She got what she deserved ….

I opened the paper this morning and there she was. A 20 something young woman who was being sentenced to life in prison for killing her newborn baby boy. After killing the child, she then wrapped him in towels, put him in a trash bag and threw him into the trash. The picture in the paper showed this young woman sitting in court with her head down and tears in her eyes.

I slowly read the article to my wife and we digested the whole sordid story paragraph by paragraph. After reading the article the first thing I noticed was my attitude toward the young woman was different than it would have been just a few years ago. Several years ago I would have shaken my head with Pharisaical disgust and wondered how anyone could be that stupid. I would have then said “she got what she deserved”. Finally, I would have gotten in my car and drove down to court house so I could be one of the first in line to stone her when she was taken off to prision.

That was then. This is now. I saw her as a person with a sin nature that simply overpowered her. At her sentancing her family described her as a caring, loving, gentle person. When I read that I thought that is probably exactly right. Her sin nature was always lurking right below the surface and what happened to her is what happened to Judas. (John 13:27a (NRSV) After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. …”) There is no doubt in my mind she was a wonderful girl. I’m also just as convinced Romans 7 is on display here. She is battling inside and loses because she has no power or support system to help her work through this mess. The entire situation is a sad state of affairs. She had been let down and abandoned by everyone that had a chance to help her. Her “boyfriend” (who I am sure told her how much he loved her) is no where to be found if they even know who he is. She has been abandoned by everyone. Everyone except God! Of course she is guilty. That’s not the point. King David was guilty. Moses was guilty. Paul was guilty. Jekyll is guilty. Hyde is guilty. YOU are guilty!

As I saw the picture of her sitting there crying and weeping, I could only think of John 8 and the woman the Pharasees dragged before Jesus. There doesn’t seem to be any doubt about her guilt. She was unable to answer her accusers. At the conclusion of the story, she was left alone with Jesus. He asked her where her accusers were. I envision her standing there with her head down and tears rolling down her cheeks as well. Jesus was pretty clear: He dicn’t accuse her! So, with the parable of the talents clearly in focus in my rearview mirror, how could I condem this young woman for anything? I have asked for and received God’s grace and mercy when needed. How can I not offer it to this young woman as well?

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I can’t hear you ………..

I am out of pocket for a few days. Well ok, another 6-8 weeks.    I am not immobilized but I am recovering from surgery that greatly restricts my mobility. So my wife is stuck with taking care of me. I’ve been an outdoors guy all of my life. I’ve worked outside in all types of weather. But now, I can’t walk into the kitchen by myself. I can’t make myself coffee without a great deal of difficulty. I can’t take a shower by myself. I can go to the bathroom by myself, but I can’t let the dogs in or out. I can’t mow the yard. (I am hoping you are getting the picture here). I find I am dependent on others to do things I have done by myself for my entire adult life. And you know what? I find I hate every minute of it.

It turns out my wife isn’t so comfortable with the idea either. A friend from church called and asked how they could help us. I jumped at the chance to have someone else mow the lawn. I mentioned that as we talked and I could tell my wife was nervous about it. She was going to pay someone to come and mow as well as some other things that needed to be done. But she acceded to the help and then our friend dropped the big one on us. They were going to bring us food. We were both stunned. SOMEONE IS BRINGING US FOOD! We aren’t on welfare, we aren’t destitute, yet someone is bringing us food. What can we do to repay you we asked? “Oh nothing” our friend said rather nonchalantly. “We just want to help.”

Well there ya go! The Gospel of Christ in action.

Philippians 2:4 (HCSB) {4} Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

1 Corinthians 10:24 (HCSB) {24} No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.

I could quote others, but there is no need to. Our friends were modeling the Gospel right in front of our very own eyes and we failed to recognize it. We were so concerned about paying them back and being independent, that when Jesus was talking to us on the phone, we didn’t know it. I have a much clearer understanding of

Matthew 25:44 (HCSB) {44} “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, OR UNABLE TO MOW THEIR YARD, OR LEAVE THE HOUSE, and not help You? ‘ [Red text my own addition so will not confuse it with a new translation you weren’t aware of.]

These folks that miss out in the end were so worried about their own deal and perhaps adhering to a standard that doesn’t exist in the Bible, that when Jesus did show up, they had no clue about it.

John 12:29-30 (HCSB) {29} The crowd standing there heard it and said it was thunder. Others said that an angel had spoken to Him. {30} Jesus responded, “This voice came, not for Me, but for you. Mark 4:9 (HCSB) {9} Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen! “

Where are the tears?

20:17 Dear Lord: I am exhausted. I am ashamed again. I’m just tired Lord. I am whipped and I wish I had a chance to sit and cry. I wish I could, but I can’t. I can tell there is a need to, but I have no idea how to begin. I’m a guy. I’ve talked to you about this before. I have a sense there is a deep core of something that should have come out years ago, but didn’t. I do remember crying as boy because I was in some pretty bad situations. I look back at them now, and I don’t know why I was in the situations I was in. I don’t know why they refused to help me but I cried and cried to get my parents to get me the hell out of Dodge, but they wouldn’t do it. “You need to toughen up. Be a man!” My mom actually told that to me when I was 14.

After thinking about this, I understand why I don’t cry. I can actually go back to the day I made the decision that I was done with crying. It happened in a red phone booth in the middle of the boarding school I was sent to for an education. I got educated all right. I learned how to give blow jobs and how to get my ass beat. Yes I was educated all right. I called and begged to be taken home but that didn’t happen. So one night I said (and I quote) “Fuck this shit! I am done with begging them to do anything.” I went into the phone booth as a young scared little boy. I came out like the alien out of the chest of the guy in the 1979 movie ‘Alien’.

I developed the habit of not crying. When I should have cried, I got angry. Really angry! I often moved into combat mode and would fight at the drop of a hat. Then there were 2 failed engagements. One girl turned out to be banging the wrestling team while we were making plans to spend the rest of our life together. I didn’t figure that was going to work out so I moved on. Three years later I’m engaged again. We were 30 days from the wedding when her mother injected herself into the mix by insisting we have children. We had settled that question (no kids) BEFORE the engagement. As the conversation grew heated I turned to my bride to be for support and with one look realized if I went ahead with the wedding, I would soon be a father and that was not going to happen. So I broke this one off. So much for weddings.

I then met the most interesting date I’d ever been out with. Her name? Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Most folks know her by her initials, LSD! She was a hot date for sure. We traveled all over the world together. We sure had a boatload of fun. She was an easy date. She would be there whenever I called and she was always ready to go on a trip with me. She was a very colorful date to say the least! I still smile when I think of her. We were together for several years. We were constant companions. I have very fond memories of her.

But then I met my wife and I quickly broke up with Ms Diethylamide. There was no room for her when my wife showed up. I was swept off my feet. Our relationship was hot and dynamic right out of the gate. We hit it off in every way.

It’s now forty years later and I find myself in a mess. Upon reflection of my situation with the Lord I understand very clearly the mess is of my doing and my responsibility and mine alone. Whatever issues I have with my wife, it is my responsibility to work it out with her and the Lord. I didn’t do that. It’s difficult to learn you’ve missed the first 5 stages of your relationship with your wife for 40 years. How utterly selfish. That is devastating to be honest. I capped this all off with my most recent caper.

I’ve thrown sand in my own transmission and my life has somewhat ground to a halt at this present time. But scriptures have a word of hope for folks like me. Joel 2:25 (HCSB) {25} I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust — My great army that I sent against you.

I’m very sad. But I can’t cry. There are no tears there. I wish there were, but there aren’t. I read in Psalms where the Psalmists spoke of the tears (Psalms 6:6 (HCSB) {6} I am weary from my groaning; with my tears I dampen my pillow and drench my bed every night. ) and (Psalms 42:3 (HCSB) {3} My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God?”) as well as (Psalms 56:8 (HCSB) {8} You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?)

I need to cry Lord, I really do need to! I’ve fucked this up royal and I have no clue what to do. I just don’t know. Please help me!

Looking honestly at my heart

Amon Goeth was a concentration camp kommendant in Poland during WWII. He was the man portrayed in Schindler’s List by actor Ralph Fiennes. Perhaps the most disturbing part of a disturbing movie for me, was when he ordered a guard to shoot a Jewish woman in the head. The scene of her death is haunting.

I found on Amazon Prime a documentary about the man entitled “Inheritance”. The story is about his daughter (Monika) and one of the Jewish girls he kept in his house for his own pleasure.

Monika was raised by her mother to believe her father was killed in the war as a soldier. She finds out this isn’t true. As she learns the truth she learns about this Jewish girl who lived with her parents. She arranges to make contact with her and they meet at the exact site of the camp. The house portrayed in the movie is still there and open to simply walk in. As the two women walked into the house the older woman began to cry as the pain and memories came flooding back. She even went to the balcony where Goeth would shoot people before breakfast. The woman who lived with Goeth made a striking statement where she indicated she didn’t want to face this, but felt like she had to.

I watched this because this is part of history I am most interested in. But also, because there are spiritual overtones to the entire story. Not one mention of God was made throughout the entire documentary. But I felt like I was looking at the book of Esther. Not one mention of God in the entire story, but you can see his hand all over the story. At one point Monika was asking how her father could have become like he was. “What horrible thing happened to him as a boy to have caused him to be like this. They showed a picture of him in 1912 as a young toddler in school looking like any other boy his age anywhere else in the world, carefree and innocent.

I locked in on the thought of how he developed like he did. Then it struck me that at a young age sitting next to each other, the Pope and Attila the Hun would look the same. It is in growing up, without the presence of the Holy Spirit, sin is free to roam and the human spirit in all of it’s ugliness will blossom into unspeakable horror. The Nazi’s and the Japanese in WWII are just some examples, but there are many others. No group of people are exempt from this type of wickedness. The Bible speaks of the human heart clearly when it says it is wicked! Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

As I have been working through my own heart, I find I am just as capable as any Nazi, Dahmer or Bundy out there of committing unspeakable evil. Thus I find myself not only capable but willing to do heretofore unimaginable evil and wickedness. Thus i find myself capable of sleeping with a woman not my wife.

What did I learn from this story? I learned that there is nothing I can do to correct a wicked heart. I can not say about anyone something along the lines of “Well at least I didn’t do _____!” That statement compares you with someone else and says “I am better than _____ because I don’t do ______.” To make that type of statement leads you to believe you have something inherently better than the other person because you at least didn’t kill someone, or rape someone, or rob a bank or molest a child.

Psalms 53:2-3 (NLT) God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if there is even one with real understanding, one who seeks for God. But no, all have turned away from God; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not even one!

The 6th Stage

I was traveling a couple of weeks ago and while I was in my hotel watching a sporting event, the Lord interrupted me with a startling discussion about my sexual life (or lack thereof, depending on your angle!). I began seeing pictures of events in my life that have shaped my attitudes about sex. As I began relaxing and listening, I began to see some rather amazing things.

I have had a very specific sexual fantasy for at least 25 years and maybe longer. While I won’t elaborate on the fantasy, the Lord began to walk me through it. There were six definite stages to the story. Each step was distinct. As I saw these steps, I saw the woman in the dream was a composite of my wife. I saw that in each step, I was putting her needs first and foremost. I was not after a “quickie” but my goal was for her to relax and enjoy an evening of pleasure. After a period of time I was still sitting on the edge of the bed with my keys in my hand and simply listening. He showed me all of the steps were about communication. I nodded as I really concentrated on what I was seeing. The 6th step was a deeply engaging sexual encounter. That was what I said out loud as I viewed the 6th stage. The Lord then dropped a bombshell on me. He told me I had never used the term “making love” to describe stage 6, but I always use the term “having sex”. I was stunned, but He was right. I had never used the term “making love” in my life, not once. He then brought to light I usually skipped right through or over stages 1-5 to get to stage 6. All I could do was nod. He went into great detail to show me all the stages were about communication. It’s the “knew” in “Adam knew Eve”. I saw that there was nobody that has ever “known” me. My wife certainly doesn’t “know” me. No one does. If I am careful to walk through the stages with intent, stage 6 will take care of itself and even if I don’t get to stage 6, because I took the time to invest in the earlier stages, I will be in better shape all around.

I just sat there for a long time (it was now almost dark) thinking about what I just experienced. I just learned that on the most important part of marriage, I get a double F minus. No wonder she isn’t interested in me. Why should she be? I have missed giving her the one thing I’m really supposed to give her, and that’s MOI!

So being clueless about intimacy and “knowing” someone and being “known” I asked the Lord “What do I do now?” Instantly and I mean INSTANTLY I saw three pictures. One was my counselor, the next were the two empty chairs in her office and the third was my wife and I. Well even I can figure that one out.

I emailed my counselor and told her I needed to meet for 90 minutes with her. She quickly set it up for me in 6 days. As I approached the time I was to spend with her, I sensed the Lord wanted me to share the fantasy with her. Well, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. The fantasy is charged with emotion and highly intense sexual content. I wasn’t sure how to deal with that. But the Lord showed me how to deal with it and as I told her what happened, the right words and descriptions just seemed to pop up.

She was quick to tell me it would not be wise to tell her all of the details of my “adventures”, either male or female. But I could use the communications issue as the reason for wanting to get counseling together. She gave me assurance the Lord would be there and would allow the moments and events that He wanted out in the open to come out and for me to not worry about it.

I told my bride about my idea and she was pleasantly surprised that I suggested it. We both have surgery coming up and there are some definite hard times coming down the road, but it is clear I’m not in this alone!

Time to reflect, repent and recharge

It’s been 10 days since I had sexual relations with a woman not my wife. The first time in 40 years. The emotions of the moment have long passed and I need to do some serious reflection.

There is no excuse for this behavior. it is sin, period! Immediately upon waking the next morning I knew I needed to repent and confess this to a Christian brother. I did exactly that. He was the first person that came to mind though. Not my wife. Over the next week i began to search out the why’s of the the situation. “Why had I felt the need to do this?” Psalm 51 makes it clear my sin is against God. I needed to work with Him to get through this mess.

Over the week it became obvious I needed to deal with the relationship problem I have with my wife. This is where it gets tricky. Not because I won’t tell her, but it’s the why’s that are the problems. I am not going into detail now, but I will say this through. The Lord made it clear to me I needed to come clean about the issues that have been bugging me and made this obviously sinful action look like a good idea.

I got the idea to sit down and write out the event as I saw it at the time. I did that. I wrote out everything about the event I could and how I felt about it.

Then I got the idea to step back and actually look at what happened and how I felt about each step along the way. When I did that, I saw 5 or six distinct stages I experienced that I felt were important. Why those things are no longer available in my marriage.

Finally the idea came to explain the stages to my counselor. She will not be caught off guard and will be able to help me understand my feelings. I don’t share feelings well. She will help me.

Finally the idea came to me to have my wife and I both enter into counseling.

I have always thought Psalm 23’s reference to “the valley of the shadow of death” would refer to some external event. It never occurred to me the valley would be internal.