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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Journey of a Christian Man: From Weakness to Strength

I write across a wide variety of platforms and outlets, with the bulk of my writing centering on Christianity, manhood, and building the kingdom of God on earth.

Because of that, it can appear I arrived at strength and victory overnight, which would be far from the truth. It was facing a series of extraordinary challenges over time, with the help of Jesus Christ, the Bible, my wife, and fellow believers, that helped me survive and ultimately to thrive and eventually attain victory in the circumstances.

It required me to hold on to God first, as it appeared nothing in the way of deliverance was coming. Under some circumstances it took years, others a few months.

The point is we all have to go through serious trials in one way or another, and in many cases there are no answers in the short term; we have to learn to carry the load while engaging with everyday life. That's where the chief struggle is, and where many men fail, because they focus on the challenging issue to the detriment of other areas of life, with some losing their jobs, wives, families, businesses or even their sanity, because they wanted the circumstance to change so bad, they forgot about the rest of life.

I've struggled in those ways in all of those areas, losing businesses I built for years, along with part of my family, as I was legally attacked because of an accusation that was made, which while false, it wasn't determined till almost everything in my life and the life of my family was destroyed. By then it was too late, even though I had been exonerated.

To make it worse, those making the accusations knew it was false, but proceeded anyway because it was released to the media across a large portion of the southern part of the U.S.

It shouldn't have ever gotten that far, but a D.A. was up for re-election, and thought he had a slam dunk case. Eventually he had to work behind the scenes to save his political rear end by allowing my lawyer unprecedented access at the time to the grand jury. He was allowed to go in and argue the case as if it was a trial itself.

The grand jury dropped all the charges, but it wasn't till after I had literally been shot at, had people come to my home and threaten me in front of my family, lost four children (two adopted and two foster), lost my business, and in the end, had to move away from the area because of the undeserved loss of reputation, which while cleared, forever put a question mark in the minds of the people in the area concerning my guilt or innocence.

This is just one of the many things encountered during my lifetime which I had to face as a man.

At first I was in a state of shock as I watched child protective services take four children away from us, as my wife wept, watching the car drive off with them in it, never to have them in our home again. It took time for that shock to leave me, as they attempted to trump up even more charges against the two of us. The original charge was that I had kicked the oldest adoptive boy in the eye, a charge he later admitted he made up. That was what actually resulted in the charges being dropped.

I had other times in my life when people or the system attempted to emasculate me, but this was by far the most dangerous. There was other danger in the past, but that was psychological rather than physical and economical.

After years of other struggles, including taking care of a disabled son my wife gave birth to, it almost caused me to collapse under the pressure. Not only was I trying to hold my family together, but I was holding on to my own courage by a thread. I didn't know if I was going to make it.

I had never experienced this level of corruption in the government before, it was something that surprised me and didn't know how to deal with at first because I wasn't able to process it. I had never before experienced evil being displayed through official government channels. There had been corrupt individuals within the government I had encountered before, but never the systemic evil being worked against me.

After losing the children, that was probably the first area I had to process and adapt to. I realized they had no interest in the truth, but in a political victory in the case of the D.A., or by the child protective services attempting to save face once they realized they had been lied to. To the end the corrupt agency refused to stop pursuing the further and total destruction of myself and my family.

The problem with child protective services is they can wield an ungodly power that has few if any checks and balances. It's extremely difficult to survive a vicious attack from it - especially if you're a man.

I can't tell all the details because it would take a book to delve into all the variables, including an internal battle between people over the best way to handle these troubled children.

My caseworker, which had been removed from her job, believed unconventional people (especially Christians) who home schooled and offered a different lifestyle were prepared to have a more positive effect on these children.

Her removal was what opened the door for the lawsuit to be filed against us. Once she was out of the way, there was nothing to stop the persecution that followed. Okay, you get the general story.

How I battled my way out of it was to first focus on what remained of my family, which was my wife, son and daughter. We took them to a doctor to have a physical examination in order to show there had been no abuse with them. This in and of itself confirmed they really didn't believe the charges against us, because they would have never allowed our two biological children to remain in the home if they thought they were being abused.

After I secured their safety as far as remaining under our care, I had to start dealing with a plethora of legal and other issues.

We did a lot of praying together and bonding together as a family, as we lost my business and source of income. We had some money left, but most of that had to be spent on legal expenses to defend ourselves.

I came to the conclusion we were ruined, and were going to have to start from scratch in almost every area of our lives.

One thing I refused to do, and my wife was with me in it, is we wouldn't enter into a plea bargain, where we were asked to accept a three-year sentence, with about half of it being suspended. We said no, and instead faced up to ten years in prison if we were convicted.

It may look dismal, but in fact coming to a decision and taking a stand was empowering. We knew we were innocent of all charges, and we weren't going to allow them to get away with what they put us through by entering a guilty plea in hopes of some leniency; the primary purpose being to end the media coverage of the debacle, which was extensive.

Along with prayer and holding on to one another, we had to come to a place of peace with the help of God, putting everything into His hands. We did reach a place of peace and were ready to accept whatever came our way. This was also empowering, as they had lost all power over us that came from intimidation, and we were ready to do battle.

In the end, even our lawyer said we could have pursued the matter legally and put some of the people in jail that kept the pressure on, knowing we were innocent. There were even doctor's reports saying the children were in perfect health, and then in the middle of the report completing changing their opinion, with the obvious reason being someone had told them that's what they wanted them to do.

I became a much stronger man as a result of this ordeal, which spread over months. After losing the children, one of the harder things to learn to cope with was the wait. You have to put your life on hold and stand still with your lives. Nothing can go forward until the situation was dealt with and it came to a conclusion.

There are times when a man has nothing left but to trust in and cling to Jesus Christ to hold him up during times like these, as we must not only be strong for ourselves, but strong for our families. That's all I did, and I can take no credit for it.

In the end though, God proved He is stronger than one of the most powerful and potentially corrupt institutions in society, bringing us out of a place of defeat and despair to complete victory.

I decided we wouldn't legally pursue the people who did this to us because my family had been crushed so much, I determined it would be detrimental to them to stretch it out for another year or more. I let it go; one of the hardest things I had to do when I wanted to put the sword of justice on their necks and make them pay for what they did.

Since I'm prone to want to take those types of steps in protecting my family, that was something that was extremely difficult, but I didn't think of it as being emasculated, but rather taking care of my family, which had been crushed in every way a human being could be crushed.

It taught me God could take us through anything if we continue to hold onto and trust in Him, while understanding the depths of the evil and corruption that permeates this world, even at the judicial level. It opened my eyes in a way only something like this could do.

Fortunately, I'm not cynical, although I remain extremely cautious. I don't trust the legal system any more, and certainly don't trust those employed by it.

That said, because God has instituted it, I still abide by the general precept, although I'm more apt to resist authority when it represents that which opposes the revealed will of God in the Holy Scriptures.

If I had let my anger overcome me, I would have eventually lived a life of victim hood, eventually striking back in a way that probably would have resulted in be serving jail time. By the grace of God I didn't do that, and He allowed me and us to survive and learn many lessons to this day.

The bottom line for me is I had to focus on what was best for my family under these circumstances, and that meant letting it go and moving on with our lives. We could have went to war and won, but it probably would have been at the cost of some of us not surviving the struggle.

That's not to say this is how is will always or should work out, but there are times to make war and time to let things go. This was a time to let go. It went against my nature, which was to fight and destroy my enemies, but this time my decision was the right thing to do. It was the manly thing to do.

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