemic, no rape, or teen pregnancy anywhere! If children were born only inside of a one man-one woman home then the word "abortion" would make one scratch their head and say, “what is that”. If every child was born inside of a married home, with parents eagerly awaiting the babies’ arrival no Orphanages would exist! I would not be foolish enough to pretend this would ever happen in any part of the world, but it is still Gods’ plan as defined by the Bible! That is the kind of world I voted for, one with less problems, less pain, less heartache, one with less debates, one with less sin!
A more important reason so many voices from those in and out of church rose up was perhaps the main issue! What the world doesn’t understand is that marriage paints a perfect picture of God. Gen 1:27 states man and woman together make His image! A father alone cannot do it, nor a mother alone, nor even two of the same gender! My father was a strict man, that taught us to do what he says or suffer the punishment of not doing it. I learned when dad spoke you had better listen! My father was a strong arm of help to me, and still is, a protector if you will! All of that and so much more is a picture of Gods very nature (God is holy), full of wrath, honor, protection, provision, but that alone is not a complete picture of God. My mother is one of the most loving, caring people you will ever meet! Her priorities in life included making sure we were fed, cleaned, and presentable. She is more merciful that dad, and much quicker to forgive us for doing wrong, knowing the wrath of our father! The woman paints a picture of Gods mercy, love, care, and forgiveness (God is love)! So you see, both a mother and father are needed to display that picture of who God is! The BIG reason is so when God the Father through the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin, I was terrified, knowing I was going to Hell because of my sin (the Fathers voice was all bussiness)! BUT because I knew God loved me and would also forgive me if I asked, pleaded with him to spare me, which he did. I learned all I know about Salvation as a child by being raised in a home with a mother and father. So to a Christian, to redefine marriage is to redefine God, to redefine Salvation, which is our most sacred and precious doctrines!
       Since it is Gods’ plan, he made it where such a joining of a lifelong commitment was to include vows to each other, the witnesses present, AND to God himself. Marriage is sacred to a born again child of God that to its’ core is as Holy as the one who designed it and defined it! Any “attack” on sacred things has left villages bloody, and caused nations to go to war. Gods’ people didn’t grab pitchforks, and guns to resolve this grand issue, we simply voted! I know not everyone believes as I do, but now at least you know why this topic of conversation is such a big deal to so many who voted For Amendment one!