Today I am heartbroken, as the devil continues to steal and kill and destroy. And many of you (and me) give into his tactics and lies. But then the truth… Jesus has come to bring life… full life.
17 years ago I was just out of Bible College and wondering what’s next. Newly married and really without much direction spiritually, and yet, wanting to serve God as I was called soon after being born again in the third grade.
I had music and bible training under my belt, but really didn’t know where to go from there. It’s much easier to see now having gone through life, you know how that goes, I’m sure. Let me give you one extremely valuable point as to why I was called by God yet was WITHOUT direction.
Sin. Sexual sin. If you want clarity in your life, walk in purity with God. (Prov. 6:32)
My girlfriend at the time, to be my fiancé/wife my last year of college… we where having sex. No, not intercourse, but valuable point #2 — sex is anything sexual and it all distorts your thinking. The Bible says that even thinking sexual is adultery (Matt. 5).
My band Enok at the time was called in to play for a youth ministry upon the opening of their new building. We then attended church the following week and I talked to the pastor, but upon discussion with the board they where not ready for more interns or staff. 3 months later I was asked to fill a maintenance roll at the church as it needed to be filled. Fast forward 2 more years and the youth position needed an interim leader, Pastor Gary and the board chairmen both thought of the same person, me.
I accepted. No, I didn’t ask my then-wife. Sorry. I’ll admit it, I’m not perfect, still not. But I wasn’t going into war. So I thought. It does make sense though, in any job, to work your way up. And that was God’s plan to get me back to the calling He had for me.
Thank you God for your grace given to me! Your mercy on me!
I am sorry for failing you, my then-spouse, but the roots go much deeper than this disappointment. There was a powerfully unique service in which people were challenged to come forward and share what they needed prayer/healing to overcome. My then-spouse stood up and went to the front. I didn’t know why, but I followed her for support. She was handed the microphone and stated that she was sexually abused by her step brother throughout a season her younger years of life. AND, ‘her parents didn’t do anything about it.’
I didn’t know then what I know now — but sex is difficult for those that have been sexually abused, more so for those that have yet to heal from their abuse. It does bring a lot of bitterness and confusion in life, many things do. My heart goes out to all those that have faced this. I started to understand her more now, and the reasons why intercourse before marriage was so easy to stay away from. And the reasons why we stayed away from it even while married as a general rule.
I didn’t even hate her for it, I did what I have always done, moved forward with grace and truth. And again, I’m sorry for not taking you on the journey with me. I still fail at that by the way. But Inna, my present wife, though hurt by me I’m sure, supports me anyway.
That’s what true love does!
That’s what I was doing the first time around too, though you may not believe me. I was willing to stay married no matter the hurt I experience. (GRAPHIC DETAIL ALERT) When I would try to be romantic, my then-wife would tell me to go take care of it myself.
It is important to share that, because it’s healing for me. Probably the absolute most hurtful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. . . Ok, I’m back after just spending some time in tears. That is also the first time I’ve ever told anyone that. Anyone!
But I’m willing to have my family, my church family, and my community understand what I’ve been through. Since there are so many that want to paint a different picture.
Now, I want you to think for a moment, if I took that hurt and allowed it to become bitterness over the years. What would it look like now, 15+ years later? That bitterness and hate is what we are up against right now. Because some people do not know Christ’s love and forgiveness, grace and mercy.
Out of her (my then-wife’s) bitterness many lies have been told, many minds deceived. People want to say we are the cult, but we are only pushing people to Jesus. Human as we are, flawed as we are, we are a David: who was a vile sinner, still called a man after God’s own heart. We are Moses: God’s vessel, human form… we are; pick a bible character… the Bible is the true account of God’s grace and His desire to use man to further His kingdom. As flawed as they may be, God still rings louder! We are just walking in obedience with Him. And if you are too, you’ll grow and change, even through your flaws and ours.
The story isn’t over. Thanks for staying this long.
It’s November of 2007 and my then-wife and kids are not home when I get there. The day’s before cell phone’s, I called her parents, my parents after a couple hours of wondering where they may be. By 8 or 9 pm the police were called too and they were in search for her van along with her and two babies.
At 1am or so they pull in the driveway. It’s somewhat a blur on the times. I carried the kids to bed crying and praying over them, but to get no good reason for being gone so long. I was told she was, “so tired while driving home, that she stopped in the Meijer parking lot and fell asleep.” But where was she even driving from? I called the police back to confirm my families whereabouts and was asked, “and you believe this?” With my then-wife standing there, I paused, and said what I didn’t believe. But out of love and respect for her I said, “yes.”
Following that incident, a staff member and a board chair member agreed that this needed to be sorted out. Of course Pastor Gary too, but it was actually a staff member that said this needed to be confronted, which lead to a meeting to confront her on where she was that night she disappeared.
People are so good at revising history. I may not remember times perfectly, and I don’t remember everything written on the letter she wrote, stating her disappointment in me. But, have you ever been disappointed in someone that is still your friend? Your spouse? I’m sure I have the letter somewhere, along with unmarked notes in the mail I got telling me how despicable I am after she left. But we haven’t gotten that far yet. Regardless, I do remember the devastation and hurt and fear of these events that transpired. That will never go away.
She did finally admit in the meeting that she was at another man’s place. It was the first boy she ever slept with, from high school, he visited the church, they exchanged information… and down hill from there.
In early December she told me on a Monday she didn’t want to be married any more. No good reason, just good timing as the pastor was gone for the week. I lived out that week going to work in a daze, coming home wondering if she would be there. She was, and I couldn’t sort through the emotions. The following Sunday I met with the pastor and board, they agreed it was not a suitable environment for me to be in the same house with someone that didn’t want to be with me and saying she wants a divorce. I was an emotional wreck. This needs to be, again, dealt with. Naturally.
I went home and said, “I’m willing to do anything to make our marriage work, but you have to decide; you want to as well, or you need to pack your things and go.”
Could I have done better? I know I could have done it worse. I wasn’t yelling. I wasn’t physical. I wasn’t abusive… ever. She may say otherwise, but that’s not me. She says a lot of false things. She also leaves things out that should be stated. But it doesn’t fit her narrative to destroy Pastor Gary and myself.
Leaving the kids with me and the house. She would never return. I lived for seven years as a single dad while she ran off with this guy, which didn’t last long. Had another guy, then another. Got pregnant with one along the way, had the baby. Married another guy, dropped him like a dirty shirt and after that divorce she came to me and said she is pregnant with his baby now too. I do commend her for keeping those babies. Bravo! All life is valuable.
I don’t know how many men, but two more children and another failed marriage tell a lot about a person. I don’t want you to cast judgement, not on anyone. Everyone makes mistakes. I haven’t cast judgment all these years. This post isn’t about that. This is the first I’ve written any detail of the matter and it’s to reclaim the truth of the story that seems to be left out of her narrative even today. If you don’t understand, you’ll just have to trust me.
I don’t delete friends from Facebook, I see it as an outreach. If you don’t like what I’m reaching out to you with, you’re more than welcome to unfriend me. I won’t even be offended. I have plenty of Facebook “friends” that disagree with me on much. And that’s all good with me. You don’t have to agree. I can still learn from you, and will.
“A friends a friend forever, when the Lord’s the Lord of them.
A friend will not say never, and his welcome will not end.”
Know this: Pastor Gary and myself are not gay. I’m sorry for those that are and no judgement, but I don’t understand how that would even be enjoyable. We do love each other and we are best friends. And people hate that. The enemy hates unity. So, say whatever you want to destroy and divide, it may do some damage, but in the end it will fail. Always has, always will. People will likely bash and hate and cause division, but those will be the people that didn’t even take the time to know the whole story. Likely people that don’t ask God for wisdom either.
Yes my then-wife is hurt by us, some from her own imagination, but I’ll accept being at fault too, I was simply trying to do what is right. And I’ll be the first one to apologize for anything I’ve done, Pastor Gary is not afraid of that either. It must be noted of course, that she did the leaving. You must look at the fruit. You don’t judge people in a condemning way, but we must make judgements ALL THE TIME. And we all do, every day.
When I decide who my family will be friends with, I pick people out of judgement of their fruit. Example: I don’t condemn anyone for abusing substances (or anything else), substances are already condemning them. What they need is the love of God in Christ. I’ll personally work with anyone, but I will not befriend people going a completely different direction. Call that valuable point #3.
I’ve worked with Pastor Gary for 17 and a half years. We’ve together seen joys and pains. Heartbreaks and thrilling victories. We’ve rejoiced as people have come into the Kingdom, and that has been Pastor Gary’s mission and purpose for all these years I’ve known him, and for his entire ministry.
It is out of shear bitterness that people say the things they do. It is nothing more than disgruntled employees(church members), though only boss/business owners would even understand that.
I remember driving out of the church one day a short time after she moved out. I thought it was my last time being at the church, as I was going to resign and make our marriage work. I went to her parents house during the day to talk to her, alone. I said I would be willing to step down and would do anything to remain married and move on in life together, as that was more important than our present ministry. She wasn’t interested. I couldn’t even understand it, if that was the problem why wouldn’t she at least try? I’m sure she thought it would never happen, but it must be said that I was willing and I did try. What more can a person do?