Sunday, December 30, 2007

So, What Do You See

We rarely ask our friends or family their opinions on how we could improve our lives. Honestly, we don’t really ask people for advice about our lives unless we know what they are going to say. It is a rare thing to ask friends what they think we should do in a particular circumstance.

We are quick to invite help into our lives when we are in our comfort zone of asking. Take waterskiing, for instance. When I’m skiing, I see and feel the things that I am doing wrong or need to improve on. When I get to the end of the course, I usually ask, “What did you see?” You would not believe the responses I get sometimes. If the person was paying attention, he will be sharp and quick to tell me, “Lean more behind the boat; don’t pull in with your arms; you’re giving up your angle.” The list goes on and on. I won’t always ask. Sometimes I will just look into the boat with a look of help me.


If the person riding in the boat says something like, “Well, I really didn’t see anything,” then I know he may not have been paying attention to my skiing. This is not a problem, by the way. Sometimes, I prefer when people are not watching me; I can stay focused on my task, and that is simply completing the course. Think about that statement just for a minute, “I prefer it when people are not watching so I can just focus on completing the course.”


We don’t like people watching us with the intent of giving us advice. This is especially true with our spiritual lives and our family life.


Has anyone ever told you how to raise your child? I have been told, and my response to them was not Christ-like. Has anyone ever told you, “You're wrong in what you are doing: you are hurting the body of Christ with that attitude, and your sin is causing problems?”


That’s a tough one, but these are statements we don’t often hear. I wonder why that is. I believe it’s the fact that some of us are bound by pride; some bound by embarrassment; and some are bound by fear. We may not want to know what others think about our inner lives. This is a very trusted area, and you shouldn’t go to everyone asking for their advice. Also, be wary of asking people for advice who have put their lives in tiny boxes and think you are wrong if you step outside of those boundaries. Just use wisdom in picking those people you can confide in for counsel.


There is a madness behind this story. I was reading in Jonah the other day and thought about this. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and it holds many principles of life. In chapter one, it says, “One day long ago, God's Word came to Jonah, Amittai's son: ‘Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer.’ But Jonah got up and went the other direction to Tarshish, running away from God. He went down to the port of Joppa and found a ship headed for Tarshish. He paid the fare and went on board, joining those going to Tarshish—as far away from God as he could get” (MSG).


What if Jonah had a friend whom he trusted and could have asked, “What do you think about this?” Would the outcome have been any different? Would he still have run from God? I’m not sure what I would have said to Jonah; maybe I would have agreed with him and told him to run because the people in Nineveh were crazy. Maybe I would have said, “Let’s pray and seek God on this; He will confirm this for you and give you the strength you will need in this task.”


The point I am making is in life you can’t always go it alone. God has given you friends for a reason; you may need an extra set of eyes and an extra set of ears for any given circumstance. So, give up that old prideful attitude; give up that spirit of embarrassment; and give up that fear of being told something you don’t want to hear. Remember, you are asking them for a word of advice, and it’s up to you if you want to act on their suggestions. But before you ask anybody for anything, ask God first.



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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Accident

It was a beautiful evening in October, one of those Friday nights I will never forget. I had the task of taking the guys to the movies on that night. Not sure how I ended up with this duty, being only sixteen years old at the boy’s home, but it gave me an opportunity to show some responsibility. Sometimes we drove station wagons, but that night I was driving the big van, a fifteen-passenger Dodge van.


Whiteville was eleven miles from the lake, a straight shot on highway 74-76. I had driven this route many times, taking the guys to the movies. On this particular Friday, I didn't care to stay and watch the movie, so I dropped the boys off and came back to the lake. Not sure why I came back but I did.

Around nine-thirty, I was getting ready to go back to Whiteville to pick up the guys. I knew the movie would end soon. On the way out the door, Bobby and Preston asked if they could ride with me. I said, "Sure, let me make a couple of banana sandwiches to carry with me." I used to love those things.


Heading up highway 74-76, I passed the graveyard and the one-hundred-acre pecan grove with Spanish moss hanging in the trees, which was kind of spooky at night. I passed the sandwich shop that was never open, and then I entered the small town of Hallsboro, right past our high school. 


I had already eaten both sandwiches before getting to Hallsboro, and this was just four miles into the trip. When I passed the high school, I reached down for my seat belt. I had it in my hand and decided that I wasn't going to wear it. I never did, but I had picked it up and was about to latch it, but then said, "Forget it, I don't need that thing." I had glanced at my speedometer, and I was at the perfect speed of forty-five miles an hour. The police were never really bad in that area. I just remember being at that speed and looking at the fingerprinted glass on the instrument panel.


Approaching the intersection of state road 1001 and highway 74-76, everything was great. Then, out of nowhere, a car appeared in my windshield. Everything went into slow motion, almost like a dream. The van went into a tumble after hitting a car that had run the stop sign.
I was ejected out of the tumbling van through the windshield, and I found myself about one-hundred feet from the wreckage. I stood up and wondered into the highway and was making my way down to the hardware store. My body was covered in blood, and I was shaking violently. My destination seemed so far away. I looked over at the van, which was now across the road, and saw people fighting. I didn't know what had happened to Preston or Bobby. I had my eyes fixed on that hardware store. There I felt the arms of a friend come around me, giving me his coat. He told me everything was going to be okay. I was slipping into shock moment by moment. My body was numb to the pain.



The ambulance had arrived, and they ushered me off to the hospital in Whiteville. There they checked me out, and I gave up my banana sandwiches I had eaten earlier. My body realized the pain I was in. They decided to transfer me to Wilmington because my skull was crushed in one place, and I had internal bleeding.


I would spend the next few weeks in the hospital. My face and body were scarred from the wreck. I found out that Preston had taken several hundred stitches, and Bobby had a broken leg. Bobby was also beaten up at the wreck by the family of the girl who was riding in the car I had hit. They didn't know what had happened or whose fault it was. All they knew was their sister was dead. My soul was now scarred by the news of her death. Her brother was in my graduating class. My return to school was extremely difficult, but my friends made it easier. Many of whom thought I had died that night. 


After many years, I still have the scars of this accident; my head is still numb, and my jaw still pops when I talk sometimes. The real scars are much deeper. They are the ones that make me wonder what if? I wonder what if I had left a second or two later? What if I had not made those sandwiches? What if I had reached down and put my seat belt on? Even though I didn't know Jesus Christ at that time, I believe in the total sovereignty of God. God knew then and still knows today what will come my way. He is and always has been in control of life. There are no accidents with God! Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? Who is in control? When trouble is in the air, who do you turn to? When the still voice in your heart says, "Buckle up. Trouble is on the way. Be ready," what is your response?


I didn't listen. I threw it back and said, "I don't need this thing." Years have gone by now, and I understand the providential will of God. Now that I know Jesus Christ, I recognize His still voice. 


Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don't. He reminds me by saying, "Didn't I tell you to buckle up?" Life isn't an easy road, but it can be a road of wondrous journeys and many blessings. One of the greatest joys of my life is the relationships God has allowed me to have with many of you. God has used you to walk with me in trials and in glory. The what ifs in life belong to God. Is there a what if in your life? Give it to the sovereign God who created all things.


1 Peter 1:18-21 (MSG)
“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.”



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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Elaine's Pain Chapter Two

Elaine and I continued in our relationship for several more months. Looking back now, I can see that our arguments were never about us but about what was eating at her inside. I knew nothing about her pain, only that I carried pain in my own life. 

So many years have passed, and I miss Elaine from time to time. If you are carrying some deep-rooted pain, and if you have experienced a horrific, life-changing event, please get help. These events can lead to death and destruction. They are the events that have such a hold on you that it's hard to function in the world. They are the quiet secrets inside of us we never reveal to anyone. They will kill you if you let them.  


Proverbs 16:6 (MSG) says, “Guilt is banished through love and truth.” Condemnation is not from God; what happened in the past doesn't have to steer your life to a tragic end. As I told a great friend this past weekend, speaking truth sets free a condemning spirit; this is a spirit that will ultimately wreck your life. We must choose to speak in love and truth; every word that comes out of our mouths should be that of truth and love. If I knew then what I know now, things may have been different. But I know God made everything for a place and purpose. Every event, every word, every song, every smile, every hug, and every death has a purpose. 


My only regret is I can't tell Elaine I’m sorry. I can't tell Elaine that I can help her. I can't tell her Jesus loves her, and God wants to restore her. I can’t tell her God has a plan for her life. I can't give a hug. I can't give a smile. I can't give a kiss. I can't even give a word of encouragement. Elaine is dead.  


Do you know an Elaine? Don't be so busy in your life that you can't call her. Don't be so busy you can't go to lunch with her. Don't be so busy you never hear her cry for help. I never heard her!  


I am forever grateful to have known Elaine. One of the greatest tragedies is the fact that she lived down by the lake for so many years and her cries were never heard. Elaine's pain died with her. I love you, Elaine.



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Monday, September 24, 2007

Elaine's Pain


The voice on the phone said, “Did you hear about Elaine?” I replied, “No, what happened?” She explained that Elaine had died and that she had committed suicide. My heart sank deep, and sadness prevailed over my countenance. My heart ached with pain, and to this day, I am still sad about the life of Elaine.


Elaine was a sweet girl. She was beautiful with long blonde hair and a perfect build. Yet as pretty as she was, she had some deep-rooted pain that would often come out of her. Her pain usually came out in the form of rage after a few drinks. Looking back now, I recognize the pain she was carrying around. We often talked, but she never revealed the root of her pain to me.

For Elaine, it began in high school, as it often does with teenagers. She was part of the smoking area crowd and ranked high in this group. Elaine was the one in the group that would call out anyone and say a few choice words to explain herself. But apart from that, she was as sweet and gentle as any one woman could ever be. Her smile was beautiful, and she attracted many of the guys in the group. One of them was my friend, David.


David and I lived at the boy’s home together; we were good friends and talked frequently about the issues of life. One hot summer’s night, David came to me and said he needed to talk to me. His voice was shaky, and I could tell something was eating him up. So, we went outside the cottage and sat against the house. The moon was riding high that night, and I still remember the heat of the bricks on my back; this was the side of the house the sun hit most of the day. We both sat down with our backs on the warm bricks. He asked me about marriage and babies—things that neither of us were well-versed in. It didn't take long before David told me what all the questions were for.


“Elaine is pregnant.” His voice was shaky and nervous. “What do I do?” he asked. The answers were not clear to either of us. We talked for several more hours, and he made a decision. David had to marry her; that was the only option, not because she was pregnant, but because he loved her. That was my only question to him. “Do you love her enough to marry her?” This I knew nothing about. Love to me was a distance word; my mom was the only one who had ever told me she loved me. Understanding the meaning of love was much too deep for me at the time. 


Before you go all judgmental on me, both David and I were in our late teens and had no idea of what life was. But like most teens, we thought we knew it all. I was proud that David trusted me enough to hold his story, a story that would rock the high school and all the families involved. I was careful to guard it and not tell anyone. Even to this day, only a few of my friends know this story. I am not even sure if my best friend, Amy, knows. We never talk about Elaine. 


David and Elaine married, and they had a son. This shook up the entire community in this small town. I was excited for David because he seemed to be happy. But inside, I think he was torn.  


As you would expect, the marriage didn't last long. Elaine ended up back at the lake, and David joined the Army, searching for a better life. He later remarried and then divorced again. 


David's pain was as deep as Elaine's. The root of his pain has never been addressed. He had only been treated for his symptoms, as we all had been back then. I was able to meet with David last year and talk about this deep-rooted pain that only Jesus can take away. We will hold David's story for another chapter. 


Elaine and I remained friends through this, and she would eventually move to our town and move in with us. We fell in love and planned on getting married, but the story would soon take a tragic turn. 


Before I go on to Chapter Two of Elaine's Pain, I feel led to ask a question to all who read this. What part of Elaine's pain are you carrying? I know you know a girl like Elaine—everyone does! Her pain is deep. Her laughter is sad. Her strength is weak. Her words are full, yet empty, and she is lost! Did you hear me? She is lost! Do you know her? Do you know where she is? Please find her and tell her Jesus loves her and wants to take her pain. Jesus is the only answer to our hurting and dying world.


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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Down by The Lake

Psalm 36:5-6, 7-10 (MSG)
5-6 God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
7-9 How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light.
10 Keep on loving your friends; do your work in welcoming hearts.


Before I publish my next series of stories, I need to set the scene for you. I want to take you to a time and a place where I didn't know the astronomical grace of God. We all have those points and places in our lives because none of us were born into the kingdom of God.


I need the above verses to guide me through the next series of stories. For so long I didn't know His plan. Looking back now, I can see what He was doing in my life. Some things are clear, and some are not so clear. The chapters in my life are being sorted and arranged in this book I have titled Down by The Lake. It deals with many of my innermost thoughts and the twisting turns in my life that have developed me into who I am today. 

  
For the past two years, I have been going to the lake to see myself as I once was and as I am today. As I look into the water each day, I see a reflection of myself, which is transparent, and at times, disturbed deep in my soul. God allowed me to travel the many highways and back roads of our great country to meet the most abused, forgotten, and hopeless people in America. I was allowed to bring a message of hope to these people through the ministry of In His Wakes with the support of my sweet wife, Lisa, and daughters, Sara and Laura. I could mention a host of others who have supported me through this, but the list would be long, and I am sure I would forget someone. My wife, Lisa, has seen me at my lowest points, and the rest of you have seen me at my highest points.


To make this clear, this book is not about the ministry of In His Wakes, but it details the way God used it in my life to bring an image to me of His greatness and the condition of real people in our land. Not only did I see myself in the water’s reflection each day, but at each event, I was able to look at myself and relive my childhood all over again. 


I have already written about some of these people, but some of them are still deep in my memory. It's my hope to introduce you to these people and the many who have crossed my path, even before In His Wakes. As I reflect on the events leading up to and before this ministry, I am reminded that it started at the water’s edge.


First at Kennedy Home, then the Haven House in Raleigh, NC, and then to the Boy’s Home at Lake Waccamaw, NC. These group homes, along with the many sessions in the "nut hut," would mold me into who I was and who I would turn out to be, or so I thought. The puzzle of my life was so scattered; it never seemed to fit the way I thought it should. Until one day I was introduced to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. This journey has proven to be extremely difficult, but God is a God of truth and has never let me go. He has always held me tight, even in the most troubling circumstances. I am blessed to write about this great journey I have been on, and my journey is no way near finished. 

 
My plan is to write my story in chapters; they won't be in chronological order, but as God leads me, I will write and release them. I am not sure if the book will ever have an ending, but if it does, it will be a message of hope.

 
I will change the names of some people to protect their privacy and respect their families. It has taken me over two months to write this. I have several chapters in the works and will publish them here when I complete them. 

 
God allowed me to work with the most disadvantaged and hurting people in the world. People who have names but no addresses, faces but little hope, and fingerprints but no identity. In their eyes, I could see myself as I once was, which was the most haunting experience I could have ever imagined.  


I thank God for a loving family who has seen me come through this. To my wife Lisa, who has watched me cry for days and understands the agony I have gone through as I told some of the stories of my life. She has also watched me get so excited that I could hardly contain myself. To Sara and Laura, who were with me the whole way. I could not have made it this far without their love and the love of my wonderful wife.


I also thank God for my closest friends who supported me, even when they really didn't know. They showed me the love of Christ, and they were there in my darkest hours and in my brightest hours. They loved me then, and they love me today. I hope to mention them in the chapters to come. I learned through them that no matter what people do or who they are, they are still just people, all with a past and all with hurts and pain. We are all going in different directions, but we are all inching closer to death each day. This book will take you back to a period that most have forgotten. My intent is not to glorify this period but to give you some insight on what God has done in my life. In Psalm 36:5-6 (MSG), it says, “God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.”


Can you get a hold of that? I had nothing to do with it; it was always God’s plan. Nothing is done in this universe without Him knowing. No thought, no idea, no touch, no hug, and no look goes without notice from our great God. So, for me to say my life has been bad would not be fair. It has been what it is; it has been what God planned.


I write with joy; I write with tears, and I write for the sake of others, hoping they will see there is hope.  


A great friend of mine once told me, "George, you can never quit.” I didn't understand then, but now I know what he was talking about. I can never quit! I can never quit telling my story; it has hope for a hopeless world; it has the Gospel of Jesus; and it has all the elements of His grace.
Let’s get into the stories and see what happened Down by The Lake



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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Black Creek


As we all grew into our mid-teens, we experienced new and exciting things. Every day was a new adventure for us, especially in the summer. During the carefree days of summer, we created some of the greatest memories of all times. This is one of those memories.

It was extremely hot that year, hotter than it had ever been before. That summer was one of the hottest on record. Because the lake was shallow, it felt like a warm tub. We couldn't escape the heat that summer, so we headed down to Bella Coola. 


Bella Coola was the name of the road that took us to the back side of the lake where there were creeks that flowed into the lake. The creeks never seemed to move; the water just stood still.


The water was so dark, and the unknowns were real. It's funny looking back now; the snakes and alligators never seemed to bother us. We just tried to make sure they knew we were there. 


Black Creek was our destination. The water was cool, black, and deep. There was just enough room to pull our cars over in the tall grass before arriving at the bridge. The silver guardrail on the bridge was flattened by people who had been there before us, and their names were carved into the thick, painted surface. Ours were too by then. We had earned our right to put our names on that rail. Anyone who would swim there deserved the honor. 


At any time, there were two or twenty of us swimming at that hole. One thing was for sure; if we were first on the scene, we always picked up a large rock and threw it in. This was to announce our arrival to the snakes and alligators. The first one in was a dare thing, "You go first, no you go, no you go." Once we saw that person make it to shore with all their limbs, we figured it was clear. 


One game we loved to play was underwater tag. The water was so dark you couldn't see anything once you went under a foot or two. To get tagged, you had to be under water; the rules were the name of the game. I would always shoot for the bottom, grabbing a log or something that was sticking up from the bottom. I would sit there in the dark water, wondering what was near me. Every now and then, something would tickle my leg or back, and I would swim to the top of the water. Then I would run up the shore to the top of the bridge, screaming, “Snake! Alligator!” We all would clear out and jump in again, laughing so hard we would almost lose our breath.


One thing about Black Creek, it brought out the best in us. Want to know why? Even though it may seem stupid to swim where you know the snakes and alligators live and where you can’t see through the murky darkness of the water, this journey represents our life.


We live with the snakes and alligators of life every day. We live in the unknown of what's next, and if you know Jesus Christ, there is never darkness. As with Black Creek, there may be dark times, but someday you will surface to the top victorious. You will surface screaming, “I made it! I made it! I made it!” You will live to tell others your story of the Black Creek you swam through. 


One more thing about Black Creek I need to mention—it's quiet and lonely in the darkness. When you're under the water about ten feet down, there is nothing but stillness. No sound, no light, and no hope of being found. So, the question to you is, “Are you in Black Creek?” 


If you are, there is always hope! Hope in Jesus Christ. Don't let Satan keep you under that deep, dark water. It will kill you, and that is what he wants to do! 


1 Timothy 1:15-19 (MSG) “Here's a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I'm proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.”


Fight to swim to the top. Fight to get up that hill. Fight to get back on that bridge and jump for joy when you reach the top. Thank God for His mercy, and by His grace, we will make it. By His mercy, we will stand and prepare for another amazing adventure.


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Not My Plan


Psalm 31: 8, 24 (NIV)


8 You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.


24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.


Most of my fondest memories took place in the summer months. The summers of my teen years were full of fun and what I call life lessons. I remember all my summers being extremely hot summers. Maybe it’s because I lived near the lake and could go and cool off. It seemed like every summer was different, and to this day, they continue to be that way. No summer has ever been the same and has always had one or two of those life lessons tucked away, waiting for me. 


In my later teen years, we all wanted to be our own people; we were developing into what our environments had programed us to be. We were products of our surroundings. If you think about it, we all are. We do and think like those that are around us. There were few exceptions to this rule. 


At our high school, we were known as the boy’s home boys. You could spot one of us a mile away. We tried hard to blend in
, and some of us were successful in doing this. One of my best friends had helped me to make this transition from the smoking area group to the A-B group. Although I would go between groups, Amy had taken an interest in me. She said it was my curls. We never dated or fell in love; we were the best of friends and still are to this day. Amy had some friends who were really pretty. Paula was one of them. Paula had long blonde hair, the prettiest eyes I had ever seen, and was chiseled out of a mold that would melt any teenager’s heart.


I was in love. Paula and I would meet up at school and sit under this big oak tree at lunch, talking about everything in life. I was so nervous to be around her; she was so beautiful. Amy would join us from time to time; I think she was making sure I was treating her friend just right. Amy would often coach me on the things women want to hear—what to say, what not to say. 


Amy had arranged for us to meet on Friday and Saturday nights at her house. Amy’s parents were so nice. They were the first and only parents I knew who would allow a boy’s home boy into their house, let alone around their daughter. We would go over and meet up, sitting in the formal area of the house. First, just talking and then making out. Not the kind of making out of today. This was what I would call monitored making out. Amy’s parents weren’t stupid; they kept a close eye on all of us. They were right on the other side of the wall. If I remember correctly, there were no doors
to this formal living room. They had beautiful furniture; Paula and I would take one seat and Amy and her date would take the other. I guess you could call it a double date at the house. 


Amy’s mom was beautiful also; she had a heart that just breathed love. Her eyes could tell you anything. Her dad was always nice and stern in his commands to Amy. This was a model that I would use
later in life. 


I dat
ed one of the most beautiful girls in school. This gave me something that I had never had before—confidence. A confidence that would soon teach me a lesson about life and love. Paula and I were getting along great, loving every minute of our teenage years. Then it happened. This tall, long-legged blonde girl walked by us one day. I had seen this girl before but never really noticed her until now. Her name was Gina. Was it the confidence I had from dating Paula that made me notice her? Was it the fact that she was at the top of the A group, along with her sister? Or was it the fact that I had Paula and couldn’t have Gina? 


I must admit, I was happy in my relationship with Paula and
did not need to date another girl or even look at another girl. Paula was a beauty queen. Gina didn’t even know my name, and maybe that was the problem. I got up the nerve to talk to Gina. She was very shy and quiet. She was not a talker and didn’t seem to be interested in me, so I backed off and continued my relationship with Paula. But there was a problem. A problem that I had not foreseen. 


Amy found out that I
wanted to talk with Gina. I will never forget standing under the walkway at the entrance to the school. Amy told me it wasn’t right to talk to Gina and say I was in love with Paula. After all, Paula was one of Amy’s best friends but so was I. Was she going to turn me in? Would she tell Paula? All I had done was try to talk to the girl, but deep in my heart, I knew if Gina would have said yes, I would have ended the relationship with Paula. I think this is what Amy knew, too. She knew me better than anyone. 


Th
en Paula asked Amy if she should break up with me. Amy, without hesitation, told her to end our relationship. There were no hard feelings at all; we remained friends throughout high school, and I lost contact with her after we all graduated. 


Amy and I
remained best friends. When we get together, it’s always fun bringing up these stories that truly had an impact on our lives. Looking back, you can see God working. A few years later, I would meet the woman of my dreams, Lisa, and I have been married for twenty-three years now. We have raised two wonderful daughters and have been blessed with more than enough. God used all these little things in life to make the big things seem easier. It’s His plan after all.


I believe you can pick out many life lessons in this story. When we have
what we want, we always want more. We always seem to feed on wanting some things that just aren’t meant for us. 


God has a plan for your life. Sure, this was high school and everyone makes mistakes in high school. Some of my best friends made the most life-changing decisions in high school. Some decided to have sex and have babies; some decided to kill people; and some even decided to take their own life. 


This story, as with
all the others, doesn’t seem to end. It’s still ongoing. So, what can I use here to apply to my life? I suppose you can say two things. One, God is in complete control of your life, no matter what you think or where you are at. His plan for you has been set out before the beginning of time. We make poor decisions and do stupid things, but the God who holds the universe on its axis and ushers in billions of stars every night has a plan, and you really can’t mess it up.


The second thing is that every experience in life is placed in your path for a purpose. It may not be a mountain, and it may not be a valley, but these experiences mold us into the people we become. 


In a final word, there is nothing wrong with wanting more, wanting something different
, or wanting something new. But be content with what you have and take nothing that has ever happened to you for granted; there is a reason and a purpose behind everything. God will use it for good, no matter how bad it was or how bad it is.



www.sandwestedit.com





Monday, June 4, 2007

Hidden Sins


Isaiah 60:22 (MSG) says, "I am God. At the right time I'll make it happen." 


It was a hot summer night at Lake Waccamaw, and there wasn’t much going on, as usual. We could have walked down to Dupree Landing or gone fishing, but this night we did something that would take our summer away and change us all forever.


There were about ten of us, all in our early teens. We weren’t looking for trouble, just some fun on a hot summer’s night. There were several suggestions thrown out, but none seem to satisfy our inner craving to have fun. So, we took the last request and decided to go with that. We decided we were going to egg the first car that came around the corner on Lake Shore Drive. We first needed the key ingredient, and that was eggs. So, we raided the pantry at the cottage, got several dozen, and headed for the lake. 


We had our plan mapped out. We were going to hit the car hard and dive into the lake. Then we planned to split up and meet back at the cottage later for the laugh. That poor car came around the corner on Lake Shore Drive, and it sounded like hail was hitting it. We tore that thing up, laughing and running at the same time.


We all hit the lake wide open, and the car didn’t stop. You could hear the engine’s four barrel kick in; they were out of there and so were we. As we all went our separate ways, Rick and I found ourselves at an old boathouse. We climbed out of the water and made our way back to the cottage. Then, little by little, the rest of the crew showed up.


We were laughing our heads off, carrying on like only wild teenagers could do. We all retired for the evening and had a peaceful night’s sleep. We knew we had done something big and gotten away with it. 


The next evening, Jim called a meeting with all the guys in the cottage; there were about fifteen of us. He told us that a car had been egged at the lake the night before and wanted to know if any of us were involved with that terrible act. Of course, we all said "NO." He gave us several chances to confess, but we all held our ground. Then something crazy happened. He called each of us by name who had been involved with the terrible act. We asked who would have done such a terrible thing. As he lined us all up in front of the other guys, we were still denying what we had done. This didn’t seem to sway Jim at all. He had already decided our punishment. He said, "Meet me at the tool shed tomorrow night and every night after that until I say different.” 


We all hung our head low and went to bed that night. Knowing that we had to pay the price for that few minutes of fun. We all were in disbelief that we got caught, wondering how he knew. Did someone tell? If so, that would have been grounds for out-casting. You never told on anyone! 


The next evening, we all met at the tool shed and lined up. He was handing out sling blades and chop axes. He pointed toward the railroad tracks and said, "Start over there and work your way to the east." The tracks went all the way to Wilmington. Well, that summer we chopped grass from six o’clock until dark and then ran a mile. Jim was with us the whole way, telling us we had way too much energy. I remember how hot it was and how thirsty we would get. We could see all the other guys playing on the field, going to the gym, or just sitting around. We were in a place that didn’t have bars or a fence but was unescapable. 


There was a great deal of talk that summer of running away, but no one ever did. Our hands were full of blisters, our backs were hurting, and we complained to deaf ears. There was an excellent life lesson being taught to all of us and the ones to come behind us. I think this story has made it to the book of legends. I can see the boys talking now. "Let’s egg a car," and then silence comes around the circle of guys and one speaks up, "You remember the story of those guys back in the day?” There are many of these stories in the book of legends. I had heard most of them from my years at the home. 

I heard that one of the guys who was with us that night became rich and had those train tracks removed from Lake Waccamaw to Wilmington. I visit the lake from time to time, driving right past the place where we worked so hard to learn a lesson that none of us would ever forget. I can still see us out there. While we worked hard for our mistake, we walked away that summer with a different view of life. If you do something that you shouldn’t be doing, there will be a price to pay. It’s the law of the land; it’s God’s law. You reap what you sow, or better put, there are always consequences to your sins. 


In the act of doing a bad thing, it was fun, but just for the moment. Later we paid the price! How did Jim know? Only he knows, and to this day, he has not revealed to us who told. 


Well, as you can guess, we never even thought about egging another car. We learned a great deal about respecting those who knew more than we did. We learned that if we did something wrong, discipline was sure to follow, striping us of our pride and bad attitudes. We learned that there are some things in life we will never know. No matter what you are doing, someone knows about it. This is a great picture of God. He is all knowing.


I think the most important message in this story is when we are in sin, we either deny it or confess it. To deny it means we are too prideful to omit we are wrong. To confess it means we know we are wrong and are willing to correct it. Pride will either take control of your life or you can control it; we all have it to some degree. When it is put into check, God can do more than you could ever imagine. That is a great picture of Jesus on the cross, who died for our sins! 


I have thought for days about how I could end this story. There is no right way to end it because it never ended. Most of us involved that night are still alive today and are still living out this story. There were many stories after this one. We just got smarter and wiser, or so we thought!


www.sandwestedit.com





Thursday, May 31, 2007

All About The "I"

Isaiah 55: 8-11 MSG) "I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” 


I have had more than one conversation lately concerning the will of God for my life. Each time I say things like, "I have tried this. I have tried that. I am going to do this. I think I will do that." All of which have turned out to be nothing but a waste of time. Twice this week, I have been challenged with using the word "I" in these terms. Notice that there is nothing in the statements above that lends itself to God. There is only "I." 


So, what do I think about this? For the past two years, I have been involved with an incredible water sports ministry called In His Wakes, and I have decided that God has had me here for a reason, a reason that I cannot explain. There has been a great deal of thought put into the reason God allowed me to depart from this great ministry. I must admit I have tried to explain it many times, all the while using the terms "I" and "me." 


This week, I learned that God has an incredible plan waiting for me. Do I know what it is? No! But God does, and I am content to wait on Him and to learn and prepare myself for the next chapter in the story as GOD writes it, not "I." 


Isaiah 55: 8-11 sums it up. We all know these verses and are quick to make them ours, but the reality is we like doing things our way. We like knowing the plan. Let’s get humble in the sight of God and be big enough and honest enough to say we don’t have it figured out, but God does.


Please visit In His Wakes at www.inhiswakes.com


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

No Where To Run


Isaiah 49:8 (MSG) God also says: "When the time's ripe, I answer you. When victory's due, I help you. I form you and use you to reconnect the people with me, To put the land in order, to resettle families on the ruined properties.”


Have you ever wondered why we do things that don’t make a great deal of sense? Is it God’s will or our will? This is an age-old question that is not answered by just a brief comment or letter. In studying this week and through conversations, I have decided that it’s okay to sit still for a minute or two. It’s okay to let God redirect you onto a fresh path. It’s hard not to run ahead of God and start something new and exciting. I see many pieces of a great puzzle, but none fit together yet. For the past few months, I have been running back and forth in my mind. I am tired of running, so I am walking and listening now. 


I remember a guy I grew up with at one of the homes I lived in. His name was Philip Myers. If you ever went anywhere with him, you had better be in shape. He always wanted to run. He came over to our cottage one day and asked if we could make a trade. I said, "Sure, that sounds like a great deal." The only problem was, the stuff he was trading for was across campus. So off we went. 


The second we stepped out the door, he took off. I was a runner back in the day, so it was no problem keeping up with him. In the midst of our sprint to the other side of the campus, I asked him why he ran everywhere he went. He replied quickly, "You never get anywhere in life by walking; it takes too much time. I have pondered this statement for many years, and I have often wondered if he is still running or if he finally slowed down and enjoyed the beauty around him. 


His philosophy on running can be taken many ways. We can run everywhere we go, and that can be good, but you may get tired or run right past the very thing God has for you. 


To live a life of victory, we need to know where to run. Once God has given you a task, take off like we did. Remember, we made the deal in the cottage, and we knew where to run. We had direction. 


The deals we make with God will be on our knees. Then we need to step out, take off, and run with purpose. God can keep up.


www.sandwestedit.com


Friday, May 25, 2007

Shelter from the Sun


Isaiah 49 says "Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, For the Compassionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs. I'll make all my mountains into roads, turn them into a superhighway".


Let me bring you to a time in my early teen years. Haven House was my second group home. It was to be short term. I had a great deal of people who cared about me but my stubborn attitude pushed many away. Although young, I learned so many life lessons here. This was a time before the "mental games" were introduce into troubled teens lives. I call them "mental games" because as time would go forward, we all learned how to beat the system. The system being ideas like "if you let them think this, then they will act this way. Haven House was not that way at all, they taught us by life itself, teaching us that for every action, negative or positive there would be a reaction and a price to pay at some level. I hope you immerse yourself in this story as it is as true as it gets. Lord willing I will take you from this point in my life to now in the up coming stories. Here is the Haven House story as I saw it and remember it today.


What controversy there was in the neighborhood on Shepard Street. This thing called a home for troubled youth was coming. Maybe now looking back we were pioneers of our present day culture and Haven House was the pioneering concept of "fixing" us. I had already had an idea that none of the neighbors wanted us there but this was not really new to me. It had seemed for most of my life that I was just in the way.The experiences I had there would forever change me. Not knowing at the time what changes were being made but they would mold me into the person I am today. It was not the experiences to me that made the difference but the people. To prove this I have thought about all of the experiences both good and bad while at Haven House. What effect did they have? I can say mostly positive and impacting to some degree.


When I think about the people, what effect did they have on my life? There is an overwhelming deep desire to tell you that these people who gave their life to try and teach me something had such a life changing impact that it would be hard to put into words. I guess what I am saying is that it was never about the experiences but the people.To prove this after some thirty years I can tell you of only a couple of experiences I had but I can see in my mind and tell you each persons name and what I remember them doing for me.


That to me is impacting.There was Charlie, not really sure what his job was but I do remember him spending time taking to me, that's all we really wanted, just to talk and someone to listen. A lady name Anita, who did the same, always a sweet smile and a warm hello, eyes that would warm your heart no matter how bad things were. I can remember her always asking on a hot summer day "would you like something to drink?"Although not part of the Haven House my court appointed officer, Ellen. I must say she had an impact that is still lasting on me. I can remember sitting with her and talking out things, she had me do some crazy things with my fingers to test my concentration, I still do that today.


Then there were three, Michael, Peter and Barbara. They were our house parents. Now I could go into detail into each one as they each had their own special way of trying to get into my brain. They without doubt are the most interesting people I had ever met and to this day still are. I have so many wonderful memories and could write a book on my experiences with each of them but to keep this short I will just give you a brief summary of each one and the impact they had.We can start with Michael, he loved to meditate, this was his way of teaching us to relax and get in touch with our inner being if you will. We would sit for hours and just sit, sometimes talk but mostly sit. This was very relaxing and taught me a great deal about myself.


Peter I do believe loved to write, I am not sure if that is where I developed the love for writing or not. Only to say that he had this big book and he would sit and write all of what he saw going on. Peter had a heart and really loved us. As a matter of fact all three of theses shared the same heart. They truly loved us no matter what. A really good picture of how God loves us. Peter also loved to cook and grow his own food, thinking back they all three loved to grow their own food. This is where we would spend time when we did things we were not supposed to do "in the garden".


Then there was Barbara. She wore this long robe , saddles and smoked a pipe. For some reason I am hearing her say "George, what are your feelings on this". She was always caring and seemed to be very sensitive to feelings. What I remember the most about her is she cared and she loved us.I am just trying to give you some insight on Haven House, from the start. Keep in mind this was 1974 and the culture as we know it today was forever changed by the people of Haven House. It was never about the program, the event or all of the other experiences. It was always be about the people. It was always showing us they loved us. That is all we ever wanted, to be loved. It's love that make the difference.


George Beasley

Still Running

Still Running I recently turn sixty-two. There is something about getting older that makes you think about your life. Some days, I wake up...