Monthly Archives: February 2015

  • 0

Everything is meaningless to this “victim of a crime”

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2

It was a cold winter Friday night in early 1982 on Cape Ann, about 20 miles north of Boston, MA. I was a junior in college and I was itching to leave the restaurant, which I believe was named The Pewter Pot. It was located in Danvers, MA, next to the mall. Sitting at the table with me that night were Dave, Bruce, and Roger. I sat at the table, bored silly, with zero recollection of communication I had received earlier in the week that Dave would experience something on the weekend that would “lift his spirits”.

Dave, who I had known since kindergarten, had been having a particular discouraging spell at college. Bruce was one of those “let’s do something to lift someone’s spirit” kind of people. While many might define “something” as simple as a trip to a Hallmark store or a cup of coffee and a desert at a popular restaurant on a Friday night, Bruce’s “something” kind of thinking tended to push the envelop so far that it produces ideas that caused him to worry decades later about felonies and statutes of limitations. Roger was Bruce’s friendly thug, the mountainous gentle giant of a man who would force you to do whatever Bruce had defined was good for “lifting your spirits.”

I could clearly see the front door from my seat. As someone was chatting away at the table, I was distracted by four of the baddest looking dudes imaginable who had just entered the restaurant. I watched as their eyes panned the restaurant until they focused on our table. At that point, they walked out.

“Huh. I wonder what that was all about.”

I was generally annoyed as we got up to leave the restaurant. I don’t remember why. I just know I was eager to get back to campus and to get away from Roger and Bruce. I walked out the door, passing by the four thugs who were huddling just outside the restaurant entrance. After walking all the way out to the car, I looked back and saw the four thugs now conversing with Dave, Bruce, and Roger.

“This can’t be good.”

The sense of danger exploded as I watched Bruce and Dave being forced to head to a white Cadillac in the parking lot while two of the other thugs followed Roger towards the car where I was waiting. As Roger got close to me, I inquired as to what was going on. The man with the build of an NFL linebacker and the style of “lumberjack wanna-be” looked at me like he was in total fear. He could only mutter the words “do whatever they say and they say we won’t be hurt.” Within a few seconds, Roger was fumbling nervously for the car keys as he sat in the driver’s seat. A thug sat directly in front of me and another thug sat to my left in the back seat with me. Roger turned on the engine and did as he was told – “follow the Caddy.”

As we drove from Danvers into Beverly, MA, I immediately understood “everything is meaningless.” Whatever problems I had in my life a few minutes ago when I had munched on a muffin had evaporated. Whatever goals and dreams I had for my life had disappeared. My mind was in a state so few of us ever experience – a state where there is nothing to worry about and nothing to long for. You see, when you think you are a few minutes from being murdered, nothing else matters. I remember looking out the window at the stars, trying to reflect upon a life that was about to be cut short at the age of 20. Everything seemed so meaningless. However, when you are under such mental duress, your body’s coping mechanisms tend to shutdown all thought whatsoever, not unlike trying to sustain rational thought in the hospital after the anesthesia begins to put you into la-la land.

By the time we pulled up to a windowless barn, my mental coping mechanisms had turned me into a spectator of the incident, void of any emotional attachment to what was taking place. I was watching a TV show, even though it was my body that was on the screen, climbing up the steps to the second floor. A single light bulb made visible the graffiti on the walls and the punching bag that hung from the ceiling.

There was no such thing as years. No such thing as months. No such things as weeks. No such thing as days. No such thing as hours. No such thing as minutes. At that moment in my life, my only concept of time was seconds. Whatever bloody crime scene that was about to be created would certainly occur within the next 60 seconds.

At that point, one of the thugs reached out to shake Roger’s hand. They began to laugh and Bruce joined in.

This is the only time in my life that I punched anyone. All the surpressed emotional trauma of the last 45 minutes was channeled into my fist as it said hello to Roger’s stomach. This whole charade, this vignette, had been cooked up in Bruce’s mind as a way to free Dave of his discouragement! I was supposed to be in on it, a co-conspirator, but somehow Bruce and Roger had failed to check off on their to-do list that Charles had been informed of the prank. I was as much a victim of the whole thing as Dave was.

I went back to campus that night and was excited to be alive! Life was beautiful! As I skated on the outdoor rink at school, the ice seemed wonderful. That skater’s red jacket was fantastic. The song playing on the loudspeaker had glorious notes. The professor who had been difficult to deal with seemed like as lovable as a newborn baby bunny. Everything about life was lovable.

I met up with Bruce a few years ago. Bruce, by the way, is not his real name. Roger is a ficticious name too. You see, Bruce spoke of his shame for having done that. He knew he had actually committed felony kidapping, made worse by the fact a real gun was shown to Dave in the white Cadillac for dramatic effect. He had worried for a long time that Dave and I would file charges and he and Roger might actually go to jail. Dave and I just laugh about it now – or use it in blog articles about “everything is meaningless.”

The point? One day, we are going to see Jesus Christ face-to-face. At that moment, there will be no more problems. There will be no more goals and dreams. There will be no more annoyances and frustrations. Once we encounter our true love, nothing else will matter. We will lose all concept of time. Everything is meaningless in life when anything is compared to having a personal face-to-face relationship with He who loved you so much to die on the cross for Your sins.

Whatever problems you have this moment? It will vanish the moment you see your Savior face-to-face.  Whatever compares to that moment, it is meaningless!

  • 0

The Perfect Lover Had No “List”

Did you ever wake up to unexpected thoughts that seem to be dominating your mind?

It’s like when you are sleeping people sneak in and setup for a party around your bed. They hang up streamers, balloons, setup the refreshment table, and stack wrapped presents ready for you to open. Instead of the alarm clock going off, you are startled into consciousness by a crowd of people shouting “Surprise!” All you can think of is the party taking place around your bed.

This morning I woke up with such a party. My mind was swamped with thoughts of “love”.

There are so many people out there whose hearts have been broken. Their dreams for love set sail on a beautiful tropical sea but now float in the surf after crashing into a rocky shoreline after a tremendous storm.

Can they love again? If so, who will it be? What should that person be like? What kind of person is best for me?

What’s that? An alarm? Is that the fire alarm?

No, that’s the “love alarm”. The words “what kind of person is best for me” set off an alarm in the heavens.

Uh, oh. Something’s amiss.

Many metaphors came to mind as did the story of Hosea and Gomer. However, the question that rose to the surface before all others was this – “what kind of woman would have been best for Jesus?”

Now, to make myself very clear, I do not believe Jesus flirted with or committed to any romantic relationship. He had a higher calling that He was deeply in love with – the salvation of the human race. Scripture tells us He dealt with every temptation common to man but He did not sin. I can’t imagine Jesus didn’t notice the ladies, though He did so without rebelling from His Father in the slightest. Therefore, my question is purely speculative. I will restate it again – “what kind of woman would have been best for Jesus?”

Every woman! Any woman!

I don’t believe Jesus would have had a “list”. You know what I mean by a list. “Pretty. Nice figure. Sweet. Cute. Godly. Makes me laugh. Loves children.” That kind of list. Why? He would have known His calling in a relationship with a woman was to love her unconditionally. In other words, she could literally have had any attribute whatsoever and Christ would have found a way to love her with complete devotion and genuine deep love. He would have been able to have been enchanted with the most vile of women in Bethlehem or Nazareth. He would have understood – it wasn’t about her, it was about Him. It was about His heart’s ability to love her no matter how much the woman irritated Him.

I Corinthians 13 keeps coming back to my mind.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

A list of qualities you expect someone to have before you can free yourself to love them seems to run counter to this verse. Why? If love is patient, it implies the person being loved is being irritating. In other words, they aren’t measuring up to your list but you are to love them regardless. If love is “kind”, it implies you are ignoring their shortcomings and you are treating them sweet anyway. In other words, they aren’t measuring up to your list but you are to love them still. If love is “not easily angered” and if love “keeps no records of wrongs”, it implies the list should not exist. Consider such a list as the law of the land. If the person has violated one of the terms on the list, that angers you and leads you to seek their punishment, not too unlike taking someone to the “love court”. If there is no law to violate, there can be no record of wrongs. The list actually creates a law that then creates the expectancy for judgment and punishment. Love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres is a love that is not bounded or confined by a list of criterion. That kind of love has its focus on something greater – the beautification of the person’s character by them swimming in your unconditional love.

Where does the list come from? Focus on self. You know, “self seeking”. I want what I want and I need the other person to deliver to me what I want. Such an approach is proud and where there is pride their is envy and boasting. Where there is pride there is also a list.

I’m quite sure that Jesus would never have had a list for what He was looking for in a woman. He understood that the standard of unconditional love meant that He could love any woman, no matter what she was like. He would have understood that the measure He would have had to live up to was not what she had to be like for Him but what He was prepared to do for her – love her no matter how annoying and irritating she could be.

Maybe your heart is broken today because you have yet to find that perfect mate. Maybe what you need to do is to focus on how you can be a perfect lover. If that is your goal, maybe your first step is to rip up that list.

I know…so much easier to write on a blog than to actually live that. None of us our perfect lovers like Jesus was. Hey, I’ve got to go. I thought of some attributes to add to my list. I’m not perfect.

  • 0

No crisis is wasted with God

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

Today’s post is very personal.

I’m trying to make sense of my life. How do all the pieces fit together? Why all the loss? Why all the pain?

For reasons I cannot explain, tonight I have clarity. It all makes sense. It’s like the curtain was opened, the veil was lifted, my blindfolds were removed, and the light was turned on. Maybe I can see a glimpse of my life from God’s vantage point.  Perhaps He opened the binder of my life for just a moment for me to get an inkling of what He has been doing.  I thought I would share this perspective tonight, though with a bit of vagueness to maintain an element of privacy, both for me and for others in my life, because in so doing maybe you can make some sense of your own life as well.

In 2002, I was drifting aimlessly. I was an adult but at the same time a child, both spiritually and emotionally. My focus was on my own agenda and that agenda had nothing to do with caring for people in crisis or honoring the Lord with my talents and aspirations.  However, God had a purpose for me, a mission for me, a calling.  It was time for me to become who He had designed me to be.

  • 2002-2006Crisis #1 – It was the calling into the wilderness, a dramatic change in my situation in life so that God could now do His work.  He needed me to be in different place than I had been.
  • 2006-2008Crisis #2 – This particular crisis resulted in my developing a heart of compassion for the brokenhearted and the needy.  From this point forward, I knew that whatever I did in life should have the purpose to bring healing to others.  It was the “somebody should do something” reaction and I answered with “I guess I will.”
  • 2007-2012 – Person A – This person dealt with a lot of wounds and scars from my past.  The person was so incredibly compassionate, merciful, kind, and loving that my whole image of who God was changed.  I now saw Him as the deeply loving God that He is and not the cold accountant who I thought He was before.  God was now my friend, not an enemy.
  • 2009-2015 – Crisis #3 – God dealt with my proud heart, humbling me with a particular thorn in my side that I’m still recovering from.  He did much to crush my inflated ego and He made me teachable.
  • 2010-2015 – Person B – This person’s influence changed my focus in life towards serving the Lord first and foremost with my talents and skills.  My secular ambitions transformed into a desire to be in ministry.  Knowing this person also made it clear the remaining lesson, at least at this stage of my life (we always can learn more), that I need to learn, the lesson I am working on now.

All along I had godly mentors who supported the changes going on in my life, even if they didn’t have the playbook in hand.

I should not forget that I had an enemy seeking the destruction of my ability to honor God.  He was plotting and orchestrating each and every crisis and all the mini-crises not mentioned above.  He meant it for evil.  He meant all the loss and pain to derail me, to discourage me, and to even take my life (I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation in 2004), anything to keep me from serving God.  However, God took each and every one of my enemy’s initiatives and turned them in to something that changed my character, my perspectives, my values, and my aspirations.

What was meant for evil in my life, God turned it into good.

Does this resonate with you?  How can you look back on all your pain?  Can you see major lessons you learned?  How did you transform through each season of suffering that you experienced?

If you can see the ongoing transformation of your character, you can be confident God has a purpose for it.  You have a future.  It has a purpose.  Your life, along with all your struggles, has meaning.  Nothing is wasted!

Archived Website

This is an archived website. Visit for our newest website. We maintain this older website because we believe content on here is still relevant to people in crisis.