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…


Here We Still Stand and Beyond!

Confession time.

I’m about to write something that will be probably be unpopular. Amid a great cloud of witnesses that get the grace of God that I am fortunate to count myself lucky to be a part of, I’ve decided to write a little about works. In fact, a specific work. Yes, I said it. I’m going to write about law, the “imperatives”, the “do” in light of the “done”. If I’m lucky, I’ll annoy people on both sides of the argument in regards to doing the law vs resting in grace. Take it for what it is. 

Continue reading “Here We Still Stand and Beyond!”

The Performance Trap!

I was thinking back to an old devotional I read (and probably never finished), Holiness: Day by Day, by Jerry Bridges  I really liked reading his works, and this was no different. He has a way of focusing everything on the Gospel and the cross, as well as God’s mercy and grace in such a way, I sometimes wonder if he isn’t snatching the thoughts right from my head so he can speak directly and exclusively to me. Continue reading “The Performance Trap!”

Just Another Father’s Day…

So, Father’s Day is here again.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t be excited about it. Maybe it’s because of all my faults. Maybe in a sea of screw ups, a few life preserver moments of manly clarity and wisdom doesn’t inspire me towards feeling accomplished as a husband or father. I just don’t think it’s necessarily something to relish in or put on a pedestal. It doesn’t seem like it’s something to be highly regarded from a fatherly point of view. I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling it and frankly I never do. I am a father simply because and only because, my wife blessed me with two children. I am a father because that’s what my children call me. I feel more privileged and honored by that than by anything I’ve ever done in my role as a father. To be honest, if they still love me and if my wife still loves me and I think they do, then they have shown me the face of God and I have probably failed to adequately acknowledge it.
Continue reading “Just Another Father’s Day…”

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.”

We Need Forgiveness, ALL THE TIME!

One of the most regular, and familiar parts of the current contemporary mainstream evangelical church service is the altar call.

Whether for first time believers walking the aisle wanting to hand their lives over to Jesus, or old mainstays in the church that go up for prayer for some sin or struggle in their life. Inevitably, and without fail, there will always be those repeat offenders that return week after week. Those repeaters run the aisle after every service, needing prayer for the same thing again. Continue reading “We Need Forgiveness, ALL THE TIME!”

The CHF Articles: My Grace-Covered Memory

I’m a New Yorker. More specifically, I am from the very forgotten borough of Staten Island. It’s a small place, and growing up here my whole life means that there aren’t too many places that I haven’t explored. This also means, and forgive the imagery, that in the course of my young life, I’ve spread enough sins from one end of the island to the other. I don’t dwell on it regularly, but a quick trip running errands about the island brings me past too many old familiar places. They are places that cause this mind to quickly wander into all of the “what I used to do’s.” It seems, once the memory is sparked, those past sins play out like a video in my mind. It’s amazing that I can forget a name in seconds, but like a file saved on a hard drive, those memories can boot up in record time.

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The CHF Articles: Chasing Broken Christians

Do we only want to be around people who want to be around us? We certainly like people who agree with us, and we love people who buy the same books, or saw the same movies as us. We want to be around people who are like ourselves. It’s just more comfortable. It’s no different when it comes to spiritual matters. We want people who seem just as motivated as us to follow God. “THAT’S my sister, brother, dude, co-laborer in Christ!” We want to run alongside those who are running after God with a passion. I guess that’s probably easier or safer. We’re Christians, and we’re supposed be drinking the “kool-aid” from the same communion cup. We’re supposed to be on the same track.

Continue reading “The CHF Articles: Chasing Broken Christians”

The CHF Articles: Forgiveness At Every Level

Whatever level of sin you’re rummaging around in, forgiveness and grace is yours.

I really could stop right there, and most Christians would get the point, but as I’ve said before this topic hits home for me, and its important for me to be reminded that whatever I’ve done, if Christ is my hope, there is truly no condemnation that can overwhelm you, and leave you unforgiven and unrestored. This is not a green light to sin with reckless abandon, and we know the Bible nowhere encourages that. Being both sinful and justified means we don’t revel in our guilt and shame, but trust in the forgiveness of God, through the finished work of Christ. We trust God as we turn to Him in repentance and faith, which we all need to do regularly, and I stand unashamed at the front of the line. I feel the need to express these things because of the different levels of sin that exist. The ones that we may excuse away because they’re so small, or the others which make us feel so guilty that we think forgiveness is beyond God’s ability or maybe desire. Below are examples of those levels:

Continue reading “The CHF Articles: Forgiveness At Every Level”

A New Snow, A Saving Grace*

*This was written last winter, but it still applies… I hope you enjoy it

While in the midst of cursing this winter that never seems to end, I was confronted in my mind with a particular insight as I watched the snow come down this morning. As snowfalls go, this has been one of my favorites. The giant drifting snowflakes gently coming down remind me of the manna falling from heaven to feed God’s own people. The flakes so large, look as if they’re of a greater, tangible substance and not just water that melts away in the warmth of your hands. There’s no wind blowing violently to turn it into an icy sheet and the weather is just warm enough for you to stand outside and enjoy it without having to rush back in. This is the kind of snow you want to see on Christmas Eve. It is “Postcard Perfect” in the way it falls and in the way it lies on ground before people go about the business of brushing it all aside. Continue reading “A New Snow, A Saving Grace*”