No Darkness Too Dark: No More Games

I wrote this a few years ago and had it published on two websites, Dropping Keys and Key Life. It’s a weird little tale and the style I wrote it in was the best way I knew how to get it on “paper.” It helped me understand that there is no darkness too dark in your life that the light of Christ can’t illuminate. There are no hiding places from forgiveness, mercy and grace.     

Let me tell you story about a young boy.

This boy, at a very young age was sexually abused by two separate family members, one male and one female. Both were old enough to know they were doing something wrong, but young enough to not be considered adults. This young boy was made to think that he was playing a game and it never dawned on him that there was anything wrong. Though it stopped short of anything occurring that might be considered medically harmful, it was emotionally and psychologically damaging for him as you can imagine. “It was a game and people liked him”, thought the boy. They wanted to spend time with him. In some weird sense of innocence, it made the boy happy. Then, it stopped. The boy doesn’t remember the exact details of it, but he just knew that it stopped and it left him with a weird feeling inside. For sure, it was good that it stopped, but this boy being so young, didn’t know how to process that. From here on in, like a curse, the boy and his view of intimacy would be forever slanted by his experience.

Well, the boy grew older and with age comes autonomy. This means the boy was, for long periods of time, without supervision. He hung out with friends that like to play the kind of games he remembers, though maybe the rules changed a bit. And that’s just what the boy did. He played and played those games. They were hidden secret games and no one ever found out about them, because by then, he knew these weren’t the kind of games you bragged about openly. Unfortunately for him, those games stopped too. The boy again felt confused and lonely. He became somewhat focused on these kinds of games as a result. But, for some time, the desire to play these games lay dormant, mostly out of necessity because he had no one to play with.

Well, the boy grew older still and became a young man and this young man began playing these games again and did so quite a bit. Because of the confusion brought on by the initial abuse, this game was played with any kind of partner. The only thing that mattered was that the young man had an outlet for his game again and thanks to the wonders of the inner city and a new messenger job that took him on occasion to the more seedy parts of town, it wasn’t hard to find players. By now though, he was well aware of how wrong he was in what he was doing, how dangerous it was and how sinful it was. He grew up in a faith, though I wouldn’t say he had a faith at that time, but as a result of his upbringing, he certainly knew enough to know right from wrong. He was never one to play around with absolutes, he just didn’t live a life that cared for them.

Though much older now, this boy, now a man with forty plus years behind him, recognizes that the struggle not to play these games has never gone away completely and probably never will. Though his primary outlet on occasion is regulated to a computer screen, the struggle is there just as much now as it was all those years ago. This man now calls himself a child of God, with a shaky faith in Christ, but a faith for sure. He often feels like Peter perpetually stepping out of the boat, walking on the water towards Jesus and then sinking in some sin and needing Christ’s rescue. The man has confessed his struggles with mixed emotions and reactions and has heard for the longest time that sin loses all its power when its brought into the light and he wish it were true, as he wrestles again and again. He can claim more victories, but it doesn’t negate the losses, even if it’s just one. As a Christian, this man has been taught that victory over struggles–like drugs alcohol, pornography–are a guarantee if you just grab a firm hold of them. Again, he wishes for that reality to be true.

The man, now older, realizes the losses are not simply what he clicks on with a mouse, but how that struggle has affected his entire life. The confusion and attention that came with his abuse at such a young age, makes it tough to form solid relationships with family and friends. In addition, all the rules in the world won’t, and right outward behavior can’t, change the most difficult struggle that occurs in the mind. The struggle is against condemnation that unceasingly says, “You’re filthy and unworthy of anyone…You have nothing important or helpful to offer anyone…Just hope for death, everyone would be better off.”

Despite the constant battle to silence those voices, there is another voice that beckons. A voice that carries over the others. A voice that is a comfort to this man, and tells him, despite his struggles, you are not this un-lovable, disfigured creature.

This voice says you are a sinner and you will struggle, but it is in this struggle where you can cry out like Paul when he said, “who will deliver me from this body of death?” “Who will rescue me from drowning?” Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, there IS no more condemnation for Paul and there IS no more condemnation for this abused boy, now struggling man…this man, who has been able to forgive his abusers, this man who has been able to see more victories. This man who can say to his family, despite their reactions, “I am a sinner but I am forgiven and stand no longer condemned.” This man can now say, “I have failed” and then trust that when he comes to God in those tears of repentance, he is not only restored, but was never cast out in the first place and never will be. This is always the hope this man has. Not that he won’t sin anymore but that he is forgiven forever and that is my hope as well.

It is in that hope that the game he has been playing all these years, begins to lose its allure…


Simple Nostalgia

Yesterday, I went for a walk during lunch.

This walk took me places I hadn’t been in a long time. Working near your childhood home will afford you that luxury. As I passed buildings, new and old, it reminded me of my youth and how my friends and I ruled this kingdom by walking its borders, pushing the boundaries of our land further out as we got older. There was a time when I felt like I knew every nook and cranny of this familiar landscape. I knew every escape route to safely excavate ourselves from the looming judgment of any disapproving adults ready to pounce on our fun. There were tiny pockets of “forests” in this concrete jungle, that gave us enough of an illusion that a jungle existed here, perfect for a rousing game of manhunt. Continue reading “Simple Nostalgia”

We Sin. God Forgives. Grace Reigns.

‪Early on in my Christian walk, I was told exposing your sin is the only way it could be robbed of its power over you. So I did it. I told people. Lots of people. It was hard, and it hurt, and it was tough on my family, especially my wife. When the smoke cleared, I didn’t feel better, or freer, or more holy.  The only thing I knew now was the people knew what a horrible sinner I was, and after the initial pats on the back, it seemed as if I hadn’t said a word. Continue reading “We Sin. God Forgives. Grace Reigns.”

My Walmart Purgatory

It’s early Sunday morning, and I’m at a gas station just outside of Detroit, filling up for a long drive home. Around 9 hours ahead of me, to be exact. The last thing I need to see on my dashboard, is the “low tire pressure” light on. I inspect the back tire on the driver’s side, and my fear is fully realized. I’m totally screwed! No, really. It’s a big fat screw robbing my tire of the precious air it needs for it to get me home. As per the hotel clerk, I was left two choices; the local gas-station mechanic, which wasn’t open yet, and would undoubtedly have access to limited supplies on a lazy Sunday morning, or the super-sized Walmart, just short of a mile down the road.  I hastily made my choice, and I suppose I’ll have to live with that for the rest of my life. Continue reading “My Walmart Purgatory”

Detroit: 72 Hours of Frankness

May 7th, 2017

It was a long weekend.

It was the typical three days, but I crammed so much in, that by 2:00 AM Monday morning when I pulled into my driveway, I think I heard my body audibly sigh in relief. I had spent the weekend in Michigan, and I got there the best way I know how that didn’t require my feet to leave the ground. In other words, I drove. It was worth the nine-hour trek through the raging rain and windstorm. It was worth it for even the few hours, and sometimes only minutes, I got to spend with people as we invested into each other’s lives. Continue reading “Detroit: 72 Hours of Frankness”

Divorced Observations

This one’s a little different today. It’s a reflection on life at my current job in the New York State Court System. There’s nothing specifically Christian about it, except maybe to say that kindness, mercy, and grace can be a great comfort and help in some of the worst situations of life, whether we care to have God be involved in it, or not. I hope it’s encouraging, or at least gives you pause to consider how to seek the best way forward in any situation. 

Continue reading “Divorced Observations”

Church Plant Memoirs: What Was I Thinking?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nearly 9:00 PM, and I feel like a prisoner in my car. If there is one thing I feared the most about being part of a church plant in the heart of New York City, this would be it. Continue reading “Church Plant Memoirs: What Was I Thinking?”

A Journey, The Struggle, And Encouragement

“Life is a journey” We hear that a lot.

From TV and movies, to fluffy little news pieces,  to quaint concise sayings on Twitter and Facebook, these can all seem like bold declarations of “finding direction for your life.” It’s all around us. Frankly, I’ve never been more tired of it. But, there is some truth to the initial saying. It’s just with so much media access, it can seem like overkill, as well as beyond confusing because every person with a blog, TV show, or conference wants to tell you what that journey is supposed to be about.  I guess this could be counted as one more. I mean, I’m not really going to tell you what that specific journey is, or how to achieve nirvana by following it. I’m just going to quickly(or not so quickly), tell you about one of the journeys I’m on and maybe it will encourage you, and maybe just maybe it will be so awful you’ll puke. Either way at least I’m getting a reaction. Continue reading “A Journey, The Struggle, And Encouragement”

Letters To Bob…

A friend obtain these letters at extreme danger to himself. He then passed them on to me, and I hereby submit them to my entire blogging audience for the purpose of hopefully grasping the idea of God’s Grace as displayed by Bob, the father of this wayward son. The names, have of course, been changed to protect the parties.*  Continue reading “Letters To Bob…”

God Has A “Specific” Plan For Your Life!

…A Parable

Myles was a drug addict before he came to faith in Christ. Now, He uses that past life to minister to other addicts in his community. He does his best to help by using the gift he believes God has specifically given him. Most of all, he shares the Gospel with them. Some hear the words, and are moved by them to repent and trust in Christ. Some others hear the words and leave unaffected. Whatever the circumstances or results, Myles keeps on walking out that specific plan God has for his life. Continue reading “God Has A “Specific” Plan For Your Life!”