This past weekend I received an e-mail from a friend of mine. A few days before they had shared one of my posts and they were rather concerned with comment they had received. They said they preferred not sharing what had been said, but asked me if I was sincerely a follower of Jesus. I affirmed that I was indeed a follower of Christ even as my insides churned with wonder and doubt… not about my position but about what had been said of me that was so bad, they dared not repeat it.
When I finally got to their wall I scrolled down until reaching the post of mine that they had shared. In the discussion string was the words, “He is an adulterer. Have nothing to do with him.” A wave which I cannot describe flooded over me as I took in these words which had been written by someone I didn’t even know. It was not until I began to seek the Spirit that I gained my bearings. It was then I remembered and asked myself, “How did I get here?”
The ministry I have been given began in transparency and vulnerability. It began on the tail end of a revelation. It began on the day I realized that none of my religious solutions were going to fix me. Broken, I fell to my face on the floor of my Denver hotel room.
In a nutshell, all this began on the day that my overwhelming sin crashed against the formidable wall of Christ’s grace. Jesus proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that His grace is greater than my sin. He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. Most importantly, He proved that no matter how broken and defective we (I) are/am, He has the power to transform and make new. By His grace I am the object of His power and His promise.
At that point it dawned on me. In April of 2009 the post that kicked off the ministry God had given me contained a confession that I never would have dared breathe before. I didn’t beat around the bush or try to pretty things up. I simply wrote the facts, “I am certainly an adulterer.” (This is my first Facebook post in April of 2009 – See Below: “The Blog“)
It was at this point I knew what I needed to do. I needed to answer to this accusation clearly and concisely. I needed to remember the pit from which Jesus had saved me and speak the simple truth. With this Holy Spirit empowered boldness I answered the accusation lodged against me.
What ____ says is true. I am an adulterer. It is not that I am actively engaged in adultery, but I have committed adultery. It’s not as though I have taken a great deal of effort to hide this fact. The sins of my past have helped me to best understand and appreciate grace. It is true when the Word says that what man meant for evil, God has used for good. I t’s not just true but it is amazing. See, the sins of my past are the sins of many people’s present. The thing is, they fear someone like ____ coming to point the finger at them and declare before the people, “Sinner! Sinner! This person is a sinner!”
This is precisely what the woman who was caught in the act of adultery was facing on that day when Jesus stepped in and so boldly declared, “He without sin cast the first stone.” He dealt with the woman in private only after the crowd had dissipated. His words were loving, gentle and yet they were firm. First He let the woman know that He did not condemn her and then He said, “Go and sin no more.” Many see this as a warning… and in many ways it was. However, I see it more as a declaration. It was Jesus who said, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed” and on that day she was set free. She didn’t take lightly that the very Son of God had stepped in and saved her from receiving what was due to her by God’s law.
I don’t take lightly what Jesus did to set me free. I don’t take lightly the sins of my past and believe me when I say that I wish I had never committed them. Most of all I do not take lightly the blood of the Lamb which was shed on my behalf. I am free from condemnation by the blood of Jesus. It’s really that simple. What’s more I have set my sights on a life of holiness and sanctification. See, I don’t have to live my yesterday because Jesus has set me free from that.
Remember the woman in Luke chapter 7 who washed Jesus’ feet? She did this act as He was dining at the house of a Pharisee. The Pharisee was aware that this woman was a well-known sinner. He figured that perhaps Jesus was not. He judged Jesus in that moment for allowing a sinner to wash His feet and wipe them with her hair. Then Jesus rocked his world. He told a short story as an illustration. He talks about two men. One had a small debt. The other had an overwhelming debt. But both their debts were forgiven. Then He asks Simon the Pharisee which he thinks loved the one who forgave their debt more. Simon aptly replies that it was the one who was forgiven the biggest debt. See, Simon didn’t see himself as a sinner, although he was one. The woman who was weeping and washing Jesus’ feet did. She knew she was and as such she was the only one in the place to receive forgiveness… and she did.
Need I rise to my defense? No, I will not. I am guilty as charged. Yet there is one who rises to my defense. He says my sins are forgiven… and His defense is beyond reproach. So think what you may and propagate it how you see fit but none of what you have to say will change the fact that I am forgiven and as such I am madly in love with Jesus. I walk in who I am, not who I was. Jesus’ blood is greater than my failure.
By the time I finished writing the only thing that remained was peace. I was reminded yet again of the distance Father God traveled to meet me. I was reminded of how, despite my many transgressions, His arms were opened wide to embrace me on that day where I reached the end of my rope. When I began writing I was feeling fear over having been called out. When I finished writing I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
The truth of the matter is that this ministry began in gratitude. It began with a few simple messages. “You don’t have to live in the shadows” and “If Jesus can forgive me, He can certainly forgive you.” I knew when I sat down to write that first post that pride and dignity were headed out the window. I knew that they were being replaced with humility and thanksgiving. This ministry and Fisher of Men Productions were not and are not about me. They are about Him.
I have no way of knowing where you are this morning but God does. As you reach these words perhaps you are identifying with what has been said here. Maybe some of the words that were true about me are true of you as well. Maybe you’ve been holding out thinking that you are beyond God’s forgiveness. Maybe you’ve arrived to the conclusion that grace is for everyone else, but not for you. In response let me say this clearly. Those are nothing but lies. The truth is that no matter what you have done, no matter how far you have fallen, you have not fallen to a place that is beyond God’s ability to extend you grace and forgiveness.
Maybe you know Him but you have wandered or maybe you’ve never truly received the revelation of His love for you. Regardless of where you are right now, you do not have to remain there.
I want to share with you a few videos this morning. These are not just videos at random but words that are close to my heart. I encourage you to take them to a quiet and watch them. If you need someone to pray with you today, please feel free to reach out to me. This world may see you based on all that you have done but Jesus sees you based on all you have yet to become. You don’t have to hold out any longer. Just surrender… TODAY.
It will save your life.
“A Tale of Two Men”
“Writing In the Sand”
“The IT Factor”
“Into The Light”
23 April 2009 at 20:42 hrs.
Blogging has been kind of out of my element, but over the last several days I have found myself thinking about it. After all, we see each other out here on line. We write e-mails to each other. We write on walls, but who is willing to REALLY share of themselves? I intend to be one. Know that when you are reading this blog that you are reading my thoughts and feelings as they come through my head… this doesn’t always follow logic or reason!
April 22, 2009 — 11:00 a.m.
I flew in to Denver back on Sunday. It used to be that I enjoyed these trips and looked forward to them. The whole facility is self contained so once you arrive, you likely don’t leave. The “Qwest bar” is definitely the best place to socialize, and any place is better than my room. As you may, or may not hear more about later, I am not much of a reader. I like my entertainment and learning “piped” into me without any effort on my part. I know it’s laziness, but it’s part of the ABC’s of me. This week however, I brought along a book that I have been meaning to read for a while entitled “unChristian.” It reads an awful lot like a textbook, but the content has been so educational! There’s quite a bit more that I want to write… but it will have to wait until later this evening.
My song of the day is from Mercyme, “When You Spoke My Name.” Yes, it does bring me to tears but touches my heart!(tears are another confession I will probably expand on at some other time)
April 22, 2009 6:00 p.m.
Nothing like a day in the classroom! I found myself leaving at critical mass cerebrally and with tons of energy. I went to the Qwest gym and have some of that burned off now. With a clear head I am ready to begin where I left off.
I feel a bit like I am standing at the edge of a cliff right now looking down. There’s water down below, but how deep is it? If I jump, will I injure myself… or worse? I can turn around and walk away and know that I am safe but know that with nothing ventured, there is nothing gained. In case I was being too cryptic (and I probably was) what I am trying to say is that I am debating on the word REALLY that I put into my first note. I think we all have common ground in not wanting to be fully exposed. It feels very vulnerable and it is certainly much easier to simply project the image of me that I want people to see and hope that no one spots the man behind the curtain. What if I am rejected when people find out who I really am? Worse yet, what if I am accepted for what I project to others? How much energy and thought goes into projecting this persona? What about those nagging thoughts like, “If they knew who I really was, they would never accept me?” These are the kind of feelings that create uneasiness, yet many of us (I am on the top of the list) have departed from our “true face” long ago. I invite you to join me on my journey to full disclosure.
Let me start with some of the ugliest things about me. I am sure I will be sharing much more on these as my life experiences and subsequent writing continue. So, holding my breath, here goes!
I have a temper. I am sure that it results from my nature given self centeredness (more on this later since it seems to tie into all of my weaknesses). I get angry at people and inanimate objects alike. Although I don’t typically share this with people, it hasn’t kept it from occupying my mind. I wonder things like “Why do I even get so mad?” I drive through traffic on my way home from work and find myself screaming at people “idiot,” “moron,” “a-hole” or worse. If you are waiting for me to answer some deep philosophical question of my own on this topic, it may take a while before I arrive to that point. Then again, I may never reach a conclusion. Although I have made notable improvements, I find myself sometimes acting in ways that I never thought out, never selected, it’s simply a snap response to things not going MY WAY.
I am sexually dysfunctional – Woah! Now this is a big one, at least it is in my mind. Over the years I have been actively learning about what God’s will is for us when it comes to lust and sex. Still, head knowledge and heart knowledge are two totally different things. Many times in my life I have found myself in a position of knowing what the right thing is to do… literally sitting at that intersection and looking both ways. I can clearly see one of the roads and the other looks fuzzy and has some unknowns. Which have I typically picked? THE WRONG ONE. I make that left hand turn and suddenly a semi comes crashing through the intersection and t-bones me. I know I am speaking in abstract, but I don’t see the need for detail until I reach specifics. This is a topic I have had extreme difficulty discussing and yet here I am posting it on the world wide web!
My favorite Biblical author, Paul, describes this when he says, I know what the right thing is to do, and yet I choose the wrong one! This is not to say that I am out committing adultery, although I am certainly an adulterer. Some of you who are reading this may be slightly taken aback at this point, and I can certainly understand that. Maybe you even passed a little judgment. I’ve been there too. Still, I know there are others who will read this fact about me and find encouragement in knowing they are not alone… and for those of you in that position, I am sharing this information for you and you are NOT alone!
A friend recently made a statement to me about lust in the heart. He said, “Do you know the difference between love and lust?” Of course I said no, and so he told me, “lust is all about what I can get but love is all about what I can give.” Oh how I want to be the latter of the two! I’m not going to dig up too much on the past, since this is all about present day but I do want to share one thing. I remember very specifically January 1st, 2007. It was a new year, but I certainly didn’t feel like a “new Mitch.”
I had divorced my wife back in August and spent 4 months out doing what “I” wanted to do. Now on January 1st, after one of many nights I was not proud of, I felt empty. I had chosen me but it had the opposite of the intended affect. How could that be? I started out this selfish journey looking to fill a hole and the more I stuffed into it, the bigger it became. I had broken her heart, and my own as well. I was damaged, and I was feeling shame. I cried that morning when God called out my name. In my guilt I couldn’t even believe that He would remember me. Right then, I knew that what I was seeking was a lie and that there was only one place to fill up this hole. I made the right choice that day and it resulted in life transformation. Notice that I say transformation, not perfection. I will never find that. I will still struggle with lust. So what’s the big difference? Rather than complaining to God about how defective I am, I realized that I was created with weaknesses so that I would seek Him out. I have no intention of turning this into a “religious thing,” just the truth and nothing but the truth.
Whew! So we have the facts established now and my greatest flaws are revealed right here on virtual paper and on the world wide web. I want to emphasize a few things regarding my motives in writing all of this. Clearly it’s not so you will hold me in higher esteem. As a matter of fact there may be some of you reading all of this in shock. That’s okay! If your opinion of me has dramatically lowered, that’s okay too. Here is what I hate the most. I walk into a church on Sunday morning and come down to my usual seat, surrounded by my usual friends.
These are people that I love, yet here I am covering up all of my flaws. I’m pretty sure they are doing the same. It’s natural to do this, but if everyone is walking around thinking that everyone else is great and that their lives, their relationships, and their marriages are “just fine,” who’s reaching out to heal each other? I HATE IT! I HATE IT! I HATE IT! Why can’t we all be real? God knows who I am and He hasn’t left me, so why should I be concerned about everyone’s opinion? If protecting myself means holding out on someone else, is it really worth it? Yes, yes I get it. We are a “me” centered culture. We want things. We crave them. We believe we DESERVE them. After all, isn’t that what Oprah taught us? But what happens when we get them? Does it bring the satisfaction that you envisioned? As you can see from above, along with all of the other things that I will share later, it didn’t work for me.
This blog is intended to be interactive. You can choose to respond to things I have said, or not. I t’s entirely up to you. If it’s said in confidence, it stays in confidence. I close this note with an awkward feeling in the pit of my stomach. I feel open and exposed but I can only hope that you can relate with me in some way. If not in my weaknesses, maybe it remind you of some of your own. Thanks for reading.
By the way, the song of the evening… another MercyMe, “Grace Tells Another Story.” Tell me if you don’t agree.
April 23, 2009 – 6:00 a.m.
Last night I was up too late. I spent a lot of time online and finally went over to lay down in bed. What was on TV, the original version of “The Longest Yard” with Burt Reynolds. Of course I was sucked in! That made bedtime 1:00 a.m. Denver time. I was amazed when I woke up and looked at the clock to see 5:35 a.m. Jumping off of the proverbial cliff yesterday was scary but I find that the aftermath has been invigorating. I received a number of responses, both public and private. As I suspected, there are broken people like me! The reality is that we are all broken to some degree. Some deny their brokenness and it chases them around like a shadow. Others learn to acknowledge it and even accept it, and for them there is real healing!
Last night (after my post) I went down to eat at the Qwest bar and enjoy conversation with colleagues and friends. The conversations were mostly “shop talk” but I didn’t mind. It’s nice just having company. When I got up to leave I noticed there was a younger lady (in her 20’s) that had slipped in. As I walked by she smiled at me. For a moment there I started to turn around and introduce myself. I didn’t because I realized my motivation in doing it. I thought about looking back, maybe just once… I didn’t. As I sit here this morning I feel a little awkward about that encounter. It’s not about that moment of temptation, I have those frequently. It’s about the fact that she smiled at me and I walked by hurriedly. What was the message that I sent to her? Perhaps she was thinking I’m a snob. It’s an example of the mixed messages people receive everyday. My motivation was all about fleeing temptation. The message I sent was all about fleeing from her.
Maybe it’s all in my imagination and she thought nothing of it at all. I find that as I sit here and write all of this out, it helps me to gain perspective on the whole encounter. Now here’s where my OTHER conflict comes in. I know we are called to love others… to love EVERYONE! If I were whole (not broken) I could do this. The truth is, I am far from it!
The song of the morning is “Undo” by Rush of Fools. I want to share a few of the lyrics with you, especially since they remind me of myself.
I’ve been here before,
Now here I am again.
Standing at the door
Praying you’ll let me back in
To label me a prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface of who I’ve been known to be.
Turn me around me, pick me up
Undo what I’ve become.
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace.
I need you, I need your help
I can’t do this myself.
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become.
I focused on the score
But I could never win.
A life of hiding my sin.
To label me a hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface of who I’ve been known to be.
Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that you
Turn me around, pick me up,
Undo what I’ve become…
THANKS AGAIN FOR READING! More to come…
One more thing… I know there were a number of responses at the bottom of my previous blog string. I want to make sure that folks get notice that this is out there to read and when there are updates. If anyone has a suggestion on a system where I can accomplish this without deleting and publishing new, please give a bit of help here!
April 23, 2009 – P.M.
Tonight is my last night in Denver. I am so excited to get home!
Tonight’s topic is based on some of my past experience. It was something that plagued me for about 10 years and it has been placed upon my heart to share. My choices in this area caused me years of shame. What is it? Internet pornography! I imagine every reader is probably thinking I have bitten off more than I can chew. Perhaps I have, but I am going to give it my best shot. This is a real issue. Many of you have seen this problem come up in someone’s life. Some of you have had problems in this area yourself. It is becoming more widespread with each passing day!
For me, the problem began somewhere around the time that pornography first showed up on the internet. When I first gave into this temptation, I justified it by allowing myself to think it was a “victimless crime.” After all, I was only sitting in front of a computer screen, temporarily drawn into this fantasy world. I would go online to these unscrupulous sites on occasion but it was not a problem in my mind. Looking back, I can clearly see that the frequency of my visits to these sites increased. Eventually I found myself looking for a fix multiple times a day! Slowly my perceptions began warping. My view of the world, my view of my relationship with God, and my view of my relationship with my wife changed. Here are some of the things that occurred as a result of my years of selfish indulgence and lust.
My views on sexual relationships changed. Now, as I confessed in my notes yesterday, I have always had sexual struggles. The warped perceptions I was building as a result of this pornography furthered my fall into this pit. My views of sex started to slant towards recreation. My views on women began to slant towards sex objects. I feel absolutely awful confessing this but someone has to say it!
I came to know this outlet because of my sexual frustrations. I figured that if I had a way to satisfy these urges then they would subside. Some of you reading this may have used this thought process in the past to justify sin, or maybe you are using it at present. Let me tell you now, IT’S A LIE! Like an addictive drug, the more I had, the more I wanted. Every encounter with these sites left me a little less satisfied. Every encounter with these sites I sold a piece of myself for a cheap thrill. As is the case with many of my unhealthy behaviors, the hole I was looking to fill never shrank. It grew larger by the day!
Meanwhile, I was attending church, giving a small portion of my time to charitable causes and leading a small group Bible study! It took an incredible amount of energy for me to continue stuffing my conscience down. I know at points the Spirit spoke to me strongly, convicting me of my behaviors. It was always God’s gentle nudge. That isn’t the worst part by far! Eventually my behaviors weren’t disturbing my soul the way they once did. My conscience was all but a memory. God’s voice was an inaudible whisper at best. I was dying inside!
It was around that same time period in January of 2007 that God awakened me. I had taken some of my fantasies and turned them into adulterous realities. I had further desecrated my body in wicked ways! I would like to say that as of that day I was perfect in this regards. That wasn’t the case, but I was on the road back . I realized there were only two choices. I could bite the bullet and confess my sin and begin to heal or I could continue on this road until my soul was dead and lifeless. God had already revealed to me the lies I was buying from the accuser. He showed me my flawed thinking. It was undeniable! Victimless crime? I had divorced my wife, and my son hated me for destroying the stability that he needed so desperately in his life. My mother pled with me to turn to turn back to the Lord. The list of victims of my crimes was lengthy! The accuser was screaming in my ear reminding me of how absolutely worthless I was. I spent way too long pushing the envelope of freedom and I found myself bound in chains again, a slave to sin.
There is good news in this. It has been a year since I have been to any of these sites. I am learning how to live according to HIS perfect will! I have no delusions. It would be a huge mistake for me to think that I simply have this licked. It’s a day by day thing. I don’t think I am alone in this issue.
The song for this evening comes from Robbie Seay. It’s entitled “Love Wins.” Since many of you are probably not familiar with this song, let me share some of the lyrics:
It’s a big world, we are hoping
For a big change, we are broken
In the fading light of a dying sun
We cry for redemption
There is hope, there is hope, there is hope
But everyone who’s lost will be coming home
And everything that hurts will be whole again
And love will be the last thing standing
Can’t stop, you can’t stop the seasons
Don’t stop, don’t stop believing
(Chorus… I will only list this once)
Keep on dreaming of the day when it all will change
Believe in the end, love wins
If you’re waiting for the time when your sun will shine
Oh, look above cause love wins
If it hurts you, just breathe in
When it pains you, just believe in
The radiant light of the morning sun
We can find our redemption
Love is strong, love is strong, love is strong
It’s been there holding you all along
Everything thrown away will be new again
And love will be the last thing standing
There is hope, there is hope for my lonely soul
There is hope, there is hope to be made whole
There is life, there is life to be set free
There is life there is life surrounding me
There is hope, there is hope for my broken heart
There is hope, there is hope for a brand new start
There is life, there is life give me eyes to see
There is life, there is life you have captured me
Thanks again to each of you for allowing me to share!
April 24, 2009 EARLY!
I spent a considerable amount of time online last night talking to people. The sheer amount of people who are reaching out is incredible! Thanks to all of you for your openness, for your acceptance, and for your LOVE! I am running on nearly 0 sleep, but that’s okay. What I am receiving is more valuable than sleep!
I was talking to a dear friend of mine of mine this morning on IM. We were kicking around some ideas and a thought came up. What if everyone took their masks off? What if we showed our “true selves” and still found love? Well, I am living breathing proof. I am talking about subject matter that I wouldn’t feel comfortable revealing honestly and completely with a counselor in my blog. The outpouring of love and acceptance I have received in response has been flooring me!
Last night I had no interest in the Qwest bar. I went and ate, but the conversation seemed stale. We discussed politics and lots of “shop talk” but I found myself craving real conversation. I found myself craving you, my dear friends; my brothers and sisters! I was not disappointed when I returned to my room! I want to prepare you for the fact that today is a travel day for me and I may not be quite as available, but I will be doing my best to keep in touch with each of you. We are literally coming together from all points of the world and this is my “church.” You aren’t going to hear any preaching here, just honesty and reality. You will hear about my troubles and trials (as you have already) as well as the miraculous things that are occurring in my life, and the lives of this body of people. My heart is full, my hole is gone!
Another thing dawned on me as I sat there with my colleagues in the Qwest bar, I now have literally thousands of accountability partners! If I were to act in a way contrary to my convictions, I need to confess it to each of you. You may be reading this and thinking, “Wow! It sucks to be him!” Let me assure you, it doesn’t! I have never been so free and I desire the same for each of you. I have heard confessions in e-mail that have amazed me. Not because of anything you have done. There is literally nothing you could tell me that would shock me. Again, been there, done that! What has amazed me has been your willingness to be open. I have responded faithfully to each of your messages and comments. It’s not an obligation. It’s an honor and a privilege! When I fall down, the Lord and my dear brothers and sisters will pick me up. When you fall down, you just have to reach out. I am here, not to condemn or judge, but to help in anyway I am equipped to!
Before I close this short note, I want to mention someone that I met recently. His name is Brian Benfield. He’s from North Carolina, and ironically, we met through mafia wars (a Facebook application that I waste way too much time on. He has been communicating with me privately and he shared that he wanted to come clean as well. Well, he has! He now has a blog of his own and I look forward to reading it! Should you feel drawn to do so, I encourage you to reach out to him.
I am hitting the shower, but I want to leave you with one final thought. Some of you I have known for 30 or more years. Some of you I just met recently. Regardless of how long I have known you, you just met the real me! Your encouragement keeps it that way!
Oh, I almost forgot… the song of the day! Chris Tomlin, “The Way I Was Made”
Caught in the half-light, I’m caught alone
Waking up to the sunrise and the radio
Feels like I’m tied up, what’s holding me?
Just praying today will be the day I go free
I want to live like there’s no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one’s around
I want to sing like nobody’s listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I’m not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made
Made in Your likeness, made with Your hands
Made to discover who You are and who I am
All I’ve forgotten help me to find
All that You’ve promised let it be in my life.
~ Mitch Salmon