Category Archives: Jesus

“Day in Court”

I was 15 years old, visiting my Dad in Edmonton Alberta during my high school Spring break in Washington State. Strangely He and I went on a shopping spree. Blue plaid suit, deep blue shirt and a white tie. 


The next day we got up early. Dad standing in front of me shirtless freshly shaven, smelled of Aqua Velva, and his fine thin brown hair still wet. A lit Export “A” cigarette hung in his lips, the neglected ash fought the forces of gravity as he struggled to complete a full Windsor knot in my new tie. Looking me over, it was if he was searching for something he had lost long ago. 

Securing each button on his dress shirt, his “Born to Love” jailhouse tattoo on his chest slowly disappeared from sight…….
Sitting in a narrow hallway of a provincial court, for what seemed hours, little did I know, I was to be Exhibit A in his “day in court”. Dull humming of the flickering fluorescent lights was interrupted by a “Click, Clack” as the court door opened. “Raymond, come in here”. Wincing I entered the brightly lit court room. Unaccustomed to the tie, my throat tightened as I saw a room full of serious faces. I sensed that a dialogue had been taking place and I was about to become part of it. My ears were ringing, I felt like I was looking through a fisheye lens. My Dad glancing at me with out making full eye contact. (He was somewhere else mentally) “Raymond,tell everyone how old you are”. 

I blurted out, “15 years old sir”. 

All eyes were on me, still oblivious to what was going on. Through the fog, my Dad was pointing at me, I heard “Your Honor, this how I looked!” “This is how old I was when I was arrested for joyriding in a jeep and sent into general population”! Still a bit puzzled, Dad gave me a quick glance of reassurance, and escorted me back in the hall. 

The story continues with me coming to understand the high level of abuse and mistreatment my Father experienced as a teen while in “custody”. During one particular incident he was forced to clean up the room directly under the gallows. 

I hadn’t heard these details until I was sixteen and with his death shortly after that, I put these stories away. It was too much to carry as a teenager. 
If this was my Dad’s “day in court”. Why had I felt judged? Why did I feel the weight of the chains that seemed to still bind him? 
Was the click of the courtroom door the securing of an emotional lock for which I had not the key? 

What had I done? Answer? Not a damn thing! 
As a teen, part of the burden was simply knowing that injustices such as these even existed. Wanting to rectify the injustice against your loved one is only natural and I had to accept the fact that this was HIS “Day in Court”. Those were HIS choices, and not mine. I would and still have many of my own mistakes to pay for.

There is importance in speaking out against injustice. Getting a “Day In Court” may seem ideal but a sobering fact is that justice as you perceive it may not prevail. 

Secondly, understand who “The Court” is before asking for them to pass judgment. Otherwise, be not surprised when “the judgemental” judge you. 

Finally, as a Dad of 5, the only one wearing a blue plaid suit to MY “Day in Court” will be me.


RIP GJR 

Peace. 

Living In Tension 

True personal growth comes when you choose to honestly communicate and understand those you have conflict with even if it means living in tension and being accountable for each of your own actions. This is when discrimination and self serving categorization of others ends. 

If you are of Christian persuasion, please remember, Christ did not come as more commandments on a stone tablet, rigid, cold and without feeling but, rather a warm, loving, and totally transparent being. 

The Sin Of Anger

There is a saying that when you hold onto anger, it’s like drinking poison while expecting the other person to die. 

Last year at this time we were part of the loving vibrant church. It was a large part of who we were as a family and we miss it dearly. I won’t go into any details of what happened at the church other than to share how I feel. I can honestly say I don’t hate those responsible for destroying the church as it was, as hate is too strong a word even for those I am angry with.

 Yes, I still find myself angry.   

 I am angry with the lies and rumors that they chose spread even after they  were shown to be untrue. 

I am angry with those who failed to make amends towards my family and to those close to me.

Jesus Christ took away our permission to call people sinners and said, love your neighbor. And by the way, (here is the tough part ) everyone is your neighbor. 

Up until this point in my life I feel I have been a forgiving person. I have gone toe to toe with someone, got my nose busted but afterwards sat down for a beer together as if nothing ever happened. Perhaps it was because physical wounds are easy.  
Recently I was sharing with my best friend on how I was amazed that my children could be so forgiving of those who have crossed them while I as the parent, struggled to be forgiving of the infraction against them. It’s simple she explained, those are your children and you want to protect them.

 I believe as Christians, if we want to hate sin, it must be our own sin.I must now choose to spit out the poison of anger. The sin of anger. May God have mercy on me. Amen. 

Forgiveness

“Forgive others and you will be forgiven” ,”Forgive and forget”.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. 

All familiar phrases. We love to provide this advice to others.

Others that we might not have any idea what they have experienced. 
Then, as he only can, C.S. Lewis hits you between the eyes with, “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea… Until he has something to forgive.” 


Recently myself and loved ones experienced deep emotional wounds caused by those who we had thought to be trustworthy friends, almost like family. As merciful time has provided some healing of these wounds, a mental inventory tends to naturally take place and much like hitting the refresh button for a website, an evaluation takes place on the status of personal relationships. Personally as I described in an earlier post, “Human Nature”, A simple approach to the worthiness of a personal relationship can be evaluated by what others do while you are at your most vulnerable.if they cut your jugular, this is a reflection of their character and more importantly, NOT YOURS. At that point it’s not about forgiveness, all that matters is having enough self respect to sever ties to that person. Although it may sound harsh, to engage with them is to engage with a fool or a drunkard. 

Ethical Line

Recently I came across a few forums supporting the argument of not taking up the offenses of others i.e. ….fight your own battles. Additionally, 1Thessalonians 4:11 states:“Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Take care of your own business, and do your own work as we have already told you”. 

In other words mind your own business. I couldn’t agree more. 

However, human decency dictates that it is your responsibility to stand up for those without a voice or being treated unfairly. In my humble opinion, that should be your business. 

Years back I took an ethics class where the curriculum was structured around ethical questions such as your stand on abortion, corporate accountability, etc… What I truly enjoyed about the class was there were no wrong answers/opinions. 

The objective was to peel back the layers of laissez faire positions on posed ethical questions. I was surprised by the level of passion throughout the class as we became ethically self aware. Recent events in my life have brought me to a similar place, I felt spirituality mature enough to stand with those I felt had been wronged and although it happened to be my job to protect them, it was much more than that. Not only was it my ethical responsibility as Christian, even more so as a fellow human being. 

My position doesn’t mean I am right, but simply striving to be true to where l feel an ethical line should be drawn. Peace and may God have mercy on us all. 

Pastor David:A Tribute

Contemplating my next post which are typically comprised of those who have shaped my outlook on life, none have yet to be my junior. Pastor David O’Toole is the exception. I can only tell  my story and will not give mention to those of a contrary opinion as this is not a pity party but rather a tribute to a good man.

Over 10 years ago I sat in the back of our local church praying for my one of my three sons to find a path to peace. Zachary as many 14 year olds was an angry you man trying to find his way. Zach recently had moved in with my wife and me in our small Ohio town. A glimmer of solace was listening to Zachary teaching himself guitar. It never dawned on me that God was about to answer my prayer.

David had been hired as a youth minster but also played in the worship band. He seemed preoccupied with his teen group and committed to his duties. I can remember we were in the church gym when I had the opportunity to talk to David about Zachary. I explained some of his struggles and his interest in guitar. David took Zachary under his wing and as any mentor, Zach was not always happy with David and probably vice versa but the relationship was genuine and grew strong to this day.I had the privilege of watching the band Strength Within, a Hard Core Christian band perform in which David was the lead singer and Zach eventually would play guitar in. I appreciated the edginess and the youth that attended the performances. It opened my eyes to a Christ worshipping raw subculture that did not tolerate hypocrisy. I was impressed.

During one of the youth summer trips David asked me to do all the cooking and it was then I saw his talent for organizing events. “Ray” he said, “there are three key factors that make or break a youth trip, the food, the location and the activities.” I still chuckle to day thinking about. “on that last day I want some much food, like a half chicken each for the kids,,,snacks at 11,” ….Good memories.

Once I had the honor of speaking to a recover group in which I whole heartily gave my testimony of my experience as the child of and addict. I mean I felt like I had given part of my soul away. The next day I was riding with David to lunch and I was explaining how I felt. He called it an “Emotional Hangover” , where you so much of yourself away that the next day you can physically and mentally feel the effects. This gave me a small glimpse of what pastors must experience on Monday mornings.

I could go on about others that I know David has effected positively but as for me I am forever grateful that God used Pastor David O’Toole to deliver my son who is now, Pastor Zach Roy, to us so many years ago.

Thank you David O’Toole and May God Bless you.

Otooles and roys
Hailey Roy, Celeste O’Toole, Pastor David O’Toole and Pastor Zach Roy

Stardust 

As I sit in the quiet of the morning drinking tea, looking out at the snow, I am humbled and simply amazed of the many blessings I have been given. Yes, given. I used this term not as one of entitlement but as one of appreciation. The universe has seen fit to be kind enough to provide me with a plethora of life lessons including this particular one of me sitting quietly taking a personal inventory. 
Most are familiar with the Butterfly effect where, if a butterfly in South America flutters its wings this slight disturbance in the air can set off a chain of events culminating to something as big as a hurricane.  

Recently the colliding of two black holes and the gravitational waves created in space was hailed by the scientific community. It’s is estimated that the total effect of these waves on the earth was its shifting less than the thickness of one atom. One atom! 

A human my size is made up of approximately 9 billion billion billion(that’s 27 zeroes) of the universe’s atoms.  While impressive in number, in the absence of a soul, all humans atoms are nothing more than stardust. It seems only fair that while we are occupying these stardust atoms, we should put them to good use.

One of my favorite expressions is that when you are  filled with love and at peace with the universe, you “shine”. Take a moment and consciously think of every atom of your being. Now be still and know how special of a being you are. By the very fact that you know that love exists, makes you worthy of love. 

May this simple message be an ember unto your soul that sparks a cataclysmic reaction of wellbeing that you luminesce with the knowledge that you are a unique stardust Masterpiece shaped by the hand of God, brought to life by a whisp of his breath. Amen. 

“When you love you should not say,

“God is in my heart,” but rather,

I am in the heart of God.””-  Kahlil Gibran