Welcome to Ted’s blog!
Welcome to Ted’s blog!
On May 31, 2014, I was ordained in a beautiful country church just outside Stonycreek, On., Canada. The ordination service was officiated by the gentleman in the photo with me, Rev. Nicholas Murray.
On the set of Faith on Fire with host and pastor Dale Hoch, in Toronto, On., Canada at Grace TV in April, 2014.
Sharing my testimony at Crosshill Mennonite Church on May 18: Biker Sunday
I have been invited to speak many times over the years, in churches, men’s breakfasts, on radio shows and more recently, to youth in church and in high school. That I am invited to speak at all seems remarkable to me. Perhaps even more remarkable, is the response of the individuals in the listening audience. Without fail, there are always a few present who seem to react or respond to what I have shared in a very emotional way. God seems to use me in some way to “connect” with my listening audience and to do so at a personal level.
This is something of a mystery to me as I feel that I am ill-equipped to speak or to share in any capacity, under any circumstances, to anyone. God, however, seems to feel rather differently than I do. To be used by God in any way, for any reason, just once, is no small thing. For someone with my background, my education, or rather, lack of it, to not only speak publicly on occasion, but to also write a book is nothing short of absolutely miraculous.
What in the world would I ever write about and even if I could write a book, how in a million years would it ever be published? Who am I kidding? I’m Mister Nobody! And yet…here I am with pen in hand, or rather, fingers on keyboard, staring at a blank monitor (a gift from a gentleman who heard me speak) unable to quiet the small, relentless whisperings of what can only be the Holy Spirit who seems to be saying, Do it for Me, for My glory!
I have been encouraged to write a book about my life, or at least parts of it, many times over the years by my wife, friends and family but I’ve never given the idea much thought. I’ve always dismissed the notion of one day writing a book and actually having it published as flattering words from well-meaning friends and family. Of course they are encouraging and flattering me. That’s what friends and family do…sometimes!
When God however, makes his presence known and felt deep down in one’s very soul and whispers, “I have work for you,” well, that is another matter altogether. I could no more talk, reason, plead or beg, for that matter, to God, my way out of writing this book than Moses could talk, reason, plead or beg his way out of leading the Israelites out of Egypt and in to the Promised Land.
What is impossible for us is absolutely possible for almighty God. Using unassuming, everyday, ordinary people with no particular skills or training, with no particular background in any one given area of expertise to accomplish His will is not only “do-able” with God’s help, but is in fact, God’s specialty.
Let me be very clear in stating that this effort, modest as it is, could not, in fact would not be possible were it not for the personal relationship that I have today with Jesus Christ. The verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me,”(Phil.4:13 NKJV) has never had more practical meaning to me than right now, in the writing of this book.
Though I am the central figure in this autobiography, and for obvious reasons, it is really God’s story, God’s interaction or dealings with me who, through his son Jesus Christ, I found forgiveness, love, peace and purpose which simply could not have been possible apart from my relationship with Christ.
I am aware of the criticism or perhaps, concern, which some readers may have regarding the content of an autobiography in general. Is the author or does the author only highlight the pleasant or more flattering areas of his or her life and character, while failing to draw attention to the more questionable, darker or more disturbing areas in one’s life and character? I believe that this concern on the reader’s part is a legitimate one. Upon reflection of this concern I have attempted, to the best of my ability to display myself, warts and all, with honesty and complete transparency.
To serve up less than this in any way would be a disservice to you, the reader, and to the purpose of this work as well. After all, what would be the point of painting a sunny, all is well after picture only? The after picture is of no consequence or value without first gazing, at length and in depth, at the before picture. My before picture is not pretty and has been, at times, many times actually, not easy for me to reflect upon, much less write about.
More than once during the writing of this book, I simply had to walk away from it for a week or two in order to clear my head and to remind myself that the person described on many of the pages of this book no longer exists. I assure you, dear reader, that I was more than a little uncomfortable while taking myself down memory lane; a memory lane that I would just as soon forget, were it not for God choosing to use such a life as mine to perhaps, in some small measure, add value, inspiration, motivation and/or hope to other individuals regarding their own lives.
I think it important also, to make mention of the fact that my decision to write this autobiography myself, rather than use a ghost writer, was an intentional one. I was concerned that something of myself, my personality or my character could be lost in a more polished or professional style of writing. I am an uneducated street kid. That is who I am, period. I did not want the “flavor”, if you will, of my personality, my character or my lack of formal education or career training to be lost or hidden in any way from you, the reader. I am neither embarrassed or ashamed of who or what I was or of what I may or may not be at the present time.
My clearest intention for you, the reader, is that this work which you are now holding in your hands be a source of encouragement to you, from me, in some way, at some level. I sincerely believe that this could only have been possible if you, the reader, are able to get to know me as intimately as possible through my writing, my words, not someone else’s, regardless of how talented or gifted another writer may be.
Though every effort has been made to articulate, through the written word, a clear and concise journey of an individual, this is by no means a literary masterpiece, nor was it ever intended to be. While I have been diligent in my attempt to write this book in a grammatically and politically correct fashion, it is and will remain a little rough around the edges…because so am I. You see, you are getting to know me already!
With these thoughts in mind, I invite you to join me in the following pages. Perhaps you will find bits and pieces of yourself, your own highs and lows, your own moments of despair or desperation, your own challenges, as well as your moments of triumph or victory found in life’s many privately fought battles written within the pages of this book.
Perhaps I will “connect” with you in some way that neither of us really understands yet neither of us could ever deny as having happened. Perhaps we will one day meet, but even if we do not, we have, through the pages of this book, already touched each other’s lives’, spiritually, as well as eternally and that is really what is important here isn’t it?
Oh, by the way, if you are reading this but do not presently have a relationship with Jesus Christ and all of this writing about God and Jesus is causing you to be a little nervous or uncomfortable, don’t worry about it. Set aside your personal feeling about God, spiritual as well as eternal matters aside as you peruse the pages of this book. Jesus Christ is a part of my story but may not be a part of yours at this time in your life. This book is about the journey of a human being and every one of us can relate to each other on that level because we are all on one.
I DO want you in heaven one day. I DO believe that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can find forgiveness and be in a right relationship with God and spend eternity in heaven. However, this is not a sermon and if you are anything like me, you have fallen asleep during far to many sermons already!
It is my hope and prayer that within the pages of this book, lie nuggets of truth, reflection and thought which may impart to you a little “soul comfort” and with a little luck, some wisdom or insightful reflection in to your own life.
May you be as richly blessed in reading this book as I was in writing it.
Your friend, Ted.
A very revealing and fun radio interview that I enjoyed this week. It’s a beauty! The link is on Facebook and Twitter. www.revivalprayerministries.com
My greatest joy in life can be found in the act of blessing others. Perhaps it’s because, for so many years, or maybe decades, I took, rather than gave. Maybe at the age of 53 I’m finally beginning to grow up. Maybe I’m beginning to master the art of life and living. There is much I do not know and never will. I do understand and embrace, however, the life truth or principal, which is also a biblical truth, that it really is better to give than receive.
I love giving away free copies of my book, Journey to Redemption, and I was able to do so today at a restaurant. I truly believe that there is something in the book for everyone, regardless of ones background, age, race, faith beliefs or non-beliefs. My goal, with Journey to Redemption is to give away, free, 50,000 copies.
I’ve been asked, several times, in interviews and otherwise what I hope to get from writing the book. And so, there is my answer. I hope…no, I pray that I get to give away 50,000 copies to total strangers. Strangers who may never or seldom wander in to a book store. Strangers who seldom or never go to church. Strangers who would seldom or never, otherwise chat with me about life, what it means or doesn’t mean to them, God or no God, heaven or hell. Strangers who, for whatever reason can’t afford the book but would enjoy a copy.
50,000 copies. One person at a time. One family at a time. Who? How? When? Where? I don’t have the answers but I do have the vision. One day at a time. One book at a time. One human being at a time. The art of life…
I was recently interviewed by a senior reporter from MarketPlace Talk Radio in New York for a piece she was working on called, “Whatever happened to good old-fashioned bank robbery. I was happy to help with the article and my book, Journey to Redemption, was given a plug in both the audio and text version of the piece. This is the link. Enjoy!
Many of us are where we are, who we are, because of choices or decisions that we have made in the past. Every decision we make either nudges us a little further ahead in life-be it physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually or holds us back in all of the same ways. When we look back on the path we have chosen in life, we may very well see, perhaps with glaring clarity, circumstances and situations that we found ourselves in that were, at one time, completely out of our control; where we were born, the family we were born in to, the neighbourhood we grew up in, etc.
As we look beyond that however, at the more recent years of our adult life, we can, if we are honest with ourselves, join the dots of the choices we have made in the past week, month, year and/or years, decades in fact, and clearly see that the path we’ve been on, the steps we have taken or not taken, have largely been ordered by the choices WE have made, rather than made for us by others. (I’m in no way being insensitive to those living under or in extremely oppressive, abusive, closed and/or communist nations, etc.)
I have been very fortunate indeed to have lived all of my life in a country that enjoys relative freedom and peace. That being stated and clearly understood by this writer, I must then, if I am to demonstrate at least a small measure of integrity, take full responsibility for the choices that I have made in my life and accept the fact that who and what I am, where I am, what I’ve done or have failed to do, can be clearly seen in the day to day moments of my thinking, my decisions, my choices and not others.
Circumstances are one thing, choices another. While we may very well be or have been victims of the former, the latter does afford the opportunity, at times, to change our circumstances, whether temporarily or permanently by making better, wiser or more informed decisions. When we begin to take responsibility for the choices that we have made in our lives, some good and some most definitely not so good, we begin to move out of the realm of helpless and into the arena of hopeful. One train of thought is negative while the other is largely positive. The choice is ours to make.
Forgiving someone is a beautiful moment in the life of the forgiver.
A Christian book and bible store that I robbed thirty seven years ago (I was caught by the police but the store owner wouldn’t press charges…she said that I was a “good boy” and hadn’t meant any harm.) is now carrying my book, Journey to Redemption.
” Amazing grace, how sweet the sound”…
Gordon played chess…a lot of chess, against a diverse group of opponents of varying skill levels from ages eight to eighty. Gordon himself was no “spring chicken,” being at least seventy-five when I met him for the first time.
He was sitting in his usual spot at the mall, chessboard set up, waiting patiently for someone to sit down and join him for a game. Someone always did sooner or later. It could be a teenager, eager to show the old timer a thing or two about aggressive queen play or a middle-aged gentleman thankful for the opportunity to kill a little time while his wife did the shopping.
I had just gotten off the phone with my publisher when I saw this quote by Walt Disney on Main St. in the Magic Kingdom, Disney World. It says, “It takes people to make the dream a reality.” It is so true.
Walt’s dream of one day having the finest family oriented theme park in the world came true because of the people he surrounded himself with.
My dream of one day writing a book and having it published has come true, in part, because of the wonderful people in my life who hold me accountable, motivate and inspire me.
Serge Leclerc spoke to me just once in the three days that I shared a cell with him in Toronto East Detention. He said, “keep your mouth shut and mind your own business.” Few words, to the point, very true and appreciated by yours truly. What else was there to say? Nothing. Nothing else mattered. Not there or Kingston penitentiary or Collins Bay Penitentiary. We followed each other, Serge and I, from one facility to another, while serving out our respective sentences. God was setting the stage for a miraculous reunion which would take place many, many years later.
My mother is in the final stage of dementia. She no longer knows who I am and is unable to speak. I’ve been watching her slowly fade away for the past seven years.
She slow pitched to me before school so I could I improve my swing at the bat. She worked with me endlessly in the evening with my times tables when I was failing in math and she visited me, faithfully, while I was in prison.
Practicing baseball in the backyard, helping me with my homework, sitting across from me in the prison visiting room, or telling my wife Janet how thrilled she was to have her for a “daughter,” my mother never, EVER, stopped loving or caring for me.
Thanks mom, Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.
Carlos has been standing on the corner of Yonge and Dundas, across the street from the Eatons Centre, in Toronto, for as long as I’ve been a Christian. (16 years) He is, by all appearances, a man of no reputation. In plain, somewhat worn attire, Carlos stands at his post, four to six hours a day, seven days a week, month after month, year after year, an old, faded bible in one hand and a handful of gospel tracts in the other, lifting up the name of Jesus and warning everyone within ten feet of earshot to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior while there is time.
He is a picture of humility, a lone figure “in the world, but not of it.” He is a man with a mission, a calling that is at once profound, disciplined, concentrated and as focused as an athlete going for gold. Carlos is “other-worldly” in every sense of the word. He is a mystery to the world, a treasure to Christianity and a “hero” of mine.
My wife and I have seen and spoken to Carlos several times; on hot summer days, in freezing winter temperatures, we have seen him with one side of his face swollen and bandaged from a bad tooth and leaning on a crutch with his foot in a cast…ever at his post, always about The Lord’s business.
I’ve given him some tracts to hand out, slipped a five in to his hand a time or two and begged him to take a break and and enjoy a hot cup of coffee for a few minutes which he may or may not do. You’ll never hear about Carlos in church. You’ll never read about him in books. (although he may be in my next one) He’s not on Facebook or Twitter and would be embarrassed if he new I was posting this short tribute to a man “sold out for Christ.” The world knows him not but heaven sure does and I count myself fortunate indeed to have known him as well.
“When I had regained my senses and realized what had happened and by whom, I felt a rage, a level of full blown hatred towards them unlike anything I had ever felt or experienced previously. My only thought, my only focus at the time, in the moment, was to inflict as much punishment, pain, humiliation, and shame on them as possible, as quickly as possible, as ruthlessly as possible, as relentlessly as possible, for as long as possible.
I was not looking at a group of grade eight students who had gone a little to far in their bulling, teasing antics. I was looking, with uncompromising hatred, at a group of grade eight kids who represented to me everyone and anyone who had ever wronged me, one way or another, since I was perhaps seven or eight years old. This leering, smug, daring me to try something group of grade eight kids represented, stood for, championed if you will, all that I had come to despise, and they would pay. Them, and anyone who looked like them.
I can only imagine that in some way everything that I was feeling in that awful moment somehow showed in my facial expression, my body language, the heaving of my chest, trying to get my breathing under control, or perhaps the almost maniacal look in my eyes. I’ll never know exactly what it was that day that caused concern among my antagonists but I do know that when I advanced towards them they ran from me!
I had made up my mind that enough was enough and that whatever was going on between myself and those guys would end that day, one way or another. The tables would be turned, permanently, on them and on anyone else who would dare to attempt to intimidate me either physically, psychologically, mentally, or emotionally from that day onward. No one was exempt. Not my friends, not my acquaintances, not classmates, or teachers, or neighbors, both young and old, not even my own family. No one. Period. Ever. Anyone and everyone who crossed me in some way would feel, sense, or realize, one way or another, my deep seeded hatred towards them. This was accomplished not simply by fighting, which I did not always engage in, but by my behavior as well, my contempt, my lack of respect for those in authority in general would be clearly seen and felt.”
-Ted Nellis, Journey to Redemption