Friday, April 1, 2016

Story 5: Comedian Tim Allen and drug addiction and alcoholism.

Tim Allen has become a well known and loved comedian.   He is famous for his roles as Tim "the tool man" Taylor in Home Improvement, as Scott Calvin aka Santa Claus in the Santa Clause series of movies, and as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movie series.  

Lesser known though is the difficult path that Tim traveled to put his life back together in Kintsugi fashion.   The death of Tim's father when he was young had a terrible effect on him as he turned to drug addiction and alcoholism to deal with the pain.  

At the tender age of 25, Tim's drug and alcohol abuse landed him in jail.  He was arrested for drug possession and drug trafficking.   He could have ended up in jail for life, but struck a deal with local law enforcement to provide names of other dealers.   He was sentenced to three to seven years of jail and served just over two years of jail time before being released.  

Tim's life has drastically changed since that day.  He credits the success of his transformation to turning his life over to Christ who he affectionately calls "the Builder."

Tim writes  that he does not believe that he was placed in this world by accident and by his own personal experience has come to believe that "no man is too far gone"  tim-allen-shares-the-heartbreaking-story-that-lead-to-his-faith-in-jesus

Tim talks about his personal relationship with God in this short video:

Tim Allen talks about God

Tim's story is just one of many thousands and hundreds of thousands of stories both shared and uknown that remind us that no matter how far we have fallen, no matter how messed up our lives seem, no matter how broken they are.... we can be fixed.  We may not be able to erase the past, but with the power of kentsugi, Christ's art of healing the broken through his atonement, no one is too far gone and we can all find forgiveness, happiness, respect and success in our lives once again,

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Story 4: Michael Malone: Drugs, Alcohol, Jail, Divorce

These stories are so much better when told by the person who went through it.   Everything below comes from Michael Malone.  The here is the link to the source of the story.   A Changed Life


Born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA in 1967, the first of three boys. I was raised in Middlesex County where I have spent most of my life.

Music became an important part of my life at nine years old, when I began taking guitar lessons from my mother. She gave me my first acoustic guitar. I still recall the first song I ever strummed and sang on that guitar. It was “Down in the Valley”.

As a young teen, I performed with various bands, playing classic rock covers.
I came to realize that I had a real gift; I could write songs. I would write songs about my life and my experiences. Some titles included “I’m Bored”; “Forget about Me” and “That Girl of Mine”. The songs lacked something. They seemed empty to me.
It was like I was trying to fill a void in my life that could not be identified. That would soon become more apparent in my later teenage years as I start to find other ways to satisfy that void.

During my later teenage years and most of my twenties, I got involved with marijuana, alcohol, and experimented with many other drugs. I even spent time in jail and was ordered by the courts to perform community service and be tested for drug use weekly.

I was married and divorced twice, and have a son from my first marriage. I quit many jobs after brief employment for various reasons. I gave up on music, people and myself. It seemed that I would never be satisfied and my life was in a pit of despair.

I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic School and received Communion and Confirmation. My second wife was a Baptist Pastor’s daughter. I was baptized a Baptist and almost never missed a Sunday worship service over the course of five years.
I would be hung over many Sunday mornings half listening to my Father-In-Law’s sermon. My second marriage ended in a bitter divorce after only one year.

Little did I know that my entire life would change in December of 2006.
My third wife Mary had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ in the summer of 2006, which helped me to see the truth. I recall looking into her eyes one day and seeing the change in her. From that point on it was all clear to me now what I needed to do to change my foolish, self serving ways. I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. That void in my heart was filled by the Holy Spirit and I couldn’t get enough!

It took 38 years. It wasn’t my catholic schooling, a marriage into a preacher’s family or guilt that rescued me; it was the truth about Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross. It was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" that opened the eyes of my heart. He was, He is and He will always be the one and only living God, who saves all of us if we would only believe in Him.

As of December 13th, 2006, I’m drug free, many of my sins have been taken away, past sins forgiven. I'm still a work in progress, happily married, for the final time to my beautiful Christian wife Mary. I hold a steady job, own a home and attend Christian church regularly where I study, pray, serve and fellowship with other believers.

Jesus is the center of my life. Now my songs are written to glorify Him.
The songs I write have meaning; they touch hearts and hopefully impact lives in a positive direction. God has blessed me abundantly. He has gifted me and empowered me to lead lost souls to the Cross through His word. I’m ready and willing to lead others as my wife Mary lead me; but only Jesus Christ can SAVE!

This is my personal testimony, but it doesn’t end here. It’s only the beginning. MJM

In Him,
Michael J Maione

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Story 3: Justin and Trish Davis: A Pastor's adultery to a ministry saving marriages

Justin and Trish Davis are an amazing couple who have been through tremendous pain and have managed to rebuild what most people would consider impossible to rebuild.

I was lucky enough to hear in person Justin and Trisha share their story.  They came to the community church that I attend in Fort Wayne to share their message and their story.   I was amazed at how open, honest, and deeply vulnerable they both were.  As a part of their current ministry they relive the most terrible moments of their lives...the terrible choices, the insecurities, the terrible sins, the heartbreak, the destruction of their lives and the terror all of it... they shared it with our entire congregation, only to show how through the grace and mercy of God, not only were they able to preserve their marriage and rebuild their marriage, but they now engage in a ministry committed to helping the marriages of others.  

In the true spirit of Kintsugi that is the underlying theme of this blog.  As they shared their story, one could see the shattered parts of their lives,  he cracks and utter brokeness of their marriage and of each of them individual.  But they also provided a rare glimpse of how Christ applies the principles of kintsugi, and not only mends what once was broken, but makes it of greater worth and value than it was before.   In listening to their story, you can see step by step how Christ was the gold glue that brought them back together and see that gold putting it all back together.   And how wonderful it was.

Those of us who listened to them, we all felt for their pain and many of us recognized some of it in our own lives.  But their story allowed everyone to take hope at their message that one could survive and overcome the greatest of sins and brokeness and yet eventually return to be able to experience great happiness and joy.  No matter how much we may have messed up, that we would not be hated by God and our fellowman, but rather honored for the struggle to rebuild.

Justin and Trisha Davis were a young couple who together built a small church starting out with just 12 members.  It soon grew to over 700 members.   But as Justin explain it, his fall was inevitable because his first affair was with the Church.   Committing more and more of his effort to the building of the Church and less and less to the building and maintaining of his relationship with his wife.  The high stress, pressure and expectations of tending to a rapidly growing Church took its toll on Justin and his marriage.   He found comfort in the arms of another woman.  A fellow Christian working on his Church staff.

Their story completely shows the importance of vulnerability and true transparency in relationships.   Lack of vulnerability was an important element that contributed to Justin's downfall.  He writes:

 "If I’m not transparent with you, if I don’t let you into the dark parts of my heart, we can meet every day as accountability partners, and we’ll both feel good about it because it’s the Christian thing to do. As long as I’m withholding truth, I’m not placing myself under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and I’m not allowing God to work in the areas of my life that I’ve withheld from Him and from everyone else.
That was one of the most painful things for my accountability partners. [They said,] “We got together with you every week for two years! Why didn’t you say anything? Why weren’t you honest with us?”
But I felt like, if I share this with him, I’ll get fired, I’ll lose everything. And in the process of not sharing it, I lost everything."

Justin lost his position as pastor, became separated from Trisha.  Their children, family and friends were deeply hurt as well.   His trust as pastor of a large Christian community completely destroyed.  What followed was a journey of tremendous grief, pain, anger, resentment, and brutal self introspection.   But what eventually emerged was a thing of beauty.

A few years later...with Justin and Trish reconciled, the marriage saved and wounds healing, they embarked on a new journey, founding the "RefineUs" ministry.  Here is a link to the webpage of their ministry:   They used their story to give hope and show the way to couples whose marriages were foundering.   The took the courages step of being completely open about what happened in their lives to open the conversations for others in their marriage that need to be had. Conversations about lust, adultery, pornography, abuse and the many other danges that threaten a marriage that are often difficult to discuss.   Their passion is to help save marriages and prevent he destruction of marriages by using the resurrection of their marriage, the application of the art of kintsugi by Christ as a guide to help.

They have also published a book called "Beyond Ordinary: When a Good Marriage just isn't good enough"

There are maxims out there like "cheaters always cheat"  and "people will never change" Those maxims are wrong and do not understand the power of Christ and his healing that is analogous to Kintsugi.   Justin Davis is just one of many examples of the power of Christ to truly and fundamentally change a person.   A changed life does change lives.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Story 2: Jennifer Sikora: Messy Marriage suffering from Porn, Adultery, and Alcoholism transformed to a Godly Marriage

Jennifer Sikora, has a blog entry that describes in great detail how her marriage disintegrated to two people who have no desire to be with one another.

She starts out by showing what a poor foundation for marriage she laid.   She basically got married to get away from home.   With that being the main reason for her marriage, that union was already in jeopardy.   She identifies her personal selfishness as the root cause.  As she writes, "I was loud, bossy, a pushover, and I would embarras you in a heartbeat if I thought you were trying to get over on me.... I had the "this is how I am-- take it or leave it" kind of personality.  It caused a lot of problems for me."   Like many of us, she became an expert at wearing a mask because she wanted others to think the best of her...portraying her marriage to be a happy one externally, when internally it was rotting and would only get worse.

The constant anger and fighting between her and her husband led them each to different but equally destructive coping mechanisms.    Her husband would find any reason to stay away from home, working late or fishing for hours on end.   Alcohol became his mistress as he spent many days drunk.

For her, her outlet became other men.   She describes her addiction to pornography as her initial coping mechanism which eventually led to flirting and cheating on her husband with men.   Ultimately, another family even got divorced because of her indiscretions.  

If they were not apart engaged in their own separate worlds of self destruction, at home they were either fighting bitterly or taking refuge behind a huge impenetrable wall of silence.

Her story, however, illustrates the power of God's love and how it can heal and mend the most broken of relationships.   The tools that God uses are vulnerability, forgiveness, and commitment to God.   It is the gold by which the broken pieces are welded back together.

The first step god asks of us, is often the most difficult.  It is the broken and contrite spirit.  It is confession.  Confession to God and to those we've wronged.  And yet, that is the most crucial step required to create the glue of trust.   And so one must become vulnerable.   She laid herself bare in front of her husband and in front of God...confessing everything she had done.   It was hard and it was painful, but it created the same from her husband as well.   Trust engenders trust.  Hatred engenders hate.   All too often, when engaged in patters of self destruction and terrible deeds, a cyclical pattern and addiction emerges taking us lower and lower into greater and greater depravity.
Only divine forgiveness has the power to stop the cycle, to stop hate, to stop the negativity, the revenge, the anger, and all the negative power of this world.   The forgiveness from her husband and from God, undeserved, unmerited worked the magic to change her life.

Eventually, she made the commitment to giver her life and her marriage to God.  It was no longer about her.   In her brokeness and vulnerability, God's forgiveness was able to break down the walls of anger and selfishness around her heart.   Her heart was now open to God's love, and as her heart filled with love, she was now able to love in a truly selfless way.

Their marriage has completely changed, the pattern of self destruction stopped.   The porn, the cheating, the drunkenness a thing of the past.   And while she does not proclaim to be perfect, she has her eyes fixed firmly on God.  Their marriage continues to thrive and grow...all thanks to the tender mercies of God.  
No matter how messed up someone is, people can and do change through the power of God. Thousands have.   And so can I, and so can you.

You can read Jennifer's story in much greater detail from her blog post here:


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Story 1: Jeff Myers: Pornography, Drugs, Divorce, Alcohol, Suicide and yet Redemption, a new man.

Jeff Myers started out with a typical story.   He got married in his early 30's and had a good paying job.  But deep seated insecurities eventually led him to take those first steps through the door of a strip club.  He found a new world.   He felt wanted.   He felt important.  He soon became a regular at those strip clubs spending thousands of dollars and ultimately dooming his marriage.   He was divorced just 5 years later.

One of the dancers would later ask for his help getting pornographic pictures of herself online.  The very first week, they made several thousands dollars.   The success was intoxicating.   Money became the drug that fed the pornographic need.   Seeing the success, he dove fully into the pornography industry. Nineteen websites later, he was raking in tens of thousands of dollars a month.

But such success comes with a price.He was working over 100 hours a week and he began taking drugs to help him get through.   What started out as just something to help keep him awake and have the energy to finish his work, soon developed into a full fledged addiction.  He slowly moved on to harder and harder drugs. While mentally, he knew what he was doing was wrong, knew that he was hurting the lives of millions, the money was too good and the drug kept him happy.   He never stopped.  

Eventually, he was caught.   He was charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine ecstasy and its distribution.  Federal agents took everything that he owned.    His "friends" all disappeared, fleeing from him in an act of self preservation. That night he attempted suicide overdosing with drugs and alcohol.  

Jeff was broken, crushed and felt terribly depressed and alone.   His friends had abandoned him.   He literally had nothing. He was so broken, that he felt he was beyond repair, beyond love.   There are those who feel that people like Jeff will never change.   And so he found condemnation everywhere, including from himself.  

The next part of the story is best told by Jeff himself.  

I woke up the next morning when I shouldn’t have. I think at that point I realized I need help and I can’t do this on my own. I just so desperately wanted someone to reach out to me, and I was alone."
He drove to a Christian camp he attended as a young man. That night at camp they gave an altar call. Jeff was one of the first to come. He prayed and asked God to forgive his sins and give him a new start.
"I don’t know if this God thing is going to work. I’d done way too much, and in my mind, I had gone way off the deep end. There was no redemptive values for me at all. I wasn’t worthy. Although I knew that something had happened that day, I certainly didn’t feel like God could restore me."
He saught out an old friend from camp who had become a pastor. Within a few days, he had moved in with the pastor and his family.
"He was very broken and searching and really didn’t know what to do with his life," says Pastor Daryl Blank. "I knew our church would offer grace and love, and he needed that ."
Jeff says, "What they did is just what Jesus would have done. He didn’t look at my past. He didn’t look at what I was doing, how I was acting, He just loved me. They wrapped their arms around me and loved me and took care of me beyond what I could even possibly imagine. That meant everything. That was confirmation that grace was real."
Jeff spent his days reading the Bible and listening to worship music. Before long, he noticed something different.
"Over the next several days, I’d wake up in the morning with this worship song in my head. It was always a different one. It was just like I was being washed from the inside out. My mind was being purified, and all those images were going away. It completely washed my mind. I had no recollection of anything I’d produced, or any of those images it was gone. It was like He had used that music and stuff I’d read and cleansed me and made me new, pour me out and start again. That’s the point where I said, 'Wow, He can fix me? Me, with the mess and the millions of lives that I’ve touched in a very very negative way.' But He still loves me."
Jeff was sentenced to a year in prison. He used the time to study the Bible and pray. After his release he used his Internet development skills and started a new website.  He says, "Instead of sharing filth, He’s given me an opportunity to share God’s love and put it in as many homes as we can. It’s my personal mission of redemption. It’s like, ‘God, You’ve given me these skills. Let's use them for Your glory instead of Your destruction.'"
Jeff says he has experienced the love, mercy and grace of God.
"My life was a disaster. I was a drug-addicted, alcoholic pornographer that ruined millions of lives. He’s taken my life and turned it around. He loves me in spite of my mess. I’m still growing and I’m still learning. Every day He’s chipping off a little chip of the mess I’d made. I know I’ll never be perfect, but He’s taken what Satan meant for evil and turned it into something amazing. Just further proof of God’s amazing grace. The things He can do and the restoration He can make blows my mind still." 
My source for this post:

This is just the first story of many.   But they all follow a similar path.  A regular person, slowly led down the path of terrible sin or the victim of some terrible sin.   Usually, there are many different problems that have caused the person to be shattered not just one.  In this case, Jeff suffered divorce, severe depression and attempted suicide.   He was into pornography, was a drug addict and an alcoholic.   He had helped to destroy thousands of lives.  

And while he cannot take back any of the actions of his past, as much as he would love to do so, he was not irretrievably lost as society would have us believe. In the absolute depths of despair and in the shattered state of his soul.  He reached out to God.   God reached back.

As you can tell form his story, his life has not only been repaired, but he has become an instrument in the hands of God to help others.   And while he may not be able to fix what he has done in the past, he is now a tool in God's hands serving others, but his life story is a story of hope.

His brokenness is easy to see.   His sins unquestionably terrible, his brokeness complete.  But his whole life was changed by the power of accepting Christ in his life.   Allowing the Savior to change him.   He is a new man.   And his story gives hope to anyone caught in the throes of brokeness, that they too can become new no matter how deeply they may have fallen.  No matter how hopeless the situation might feel.   Much like the art of Kintsugi, his brokeness was gently handled and through art of "repair" that is the power of Christ, he has become of greater worth and value and a testament to the reality of the power of Christ.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Kintsugi and the Power of Forgiveness and Healing through Christ

In Church recently,  I heard for the first time about the Japanese practice of Kintsugi. 

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of taking broken pieces of pottery with a lacquer that has been combined with a precious metal such as gold or silver.  Items repaired through the method of Kintsugi are often considered more beautiful and valuable than they were before being broken.  Sounds simple enough. 

One theory on the history of kintsugi is that it may have originated when Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China for repairs in the late 15th century.  When it was returned, repaired with ugly metal staples, it prompted Japanese craftsmen to look for a more aesthetic means of repair. Collectors became so enamored with the new art that some were accused of deliberately smashing valuable pottery so it could be repaired with the gold seams of kintsugi. (from Wikipedia article on Kintsugi)

This method of repairing pottery is not just another tool in the arsenal of artists.   There is a deep and powerful philosophy that is an integral part of the art of Kintsugi.

First and foremost is that the fixed piece of broken pottery is now considered more valuable and beautiful than before.   The repair that was done is now considered a part of the history of the object rather than something to hide.   In fact, Kintsugi not only repairs the object but very literally highlights the damage.   Additionally, this method encourages people to not throw away an object once it has become broken, but rather provides a reason to keep it.   Rather than being rejected and thrown away for good, the flaws and imperfections of the broken piece are embraced and used to create a work of beauty and of great worth.  

I would venture to say that everyone one of us has felt broken and crushed at one point or another in our lives.   Some of you who are reading this post may feel that way now.   Perhaps we have been the victims of abuse of some sort or other terrible actions by others.   Our souls crushed, our heart betrayed.  Or perhaps we are the ones who have committed some terrible sin, afflicted by an awful addition, and deeply hurt those we love.   

We all break for many reasons either as victims or perpetrators and sometimes both, but we all have broken at one point or another in our lives.  Broken and shattered.   Hearts crushed and betrayed.   Words and actions we wished we could take back but never can.  
But the power of forgiveness through Christ is a lot like Kintsugi.   The power of healing from His Grace is incredible.   And because of that power of healing and forgiveness, there is hope.  

Through the miracle of kinstsugi in Christ, a broken and shattered person can know that they won’t be rejected or thrown away, even though they feel like they will be and even though they might personally feel like they should be.  They still can feel loved, and valued.
Our flaws and imperfections are swallowed up in Christ and used to create a person that is now more valuable and beautiful than they ever were before.   The repair that is done is now is a part of the history of that person.  We rejoice in the beauty of that forgiven and new person precisely because we know of the pain that they have been through and their personal brokenness that they have overcome through Christ.

I am amazed and uplifted, when I hear stories of addicts, homeless and other broken men and women, who have found a way through Christ to become a new creature in him.   Of people who have had their lives destroyed through the sins of others, rise above it and find strength in Christ.   We find hope and strength as we hear their stories. See the repair that has been done.  Hope and strength for a way out of our own brokenness.  
But we need to hear those stories.  We need to see that it works.  We need to see that no matter how deep and dark the hole, how hellish the road, how crushed the soul….no matter how ugly the circumstance…the soul can rise.  Through the power of Christ, it can overcome all.  

This blog will be devoted to sharing stories of redemption.   Too many places out there are focused on sharing how evil others are.  This blog will be about what is good out there.  About the power to overcome evil, whether we have committed that evil, or if it has been done to us.  Through the power of Christ we can overcome anything, no matter how broken our souls may feel, and still be of great worth and value to Him, to our loved ones, and to those around us.