About Michael Woroniecki
(Before I begin I want to tell you to check out a music, my son David and I write and produce. It’s on ITUNES titled Legacy of Love. If it’s not yet there it’ll be there by November 21st.)
… I want to tell you, hey man, I hear you. I really do. Because I too have the pain. It’s awkward to talk about cuz everyone says “Weakness ain’t cool. Be strong”. But they are so wrong. When we’re all alone, this pain, it don’t go away. The truth is, at times, everyone wants to cry inside. Just because you deny it don’t make it untrue.
I learned how to hide my pain and project myself as “cool and macho” starting as a senior in High School. Yet a crippled heart perpetuated my fear of failure and rejection. I think, anyone who looked closely, could have seen it in my soul. I felt broken, but didn’t know why.
From childhood I remember thinking that I didn’t even know what I was searching for. I kept hoping for some kind of special thing to happen to make me whole. But, year after year, I found myself on a path that went nowhere. I had a brief period of “success” when I won All-City honors as a high school fullback. This then led to a football scholarship to CMU. It brought me “friends” and identity but not the answer I sought.
Never could I have guessed that I was searching for SOMEONE; not a best friend, adventure, job or a dream girl, but for my Creator; my heavenly Father. Never could I have imagined that the strange pain within me was due to some dude who lived some 10, 000 years ago. Sounds like a sci-fi movie plot.
As a strict Roman Catholic my family said the rosary every single day on our knees. My dad would then read, what seemed to me, the ancient fable involving the first people, Adam and Eve, and how they passed onto me, a sinful human nature. Back then, I had the clear impression that I could, and would, never be able to accomplish what was supposedly required to make myself “better”; obeying 10 very demanding commandments.
But my inner torment ultimately drove me into a personal search of the Scriptures. My mom left a New Testament at the bottom of the box of one of her care-package of cookies. I read and I began to understand. Three little letters compose one gigantic revelation. Sin is the greatest real hidden monster in history. It slays men by the trillions all because of ignorance.
The Father’s Personal response to my quest came my second year in college. It is a long glorious story but sufficient to say it came down to the revelation of the living Jesus. He took away the pain of my sin and guilt. While sitting in, of all places, a football stadium during a Charismatic Catholic conference at the University of Notre Dame, His Holy Spirit filled me with profound sense of deep security.
Touchdown Jesus and the goalposts were the same, but in one moment, I was completely changed inwardly. I beheld the kingdom of God. No angels playing harps, visions of flying monkeys or lightning bolts flashing across the sky. Just the Presence of His Spirit, like the wind, within me (Jn.3:3-8). For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged. Destiny replaced chaos. The pain doesn’t disappear but understanding builds a champion and master of his own destiny in Christ.
It was after one Autumn football practice in college when I read His perfect answer to my new found turmoil from dealing with guys, on the football team, who wanted nothing to do with Jesus. He explains “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…” and “the wind blows where you do not know” (Jn.12:24,3:8).
I slowly began to understand that my ego had to be broken in order to find a truly new life (Gal.2:20/Lk.9:24). Sin and ego are the same. If I die, then I shall live eternal life (Rm.6:6). If I yield my sin to Him, eternal life grows within. Just the opposite of what I had always been taught. No persecution or any crazy stuff that opponents may say, then, now or in the future, can budge me from this indescribable reality of Jesus in Whom I am rooted. I was an orphan who was granted sonship. God loves “a broken and contrite heart” (Ps.51:17).
Today, my family of eight adult children, Abraham, Ruth, Joshua, Elizabeth, David and Sarah, my wife Rachel, and I proclaim the living Jesus, to people on the streets, campuses, football games, prisons, in every state and in many countries around the world for the past 40 years. No, I am not a “street preacher”. So many wacko’s today. I am your brother and servant, not your superior. I am a wicked man. I am simply called to be a son of the Father. My identity is in Him alone. I have a Master’s degree from the largest seminary (Fuller) but my authority is from my obedience not my accomplishments.
I have come to know the joyful laughter of yielding to that verse so long ago so that today I know “… if it dies, it bears much fruit” and “so is a man born of the Spirit” (Jn.12:24,3:8)! I marvel when I consider how God has opened countless doors into the prisons throughout the world. It is my utter joy and privilege to bring the living Jesus to these forgotten and suffering men and women. My family and I are one as Jesus and the Father are one (Jn.17). This is the promise of the true church. It is not a group of people sitting in a building, one hour and one day a week. Jesus is not a ‘fat-cat’ money monger.
As a result of working with prisoners, the homeless, the mentally ill and so many on the streets, I have been identified with them and consequently falsely accused, by those who do not know me and use an evil media to slander my character. People unknowingly have accepted the lies of what others have said or written about me and I can do nothing to correct any of it. I forgive my enemies and continue to preach Jesus (Consider the persecutions of Paul (2 Cor. 11).
I really don’t care about what others say because life is flashing by and there are so many multitudes in profound need. My life is consumed with caring about them. Not what a few people might say against me. Jesus is coming soon in horrible judgment. All things will be laid bare and His truth will rule. We are not supported by any group or “church”. We work common jobs, save up our money, then go forth to preach the gospel. Blessed be His holy Name! If you want to know how to start to heal the inner pain God is waiting. If I can help you… Read More
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As we have now arrived here in Brazil, we are looking forward to the vast ministry God lays before us, I pause, to look back on the two months we just spent in the states. It was profound ministry to so many precious people on the streets, campuses, football games, homeless and most of all prisons.
Time flashes by, like a car on the expressway. Instead of treating our moments, with each other, so tritely, let us learn how to cherish each other. Each person has 'issues' from the past that we can help heal.
We can profoundly impact the lives of those around us. God's love is not just a smile, a word and a gesture. It has dimensions of height and depth and length and width and breadth (Eph.3:18). It is ever-forgiving and always new. We can settle for where we have come, but the Father's disposition inspires us to run (Lk.15:20).
One moment of thought or experience can 'lock down' our personality, as with a loud slam of prison door. Something happened to us in the past to shut us down deep within. We go on, but who we were to become, is left behind. It could be from something little, or something big. It could be a divorce, accident or a death. It could be the regret traced back to a single sentence, act or words you or someone else spoke. Maybe a terrible mistake or failure. Maybe a sin you committed or was committed to you. It happened so long ago and yet here you are still suffering from it. Maybe not even aware of how it shut you down.
The past can hold us "frozen" from new life in the present (Phil.3:13). I see this with thousands of people on the street and in prisons. Men and women captured by one single moment of time. A moment, in which a person can't escape. I know this so very well. I've had my share. Every day it pushes you where you don't want to be. It leaves you fearful and alone. Every time you are alone with your thoughts, it "freezes" your life. Depending on it's severity, is how much it bears upon your moments.
So many memories, that help you run through life, but there are those, like sand, that slow your steps to a stop (2 Cor.10:3). The Father does not want this for you, my friend. He offers a wonderful resolution. You may have never really even considered such things, but yet find yourself thinking “Why God, why? Must I live with this same way of thinking all my life? How do I go on from here? Can I find a true new way of thinking?" (Rm.12:2/2 Cor.5:17).
Life is regulated by a thing we call TIME; seconds, days, months and years. But Jesus actually broke all powers of time by rising from the dead to offer eternal life. It is as if our Creator put a clock within us called a heart. Through Christ He can now put an eternal sense in each moment. The average tick of the heartbeat is once a second. Just like a clock. It measures our daily activities and then, all at once, it stops our existence at precisely one tick, determined by God. 60 heartbeats a minute, and 60 minutes an hour times 24 hours a day equals 86, 400 moments a day. How many of these moments are special? How many spent on meaningful expressions, love, prayer, concern for others. Or are they all just randomly subject to circumstances? How many of these are "frozen"? How many moments waste away because your mind is frozen by bad moments of the past?
Multiply the ticks of each day times one year and you have 31, 536,000 million moments a year. How many of these have we distributed to and intersected with the moments of another person?
What if there is a bridge to access the best of the past, present and future? How many people have you heard regret how much time they wasted? The elderly, coaches, business men, actors, etc. look back on their life with remorse because the speed of time now leaves them with nothing. The Father sent Jesus Who sends His Spirit to teach a man how He has provided a bridge to go back, while in the present and to redeem the past and then walk on into the future with a profound wisdom from experience. Jesus wants us to learn how to live in the moment; His moments of non-time; i.e. eternal life. To become subject to understand the operation of destiny and meaning.
Hearing "the voice" of the Shepherd is not an audible sensation. It is to learning His perspective (Jn.10:3,16). To understand how the variables of forgiveness, grace, faith, the blood, wisdom and love all function by His Spirit is the voice of the Shepherd. In every moment, of every day, the Father is speaking to us in the majestic work of Jesus. It is for us to explore. How we respond depends on whether our ears are trained to "Listen" (Lk.8:18). A masterful musician hears ethereal frequencies. It requires a stillness of spirit.
The Scriptures declare 'All day long God stretches out His arms...The heavens are speaking of the glory of God...day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor are there words; there voice is no voice...yet there utterances are heard throughout the world' (Ps. 19:1-2).
When I was in seminary I had a teacher who would fill large blackboards full of diagrams of Scripture verses in Greek. It was extremely insightful. If you could diagram a moment, what would it look like. It would be fascinating. One moment would suddenly encompass multitudes of moments and involve multiple dimensions. Can you imagine if one of your worst memories could become one of your best?
We must not fear any moment or sin. It is the whole purpose Jesus sacrificed Himself. We must be willing to face the most frightening moment in our lives. How? Only one answer; faith in Jesus. On the cross He provided real power to overcome all of life. The most profound but practical revelation is that "Faith comes by hearing" (Rm.10:17). Will you choose to "hear" His revelation? We are so quick to "hear" bad voices, lies and accusations. But we must learn to "hear" God's promises. To believe He work is sufficient. He yearns for us to find His healing and victory in the most deplorable moments we face.
As we travelled to a prison, we stopped off in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was like crossing the bridge from the present into the past and actually into the future. I returned to Saint Adalbert grade school (these stairs). We took the time to explore moments of the past. And in this time we discovered a wealth of joy.
I ask you to look at the building in the background and stairs upon which this football team is standing. Notice little duff in number 14 on the top row. That's me. I was 14 yrs. old. A few months earlier I was shot in the eye with a BB gun.
My heart was shattered by that one moment. But "where" did it come from? Could it have been from my future? I ran in the house screaming in pain and fear. My mom took me to the hospital where I had to lay on my back for a month completely still. I realize now how it was a bit futuristic because I know how crucial it is to have a posture of stillness before the Lord. I can go "there" at any moment.
How many moments are being sent to you from the future? Can you "hear" the promises of God so as to believe beyond the present?
I couldn't play football, but the coach, very kindly, put me in the picture. We won the championship so it just killed me not to play. The doctor warned I could go blind. The future was giving me a special gift; how to be alone.
Since then, my "clock" has ticked away some fifty years. In the picture below my family and I stand on these same exact stairs. Never could I have imagined, back then, that in a 'trillion' blinks of an eye, I would be standing in the same exact place with a wife and six marvelous children.
I returned to a place from my past, St. Adalbert's, but indeed, was it not from my future? I revisited that "frozen" moment of great pain, isolation and hopelessness. Only to discover His redemption had melted my character into the future of God's destiny. What made the difference between me and a million others is that I chose the cross of the bridge of faith in Jesus Christ. He alone causes "all things" to work together for good (Rm.8:26/Eph.1:11). Truth comes by revelation. It is the only thing to stabilize our fragile and erratic nature in a world of hypocrisy and madness.
If we learn to comply with balance in our thinking and articulation we will find the peace "that passes all understanding" (Phil.4:7). Not to be erratic or headstrong. Not to be giddy or sullen. To find balance and maintain an equilibrium of pure and secure faith will bring to us the fulfillment of our moments. All my life I was obsessed with finding meaning. I found it.
I took my children to the cemetery to plant a rose on my precious mother's grave. Her name was Rose. It was like entering an actual Time Machine.
THE HIT: I heard a knock on the front door as the doorbell rang. I ran down the front stairway. I saw, through the door window, a spooky looking older man in a black suit. As I opened the door I noticed his Hearst parked in our driveway. I quickly concluded he was the undertaker I had just called to come for the body of my mother.
Less than an hour earlier she had died, in her upstairs bedroom. In one short month intestinal cancer had literally eaten her alive. Her body shrunk from a somewhat pudgy frame to look like a Holocaust survivor.
I open the door and we barely greet. I walk him up the stairs. He is carrying a large vinyl black bag. My mind does not connect that the bag is for my mothers' body. A bag?!
THE BLACK BAG: As we approach my mother’s bedroom, I point to her lying on the bed. He coldly walks into the bedroom and lays the black bag next to her. The opening of that loud zipper echoes in my memory to this day. He awkwardly works to maneuver my mother’s limp body inside that black bag.
My mind was having trouble trying to process what my eyes were seeing.
Slowly my heart is gripped by a deep sorrow. In a matter of minutes, I again hear that huge zipper closing around my mother. My 'mom' is inside that black bag. A reality of extreme pain, I had never before known, invaded my conscious existence. The moment was frozen. It was seared into my memory. It was the finality of death. Unlike physical pain, I could not fathom any remedy for this extreme pain. No doctor's visit. No pills, no bandages, no crutches, no answer.
THE TOSS: My heart was sunk into a quagmire of darkness and sorrow. The man, nonchalantly, picks up the black bag, with my mother inside. Then, he makes a very awkward toss of her over his left shoulder. Is was like a work man's toss of a cement bag. He walked out of the bedroom and back down the stairs. I'm thinking “That’s my best friend . How dare you treat her like that.” But I realize she is dead….actually dead. Gone. For good. It is something all men refuse to think about yet is inevitably coming for each of us. (Is it not bizarre that the human race pretends they will never die? No man, but Jesus, made this subject His life focus.)
The undertaker walked down the stairs, out the front door, and to the back of the hearse. He opens the door and throws the bag inside. As he walks to the drivers door, he looks up at me and waves good bye. He gets in the car and backs onto the road to drive away. We did not exchange more than two sentences. Yet he just took away the love of my life. We never said even three sentences to each other.
THE DESTINY OF MOMENTS: I could never have known in the living of those moments how much I would share about them here and now. One incident in many, many days to follow was that life changing. I was just with her a few hours earlier, giving her ice to ease the burning pain of the cancer eating away her internal organs. I lead her into deep hearted repentance as she turned away from religious deception and admitted her wicked ways.
That's my buddy. My fellow comedian with whom we shared a "Groucho Marks" routine. We shared my deepest words and so many tender hugs. This is the woman who gave meaning to our dysfunctional "family". Without her what reason was there to live? My beloved precious mother of 25 years.
My heart was shattered. Something told me to chase the car, to scream, to stop him... but none of these actions were consistent with reality. I headed to the basement, to be all alone. I wept harder and longer than I ever have with such pain my stomach had cramps the next day. How could I ever find the motivation and the vision to live on?” Exactly what I felt.
Let me tell you, that you can go on. Your heart can be melted. Not by a little formula. No little prayer. No token words. But, if you really want what God offers you, it is worth all the understanding and heart needed to find redemption, freedom, resolution and the true joy offered in the healing of the living Jesus.
My mom died forty years ago but it is an incident I constantly use today in many places to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. That one moment has produced decades of life for multitudes. It came with no instruction booklet. It was up to my faith in Christ to unravel it's significance. It touches the common suffering we all experience.
It happened five years after my salvation but it was a major thing God used to break me. There are countless such moments of which I could share. As hard as it was to explore, once I chose believe that I could face it in His Spirit, He utilized this incident of enormous suffering and confusion to bring about His glorious destiny (Heb.12). Destiny is fluid thing. It doesn't come to us as an iceberg but as the wind (Jn.3:8).
It opened up my cold heart to a heat wave of wisdom. I could begin to learn how to tap all my moments of life to His supernatural grace. To go beyond my own selfish shallow life to care about others with the comfort He began to show me. The living Jesus lifts our life to the Father as His work of the cross.
My mom always had a dream of me becoming a priest. If only she could see eight priests today. Back in 1976 she took me to a Catholic Charismatic Conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was here, in the football stadium, that I gave my life to Jesus. We visited the university this past fall, to witness at the Michigan/Notre Dame football game, which was the first of the season. We not only had a tremendous witness with our signs for Jesus, but I was able to recapture the greatest moment of my life I shared with my mom, so long ago, and with my family now.
I was reminded of when I first drove down here to ND for this conference at 20 years of age. My mind was calculating all that would be involved in following Jesus. It was my sophomore year just after I had traveled out east. I no car but I had a thumb. So I "hitchhiked" from Grand Rapids to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire to see a mountain and spend time on top of it to read the New Testament. Upon my return, this very empty man was transformed in one day, at one moment, in one place; Notre Dame. Eternal life drew me into the meaning I so longed for.
My moments were like dark caves that He lovingly entered with His redemptive love. From a rag tag lost soul, wandering about in the wasteland of the world, I chose to believe in Jesus. I sat in the Notre Dame football stadium staring at "Touchdown Jesus". My Father's humor did not go unnoticed. It was here and now that I was born again. Slowly I cultivated a focused vision of loving the world in and by the marvelous Spirit of the living Jesus.
Below we visited "The Grotto" where I preached to all the visitors of how special that place was for me. They all applauded. Of course, any hypocrites who read this may have a problem with the whole catholic thing but as Jesus says "they strain at a gnat and swallow a camel". I thank God constantly for how, where and why He saved me.
To watch our six children carry on HIs Legacy of Love is a fulfillment of indescribable joy. Mercy here Downtown Chicago.
While in the states we were invited into a number of prisons. It was nothing less than amazing. And the men, oh, the men. So precious and in need of the Father's love and understanding. We went to a prison in New York on an island that is considered one of the worst in the country. Someone, at some time, was looking for a good spot to dump unwanted material. So horrible it had to be put somewhere out-of-sight, out-of-mind. So bad they actually purchased a landfill for it. Not just any landfill but a landfill on an island so no one would be bothered in any way. It is tragic that we are not talking about some dangerous chemical or a massive amount of trash, but human beings. It is to these men that we go to explain the bridge of Jesus Christ.
There are so many guys from gangs called "the bloods" and "the cryps". There focus is murder and death. Yet who thinks of how they became like this? They grew up in utter hell, treated like animals, whose parents were drug addicts. Their memories are filled with nothing but nightmares. Real nightmares. We did everything the Spirit led us to do to enter their moments with the hope of a new tomorrow in Christ.
People just like you and me. Sons of fathers and mothers, brothers to sisters and fathers to children. People who grew up laughing and playing with toys and hoping to buy ice cream from the truck in park. But now put on an island and locked behind not one, or two or three, but five layers of barbed wire. This prison is consider one of the most dangerous in the country.
It seemed we were going to be very late because the New York traffic was it's usual horrid condition. But, as the wind blows, God led my amazing son, Abraham, to navigate our ("compact car") huge semi-truck, around the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, to make us on time. It was all so planned to fulfill our Father's profound destiny. I owe the heart I have for these prisoners to the destiny of that incident of enormous breaking.
We must learn to revisit moments, not alone in our emotional scars, but in faith with Jesus Who bore ALL our pain on the cross, and by His resurrection power can free you from it's misery into the destiny of redemption. God can use this life to break our ego and to create in us the one thing He will never despise, a broken heart (Ps.51:17).
Downtown New York is like another country. So many homeless people sitting by the ways of walking rich people. The Father took my mother, in such a way, of such shock, so that my heart would be of such character that I could give a depth of love of Jesus to thousands and millions of suffering all over the world.
Rachel is pure Irish. Put her Irish fight with my Polish fight and you have children with a nobility, recklessness and fight to "attack" the world with love for the homeless, the prisoners, the orphans, the sick and the forgotten far greater than any football team attacks its opponent. The blood of an Irish woman and Polish man covered by the Blood of the Lamb produces a heart of pounding love. We have a 'game plan' of rhyme and reason to lift those on the bottom to the top.
The woman to our right was one of the many homeless we were able to reach in New York. Just think of her moments. What she must go through so as to go home and write such words on cardboard then take them out to sit on the street. One moment came to us with the idea to witness at the New York Marathon. While there we realize all the affluent runners were leaving clothes along the route. We went along and picked up bags of very expensive sweatshirts and pants. We then passed all of them out to the homeless.
Joshua talked to a man who had killed over a hundred soldiers in Afghanistan. He was devastated and frozen in time. He said no one knows whats going on me. Everyone thinks I'm just another tough guy but I can't bare to live. Joshua spent a long time sharing with him and the guy just broke down to tears in finding the moment where Jesus could come to him.
If you would like to hear of an amazing moment of destiny let me tell you about our arrival at a prison in Michigan. When we arrived the man in charge had attended CMU the same year as my wife. The security number he gave us was 33 which was my football number. He had us perform for several groups and the men were so very open. I have never met a man so loving and caring. He invited us to his home for a meal and gave boxes of food and provisions.
Below is a picture of the house in which I grew up and my mother died. The present owners allowed us to freely walk about. So I could walk through the past, or should say, the future with my children. Everything seemed so full of flashes of very specific things I now clearly see as preparing me for who I was to become. The bridge of as if a bridge allowed us to walk there in the marvelous love of the Father's predestined plan.
It was in this mail box that the future sent me the scholarship to attend CMU and the destiny to meet Rachel. Little did I have any idea that I was not going to CMU to play football but to be schooled in the rejection of the cross of Jesus amidst the football team. I would begin to access the character God had built in me through the suffering I endured at Saint Adalbert grade school. Living in a house, day after day, for 18 years, was for me like a bird in a cage. My dad was a cruel man so he made our lives quite unbearable at times. My mother often cried. It was hard to endure his heartless ways. I did not know Jesus all those years but my soul craved a freedom.
So when I left Grand Rapids I was ecstatic. So much so I became entangled in wild ways of booze and marijuana. I lost myself in lifting weights and developing an image of a 'bad ass'. I had gotten arrested from a drunken brawl which fostered my image. But slowly injuries brought me into a cocoon... awaiting the release into butterfly freedom. It was in my sophomore year that I went with my mom to N.D. and met Jesus.
When I returned to college at CMU I became the president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This was not about THEN but about LATER when, upon graduation, I would attend Fuller Seminary. God had to hone my leadership skills and discernment of the Spirit for all the many challenges I faced there. Again, and again, and again I had learned to explore moments from the past, and those coming at me in the present, both of rejection and pain, that became so wonderful my words fall far short of expression.
In the past, in the present and awaiting us in the future is the bridge to the enormous capacity of the living Jesus to redeem all our moments in life.
“Come”, I say, “Come!”
"Where is that voice heard from?"
"I am your invitation,
an invisible publication,
in suspended animation,
like an inconclusive equation,
a language lost in translation.
I am taught by the clouds,
the thought on the sprouts,
reached out in the boughs,
as spoke like the river flows,
the oak that grows,
a signal like the smoke,
spread like a dandelion blows,
as bold as the golden hour glows,
covering like winters first snow.
I am breaking down the walls,
My voice gone out
never to exhaust,
calling to the lost,
to come without cost,
to the light of the dawn
given through the cross.
I am heard in the moment,
known by the one who will own it,
My voice is petitioning,
My words riveting,
My call ever witnessing,
the only question left is...
are you even listening?"
My precious Rachel working the harvest all by herself, out of her individual love for Jesus, downtown Chicago. She is a hundred pounds of heart. One man, one woman, all alone, can 'change the world' of so many into His eternal kingdom.