Learning To Dance

It’s said that “you can never go home again” but what I thinks meant by that is that you can’t go back in time. And while that’s certainly true, at the same time it can seem impossible to move out of your past and into the present, let alone into your future! Despite all of that, earlier this year I did make a move! I moved my family from south-central to a new place in south-west Missouri,back to my hometown!

Not only my hometown,but to the very neighborhood I grew up in…

Even though I consider myself to be a sentimental person who as such is well acquainted with the “slings and arrows”which so often accompany it I’ll admit to being caught off guard by my subsequent reactions. It took a while for me to sort out why on a certain level I seemed angry about how so many things I remembered had changed! Like I was caught in the throes of some childlike egocentric fit over not having been “consulted”.

I didn’t say that the feelings were “right” only that I was having them!

Another thing I wasn’t really prepared for was the onslaught of questions that living in such close proximity to my past would move to the front burner of my mind or the rough terrain I’d have to traverse to find the difficult answers they demanded! Questions like…

“What the heck happened to my education?”


Just exactly where and how did my life “Jump the shark” so to speak…

 I want to make it really clear that this isn’t just some sort of pity party I decided to throw for myself nor am I attempting to fix blame on God or anyone else. Some of the events of my life have been rather unfortunate and apart from my aforementioned personal search for answers my intent or purpose in writing about them here is to encourage others who’ve had or will have similar experiences.Understanding our own issues of the past can be the key to moving beyond them into a better future! I can hardly express how important it is for me to be able to look back on my life and instead of feeling despair regarding certain aspects of it, to feel hopeful. Hopeful not only because I survived it but because I somehow found the courage to go on and the faith to believe there was something better waiting for me somewhere. lastly,to express my thankfulness to my Father in heaven who did then,and does now hold me in the palm of His loving hand!

I’d like to start with this video clip which was probably taken in the summer of 1971 when I was 10yrs old. As I watched it I remember being taken aback at how happy I appear to be! This video was taken by my father during one of the most difficult periods of my life,within a few months after my parents’ divorce.

The surrealistic background music provides a fitting contrast to the seemingly carefree display caught on the clip. It truly is a reality vacuum! Not only had my family recently changed in a not so good way, I’d also been the victim of significant sexual abuse on several occasions by people close to me. I’d recently become involved with a local church and had accepted Christ as my Savior, been baptized,and then when I stopped coming…forgotten.

I watched helplessly as my father who I worshiped became increasingly distant and more invested in his new life and family and less in me. I found out what it was to be hungry and to not have sufficient clothing that fit properly. And so at my lowest point,to then have my mother on whom I had become quite emotionally dependent begin spending a great deal of time away from me further compounded my feelings of insignificance. I was still just a bit too young to roam the streets after dark like my older brother…so I spent a lot of time at home alone.

When I watch this video…

I wonder what in the world I had to dance about!

And then it hit me…

I was playing the best cards I had in front of the one person I loved the most in the whole world! And despite everything wrong that had happened in my life up to that point in that moment,I chose to dance!

To block out everything else and focus on the only thing I felt had the potential to save me…

His love!

In my mind I was just doing what I’d always done…performing!

But what I was really doing was sort of the ultimate act of defiance.

I was in effect saying to the circumstances of my life,

You have not defeated me, you’ve thrown just about everything you could at me.

And guess what? I’m still dancing!

Isaiah 54:17

 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

It still inspires me…But what happened after that? You’d think that someone with that sort of “sand” would probably go far in life. I think what happened to me, and what happens to a lot of other people too is that we eventually become convinced that there’s nothing in this life worth dancing (or smiling) for!

When the subject of my education comes up what happened is no surprise considering I’d been a dedicated addict for almost six years at the age of 17. What I struggle to understand is why my school counselors and administrative staff chose to ignore what was happening. I attended a vocational course in the mornings which I was bused to and from daily and then spent the afternoons in various classes. As that last semester of my junior year came to a close I believe I was simply overwhelmed by the assignments which were due. Not knowing quite how to handle that I chose to simply skip the last eight days of afternoon classes…and so I flunked the eleventh grade!

I understand that I wasn’t the only “problem child” they were dealing with but I wonder could they of made a phone call to my parents? Aren’t there policies in place concerning this type of infraction? One last thing,anyone that reads this who attended my high school or any high school in the seventies for that matter knows what it was like as far as drug use on campus is concerned,and so, after they failed as an institution to provide a safe and secure environment for students to learn in and I become a victim of that I’m appalled that they could then decide that the thing to do is throw me out!

This took place during a time when my mother was going through another divorce from her second husband and we ended up moving from an upper class home in an exclusive neighborhood into a small two bedroom apartment. I did enroll the next year at a different school and lasted maybe a month before my principal at vocational school suggested that what would be best for me would be to quit school and get a GED. I did get a GED, and that was basically the end of my formal education although in truth I believe I learned precious little from formal schooling past the age of about 12.

One of the most common, if not the most common things you’ll hear Christian ministers say is “God has a plan for your life” and of course I believe that! I also believe that our enemy has a plan for us too…I’m convinced that on the day I made that walk down the isle and knelt down at an altar to accept Christ as my Lord and Savor there was a celebration in heaven! I also believe there was an emergency board meeting in hell! That meeting’s purpose was to put the kibosh on the plans my heavenly Father had for me and subvert the role I was designed to play in ushering in His kingdom.My sense is that there must of been no small amount of surprise and disappointment expressed by the attendee’s that their earlier efforts on my behalf had had so little present effect on me.

Knowing that my souls redemption was a done deal at this point, their only remaining option was to try and stop me from doing what I had the God given potential to do and be in Gods Kingdom by whatever means available to them! I mentioned at the beginning the feelings I’d been having and what I thought they were related to. However at this point I’d have to say that they’re actually directed at the forces of darkness which have for many years stolen so much from me in this life. Who’ve worked diligently behind the scenes orchestrating circumstances and events in my life to do towards me what’s prescribed in the mission statement below…

John 10:10

 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Obviously there’s a disconnect between those two premises…

Genesis 50:20

 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

These are all life verses to me…

They give me hope,encouragement and peace in the midst of my storms!

Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

King David danced before the Lord. Out of joy that the Ark of The Covenant had at last been returned to Jerusalem. David had to go through quite a painful learning process as he endeavored to lay down his will and surrender completely to God. In my life I’ve been challenged by similar lessons,it seems as though I too was following the example of the Philistines! Learning to trust that God truly does know what He’s doing allows me to be able to sit, (or dance) so that He can stand for me! The answers to our problems are still the same for us today as they were for David then! All of us have a God sized hole which can only be filled by drawing closer to Him! By staying focused on The Father, through our Lord who is Love,which is the answer,instead of on our world and it’s problems! If we can do that, we can also experience the continual joy of being in the Lords presence!

To me,that’s what “learning to dance” means…

Easy Does It!

For many very good reasons those are definitely the wisest words spoken around me in the last couple of weeks.  Recently, after a very long hiatus I’ve returned to the world of physical work. I’m slowly becoming adjusted to my new routine, getting lots of healthy exercise, working with people I enjoy, and spending all day outside usually in the woods! It’s every bit as much fun as it sounds, but the combination of having turned fifty last month and my being so very out of shape (round is a shape isn’t it?) has made it a real challenge. Let me tell you, after you’ve pushed yourself pretty hard it’s an incredible feeling just to lay back on the grass and stare up at the crystal clear blue sky. Feeling your blood coursing through your veins and the blessed peace that even momentary relief brings. Marking time by the thunderous rhythm of your own heart beats against the easy swaying of the tree tops.

Overheated~ pulsating… ecstatic!

At this point in my life, it’s out of necessity I must be smarter about how I go about things. I’m no longer able to simply go to the well of my physical strength as before. This emerging strategy consists mostly of practicing patience, persistence, and planning, but more importantly it’s about using the power that’s available to me most effectively. That involves developing the skill and judgment nessesary to use a machine to it’s full potential without pushing it to the point that it’s going to break or in a way it wasn’t designed to be used. Understanding that it, the machine, will take a great deal of hard use but very little if any ab-use.  So while it’s true that my strength isn’t what it once was and my energy is now much more precious, none of those realities change the fact that the job is about moving heavy objects from one place to another, and so the relationship I have with my “power” equipment is extremely vital to me!

The power of a machine like this makes the impossible possible. It pulls whole trees out of the thickest brush you can imagine using a wench and a cable and “skids” them to a landing.

This is called a “picker truck” it’s the helping hand that lifts the extremely heavy loads onto the log truck like they were toothpicks!

And of course the real workhorse of our operation, the log truck! We do a humanly impossible task by using the awesome power that’s available to us through these tools.

Life can also be a “mission impossible”

How common it seems to be nowadays for people to feel overwhelmed by all of the heavy burdens they’re dragging around or trying to carry on their shoulders. All of us can relate personally or have known those who were crushed by the weight of their problems, by the pile of logs that are on top of them! Many people mistakenly believe that they’re stuck in their situations, pinned down by the tangled mess their living in and are frustrated by it’s complex nature. Sadly, their lives have become a hopeless, joyless, depressing drudgery with seemingly no meaning to all of the hardship and struggles that they endure daily.

And that’s no way to live!

This description also fits many Christian people who would eagerly to tell you about Jesus and his great love for us all!  Who have trusted Christ for their eternal salvation and yet somehow they’re challenged to trust Him with their present circumstances! I wonder if they believe that He’s a far away God who is perhaps indifferent to their troubles or that what goes on here in this life is theirs to deal with alone. I don’t think that’s right, this sounds much easier to me!

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Matthew 11:30

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Years ago my high school biology teacher told us that he had previously taught chemistry for many years all the while believing that he understood it until one day as he was drawing a formula on the board in a sudden realization he actually “got it” himself. He thought he understood it but his understanding was only on a superficial level. I’m sure he had  passed many tests over it to graduate and no doubt felt comfortable teaching it to others. In his head it seemed to be a settled issue, but in his heart it was a different matter. He didn’t really understand it, not on that level, there was a vital connection missing, an “app” as they call it today that turned it from being just a bunch of abstract theories into a simple life changing reality!

As Christians I think we all need to have a similar “light bulb” moment! One way to do that is to walk by faith in our own lives until we come to a much clearer understanding of what is the true reality of the spiritual world and the false illusion of the physical one.

1 Corinthians 2:6

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

If only we could comprehend much more of  God’s love for us, think of the difference it would make in our lives, that we could make in this world! we could live our lives in victory and love would flow out of us like living waters!

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

John 7:38

He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Christs supreme act of love and redemption that was done for all men on the cross defeated sin’s power over us and ultimately death on our behalf. It made the impossible possible, and through the power of His blood Jesus still empowers believers to rise above all of the weapons that are formed against them in life.

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Easy does it!

We have a tremendous tool that we don’t use nearly enough! It has the power to pull us out of the miry clay we’re stuck in and out of the worst thorns and thickets we could ever hope to find ourselves. It can lift all of those heavy burdens we’re carrying around ourselves, put them on a truck, and deliver you from the need to ever fear them again! What is it?


Romans 12:12

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

1 John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

It’s as easy as just loving God,

Loving our brothers and sisters by sharing Christ’s love which was given to us freely

And finally, it’s as easy as loving yourself and KNOWING that God loves YOU!

There’s nothing confusing or complicated about it. All we have to do is LOVE.

That’s always been Gods intention towards us, I don’t understand why we all don’t get it !

Or why if we say we do, we don’t act with the authority it conveys to us over all areas of our lives

Someday, a simple little man is going to read Gods word and just believe it…

And the rest of us are going to be really embarrassed when he looks at us and says,

It’s easy when you just let God do it!

Matthew 6:13

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Gods In It…(Pt.3)

In some ways this is the most difficult part for me to write because it tells the story of how I went from being a regular three time a week church attendee to striking out and”accidentally” establishing a ministry of my own. It’s difficult because what I’ve got to say is critical of certain aspects of not just my church at the time but mainstream churches as a whole. Over time what I began to see and hear became very frustrating to me, the message I kept hearing was that we need to be a church outside the four walls but as far as I could see there wasn’t any real practical or specific plan as to exactly what that means other than to just “be a good person” or “invite someone to church”. Being able to confidently share your faith with others is a weak spot with most Christians. But from my perspective, after all of the ways I had witnessed the Lord’s provision in my life through all of the circumstances I’d been through it was very natural for me to tell others how good He was to me! Over time what I was hearing just ceased to minister to me.  I wondered if I was being spiritually prideful or if I was just tired of sitting in a pew week after week hearing the call to GO being given but not feeling as though it was something most took seriously. I tried to make suggestions for various outreach activities but they were all ignored or dismissed. There’s an old joke about a church that was seeking a new minister, they were particularly impressed by one man and asked him to return and speak to  their congregation again, he does but he gives the exact same sermon! The elders met together and asked the young preacher “don’t you know any other sermons?” he relied “Sure, and as soon as this congregation start’s practicing THIS one I’ll preach another!”

One Monday morning in October of 2009 I couldn’t get my car started and wasn’t able to figure out exactly what was wrong with it and fix it for 26 days.  During that time I was unable to attend church and when I finally did get my car fixed I just didn’t want to go back. What happened was kind of sad but in another way it was a blessing because it forced me to make a change that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have otherwise made.  The next twist was what I thought was a God ordained partnership with a new friend I had found. Instead it was another necessary nudge that also helped serve the purpose of moving me from being a pew sitter to a well, whatever it is I’ve become…An evangelist, a counselor, or perhaps just a Christian who’s wiling to trust in a God that has brought him through so many things, and in His promises of a plan He has for my life to establish me and not to harm me!

In the beginning of this three part series I used a card game as an illustration to expound upon the ways in which I believe God has shown Himself in my life. Playing cards requires that you pay attention to what’s in your hand and that when you have something to “lay down” it’s best to go ahead and just do it. To me that’s what my blogging has always been about, trying to tell or “lay it down” to others that it’s not about what we may go through in this life, it’s who you go through it with that gives it meaning or value! Every story I’ve told here is about how God showed up in the midst of my circumstances and kept me from hitting bottom. I’d also like to say that what I’ve written here is a very abridged version of many, many ways God interceded on my behalf, far too many for me to even mention!  Nobody in my family has ever been hungry or gone without any thing they really needed. Even during the worst of it, when I lost my home, He made sure I had enough money to rent a truck, that I had help moving, and most important a place to move to! God knows me so well, and He knows what I can take and what I can’t take.

The following verse in Isaiah really sums it all up for me.

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Our enemy comes only to kill,steal,and destroy! If the trials and troubles that you have in your life can steal your joy or make you doubt Gods great love for you than his weapons have prospered! It’s only through the blood of Christ and the sustaining power of Gods Holy Spirit that we can have victory over life’s most difficult challenges. For what was meant for evil against us, only God can turn into good!

One of the most common questions I’m asked by people regarding what I’m doing in my ministry is “How are you funded?” and the answer is that I’m privately funded by Jesus!

Say What?

That’s right! He’s sustained me through all things and now and has moved me into the position I’m in and even though I only make about 13,000 a year I’ve been able to financially support my ministry! I live a wonderful life It seems like I always have plenty of money for life’s little extra’s, going out to eat occasionally or just buying something I need, it’s absolutely true that you can’t “out give” God!  He’s made a 17yr old car that I got as a gift with over 255,000 miles on it last for two years and just last week I was given another car that’s the exact same model and color except it’s 10yr’s newer and in immaculate condition!

He’s made sure that my daughter always has nice clothes to wear because He knows that there’s no way I would be able to do what I’m doing if I thought she was being made to suffer because of it or if it prevented me from taking care of her. I’m sure that there will be some people who read this and say “Your circumstances were the result of your own bad choices!” Sure I’ve made some bad choices, who hasn’t? But if I had gotten the choices I wanted I would’ve gone back to work driving a truck, remember? or “I think that there are quite a number of other more practical ways to explain everything that you’ve attributed to God“, and in response to that I say, “You’re right! But this is my story and I’m going to tell it how it make’s sense to me, I was there, I lived it, and from my perspective it definitely doesn’t make sense to me any other way so I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree as to whether “Gods in it” or not!

Well, I’ve laid all of my cards out on on the table, and slid my entire pile of chips into the pot. And all I want out of the sum of my life’s experience is to be able to say that when it came to my faith, “I wasn’t just shuckin’! To be able to say that my belief in God not only sustained me but moved me into action, and that I chose to step out in faith and answer what I feel is the call on my life which ALL Christian people have. To live, despite the circumstances of my life in such a way that others just have to say…

Gods In It!

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.