Thursday, November 14, 2013

I almost gave up on this.

 As this project has grown people have been saying some amazing things about me. Elevating me to a place that I don't belong. So I’ve been thinking I want to write about the failures. The things I have done wrong since I’ve started this project. I’m not trying to give you a false sense of humility, but I want to start a culture of confession. So you can see how this is truly a miracle of God and has nothing to do with me. I say this often less of me and more of Jesus.  It’s so cliché, especially in the Christian community to say “nobody’s perfect,” but I think we all have a class system going on somewhere in our minds when it comes to other Christians we know.

Now I know what I'm about to say is absolutely wrong thinking ... Again I have read my Bible and I know what it says. But somehow in my mind there is this class system to Christianity. At the top of this pyramid are the” SUPER Christians” like John piper, Francis Chan, Matt Chandler, Chuck Smith and Ken Ortiz. They are pastors or missionaries. I know this isn't true, but in my mind they don't sin; they change Christian culture as we know it through the faith and complete dedication to doin what is right at all cost. The next level I call the “Sheep”. They are Christians defined very generally and generically. They don't cuss, they don't smoke or drink, they didn't vote for Obama, they make their kids wear helmets when they ride their bikes, they only listen to The Fish, K Love or some kind of Christian radio, their biggest sin is speeding or not giving the full 10% of their tithe. Then there is the last group; the crappy Christians. We are the kind of Christian that is smoking out front your church before and after service. We have tattoos; we have some kind of addiction be it porn or drinking or something. We can't remember the last time we tithed. The parental advisory sticker is on half our CDs. Most the time we don't vote at all. We don't consider damn, piss or hell cuss words, and the least of our worries speeding or who to vote for. We are trying to not cheat on our husbands and wives. Trying to make it another day without giving in to whatever our addiction is. We are hoping our girlfriend doesn't get pregnant, if she does get pregnant hoping you have the guts to not have an abortion. And we struggle with believing the entire Bible mainly because we have a lot of gay and lesbian friends.

Now before you send me hate mail. I'm 95%  sure  you have your own class system. Most likely based on what your sins are. Think about it.

I put myself kind of in the middle of Sheep and Crappy Christian . With one foot firmly planted in Crappy Christian ... And more of dipping my big toe in the sheep category ... Kind of like testing the water to see how warm it is. I would say More than ever before I live my life by the moral compass of the Bible. But it for sure isn't cause I willed it or I got my self together. I know is only from begging God to change me. He's done it not me. 

 We look up those who are trying to do things in the name of the Gospel. We put them on pedestals. Again, I hate clichés, but it’s true. We put them on pedestals and expect perfection. When they fall.p. we are right there to kick when there down! Side note—I swear to you, every scandalous pastor that has cheated on his wife and has been ostracized by his church, I desperately want to go be his friend. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that what they did should be ignored and not dealt with, but let’s stop eating our own, if "tough love" isn't working. Try something else. To be clear I do believe in church discipline, but let’s not abandon our leaders when they fall. Let the leadership do what we trust them to do and let us as the church love that guy. Bring him closer not push him away.  One of the huge things I see all the time is there is always room for the victim, but there’s never room for the sinner, the victimizer. I’ll explain. Going back to my cheater example. A man cheats on his wife. The church rallies around the wife. She is the victim. I say yes and amen to that, but let’s not forget the husband. Let’s rally around him. Who is going to go get him? Who is going to fight for him? Is it you? 

I feel like when you want to see a change you have got to be the change, you’ve got to start with you and that is what this is about. When you constantly hide things, you become a slave to it. You give it power over you. I don’t want the failures of this walk to constantly keep beating me more than they already have. I want to empower others to not let their past control their future.

I definitely am a different man than when I started this project and I am so grateful for that. Being transparent is definitely not my strong suit. I am always so afraid of what everybody can do to me. I am so afraid of discrediting myself, discrediting ST’s ministry, what he started. The reality is, I really want you to get this.

I’m trying to love Jesus more than my reputation.
I want to love Jesus more than my creditability.

So from time to time, I’m going to be sharing my failures and not for entertainment, but so you can see what it looks like to take yourself out of the spotlight and put the focus completely on Jesus. It's not about my glory but about His glory.

I’m not trying to put on this fake spirituality. I am in a place of sharing the gospel all the time, but not sharing it from the podium. Instead, I sharing it from the mud.

God can use anyone. The clearest picture I can give you is my life. My hope in telling you about my failures and weakness is that you are able see the glory of God and His ability to use anyone. 

About this time last year towards the end of my walking I made some really stupid mistakes. Somebody once told me that when you start something, make your mistakes early and often so you can move onto the successful part. In all honesty, I wish I could have avoided making mistakes completely”. This story is going to surround some events that happened when I was in the Salt Lake area. I’m not even going to tell the whole story; I’m going to give a rough outline. Again my point is not to entertain you with gruesome facts, but to show you a culture of confession and point to God.

When I started this walk I had this vision of me being a hero. Of me being the good guy. And what I’m starting to realize is that my story is more like a Pharisee meets the Prodigal Son. I say often that I’m more like Judas than John, but I didn’t know that until I was alone with myself and God. The first part of this trip was just this constant revealing of how wicked my heart was, from Seattle to Salt Lake was probably some of the ugliest times of my life and then discovering how selfish, prideful, egotistical and trying to look good at any cost I was. This trip as been very revealing. Haha.
I started falling back into old behaviors when I was in Salt Lake and I started drinking pretty heavily. One day I’m in downtown Salt Lake in a place I shouldn’t be with people I shouldn’t be with, drinking and trying to live it up, so to speak. I wasn’t drunk; fortunately by the grace of God I was limiting myself. But in the process, that night, the cops took my goat. I don’t think what they did was right, I was there, I was sober. I wasn’t breaking the law. I had done nothing wrong on a legal standpoint. But the reality was, I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I was at a bar. I was indulging in this lifestyle. Long story short, it worked out, I got my goat back the next day. But there were so many rumors flying around. Some of them truth, most of them not.  All that was playing in my head was what would this person say about me or what would that person say, how would this look. I started hiding. I was trying to hide from God. I was trying to hide from the world. I had been caught being myself. I was so ashamed. I started drinking every night, trying to find relief from the shame with a bottle. I turned to girls, I turned to alcohol, I turned to hiding. It was just a downward spiral. On top of it all, what was killing me the most was that I felt like I was failing these kids. I failed ST. All the people that put hope and trust in me that I failed them all. And I could just not bear the weight of that. For a couple of weeks there I literally drank until I passed out every night. I just I felt like I was allowed to be a part of this incredible project and I was ruining it.

The real reason I quit was not just the cold weather. I needed to be rescued. I needed to get away. I needed to be saved. I had to go back home and get with people that could set me straight. Eventually I made my back to Spokane. The Lord spoke to my heart through the Word. I was at a church service. I don't even remember a single word the pastor said. But I remember the Bible verses : John 5 :11 I pulled it up on my phone bible app. It's a short conversation between a sick man and Jesus . What Jesus said was in read letters and they cut straight to the heart of me.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. (John 5:6-9 ESV)

The story is so amazing. Here is what happened as I sat in that chair at church.
Jesus: Steve, do you want to be healed?
Me, the sick man: Yes, desperately but I have already messed this up.
Jesus: Get up, take up you bed and walk.

And the best part of the story "and at once he was healed" read it again.

Do you know what sickness God healed me from? My shame. The paralyzing shame I felt. It almost cost me everything. He healed me from my shame of that failure back in Salt Lake.

Take up your bed and walk.

Those words were approval to me. I felt Jesus say, “I can still use you.” That verse might as well said pick up your bed and walk across America.

Even now I cry over this story. I want to speak to you directly. Jesus has the power to heal your guilt and your shame. It's time for you to pick up your bed and walk.


  1. Sweetheart, I can only imagine what it took to write this and am so very glad you did. It helped you and it helps us. Don't ever be afraid to share this kind of thing with us. I struggle every day, people look at me and see a person that is successful at so many things but mostly I feel that I am not. I will be holding you up in prayer and you and Leeroy continue your journey. This was meant to be. For the kids. And for you. Love you!

  2. Powerful story. A great reminder that God is ALWAYS there for the sinner as we should be to. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This sounds like a testimony one of the disciples could have written. Funny, I was just listening to a radio preacher last night talking about the Christian Class System or Christian Culture or something like that. He told a story about a bunch of hippies who came to a church but weren't accepted because they were barefoot and not wearing suits and some looked stoned and they had long hair....a striking contrast to the suited, well-groomed, squeaky clean members. Long story short, one of the hippies got up to give his testimony prior to joining the church about 2 months after he first attended, and he told those members that he didn't want to join, didn't want to be like them, etc., because they had never shown him (Christian) love, had never been Jesus to him, but Jesus was prompting him to join the church and he had to follow Christ, and had no choice.

    The story went on, but where I see the parallel between what you are writing ~ and I get it ~ is that we all sin, and to us, our sin looks different to one another. My smoking/drinking/pot-smoking/etc. sin versus his prideful/gossiping/lusting/etc. sin is a contrast to our earthly eyes. BUT to Christ, sin=sin, there is no difference in His eyes. It disrupts our relationship with him. He is perfectly holy, we need that atonement of the God on the cross and his risen life. For us, we can't see that clearly. There are classes in the church as there are in "society." But Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

    The danger of the drinking / backsliding, whatever you want to call it, is that it damages our testimony. It also damages our relationships with others / Christian or non. But non Christians are watching us to see if we are going to act like the world (blow it off, stay on the binge, give up) or if we are going to go to our knees in prayer, repentance, confession, humility, etc. Before I was walking in the Light, the folks I knew who confessed their weakness apart from Christ had more of a witness to me than ANY whitebread Sunday school goer ever did.

    Scratch Leroy behind the ears for me.

  4. I saw you walking in Kansas City and HAD to find you to get the story behind walking a goat. Boy am I glad I did! Grace and peace as you continue on your journey.

    It takes a lot of courage to write a post like this. But it's the honesty of Christians that, I believe, is the greatest witness to non-believers. They get to see we are "regular" people and they are, hopefully, less likely to put us on a pedestal or in the "super Christian" category because we live our lives, faults and all, before them. And when we point to Christ as the only reason we are able to bounce back from our poor choices (while not denying there are consequences attached to those choices), that can give them hope that Christ can work in their lives the same way.

    What a beautiful testimony you have. May God continue to be glorified as you allow us all to be encouraged while watching God work miraculously in your life!