I’m Much Better Now

Our family made our normal Sunday visit with my parents today. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on going since I only slept three hours last night. Most of my night and day were filled with nerve pain and great anxiety. I found myself in my bed feeling so overwhelmed.

Then, I thought about my dad’s condition. I said to my wife “if my dad can get up so can I.” I went outside before we left and literally gave myself a pep talk. God was like “Craig you’ve got to get up and show up. Quit trying to play hero for everybody and quit wallowing in this pain. Just get back to walking with me and trusting me every step forward.”

The entire ride there I’m thinking this could go really bad. The last thing I wanted to do was increase other people’s stress. My dad and I ended up alone on their back patio. The sun was blazing and we were both wearing mask. But, this moment was a divine appointment of much needed encouragement.

Dad and myself were both broken for differing reasons. God quickly revealed that dad’s brokenness was much greater than my own. This shifted my focus from me on to him. Based on my pain in the past I could read his every facial expression. I certainly know what it’s like to have all the air knocked out of your sails. To be in so much physical and emotional pain that the next step feels impossible.

Together we were both mutually encouraged simply by each other’s compassion, understanding and presence. Not long after I started ministering to my dad my anxiety was lifted. All it took was a shift of perspective and seeing someone in a much bigger storm than me. Funny how God uses certain painful encounters to help us work through our pain. My heart and body have been much calmer ever since me and dad’s pain sharing experience. Hopefully tonight will be much better for us all. Please keep praying for my dad and my mom as they keep faith walking through this cancer battle.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

Gotta Keep Praying

Here I am again dealing with another heart pounding moment. My nerve condition often makes me have to sit up in bed. Every time I try laying down my heart feels like it’s beating outside of my chest. My anxiety then kicks into a much higher gear.

Fortunately, I’m a veteran at dealing with these trying moments. Five years of dealing with many intense moments teaches you a few things. Overtime you realize what you’re up against. Sure it’s never easy in the moment. However, the past gives you confidence God will take you through whatever happens.

Experience teaches you to keep praying forward. I’m talking while you breathe in and breathe out. God hears your every prayer and cares about your every anxiety. He invites you to exchange your worries for His peace. The peace of knowing everything is in His hands. The peace of knowing He is with you and watching over you. Sometimes there is nothing you can fix yourself. All you can do is keep giving it over to God until He settles the storm.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Don’t Waste Your Pain

Less than 30 minutes ago I shared about my struggle. This meant I had to get over my pride. This meant I had to be obedient in saying what God put on my heart. He has always compelled me to write in the eye of the pain. To praise Him in the storm not just after the storm.

Well, I’m here to tell you that just my simple confession has already led to God lifting some of my burden. I feel greater peace as I release things to God. I feel greater peace when I share my struggle and God’s goodness with others. The pain in my hands is just pain. The pain in God’s hands is a platform for His glory.

Let me encourage you to be honest about your struggles. Confession really is the beginning of healing. Seeing your pain used to help others lifts you both in the process. Somehow when you humble yourself before God and others He lifts you up. Don’t be afraid to tell others how you really feel. Often that is the bridge God uses to turn you pain into a platform of purpose and peace.

“Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

Please Know

Please know that anything I ever share it’s not for self-pity. It’s in hopes that my faith journey encourages you on your journey. I don’t ever want to waste my God allowed pain. The greatest stuff I’ve ever seen has been through my pain. I thank God daily for every struggle along with every victory. The battle is never over as long as God is on your side. I pray for everyone of you often because I know everyday is a different battle.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

God Can Rescue You Too

I’m sick of saying it, feeling it and having to fight through it. Once again I’m in the heat of a battle I’ve faced so many times. Feels like someone has set my entire nervous system on fire. This time for some reason I just can’t find the off switch. In fact, I have no idea what has made my condition get so much worse recently.

Talking with my dad this week I realized he and I have something in common. He recently discovered that his cancer is no longer in remission. In his mind, the cancer was gone for good. Time has proven that it’s still there God has just been holding it back from overtaking him. Hopefully, dad’s present chemotherapy and radiation bring his numbers back down to remission.

As for me, this past week revealed that my nerve condition is far from cured. It has come back on me with a vengeance. Right this moment it has me feeling trapped and somewhat paralyzed in my own body. My radiating nerve damage feels as bad as ever before. I told dad that time has proven that neither of us have been cured, but God’s grace has been sufficient. God’s power has been revealed despite our diagnosis.

Anyone who has a chronic health condition knows it can disrupt your life in so many ways. The pain wrecks you physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and even spiritually. It puts you at a crossroads where you can either keep trusting God or let it derail every plan God has for you.

I decided long ago that I will trust God. No matter how I feel or what I can’t fully understand. Sure, you never like feeling miserable or out of control. However, it’s in these moments we realize only God can calm the storm or give us peace. He has swooped in on my behalf more times than I can count. I’m trusting Him again to hold my hand, calm my heart and take me through my otherwise hopeless condition.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord; Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, Lord, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life. Because of you faithfulness bring me out of this distress.” Psalm 143

140 Days and Counting

Sunday will make 140 days since any group has gathered inside the church I pastor. For our growing church body it has clearly been the safest decision. I believe I speak for most pastors when I say every week has been unprecedented. Churches in the south rarely ever close their doors for any reason. This pandemic has forced the church and everyone else totally out of our comfort zones.

Now, I’ve had many stressful days just like many of you. You seek to adjust your approach to life every way possible. You try to use technology and other means for communication. You seek to focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Eventually you realize that you’re just on a roller coaster ride along with everyone else. All you can keep doing is seeking to take the next right step.

Even still, I must say I’ve seen much more good than bad in this season. Some souls have come to know Jesus Christ through this uncertain season. Many souls have experienced a spiritual awakening. Many believers have returned to earnest prayer and the total pursuit of God’s will. America as a whole can final see their need to apply our motto “In God We Trust.”

Now, don’t get me wrong I’ve seen the devastation and pain of many. Many folks have had to be alienated from their sick loved ones. Many have had to bury loved ones without the full presence of family and friend. Countless jobs have been lost and businesses shut down. The mental health of practically everybody has been challenged to say the least.

Honestly, I’m afraid all of this was necessary to get our full attention. In fact, if this season hasn’t awakened you in some way. I’m not sure what it will take for you to wake up. I certainly see my desperate need for the grace of God in my life. I know I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.

“For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:14-20

All I Can Do Is Pray

This is the fourth night in a row my entire body has been hijacked with nerve pain. It is really hard to explain something that feels like you’ve got electricity constantly running throughout your body. I feel fried and weary in every way. I’ve done everything I know to do to feel better. At night my anxiety has been through the roof.

Earlier I discussed this matter with my wife. We concluded that something just isn’t working like before. Whether it be my stimulator, medications or stress load. It has been quite awhile since I’ve felt this way this long. I praise God for such long relief. However, I’m at another crossroads where something has to change because this pain is taking me down.

God led me tonight to reach out to all the leaders from my church. I just had to put aside my pride and ask for desperate prayers. That’s really difficult for many, but especially a pastor. I’m used to helping everyone else. But tonight it is me standing in the need of prayer.

I feel so much better knowing many prayers are in motion. I know there is power in the name of Jesus. I’ve seen and experienced God’s healing power. I know God will come through big again. All I can do is pray so that’s exactly what I’m going to keep doing. I know that healing will come in God’s perfect timing.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” James 5:14-15

Count Every Victory

It’s 3:30am and I’m wide awake. At least my nerves and pain are settled some at this moment. Had another rough night but didn’t have to take any Valium. I used my CBD oil under my tongue and eventually the strong neurological current within me settled down. This condition of mine is often merciless. No matter how hard I try or what I take it knocks me down to size. Praise God for His mercy every single day.

I’ve learned to celebrate every victory along the way. If I go hours without any pain that’s a really big deal. When I sleep through the night that’s a really big deal. When I don’t feel like I’m having a constant panic attack that’s a really big deal. When I don’t eat or drink anything that further escalate my nerve issues that’s a really big deal. Anytime I feel better than before it’s another reason to celebrate.

Despite my countless days of misery God has been so good to me. I’ve been able to enjoy some good times with my family. I’ve been able to still preach and pastor other people. There have definitely been days I thought any quality moments in my life were over. I just couldn’t see beyond the pain that paralyzed me day and night.

Now, I know any day can be a better day. I’m so thankful for the victories even amidst my many feelings of defeat. Sure, I have moments of hosting my own pity party. But, I spend most of my time celebrating the victories and seizing the opportunities each day brings.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

Down Not Hopeless

Well, I’ve not exactly been doing great with my nerve pain recently. Last week was very taxing on my mind, heart and body. However, after a very relaxing Saturday I really thought I was doing good. Then, that Saturday night brought another hurricane experience. After plenty of sleep it seemed the worst was behind me. Then Sunday night showed up and showed out.

Last night practically shook me to my very core. Whatever has gotten into my system created another train wreck. The pain was so intense, the nausea was relentless and my anxiety was through the roof. I took every form of medication I had to take. Even still it took over 6 hours straight before that earthquake stopped. Basically my body finally fell asleep due to absolute pure exhaustion. I had to sit up in my bed the entire time just to keep my racing heart calmed down.

Fast forward to today after I didn’t get out of the bed until after 12 noon. After at least 8 hours asleep I thought today would be much different. However, I’ve hurt more all throughout this day than I ever did yesterday during the day. Now, I’m not freaking out because I’ve been here many times before. I just didn’t see this intense pain coming my way.

I’ve now officially backed my nighttime meds up an hour. Maybe taking things at 9pm will do me better than my usual 10pm. All I know is I must proactively get ahead of this pain. Otherwise it is sure to body slam me for a third night in a row. What’s scary is each of the nights before I thought I was fine. Yet, the closer the clock it got to midnight the worst things got.

I definitely understand what it’s like for your life to be totally disrupted by pain. I have so many things to do and places to be. Yet, I have no way of denying my humanity or this pain. Evidently, God has a purpose for it all or He wouldn’t allow it. So, God all I ask is that you continue to use the good, bad and ugly days for your glory.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Understanding Chronic Pain

This is for those trying to understand the battle of chronic pain. First, let’s begin by giving you a very clear definition. Chronic pain is pain persisting for a long time or constantly recurring. Honestly, it’s not something that ever really goes away. You just don’t always feel it the same depending upon the moment, activity or medication. Anyone with this kind of pain doesn’t have to be reminded of it’s persistence because it totally alters their entire way of life.

Chronic pain affects your life physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally. You can’t just keep putting mind over matter. You can only pretend so long before the pain will have you on your knees. You struggle with how your pain keeps you from doing many things. You struggle with how your pain affects others that you love so much. Trust me, after experiencing it at every level I know the toll it takes on you and others close to you.

All that said, I also know with God’s help you can get through it. You have to be willing to do everything you can while trusting God for everything you can’t. There is only one way to walk through the pain and that is by faith. It takes time to learn how to live your new normal. Yes, even though you are walking by faith you still can’t ignore the facts. Rest matters, exercise matters, what you consume matters, and living with balance matters.

A person battling chronic pain must listen to their body. You should wake up each day grateful and optimistic of what God can do. However, ignoring your limitations all together is not a good idea. As Kenny Rogers’s song says “you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. God keeps teaching me daily how to do this myself from sun up to sun down.

I will always have a strong compassion for those battling chronic pain because it’s very hard to swallow. I will always have a strong compassion for those caring for someone in chronic pain because I’ve seen the cross my wife bears daily. I also have a passion to not waste the pain I have endured. I believe every ounce of it has been God allowed. God doesn’t want me to see it as a handicap, but instead as His platform. Often, God uses our greatest pain and weakness to accomplish to display His great power.

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

No More PB&J For Me

Maybe you do or maybe you don’t like peanut butter and jelly toast. I have always loved it with a big glass of milk. But, for the past year I’ve pretty much stayed away from it due to the sugar intake and my chronic pain issues. I also rarely drink regular milk as I’ve discovered dairy products do increase inflammation.

Earlier I couldn’t help myself so I had 4 slices of PB&J toast. Then, I washed it all down with a big glass of milk. Words can’t express how delicious it all tasted to me. It was liking having a piece of heaven since I hardly eat anything sweet. That enjoyment was very short lived.

In less than two hours my body hasn’t responded well. Painful nerve sensations keep running all throughout my body. The aching has been nonstop and the evidence is so clear. Sometimes I think it must be all in my head how much my eating habits reduce my pain. So, I step just a little out of bounds of my normal diet. Next thing I know my body is throbbing and my nerves are raging. Folks, trust me when I tell you what you eat and drink highly affects how your body feels.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial.”
1 Corinthians 6:12

So Thankful To God

Plenty Of Reasons To Smile

Been laying here not able to sleep. That’s when it hit me just how bad things used to be. Suddenly my mind was flooded by images of the past. Back when pain was all I saw and hope was fading. Every day felt like a year and going to sleep was my favorite part of the day. Why? Because it was the only time I didn’t hurt.

Now, here I am with just a few aches and pains. It’s the difference between the Intensive Care Unit and a regular room. Somehow, God went into my body with a magic eraser. Next thing I know the impossible became possible. My pain has been very bearable ever since.

No, it wasn’t an overnight healing process. I had to do everything I could possible towards my recovery. In fact, I still do everything I can while trusting God with everything I can’t. Next thing I know here I am feeling normal again. What God has done for me can’t be explained or denied. I’m so thankful for His mercy and favor through it all.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

My Hope Is Renewed

Well, I just finished up another seemingly never ending day. However, God took me through it despite my depleted strength. I find that every time I think I’m going to collapse God catches me. As you’ve read this has been a very challenging week of ministry for me. But, there are always going to be days and weeks that just take all you’ve got and more.
 
The good news is I’m much better at the moment. I’ve already taken my nighttime medication in hopes of staying ahead of this nerve pain. Plus I’ve got to rise really early to finish preparing for a funeral. One thing that helps me often with perspective is all the things that I see. I see so many people who I know are doing way worse than me.
 
Now, I never like to see people hurting physically or emotionally. But, I do believe God allows us to see things to give us perspective. You see, there is always someone who has it worse than you. There is always someone who doesn’t know the same hope as you do. Can you imagine even trying to live through these times without the hope of Jesus in your life.? Fortunately, those who know Jesus will never be hopeless and always have a reason to smile.
 
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

Hard Habit To Break

Another day and another hard lesson learned. My heartbeat is finally slowing down and my nerves are certainly shot. As I sit here waiting on my meds to kick in all I can do is breathe in and breathe out prayer. This time last week I was so relaxed while on family vacation. Now, I just completed my 3rd straight day of working from sun up to way beyond sun down. God has been doing many good things, but I’ve definitely exceeded what’s best for my condition.

I’ve been in the midst of major growing pains for quite awhile within my ministry. I really do seek to delegate all I can to others. I have to constantly say no to many things in order to say yes to the right things. This week has just brought with it many surprises. I’ve spent countless hours seeking to help many who are in the midst of real crisis.

However, I definitely know I can’t solve all the world’s problems. So, I’m reminded once again why I have to keep living a recovery lifestyle. For reasons only God knows I just can’t endure what I once could before. However, it can take quite awhile to break old habits. This present feeling is just another realty check.

The great news is I’m far from panicking. I can feel God’s presence even in the chaos. I see God increasing my faith day by day. I’m learning more and more how to endure regardless of my condition. Yes, I’ve had several rough nights recently. But, not once have I felt abandoned, defeated or hopeless. Sometimes you just have to take notes, get some rest and live to apply lessons learned.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Trust and Obey

My body is extremely exhausted. I’ve been seeking to do way too much over the past 48 hours. Especially with some of my health battles. Ministry has never been busier and people have never been so broken. For me it’s very hard to find the shut off valve. Especially when you really care about others struggling way more than yourself.

Fortunately, my identity is not wrapped up in any position I hold. Being a pastor is not my job, but my joy. My calling is so strong that I could never runaway from it if I tried. I especially feel called to help those who many would rather avoid. It’s those most broken that my heart feels compelled to encourage most.

Now, I don’t have much left in my physical or emotional tank for this day. However, I do have the peace of knowing that with everything I could muster I’ve tried to live another day faithful. All God calls us to do is everything we can while trusting Him for everything we can’t. Some days take a little and others take more than you even have to give. It’s relieving to know that I’m not called to play God. Instead, I’ve simply been called to trust and obey God. I know God always has a plan.

“The Lord watches over those who obey him, those who trust in his constant love. He saves them from death; he keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the Lord; he is our protector and our help. We are glad because of him; we trust in his holy name. May your constant love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:18-22

When Anxiety Attacks

Prior to my nerve damage I never dealt with anything major in my own personal life. I was always very healthy and never took any medications. I was able to handle heavy loads of ministry. Sometimes I would deal with 25-30 crisis situations weekly. There were times when I preached 3 funerals in one week. This was on top of pastoring o couple hundred folks morning, day, and night. On top of all this I still had 4 kids and a wife that needed my presence daily.

Now, doing things the way I use to do them is no longer an option for me. Somehow, I can’t handle things like before. Every time I try to my nerves stop me dead in my tracks. Today alone I’ve dealt with more than most will deal with in a entire week. Around midnight it finally caught up with me.

My heart started pounding for no clear reason. My body continues vibrating continuously with nerve pain. This unexpected anxiety has created red splotches on both hands and feet. All I can do is wait out this storm. It really makes you feel so heavy hearted and out of control.

However, time has proven it’s just an anxiety attack. Unfortunately, it’s not something I can just fix or ignore. I have to keep praying. I have to marinate my heart and mind with God’s word. I have to wait on God to settle once again my heart, soul and this storm called anxiety.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Parents Just Don’t Understand

For some reason this subject matter recently popped into my mind. Maybe it’s because I know my own kids feel this way at times. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt this way at times. Maybe it’s because I know we’ve all thought this way at some point or another in our lives. I can honestly say today I feel very differently.

Maybe when I was younger I just didn’t have enough experience to understand what my parents really did understand. You know, you think times have changed so much. This generation could never understand my generation. Then of course the next generation thinks the same thing about your generation. No matter what it seems like to you or me. The younger we are the stupider we are when it comes to truly understanding the “real world.”

The truth is young people our parents understand way more than us. I’m not talking about knowing all the latest trends, technology and world advancements. I’m saying they know way more about the real world than we do. For one simple reason and that is they’ve lived in it much longer than us.

You see, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you attain. Wisdom can only be gained through actual life experience. The longer I live the more I realize how much I really don’t understand. I can always learn from those who have more life experience under their belt. In fact, if I really want to be wise I will listen to the advice of those I call Veterans of life.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Proverbs 15:22

Things I Must Do Daily

For those dealing with ongoing chronic pain issues. There are certain things we have to do daily. At least we need to do them in order to live our best life now. It takes awhile to learn how to live your new normal. While I’m way better than a year ago here are some things I have to watch everyday. These are keys to my healing and joy.

1.I must remember that regardless of how I feel my condition still exist.

2.I must believe with God’s help I can make it through anything.

3.I must watch closely what I eat and drink.

4.I must stay away from clear inflammatories such as caffeine and sugar as much as possible.

5.I must drink at least 80 plus ounces of water.

6.I must monitor closely my time exposed to unnecessary stress.

(Social Media, Ministry, or other activity)

7.I must get up and stay active. Staying in the bed too much does not improve my situation. I try to maintain consistency as much as possible.

8.I must avoid driving except when totally necessary. Sitting beyond a wheel can melt me in no time.

9.I must be honest about my pain and allow God to use it. Confession is a huge key to my healing and being able to help others.

10.I must stretch and keep my body used to movement.

11.I must prioritize my daily activity. I can’t just work harder anymore. Therefore I have to seek to work smarter.

12.I must avoid lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk.

13.I must focus on the positive not the negative.

14.I must set alarms in order to take my medications 3 times a day.

15.I must get at least 7-8 hours sleep for my body to function at its best.

16.I must keep believing God has a greater purpose for all my pain.

17.I must keep eating plenty of fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and baked meats.

18.I must stay on top of my hunger so that I’m not as prone to eat things I shouldn’t.

19.I must do some level of exercise whether it be walking, physical therapy or both.

20.I must keep re-evaluating my approach daily and recognizing consistent trigger points.

21.I must realize that everyday won’t be perfect. But, one bad day doesn’t define my future.

22.I must keep renewing my mind with scripture and even God led music.

23.I must keep journaling my progress so I can fully recognize my progress.

24.I must embrace my limitations but not let them cloud my God expectations.

25.I must keep taking the next Faith led step.

These are just a few of the decisions that makeup my daily lifestyle of recovery.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

New Day, Same Mercy

After a very, very rough night. I’m feeling much better today. Once I ever settled down from last night’s meltdown. I slept at least 7 hours or more. Man those tough moments always take me by surprise. But, I’m very grateful for the life that pain gives me.

One, it’s hard to take for granted all the good moments when you realize how bad it could be. Two, it gets me back praying and truly realizing my total dependence on God’s grace. Three, it keeps me mindful of so many others who walk through pain all the time. Also, it gives me a full reality check so that I’m motivated to continue living a recovery lifestyle.

You see, chronic pain is not something you just get over. You learn how to let God take you through it. Somehow he gives you peace amidst distress. He gives you strength when your strength is gone. He proves that each day is a new season. Just because you have one bad season doesn’t mean that today can’t be a new season full of hope.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23-24

He Is Always There

I’ve been attempting to sleep for nearly 4 hours. My body is exhausted and my night time meds should’ve long ago kicked in. I’m definitely certain my body has been affected by food I’ve eaten the past few days. However, I really didn’t see this panic attack coming my way. It’s the type that forces me to sit up straight in my bed and take long deep breaths.

I had a similar episode late last night, but I don’t recall my heart beating so fast. These moments are always frightening. Even though I’ve had so many times like this in my past. Somehow this kind of moment always takes you by surprise. You find yourself questioning everything. I guess because you want to make sure it’s nothing more serious than usual.

Now, I don’t jump on here for sympathy. I simply feel compelled to be honest even in the grip of my struggle. I understand how a chronic illness never sleeps. How it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I also know that there has never been a moment God has not carried me through. I don’t expect God’s faithfulness to change anytime.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Psalm 46:1

Its Been A Bumpy Landing

I just finished a wonderful 6 nights and 7 days away from reality with my family. In most every respect I was disconnected from normal life for me. I only checked my phone occasionally for any urgent messages. I never looked once at a computer. Outside of my own personal bible reading I didn’t do anything that pertained to normal ministry. I fasted completely from all social media, television, and normal everyday stressors. It was truly a wonderful week.

Our family arrived back home in South Carolina mid afternoon yesterday. After a four drive from Florida I was a little sore, but nothing I couldn’t rest off. Then, last night after maybe being home 6-7 hours my neurological system crashed. I’m sure I ate something that didn’t agree with my condition. Sadly, ice cream always creates havoc within me. I also know my mind and body have simply struggled to get back to reality.

Lord knows when this stuff hits me it forces me to cry for mercy. For the second night in a row I’m laying in my bed at 9 pm. Actually I’ve been in bed all day today. Even still last night and again tonight my entire body is vibrating with nerve pain. Honestly, I’m so seasoned with this God allowed life disruption that I don’t fight with it anymore. I usually don’t panic instead I just allow God to settle my mind and heart.

Tonight I started back doing some scripture meditation. Anytime satan is disrupting my spirit the best medicine for my soul is God’s word. There has never been a lie that God hasn’t countered with truth. So, I’m guzzling lots of water, praying and just allowing God to put everything in order within me. I’m certain that I will not only sleep great, but God will wake me up with renewed strength tomorrow.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard. The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

My Opinion About COVID-19

I realize we all have different opinions concerning these times. I don’t believe any of us are fully right or wrong. Mainly because we only know what we know. No, we can’t control all the chaos or the spreading of COVID-19. However, we all can choose to take necessary and thoughtful precautions.

I still remember like yesterday a young man that died from the Swine Flu. That man visited the church I was pastoring looking completely healthy. In fact, he gave his life to Jesus at that service. The next week he was fighting for his life in the ICU. The next week he died from the swine flu and I preached his funeral. Myself and his young family were in total shock.

Now, here we are facing something that we know can easily take out those with certain pre-existing conditions. For instance, my dad who continues to fight a vicious cancer everyday. His weakened immune system could never handle this virus. For him and others like him I’m willing to be inconvenienced. I’m willing to wear a mask. I’m willing to keep church services cancelled. I’m willing to keep my kids out of school.

Of course, there will come a point that we just have to move forward with life. But, right now all of us who don’t feel threatened must have compassion for those who are threatened. Not everything is about what I want or you want. We don’t have to even agree about everything.

What does it hurt to be considerate? God tells us to be mindful for our neighbor, friends and family. I know there are many distorted facts and stats roaming around. But, one fact you can’t deny is that people are dying daily from this virus. I keep getting reports of more and more people daily that I do know. So, in the midst of all we don’t know let’s each choose to do what we do know slows the spread of this. Wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

God We Need Ramps Again

Today, my dad saw his cancer doctor. He was scheduled for surgery tomorrow. This surgery was supposed to help with his back pain. However, it turns out that no surgery can stop dad’s present pain. Instead, dad’s greatest pain is related to the cancer creating havoc in his very bones.

Sadly, dad didn’t get the hopeful news he wanted. Dad has been in intense pain since Mother’s Day. Each day has just been getting worse. He keeps having to increase his daily pain meds. Now, for the most part all he can do is seek to deal with it.

They sent dad home with even stronger pain meds. However, he will start back soon with daily radiation that could reduce some of his pain. Scans show that his cancer could come back really strong anytime. So, after 7 weeks of no treatment he has to start back his chemotherapy soon. This time it will be more potent than before.

Overall, dad and mom are holding strong to their faith. They know this is just part of the beast called cancer. Of course, the medication, pain and lack of sleep all impact dad physically and emotionally. He has certainly not been himself the last several weeks. Him and mom are both exhausted. But, we have all seen God punch cancer in the mouth before.

So, here we go again through another season of unknowns. From our perspective all we see is roadblocks. However, God loves to use these times as road ramps for His glory. Yes, just when you least expect it God shows up and shows out. I fully expect nothing less moving forward during this faith walking season. Because at the end of the day God is still bigger than cancer

“When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

Pain Is Unpredictable

Earlier my entire family of 6 went to visit my parents. Supper was great and we certainly shared some laughs with mom. I say mom because dad’s pain has gotten the best of him recently. All he can do is proactively try to keep his pain contained. Even then he knows it can sneak up and strangle him any moment.

Yes, looking into his eyes reminded me of myself the past several years. It must have been so hard for my parents and my wife to observe my previous state of pain. When you’re the one in that nonstop breathtaking pain you’re just trying to survive. You want so much to not be seen as the burden or weakest link. After awhile all you can do is fight to survive and swallow every ounce of your pride.

Yes, I hate to see anyone in that level of pain. I know what nonstop pain does to your heart, mind and way of life. You have to do things when you can. You have to accept things you can’t do anymore. You have to stay on your knees knowing that pain is always unpredictable. Please keep my dad and mom in your prayers as each day is a battle.

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

The Anchor Holds

It has been a very quiet July 4th. My aching body kept me in the bed most of the day. My pain has been bearable. I just didn’t have the strength to get out much. Plus, my brother in law shot fireworks for us the night before.

Earlier, I did eat a 8oz sirloin steak, broccoli, and zucchini from Ruby Tuesday’s to go. My wife added a baked sweet potatoe to that absolutely delicious meal. I’ve been having to drink lots of water the past couple days. Fortunately, I do like drinking water. But, drinking over 80oz per day gets old quickly. Thank God this amount of water makes such a difference with my nervous system.

There is no denying that my body is just getting out of shape during this quarantine. I’ve not gained any weight, but I’ve also not gained any muscle. I have to get back to daily walking. However, I’ve got to do it when it’s not so hot outside. Also, I’ve got to start back the discipline of morning and night stretching and physical therapy.

As I’ve said many times in the past. Regardless of the season I have to maintain a recovery lifestyle. This time of social distancing can make many different health challenges even greater. But, all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. God always works all the details out. Life is a roller coaster, but Jesus is our great stabilizer.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

Gotta Shake Off The Rust

For many of us with physical struggles we always have to limit our physical activity. However, this quarantine season limited most of us too much. Sometimes it’s a good thing to have to walk somewhere. Sitting around even more than usual can lead to your body feeling mighty rusty. Next thing you know your body is not conditioned for much of anything.

I’ve been very busy with ministry the last 3 1/2 months. But, most of my work has taken place while sitting in one stationary place way too long. Every joint I have feels like it needs WD-40 sprayed on it. The lightest of weights can drain my legs quickly. It doesn’t take much movement at all for me to pull something.

I know I’ve got to get back to daily walking. Also, I’ve been very slack when it comes to doing any physical therapy exercises or stretching. When your body is not tested it doesn’t take long to lose strength and mobility. While I’ve not gained any weight due to my necessary conservative diet. My body has certainly gotten very rusty not being in my past normal routines.

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

God Is Using My Pain Again

I’m currently waiting on my body to quit aching so I can get some much needed sleep. I’m not doing terrible, but more like my past normal. Normal for me is having enough pain to keep me uncomfortable no matter what I’m doing. It doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting still or laying down. There is no feeling great when this pain rears its ugly head.

Even still, I believe all my pain is divinely allowed. Meaning God has a purpose for it even if I hate how it feels at times. If not for my pain, I would rarely feel compelled to write to encourage others. Without my pain I might forget what it feels like to struggle. So, for those reasons and many more I’m honestly grateful God has allowed it.

Absolutely nothing in my life has shaped me more than pain. I’m convinced that your faith, endurance and character can’t grow without it. Everybody has some kind of pain allowed in there life for divine reasons. You might not understand it right now, but you will realize it later. So, don’t fight with your pain. Just let go and let God use it for His own good reasons.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

God Doesn’t Waste Pain

Just finishing up a very long day. I’ve not had a break all day. The good news is God keeps giving me the strength and discernment needed. My pain and discomfort have been minimal. My health has allowed me to help many others struggling way more than me.

In many ways, I believe feeling useful is like medicine for the soul. We all want to feel like our life is making a difference. When pain consumes you it’s hard to see beyond it. The longer you lay in that bed the more you feel defeated. The longer your pain persists you feel like a hopeless cause. However, I’ve found that pain can be God’s biggest platform.

Yes, I know what it’s like to have breathtaking pain everyday. I spent nearly four years straight mainly in a bed or bath all the time. I couldn’t do much of anything except hope to preach on Sundays. It was during that 4 year stretch that I earned my degree in Chronic pain. Not literally, but through my experiences. Many days and nights were filled with tears. Yet, if I hadn’t endured that season I wouldn’t be prepared for this season.

My friends you can’t relate to true brokenness until you’ve been there. You can’t share hope until you find hope through your toughest days. God has restored me to my new normal. Sure, my body is not like it used to be. But, my heart, love, and understanding towards others has never been greater.

God allowed me to go through tough stuff so I could later share stuff with others. My four year pain degree was very rough. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone. However, I needed to experience that level pain so I could encourage others through their deepest pain. As I’ve said many times the worst pain is wasted pain. By the way, keep praying for my day as his pain has greatly increased the last few weeks.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Me & Dad

God Has Got This

Somehow I’m right back on this intense faith walking journey. One minute I’m fine and the next my nervous system goes haywire. All I can do is lay on my side, take deep breaths, and ask God for comfort. Sure, it’s something I’ve experienced many times, but you never get used to it.

My body is so tired and exhausted. I’m like an electrical appliance that has been unplugged. I feel little strength in my body to do anything more today. My condition forces me to be humbled and rely on God’s unlimited grace and mercy.

Many times in the past I would fight too much with my neurological condition. Now, I know it’s best that I recognize my limits. If that’s going to bed early so be it. If that’s saying no to something I can’t handle then I have to say no. Daily I’ve learned how to better cope and process my pain.

One thing I never plan to do is waste my pain. I wholeheartedly believe my pain is meant to be used for God’s glory. I hope to encourage others who feel like they’re drowning. Because I may not know many things. However, I do know God will always carry me when I otherwise couldn’t carry on.

Keep asking God for comfort and He will give it to you. Ask God for peace and He will bring it to you. Ask God to use your pain and He will purposely unfold His amazing plans. Stare your greatest fear and weakness in the face. Because these things may be greater than you, but they will never be greater than God.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:31,35,37

I Feel It In The Air

We are about to complete the 15th straight week of COVID-19 madness. It really does feel like the world shutdown 105 days ago. Sure life goes on, but it definitely does not feel normal. Some feel the need to wear masks and social distance. Others think this entire virus is nothing to be feared.

In the middle of this virus drama people’s emotions have been all over the place. This unprecedented season has only gotten more complicated with each new day. Racial tension has suddenly taken center stage. Political agendas from every direction can’t be denied. People are glued to social media just waiting to attack someone who holds any opposite view from them.

Honestly, I’m tired of seeing society playing a continuous game of tug of war. Don’t get me wrong I truly care about what everyone is going through. And, there are certainly things worth fighting for in these times. But, it is really important we each choose our battles wisely.

In the air, I feel a great heaviness. In the air, I feel a world exhausted from the constant struggle. In the air, there is so much stress, frustration, confusion and chaos. It is time for us to lay our burdens down at the feet of Jesus. It is time for us to seek personal“soul rest.” This is something we can’t give ourselves, but only Jesus can give us.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The Best Father’s Day Ever

There’s never been a Father’s Day I’ve not been grateful for my dad. However, this year is different than all the rest. Everything changed after our long ride to the hospital that December night. I remember thinking on the way you certainly looked very sick. Then, I was blown away hours later to hear that dreaded word cancer.

At that time we didn’t know what lied ahead. I will never forget those tears rolling down your and mom’s face. In fact, I’m not sure I need to forget that moment. Because since then I’ve never had a day I’ve not thanked God for you. I’m so grateful God put your cancer in remission. I’m so glad I can still call you dad in person.

You have made such a difference in my life. The older I get I see your wisdom and legacy. Through this humble season your heart for Jesus and family has been undeniable. You’ve certainly been a faithful husband, dad and minister of the gospel.

What’s really crazy is the older I get the more I realize how much you instilled in me. Your love for people, your passion for God’s will and your never quit mentality has been contagious. I minister to so many families today that you started ministering to years ago.

So, because we’re never sure what tomorrow holds this will be the greatest Father’s Day ever. Fortunately it’s one where you’re still here with us. I pray God gives us many more years together. For time has proven that God is bigger than cancer. Time has proven this life is just way better with you than without you.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

You’re Still In His Hands

This has certainly been my most physically miserable week in quite some time. Just like it used to be in the past the nights are usually the worse. Seems anytime the pain gets on top of you. It’s really hard for you to get back on top of it.

Nights like this I can almost predict. I’ve experienced so many before. Even still, present misery always feels like the worst misery. You just want to numb the pain so bad. And, to a degree you’re willing to do anything safe to numb it.

By the grace of God I’m not addicted to any narcotics. Somehow, I’ve weathered countless miserable nights full of tears and pain. All those nights in the past boost my faith in the present. Sometimes all you can do is make sure you’re holding onto God’s hand. Plus, you must be reminded God is holding onto you and won’t let go.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28

Pain, Perspective, & Purpose

God Keeps Me Smiling

Most people who say their nerves are fried usually only mean they are stressed to the max. When I say the same thing I mean it literally. I believe if someone opened me up they wouldn’t believe their eyes. My interior nerves would resemble an electrical box full of twisted wires. I really don’t need any doctor to further confirm the permanent nerve damage all throughout my body.

Fortunately the past year has been far better than the four years prior. Learning my limits, eating totally different, and getting my spinal cord stimulator implant has made a huge difference. Even still, I’m certainly handicap compared to life before 40. However, I refuse to live with a handicap mentality.

Let’s just say I’m very limited at what I can do or handle on any day. Basically, I live just one degree away from boiling most of the time. I never know what food is going to make my nerves go crazy. I never know what physical activity or smallest stressor will push my nerves over the edge. Next thing I know my entire nervous is vibrating throughout my body.

I’m just approaching 9:30pm on a Friday night. Fortunately, my heart is not pounding and I’m not going crazy. However, my body has given me every indication that I must go to bed. Honestly, I’ve been in bed since 8pm. This is nothing abnormal for me. My nervous system wrecks many of my best laid plans on a daily basis.

Finally, I’m able to say all of this with no tears shed. I’ve learned my new normal. I’m thankful for what I can do despite all I can’t do. Nothing going on inside my body is a mystery to the one who created my body. Whatever He wills I trust with all my heart. No matter how bad I may feel I know what it’s like to feel much, much worse.

Sometimes God has to allow things to get really bad so you can see the good. It feels just like yesterday that all I did was spend 90% of my life in a bed or bath. Now, I’m back to living my new normal. Despite my aches my life and my pain have purpose. I live each day to share with others the comfort God has given me despite countless days and nights of misery. I’m extremely grateful for my new normal even if it’s still a far cry from my old normal.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I Can Still Relate

Usually at least one night every week it happens. Everything seems to be okay and then it’s not. Suddenly my body just caves in once again. It’s like somebody floods my entire body with electricity. My feet, legs, hands, chest and even my face won’t quit vibrating.

Unfortunately, I can’t always tell you what ignites the flame. Time has proven it usually is triggered either by something I ate or something stressful I’m dealing with at the moment. I have had a long day, but overall a good day. Honestly, I don’t really know why my body suddenly feels fried again. All I know is it’s always the most humbling and painful feeling.

Fortunately, I know this storm will pass sooner than later. God uses it as a reminder to pray for all those locked down in pain. I know it’s frightening and can feel completely debilitating. But, somehow, someway God always takes us through the valley of unknown.

Praise God I have way more good days than I have bad these days. But, my wife sees things change like the weather when it comes to my nerve wrecked body. All I can do is take deep breaths and ask God to help me. Even an hour ago I felt alright, but my chronic pain escalates so quickly.

If you are battling with pain nobody else understands. Pain that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I can so relate to the many thoughts that run through your head. Your heart might be pounding out of your chest right now. But, God will calm the storm that’s raging inside of you at just the right time. Just keep giving God all that weights you down. This too shall pass!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

5 Ways I Can Improve My Dad Skills

My 4 Boys

If someone asked me to rate my skills as a dad on a scale from 1-10. I would quickly say that hopefully I’m a 5. I say this because I have plenty of room for improvement. In fact, the only reason I can choose a five is because many dads have zero involvement in their kid’s lives. Also, I know many great dads that I could learn plenty from their example. So, here are the top five areas I hope to improve in as a dad to my four boys.

#1 Life Example

I try really hard to live by example, but I can certainly grow in this area. I need to show my boys more consistently how to treat their future wife. I need to show them more consistently how to lead their future family physically and spiritually. My kids needs to see Jesus in me more than hear Jesus from my lips.

#2 Listening

As my kids reach adult years I’m realizing the need to listen more. It doesn’t matter if they are saying everything right or wrong. They need to know I value their thoughts. They need to know I’m trying to love them in an understanding way. How can they feel I understand them if I never take the time to listen? I’m trying not to be so reactive and defensive over my stance. After all, they have things they need to process too.

#3 Communication

Now, if I can improve the listening it should help this area. I firmly believe there is always a better way to communicate things. We can be so quick to share our opinions that we treat them like they are stupid. Honestly, I’m finding my kids are smarter than me in certain areas. I must make sure I don’t force my way upon them. My attitude and approach matter just as much as the truth delivered. I really feel the need to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Otherwise, I know careless words will just fly back and forth.

#4 Learning From Others

I realize there are no perfect parents. But, we can certainly learn from other parents’ experiences. Whether it be dealing with specific issues or challenges. Whether it be learning how to deal with each type of personality. There is always a parent out there that has already dealt with a similar issue. I plan to do some growth reading this year to improve as a dad.

#5 Praying For Them

I could have easily listed this as the greatest need for improvement. There should be nothing in their lives I’m not lifting up in prayer. I should be asking them frequently how I can pray for them. I need to not only pray for them more, but with them. My kids need divine protection daily. They need to know their greatest battle will always be spiritual. I need to be praying more for them before they even learn to consistently pray for themselves.

Now, I share this list to say I’m far from a perfect dad. However, everyday is a new day to strive for improvement. I don’t want to be an average dad. I long to be a great dad. With the help of my perfect Heavenly Father I know things can improve.

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14

Are You Living to End Racism?

Let’s truly be friends!

Wait a minute…please don’t answer that question so fast. I need to further explain what I mean. I didn’t ask whether you think you’re a racist. I asked are you living in such a way that counters racism? Meaning, are you just protesting the issue or living in a way that helps towards fixing the issue in society.

Personally, I feel God has been challenging my heart in so many ways. I don’t just want to ignore the issue. I don’t just want to talk about the issue. I want to live in such a way that it actually helps decrease the issue. This requires a strategic approach to living. You have to live being mindful that racism is an issue and I can do something about it.

Now, I honestly I don’t think most know what to do. Yelling your opinions at others does very little. Ignoring the issues doesn’t just make it all go away. So, we must find ways to fight against racism. We must treat it like a cancer that can’t be ignored. Then, we need to kill each racist cell of society with an overdose of intentional love deposits.

I suggest first that we listen more than we speak. Don’t just defend your stance and keep telling people how there’s absolutely no racist bones within you. Show people of different races how much you care. Love them in an understanding way. Go out of your way not to change their mind, but their assumptions. I’ve never seen the unconditional love of God not make things better.

Look for ways that you can strategically show others your heart. During this season God has led me to check more on my neighbors of other races. In fact, I can promise you the church I pastor will seek to lead many towards tearing down the racial divide we presently feel in society.

I pray this season in time has opened all of our hearts. I truly believe much of society has changed but time has just revealed that more needs to change. I hope you will join me in seeking to be the change and praying for change. I know God will honor every heart that seeks to love all those around them in a color blind fashion.

“My dear brothers and sisters,how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” James 2:1

DEAR BELIEVER: Please Do Your Part

Folks it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that we are in troubled times. People of all backgrounds, races, and perspectives are freaking out. Please before you just identify the problems. Please make sure that you aren’t part of the problem. I say this while continually making constant evaluation of myself. If you call yourself a true believer in Christ you should care about what I’m writing.

Do you really think a war of words solves everything? Do you really think that “screaming” out your viewpoint changes people’s minds. I emphasize the “screaming” because people really pay attention to your attitude and approach with anything you say. Somehow, some way we have to learn how to have caring conversations with one another. And, if the timing isn’t right there can be no right conversations.

So, please put your weapons down. Maybe that starts by being mindful of what YOU actually post on social media. Maybe that starts by saying “God change me from the inside out.” Maybe that starts by you saying from this point forward I won’t just live life with a “protesting mentality.” This doesn’t mean that you have to compromise the truth or agree with everybody. But, quit thinking you’re just dealing with other people’s issues.

Right now, America is dealing with an absolute spiritual issue. We can’t walk hand in hand until we truly become “One Nation Under God.” None of us are the authority of anything. God must be our authority and the Bible must be our guiding light. So, please ask God to change your heart, forgive your sins, and heal your land. Anything less is not going to make the difference you might think.

I can honestly say that I’m praying for each of you. I love you whether we share the same perspective or not. I only want God’s best for your life and this world. I’m one hundred percent sure that only God can heal our hearts and heal our land. So, please do your part by getting on your knees.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

49 Years Of Saying I Do

Forty nine years ago two special people said “I do” to each other. This was no light hearted ceremony of exchanged vows. They both promised a lifetime of love to one another. Their love has proven true for better or worse. Their love still remains in sickness and in health.

They started out just a young marine and bride. Dad followed God’s call and became a pastor. Mom followed God’s call and became a school teacher. Both would go on to touch countless lives for Christ. Both would keep moving forward hand in hand.

This man and woman raised three boys named Chris, Craig and Chad. They taught us how to love God and people with all our heart. They taught us how to walk through anything together and not just run away from everything. No there marriage has never been perfect. But, God’s perfect love through them has made 49 years of marriage possible.

Now, they each have many gray hairs and battle scars. Both have experienced God’s favor along with life’s challenges. No matter what they’ve ever lost in this life they’ve never lost each other. Their battle tested marriage proves that a lifetime together is still possible. Especially when two people wake up everyday and continue to genuinely say “I Do.”

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

Dear Class Of 2020

I’m sorry your senior year came to such an abrupt ending. I know you had no idea that mid-march would be your last day of school. I’m sorry you missed precious senior moments with your friends. I’m sorry that even your graduation day has been very unpredictable. There’s no doubt we will all remember what the class of 2020 endured.

I speak for many when I say you’re in our thoughts and our prayers. This is a whole lot to swallow for anyone, but definitely when you’re only 18. This was supposed to be one of the happiest seasons of your life. However, we know the present circumstances hurt and cloud your perspective. But, let me tell you three things you’re learning that no classroom can teach.

1 Life Is Full Of Unexpected Moments

You will look back one day and feel this pandemic prepared you the most for real life. These seasons are never welcomed, but often necessary. God uses them to develop our faith, endurance and character. Your transition into the real world has already begun. So, I guess you could say God has already given you a head start.

2 Life is Full of Precious Moments.

We usually don’t realize this fully until those moments are taken away from us. I’m sure you’ve pondered all you’ve missed a thousand times by now. However, this season will help you make the most of future precious moments and opportunities. Because now you know for sure that nothing in this life is guaranteed.

3 Life is Full of Defining Moments.

Its been said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. If that’s the case, it won’t be COVID-19 that defines your future. Instead, how you handle this crisis season will impact your life incredibly. I’m praying you respond wisely.

The only way I’ve found to get through such seasons is by faith. Faith is doing all you can while trusting God for all you can’t. You see, God has a plan for your life and future. Nothing that is taking place has taken Him by surprise. And, while none of this makes much sense to mankind. This is evidently part of God’s master plan for your life. This is not an accident, but a divine appointment for us all.

So, don’t feel like your best years are behind you. This could very well be the catalyst for the best years of your life still to come. Right now, God is growing you into the man or women He needs you to be. What feels like a complete burden today may feel like a total blessing tomorrow.

Know that many are proud of you. Others are looking up to you. Keep living by faith and let them see your light shine.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Fight For Your Child’s Soul

Earlier me and one of my boys sought to go fishing together. Unfortunately, the weather ended our trip shortly after getting in the boat. However, on the way my son and I had a very important conversation. Actually, we’ve had several deep discussions together recently. Each time we talked about how important it is to know Jesus Christ as your personal savior and Lord.

Now, contrary to what you might think. Most pastors don’t just sit around preaching at their kids all the time. In fact, preacher’s kids don’t automatically invite Jesus Christ into their heart. I’ve had to look for God windows to share the good news of Jesus Christ. I’ve had to keep praying for my boys and patiently hope to see spiritual growth.

All four of my boys are in different seasons of life. My 3 oldest are in those seasons where they have to make their own personal decision to follow Christ. I can’t save them and I can’t preach them into Heaven. Just like some of you I see the constant spiritual attack on the younger generations. They are very smart, but the gospel of Jesus never just makes sense.

As I told my son, “you have decide what you’re going to believe. Either you just think the gospel is make believe. Or you choose to believe in the gospel by faith. But, l’m not going to push my faith on you. I will absolutely make sure you at least know the truth so you can make your own decision. How can I say that believing in Jesus is the only way to Heaven and not take the time to tell you?”

Now, our conversations are not done. I will keep seeking to plant eternal seeds in his heart. I will keep praying for each of my children to come to know Jesus. I’ve learned how to have calm conversations and still discuss things that can’t always wait for later. I’ve buried way too many young people to not believe that I must keep fighting for my kid’s soul.

So, what about you? Have you given up fighting for the souls of your children or grandchildren? Trust me, this world is not going to introduce your children to Jesus. You’ve got to seize those moments to tell them the gospel truth. You’ve got to keep loving them, listening to them, and telling them that Jesus is our only source for true peace, purpose and salvation. Personally, I would rather die trying than to have not tried at all. Life is too uncertain to do anything less. Therefore, I want to do my best towards introducing them to Jesus. Because I know that one decision changes everything.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

3 Ways You Can Help Now

For anyone who genuinely cares about people and doesn’t want to escalate this situation any further. Here are some things we all can do regardless of our race. These thIngs will proactively eliminate unnecessary conflict. These things can help us reach a higher level of peace. These things could even save someone’s life.

1 Don’t Follow The Crowd.

It doesn’t matter what you feel everyone else is or is not doing. Allow God to renew your mind, change your attitude, and guide your steps.

2 Don’t Fuel The Anger.

Don’t say or share anything that only has the potential to trigger more chaos. Be mindful of the extreme sensitivity around you. Don’t just say things to prove your point or yell out your opinion.

3 Don’t Quit Praying

We’re presently on a battleship not a cruise ship. Pray for God’s peace, protection, and purpose for everyone in this season. Pray for hearts to be healed and walls to come down. Remember, some things can only come out through prayer.

I know the media and others keep stirring emotions everywhere. Don’t let them use you like a puppet. Make sure you keep seeking to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. May God lead us all with His love to accomplish His plans moving forward.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10

What The World Needs Now

Many reading this right now are beyond frazzled. You keep watching the news or the next FB post. None of it makes sense to you. You want to stop the madness and you want everybody to quit going crazy. If only everyone could see through your eyes of reasoning all would be right in the world. At least that’s what you think deep inside.

However, I’ve concluded that this season is not just about human reasoning. Magic words alone will not fix this kind of brokenness. We are in the middle of an absolute spiritual war. Satan is hoping to discourage us, divide us, and destroy us. Even still, God is aiming to revive us and unite us.

The only thing we can really control is our response to the chaos. Will we pray about everything? Will we trust God through anything? Will we seek to love like Jesus no matter what others say or do? Will we seek to be one of God’s agents of peace and goodwill towards all mankind?

Our prayers should not stop in times like these. Our efforts towards love, kindness and faithfulness should not cease. This is not a time you can just reason your way through things. Faith, hope and above all sincere love will lead to the greatest changes. I am praying for you, your loved ones and the broken world around us. I truly believe together we will see brighter days to come.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Striving For Beneficial Conversation

Anytime we create “unnecessary” division we become satan’s tool. Pay attention not only to what you say, but how you say it. Don’t just make a statement, but truly aim to encourage everyone listening forward. I’ve certainly said things before full of great intentions, but my delivery or timing was all wrong.

Sometimes we’re not dealing with a win/win situation. Meaning it’s impossible to appeal to both sides of a heated battle. In these cases, just make sure you are choosing God’s side. Whatever God wants you should want. Whatever God thinks you should think. Whatever God prompts you to say, you should say. But, it always matters how you say things especially in God’s eyes.

Time has proven that emotions alone shouldn’t be our primary driving factor. God calls us to walk by faith for a reason. God anchors us with His truth for a reason. Don’t let your gut play your God. Don’t let this culture or social media drive your entire thought life crazy. Sometimes we just need to step away and let God show us a better way.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own. Ephesians 4:29-30

Sorry, I Can’t Stay Silent

Can I just say that the spirit within me is very disturbed from the past few days? I’m not talking about Craig’s spirit, but the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been screaming for my attention. The Holy Spirit has led me to work over 30 hours the last 3 days alone preparing one message that I know will bring peace to thousands this Sunday online. The Holy Spirit has told me this is not a time for me to sit quietly and not use my voice of influence!

Now, I know since I’m a white man one might wonder why I’m so worked up. Honestly, just my answer to that one question could take days to answer. I agree, I’m not an African American male living in the midst of this absolute chaos. I don’t know what it feels like to wake up daily wondering who might misread my actions. I don’t know what it feels to think that justice will rarely be on my side. I don’t know what it feels like to fear for my life just because someone may suspect I’m up to no good. Trust me, I could go on and on with these kind of real life statements concerning my darker skinned brothers. And, if you much like me, don’t really know what it feels like to be in those shoes. Don’t act like you do.

Here is simply what I do know. I love people of every race the same. As a believer in Jesus Christ I can’t say I love God and not love His children. You see, it’s only man that looks at the color of someone’s skin. God knows it’s just another shade of wrapping paper because inside is a human soul.

So, why am I angry of another defenseless black male losing his life? Because, that was my brother from another mother. I want my friends of other races to know that my heart is truly broken. That the intense racism they may see from a few doesn’t represent the majority of us. Many others with my skin color are devastated over recent events.

Please know that I’m praying for each of you that have deep anger, fear, and triggered grief over this recent matter. This kind of stuff shouldn’t be tolerated. You can certainly count me in as one that will always fight for equality and justice for all. Any Christian American that’s not racist should feel the same way. This was not the loss of just another African American. This was the loss of a human being who just like us was created by our Heavenly Father.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

We’re Not Just Fishing

Many will see this picture and think what’s the big deal. Well, the guy fishing in this boat with me today is my 18 year old son Joel. He and I used to go fishing together all the time. He and I both loved getting in that John boat and floating down the river. Until my health took a major turn for the worse.

I can’t tell you how many times my heart grieved over missed fishing trips with him the past 5 years. You might as well say I was absent from his life most of his high school years. My chronic health battle was all I had strength to fight in the past. I figured we would never get the opportunity to enjoy fishing moments like that again together.

However, today the devil did not prevail with his plans. After nearly five years we finally enjoyed our first of many more fishing trips together. My 18 year old young man can now do all the heavy lifting and get the boat in the water for us. Honestly, I enjoyed every minute and not because we caught so many fish. It felt like we had marched back in time to when he was only 13 and picked up things from there.

This was only my second full leisurely day in almost nine weeks of COVID-19. Man I’m glad COVID-19 allowed this first year college student to be home. I’m so thankful for a second chance to get in that John boat after 5 long years of missed opportunities. We’re going back tomorrow to catch more priceless moments.

“This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

How Can We Not Celebrate?

This Mother’s Day is almost over. However, I feel inspired to talk about another mother in my life. Sadly, growing up we really don’t see the full value of our moms until later. However, observing a great mother day and night as an adult changes your perspective. Therefore, watching my wife’s daily efforts for our boys has drastically opened my eyes.

From my front row seat I see someone so unselfish. I see nothing but love in action from sun up to sun down. I’m afraid when our kids were younger I really had no clue what my wife endured. Honestly, I feel like I still have no clue as to how mothers do what they do. They literally live each breath to take care of their children.

Aimée Crosby has shown me what love with no strings attached looks like. She gives and gives with not an ounce of complaint. She believes in her four boys and hopes all their dreams come true. I remember saying before any were born how they would all love me more. I realize later I was so foolish to think a good dad could ever compete with a great mom. I guess that’s why I wanted a girl later because all we’ve got is a house full of momma’s boys.

So, if you call yourself a mom I’m convinced you’re a super hero. Your love speaks so loudly. As you fight and pray for your children their lives are changed. How can we not celebrate someone who gave us life itself? How can we not celebrate someone willing to lay down their life in hopes of giving us a better life?

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” Proverbs 31:28

How Do You Process Things?

When it comes to unwinding from a long day we’re all different. Some of us like to be left alone and others like a hand to hold. Some of us don’t want to say one word and others can’t say enough words. Some of us hold all our emotions inside and others just let their feelings fly.

Personally, I like a hand to hold, to process things verbally, and I don’t seek to mask my emotions. I also like to write about things on my heart and mind. I’ve had another challenging evening pain wise. Mainly because I’ve not gotten enough sleep the last two nights. There’s no denying that my nerves literally go crazy when they are sleep deprived.

Even still, quit is not an option. I will lay my head down again trusting God for the rest my body needs. I will ponder all the wonderful God moments and breakthroughs in days gone by. Even when my body feels weary I can think of a million reasons to smile. One of those reasons is God often uses my pain to open my eyes of compassion for others who live in pain. So, if you ever read something encouraging you can thank my struggles for creating these opportunities.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

My Daily Battle

By now, most should realize how little I speak about my pain compared to the past. Honestly, I try not to feed it or focus on it. Of course, it still stares me in the face daily. From the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down I feel it. There is rarely a moment that is not affected by my chronic pain.

Praise God, I’m doing so much better these days. When I ponder where I used to be I can’t help but smile. It took walking a few thousand miles to get to this point. It took walking by faith through the fire and trusting God for my breakthrough. I basically continue with the same faith plan everyday I get up.

The past few weeks I finally started the early editing of my future book. I have over 400 pages of journaling that no one has ever read in the past. In these writings, you can taste my pain and clearly see my faith steps. I believe my first ever 40 day faith walking notes will help many find their own breakthrough.

When it comes to a recovery lifestyle there is no one size fits all. However, there are faith principles that help us all move forward. Everything found in this book will be exactly what got me here and is still taking me further. I want all who live in chronic pain to know that things can change with God’s help. Even when things don’t change God’s grace is sufficient.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

This Virus Is Getting Old

If we’re honest, we’ve all been highly impacted by this Coronavirus. To a degree we feel like we’ve been put on permanent house arrest. Sure, the first couple weeks were not that bad. However, we’re on the seventh week of seeing the same old faces and having no clear end in sight. Let’s be real, after awhile even the closest of family comes close to killing each other.

Now, it’s not like we’ve been living in the woods. We’ve got cozy beds, chilled homes, plenty of food and social media. Yet, somehow that still isn’t enough to fill the voids within us. Not to mention that nothing feels normal outside of our homes. We’re in the same world, but it feels like we’re miles apart. That six foot rule keeps us from hand shakes, hugs and people we love.

Honestly, I have a hate/love relationship towards this virus. I hate that it separates us from family and friends. I hate that it takes away meaningful connection points in society. I hate the way it interrupts life as we once knew it. But, I love the painful reality check it’s giving us daily. I love how God is getting so many people’s full attention. I love how it’s building our faith and rearranging our priorities. There is no denying that it’s impacting us all in some way, shape or form.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Everyone Should Be Awake Now

We’re all still shaking our heads in disbelief. This season feels much like we’re all on house arrest. Sure, things could always get worse. But, right now we all feel stuck. Most decisions concerning the outside world appear out of our hands.

In the meantime, life just keeps on going. We still have to pay our bills. We still have to take care of our families. We still long for life to go back to normal. Yet, deep down we all know normal is nowhere in sight.

So, we keep waiting, watching and praying. Hopefully, by this point we’re all praying not my will, but Thy will be done. Personally, I would hate to go through all of this and God still not have my full attention. Sure, this season has definitely worn out it’s welcome. However, it’s obvious God is seeking to rearrange our perspective, priorities, and world as we once knew them.

“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:14-17

Teachers I See Your Heart

Many people have jobs where they seek to give their best. This unpredictable season has proven most everyone’s job truly matters in some shape or form. However, there are certain jobs, like teaching, that are simply a calling. It doesn’t mean that this job doesn’t require lots of work, but being a teacher is one of those jobs most only do because they feel called to do so.

As someone who is in a God called ministry profession, I know what it feels like to wake up each morning just seeking to carry out God’s orders. Being raised by a God called pastor and school teacher I’m sure it has impacted my viewpoint. Honestly, most teachers I’ve known demonstrate a true sense of calling to teach and care for their students. Sure, they know it’s certainly not a get rich profession or easy to do. Yet, their calling makes it a joy and not just a job.

Recently, I truly sought to put myself in teacher’s shoes. How would I feel if you took away my platform to love and influence lives? The truth is most teachers know their job is way more than just lecturing students. It’s seeking to be there for those who really need somebody to care. Teachers get up and show up to encourage, instruct, and positively influence those God has put in their classrooms.

Teachers, I know you understand not finishing this school year was the safest decision for all. I also know many of you are sincerely sad. Not because you don’t have to get up early and work long hours each day, but because you sincerely care about educating, loving, and being there for our children.

The great news is your value has now been seen by many. Hopefully, this season of sabbatical brings you back to your God called position stronger than ever. I know many parents will be very grateful when you can go back to being the educators. Who knows, even the students may come back with a whole new appreciation for you all.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

Only In The Storm

If we’re honest, the only time God has our absolute full attention is in the storm. When we totally feel we’re at His mercy. When we totally feel out of control. When we know the only way forward is by faith. When the only thing bigger than the storm in front of us is the God with us.

For these reasons and many more. God has to allow us to go through certain storms. Where we have to look up for help. Where we have to pray earnestly and constantly. These are the only times we fully realize our desperate need for divine intervention. These are the times we truly realize that man makes plans, but God determines our steps.

In the midst of nonstop doubt and fear. Storms can really cloud our perspective. Even still, there’s just no denying God does His greatest work in the madness. As our knees learn how to keep bowing before an almighty, all knowing, and always loving God. As we see God’s hand of mercy, grace, and protection . No, God doesn’t always calm the storm. Yet, somehow He always calms His child as we seek His face for refuge.

(Psalm 46:1) God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

After The Storm

Last night, I was unexpectedly tortured by nerve pain God has been keeping calm for months. Unfortunately, it’s been very hard to stick to my normally strict diet during this quarantine season. My body lit up within like someone had started a forest fire inside of me. I can’t adequately explain what I felt for what seemed like forever. I took every kind of medication I had just hoping to calm my unbearable pain. Eventually I just fell asleep and my nerves eventually settled down.

When I woke up this morning I immediately started back on my diet. God has proven this definitely works to keep me feeling healthy. I also woke up this morning with a completely new perspective. God has been so good to me for so many days and nights. I’ve been living almost pain free most days for many months. I’ve had so many more good days than bad.

I’m now so grateful for bearable pain. I’m grateful that God has given me answers and a window for healing. God’s grace and mercy has allowed me to still continue living and pastoring. There were definitely many days in the past that I thought I would have to resign from ministry. So, I’m glad I experienced my recent insane pain. Because of that storm and my present relief. I’m now seeing this as a totally God made day.

“O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.” Psalm 59:17

The Dam Broke

The pain running throughout my body is totally debilitating. You would think a dam gave way allowing all my pain to flood back into me. Obviously, something not good for me has gotten into my system. I’ve not had pain like this in what feels like forever. Every part of my body is aching and my heart is pounding.

This nonstop pain drains everything out of me. Breathing is a chore as the pain is breathtaking. I thank God for giving me relief for so long. And, I’m sure I will find relief again soon. However, for now it has all come back on me with a vengeance.

I certainly did not see this coming. You would think I had some bad flu. The last two days have not been easy ones. Now, things seem to be escalating to pure misery. I’ve taken extra meds that should eventually help me sleep. Yet, for now I’m fully engulfed in the flames of this agonizing nerve pain.

“Lord, have mercy on me because I am weak. Heal me, Lord, because my bones ache.” Psalm 6:2

My Life Feels Upside Down

Most of us have been thrown totally out of our normal routines. Our days and nights have felt upside down forever. Like someone embracing a new work shift. This season of chaos has forced us to embrace a totally new way of life. All we can do is adjust and make the most of our current situation.

While we all have things we wish could change. Some of you are dealing with things that are really making your heart pound. Maybe you just need a hug and someone’s physical presence. Maybe you’re not sure how you will pay that next bill. Maybe you have young kids that are absolutely wearing you out. Maybe you’re really scared because you have certain underlying health issues.

All I know is these times elevate our insecurities and desire for predictability. We want to feel like we’re calling the shots in our life. Instead, we feel like we’re totally at the mercy of an Almighty God. Honestly, God should have our full attention by now. I’ve certainly found that He is my only true refuge and strength.

Personally, I just keep seeking to free fall into Gods arms. I’ve been through much tougher seasons in my past. However, this pandemic season is still brand new to me too. I just keep asking God to show me what He wants me to see and do through this season. I know God has a plan even now. I don’t want to miss those lessons that ultimately lead to God’s blessings.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Momma Is Exhausted

Our family of six just began day 32 of this never ending quarantine. My boys are ages 20, 18, 16, and 10. Everyone of them are a momma’s boy whether they admit it or not. The positive thing is due to school closings and jobs cancelled everyone is under one roof for this season. The problem is my wife treats everyone like royalty.

My wife basically runs a 5 bedroom hotel. She fixes homemade meals daily. Beyond that she takes special orders and actually delivers them to each selective room. Much of the time she’s also been playing school teacher to my 10 year old. Add to all of this constant cleaning, dishes and laundry.

I have been amazed at her endurance up to this point. She’s been determined to do these things and never complains. However, I can see how battle weary she has become. We may have dodged the recent tornados, but she has definitely been affected by these winds of change. She definitely has no problems going to bed.

Mommas are certainly a rare breed in society. They give and give and give. Next thing you know they have become completely give out themselves. For all you exhausted moms out there. Please know your never ending work is very appreciated .

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:” Proverbs 31:28

So You Wanna Be A Leader?

I’m not sure where to even begin as I write this already very exhausted. What comes to mind when you hear the word. Some may say that means I get to be in charge. Some might say that must come with lots of benefits and perks. Another might say I bet that must be nice to watch everyone else actually doing the work.

Any real leader is sitting back thinking you have no clue. Being a true leader is not for the faint at heart. It takes great courage, endurance and faith. You have to not only make sure others do their work, but you have to shoulder the weight of it all. There is no just clocking in and out of some position. Your job is never ending as you work tirelessly to lead others towards the goal.

Leaders have to wear so many hats. Director, counselor, referee, encourager, catalyst, problem solver, educator, trainer, and my least favorite the boss. Being a true leader calls for such guts and involves very little glory. Your job is never ending as you always feel the need to be a step ahead. You have keep setting the pace and example for everyone else.

Yep, anyone who ever says that being a leader is easy. Well, that person has never truly been a leader. Anyone who plans to be a leader better buckle up their seat belt. Because to lead anyone or anything is rarely a cake walk. The longer I lead the more I realize that’s just the way it is.

If being a leader were easy, then everyone would be one. However, that opportunity only comes to those ready to embrace its demands. Leadership provides the opportunity to make a great difference. Decision by decision you get to help everyone succeed. Your efforts may go unnoticed, but your impact can’t be denied. Yes, leaders wear a very heavy hat. But, they also have the chance to inspire others towards a greater cause than themselves.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1

Easter Will Feel Different

For the first time in 45 years things will be quite different. I won’t worry about what I will wear. I won’t eat lunch at my parent’s house. In fact, I won’t even be gathering with others inside of a church. That certainly doesn’t sound like any Easter Sunday in my past. Yet, that’s the reality for so many this year due to this present pandemic.

Now, I prepared my heart out to preach the gospel to thousands online. In fact, this year’s Easter services have taken more man hours and prayer than ever before. God has taken myself and pastors all over this country out of our comfort zones. We’re having to truly learn how to minister beyond the walls of the church. This greater challenge has also brought with it greater expectations.

Most project that more people will hear the gospel this Easter than ever before in world history. Most won’t even have to leave their home. They can tune in with just a cup of coffee and their cell phone in hand. Churches all over the country will be filling up live feeds talking about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Regardless of all the change and missed traditions. The volume of people that will be reached with the good news will be well worth the inconvenience.

So, I encourage you to not feel like you’ve missed Easter. Easter has not been cancelled even if many church doors will be closed. This is an opportunity to focus on the true reason for the season. May we each choose to still celebrate this Resurrection Sunday. May we also play our part in helping others discover a reason to celebrate themselves.

At Refuge Church, it’s never been our goal to just have church. God has called us to be the church. We aim daily to love, lift, and lead people to Jesus. So, while it might feel very different, the opportunities are many this year. I pray you invite others to join you in watching one of our four online services at 9:15am, 11am, 3pm or 7pm on Facebook. If we do our part to lift Jesus high, He will do the rest.

Jesus said, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” John 12:32

His Power In My Weakness

Today has been a very painful day. You would think I had 3 or 4 broken ribs on my right side. The pain can feel crippling with whatever is torn inside. One minute you’re nauseous and the next minute you feel like crying. I’m finally able to swallow another healing season. Only God knows how long it will take for this to ease off.

Tomorrow, if things aren’t any better I will get a pain shot. Then, maybe I will see if the doctor might prescribe me some steroids. Overall, the rest of me is doing fine. Yes, this pain is doing its best to knock the air out of my sails. However, I’m very happy to say that I’m far from waving my white flag of surrender.

This is just another test at a time when I really needed my strength. Today I had a lot to do in preparation for our Sunday Easter services. Even in one of my weakest moments I could feel the Holy Spirit picking me up. I had to rely on the same resurrection power I seek to preach to others. I keep finding that especially in my weakest moments God’s strength is so evident.

While I certainly don’t like feeling this way. I love discovering that everything doesn’t rest on my strength. It’s all about Jesus pumping through my veins. Sometimes God has to get us off his platform. Sometimes we have to fall down so that Christ can be lifted up. Praise God His strength is constant when our strength is gone.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Back In The Pain Chamber

Well, I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything about my pain. That’s been the case for a few different reasons. One, I really have experienced much better good days than bad pain wise. Two, since this pandemic started I’ve never been busier as a minister. Three, I really try not to feed my pain. As we all know, it can easily consume and define you if allowed.

Honestly, most of my past chronic pain issues are managed very well. Especially as I keep staying away from certain inflammatory foods and continue living a recovery lifestyle. However, I do presently have another thorn in my side. It seems I’ve got a torn muscle underneath my right rib cage. General X-rays showed there is nothing broken or fractured. However, basically any significant movement brings breath taking pain. Sadly it hurts worst now than it did two weeks ago when I tore some kind of muscle in there.

This is where my past pain really helps me. I know this too shall pass. I know time and prayer can bring healing. I know I just need to walk through this pain one step at a time. I know God will use this thorn in my side for His glory. I know there will be many ups and downs throughout this journey. And, fortunately I know God’s grace is sufficient to meet my needs.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Dear Control Freak

You would think by now you would know better. That no matter how hard you try there will be no perfect days. In fact, some days you will fall short a thousand times. I’m not trying to be pessimistic. I’m just trying to help you see these clear human facts.

Now, I appreciate your great effort. You really do strive to operate with excellence in everything you do. I see your early morning and late night routines. Your daily striving to go that extra mile does make a big difference. Even still there reaches a point where you must let go of the reigns.

You see, faith is doing all you can while trusting God for all you can’t. We all make plans, but God determines our steps. There’s always gonna be things you can’t figure out or fix. You’ve gotta rest those things in God’s hands. Otherwise, your load will be too heavy and your spirit will stay restless.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

P.S. This is a struggle I face everyday.

5 Reasons I Love This Season

These are troubling times for many. I could list a hundred reasons why that is truly the case. Even still there’s always good things to celebrate even in the valley. Depending on your viewpoint right now you might disagree with me. But, I can tell you five things that are really good about this never ending season of quarantine.

First of all, faith is no longer just an option. Americans have been driven out of their comfort zones and hopefully to their knees. Before many felt like they were in control. Now, it seems there’s nothing concrete about the days ahead. All we know is God has given us another day. We must trust what God does know in the midst of all we don’t know.

Secondly, churches have been pushed outside their walls. This may be one of the biggest most overlooked blessings of this century for sure. The closing of church buildings everywhere has challenged believers to be the church. To consider a lifestyle of faith not just a place of faith. People long ago quit running to churches. It’s beyond time for churches to start running to them.

Thirdly, I see the resurgence of gratefulness. This lockdown has changed most people’s life approach. Forcing us to appreciate things we often took for granted. Now, many would be grateful to go shopping or out to eat. Many would love to have a job, still be in school or be able to attend a church on Sundays. So many used to be little things are now considered big things.

Fourthly, I see many valuing real relationships. Suddenly we actually have time for one another. We care deeply about what’s going both inside and outside of our home. Now, that sporting events are no longer our main worship event. We actually see the need for conversation and developing priceless relationships with family and friends.

Lastly, I see a culture that should not go back to the way things used to be. Before we were just going through the motions of this busy life. Suddenly we’re all forced to be still and know that He is God. Lord Jesus, may we not go back to living the same old way. May we choose to realize this is your world we’ve just been blessed to live in it. May we live in such a way that gives you the honor and the glory so deserved.

Sometimes God has to remove the distractions and chosen idols. We all have them we just don’t realize their holding power until they are removed. So please join me in fully surrendering to God. He still has a plan for each of us still breathing. Let’s choose to seek His will in the remainder of our short stay here on planet earth.

“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. Instead you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:13-17)

Seek Him Now

This past Monday before 5am God woke me up. I was still very tired and could’ve easily gone back to sleep. However, I couldn’t with all God was flooding to my heart. It was only the second time ever that God spoke to me so clearly in a dream. He literally told me everything I was to preach about this coming Sunday. So, I sat up in my bed and wrote down every single word God told me.

The last God dream I had was back in 2007. At that time, God made it very clear that one day I would be preaching to masses of people. In that dream, I could see every tribe and nationality throughout the world. I’ve never forgotten how overwhelmed I felt by all God was revealing. I didn’t understand then and I don’t know fully understand now, how I’m supposed to carry out such a big vision. Fortunately, it’s not my job to figure anything out. My job is to seek God and go where He leads.

I found one thing in common with both of these God dreams. They both came in seasons I was seeking God more than ever before. I wasn’t looking for just a religious experience. I was looking for even deeper fellowship with God. I was in total pursuit of God’s perfect heart and perfect will. It makes me wonder what God dreams I may have missed in the past. After all, it is the way we’re all called to seek the Lord if He is to be found by us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

“In the last days,’ God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17

Living In Uncertain Days

Right now, most of us are totally out of our comfort zone. Yesterday’s normal feels long gone. Kids can’t go to school, businesses can’t stay open and even churches can’t gather together. Everyday makes us feel like we’ve been thrown into a prison of sorts. Especially when we’ve been ordered not to leave our home for anything not essential. Jobs are being lost, bills are stacking up, and anxiety is rising every direction.

All of the above, is on top of this pandemic that threatens many lives. We’re fighting a virus that preys on the vulnerable and even those with no underlying health issues. We just don’t know how long we will stay in this waiting chamber. We’ve been forced to pray more and free fall into God’s wide open arms. Especially the longer that none of us feel in control of anything.

Now, I could go on and on about what doesn’t seem certain. Instead, I feel led to point out what is certain. Jesus is certain and He won’t ever change. He will always be with us for better or worse. God has certain plans even if they don’t make sense to us. God is certain He will make a way when there seems to be no way. We must choose to rely on His goodness, faithfulness, and the fact He never changes.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

The Pastor’s Wife

I’ve lived with one practically my entire life. I grew up the son of a pastor. So, I saw early on the value of a pastor’s wife. Enough to know that if I was going to live out my clear calling from God. I needed to marry a woman of great character and faith myself. Someone who didn’t just see pastoring as my calling, but our calling.

In many respects, my wife and I are total opposites. I don’t meet a stranger and she doesn’t like to bother one. I see things through a very narrow lens. She sees things with a much broader perspective. I live in a constant state of doing. She shows me how to live in a state of being. I tend to speak impulsively. She always thinks before she says a word.

All this to say we’re both very different, but certainly a team. There’s no doubt she is the greater link. She’s that part of ministry no one really sees her many sacrifices. Daily, quietly and willingly she supports me in every way humanly possible . Behind the scenes she gracefully walks beside me for better or worse. Even beyond my countless imperfections she loves me towards becoming a better man.

Honestly, I don’t know how any pastor makes it without the right wife. Both pastor’s wives I’ve lived with have been the biggest difference makers. Both inside and outside the home their impact is felt. They usually stabilize inside the home while the pastor’s mind is often on those outside their home. Their unconditional love makes the pastor on the outside a much better man on the inside.

Sadly, most pastor’s wives are way too overlooked. They give way more than is ever recognized or rewarded. They put up with way more than most could imagine. However, their impact on us daily contributes greatly towards our impact on others. This is why my heart celebrates my wife daily. For without a great pastor’s wife there would be very few effective pastors.

“Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” Proverbs 31:28

When Will I See You Again?

At the present time it’s only been two weeks. In my life, it feels like two years. This was my second Sunday in a row preaching to only a camera and empty seats. Sure, I can see God at work in the midst of this pandemic. In fact, I’m certain God is doing even more now than before. That’s largely due to God having a lot more of our undivided attention.

Even still, there’s a deep desire for things to just go back to normal. I miss seeing a church full of worshippers. I miss hugging someone’s neck and not worrying about this Coronavirus. I miss sitting down for a good meal inside my favorite restaurant. I miss seeing family and friends that are usually a normal part of my life.

Honestly, I wonder when I will see you again. My only peace comes in knowing God often does His greatest work in times of great crisis. When we feel like things are at a standstill. This is usually when God has us full time in His workshop.

These seasons demand patience and enduring faith. Faith that God is not sleeping. Instead, God is working nonstop on us, around us, and despite us. On the other side of this waiting period, we will see God was creating a masterpiece all along. Even in the midst of what often only feels like madness.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

The Time Is Now

I’ve not been writing like I have in the past. Now, I feel the need to process the heaviness all around me. In fact, who am I kidding. There are plenty of alarms going off within me. We’re all somewhere we’ve never been before. Honestly, you would think the sky is falling down.

As a pastor I see things through much different lenses than most. Sure, I see the worries and concerns like most. However, most of all I see many who need Jesus more than ever. I see lots of people hurting, confused, and afraid of what tomorrow might bring. There’s so many down around me. I’m having to just reach them one by one as time allows.

Quickly into this journey I’m having to realize I’m not the savior. God just wants me to make myself completely available for His work. The times may be different, but the harvest is plentiful. God just needs His ambassadors to all report to full time duty. It’s time for the church to be the church. It’s time for every Christ follower to live out their God given mission instead of just talking about it.

So, if you already know Jesus as your personal savior and Lord. You are way more blessed than most. You have the hope and the anchor needed to weather such times. Now, you need to play your part in helping others find that same anchor named Jesus. Don’t live selfishly, but seize this opportunistic season.

People are searching for hope. Will they find hope through you? They may be family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates or total strangers God puts in your path. Don’t miss a moment of sharing how Jesus has changed your life and could change their life. Just as important demonstrate that change. Care enough to do all that you can to lead just one soul to eternal hope in Christ. May Christlike compassion flow through your veins. May it compel you to action just as it did Jesus himself.

“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Mark 9:35-37

The Anxiety Level Is High

Day by day this Coronavirus is changing our usual way of life. Kids are no longer in school. Young families are simply surviving and trying to adjust. Older adults and others with weaker immune systems aren’t sure what they can do without being at a major risk. Businesses, schools, restaurants, and even churches are having to find alternative ways to even stay open.

Social distancing is becoming the biggest topic of conversation. Many are afraid to hug or handshake anyone. This uncharted virus makes you second guess whether you should even visit your aging parents or grandparents. Social media and television news is flooding us with fear and overloaded negativity. Sure, we need to be informed but there comes a point where it just overloads your mental capacity.

What’s more unsettling is it seems this war with the Coronavirus is just beginning it’s impact. Colleges and schools are already canceling the remainder of the school year. Restrictions of what people cannot do is rising by the day. Who knows what this means for many physically, financially, vocationally, emotionally and mentally. There’s no denying that intense stress alone can push anyone over the edge.

All this to say the clouds of anxiety are very thick throughout America right now. We can make light of it all we want. But, the closer it keeps hitting home, the more it won’t be a laughing matter. We need to pray more than ever before. We need to give God all our anxious thoughts and greatest fears. We need to recognize God’s goodness and faithfulness through it all.

While our lives may be turned upside down for a season. God is still holding us together and providing for our every need. One could argue we often need perspective wake up calls. You can bet that when things return back to normal. Our normal everyday privileges won’t be taken for granted.

God’s word is clear what it takes to find real peace. We must turn everything we can’t handle over to God. We must thank God for all He is handling. We must keep believing that God is faithful especially to those who seek to live faithful to Him. Join with me in giving God your every anxiety and all the praise due His name. It’s only then you can have lasting peace beyond all understanding.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Better Late Than Never

My wife and I are in the 27th year of getting to know one another. This is our 23rd year of marriage after dating four years prior. She’s been a near perfect wife most of our journey together. On the other hand I’ve always had perfect intentions. However, my actions and words have not always matched my intentions.

For years I’ve been taking notes from my wife. She gracefully shows me what unconditional love looks like in a spouse. She acts with such patience and kindness. Her love compels me to want to love her more. Even more to demonstrate such love to her everyday.

Yep! I’m still learning how to love her the Jesus way. Finally, I’m focused on showing her she is the number one earthly love of my life. Outside of seeking to love God with all my heart she is supposed to be my first priority. I hope to be an example to all four of my boys. I want them to see that love can grow and last a lifetime. This is only possible when two people choose to walk with God and each other with love no matter what life brings!

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Sleep Where Are You?

For nearly two weeks I’ve not been able to sleep like I once could for so long. My body has proven in the past that I typically need at least 8 hours of nightly rest for my body to function well. I’ve been averaging maybe 6 hours of daily sleep. Even that sleep has been full of tossing, turning and nonstop dreaming. And all of those hours have been scattered here and there.

There’s only a few things that I know have changed. One I did reduce my nightly Neurontin by 300mg two weeks ago. I’ve officially reduced my daily dose from 3600mg to now 1800mg. My mind is much clearer and I’m able to focus longer. But, maybe that extra 300mg of Neurontin at night was helping me sleep a lot more than I realized.

The other likely factor would be my activity. Two weeks ago I was walking nearly 5 miles per day and keeping constant balanced movement. The past 2 weeks I’ve had a lot more responsibility on me. I’ve sat way too many hours straight throughout the day. Planning, preparing and counseling obviously can’t substitute for physical exercise.

Now, I won’t be increasing or deceasing my Neurontin intake anytime soon. It took me way too much sweat, tears and prayers to reduce that by 50%. So, I’ve got to get myself back on a more balanced schedule. Plus I’ve got to make time to exercise daily. My gut tells me that increased stress mixed with decreased exercise is never a good combo.

Well, I guess I do know some things that should help better my chances for rest. I’ve just got to get some things back in order. After all, even with me taking a muscle relaxer and melatonin nightly I’m lucky if I fall asleep by 2am. The last few days it’s been after 4 am. Here it is already after 5am and I’ve still not slept a wink. Time has shown that sleep is so crucial. My mind and body can’t function long without it. My heart goes out to those who never get much sleep at night.

“His disciples replied, “Lord if he sleeps he will get better.” John 11:12

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Sometimes God Closes Doors

Closed

Right now most of our culture is in total disbelief. We hear nonstop news of this Coronavirus threat. Cancellations are happening every hour. Sporting events, schools and even churches are being shut down. This is a historic season that Americans won’t soon forget. Yet, sometimes God needs to close certain doors.

 Maybe God needed us sport lovers to quit idolizing such events. Maybe God needed to do something drastic to get our full attention. Maybe God is using all these shut downs to bring us together and closer to Him. Maybe God needed to shut the doors of the church for a greater purpose. After all, the church is more about a people than a place.

 The church I pastor, Refuge Church of Walterboro, has decided to cancel all services at least until April 5th.  Instead of dwelling on opportunities taken from us, I can’t help but see all the opportunities given to us. I actually believe God is going to use this time to make an even greater impact as we look for ways to care about people beyond the walls of the church and take the time to pray for one another and depend fully on God’s guidance.

 Instead of preaching to just a couple hundred people weekly, I will now have the opportunity to share God’s hope with a couple thousand. We will video broadcast our weekly messages each Sunday morning 9:15 and 11am. Folks can tune in on their computer wherever they might be. We are going the extra mile to make this possible with great excellence. You can listen in if you like by going to www.RefugeChurch.org.

 I truly believe that sometimes God has to close doors to open other ones. Nothing happens by chance, but only by God’s allowance. He has allowed these uncertain days to take place for a greater reason. We shouldn’t fight to feel in control. Instead, we should realize God is still in control. Even in these unprecedented days God has a plan.

 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Plenty Of Reasons To Pray

Dad, Mom & Cassy

This week has seemed in many respects like a bad dream. Far beyond my own body surprising me with much unwanted pain. I feel like the entire world around me is in panic mode. Who knows how many more places will be shutdown soon as the world stares at the threat of this Coronavirus. Even at the church I pastor we are preparing for the possibility of having to live stream future services.

My dad actually started receiving daily radiation treatments this past Tuesday. After he finishes 10 weekdays straight of radiation. It sounds like there is much more treatment to come. While we’ve certainly seen God move in very big ways. Dad’s particular cancer is just not one of those you ever totally knock out. In fact, doctors say it never really goes away. But, we’re happy for the quality moments dad has been able to enjoy considering his aggressive cancer.

Then, yesterday morning our family was dealt another big surprise. Friday morning my mom thought she was just having severe indigestion. My dad ended up having to call 911. He thought he might have to administer CPR had things kept escalating. Later hospital evaluation revealed that mom actually had a mild heart attack.

Mom remains at the hospital at least through today as she awaits further testing. God willing this will only serve as a wake up call for mom’s health. She is in good spirits and seems to not be in any major pain at this time. I will keep you all posted on what doctors and tests confirm today.

Last night they surprisingly made my dad and others leave the hospital by 7:30pm due to the present Coronavirus threat. While I understood that dad was heartbroken he couldn’t stay by mom’s side. I also knew he needed his rest and really doesn’t need to be in any hospital long. However, I learned last night that it’s hard to stop someone who’s been married over 48 years from being by his wife’s bedside. So, while wearing his much needed health mask he is headed back to the hospital early this morning.

Anyway, please keep them both in your prayers. Praise God and thanks to my strict diet I’m doing much better today. My concern is truly for those around me. Even those of you reading this that feel like nobody cares about your struggles. Well, I do and so does God. I’m praying we might all find God’s comfort and peace especially during these uncertain days. Let’s all cast our worries onto God’s great big shoulders.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Need Your Prayers Again

Written: March 12th

Another difficult day in the books. This is not the kind of week I expected. In fact, I hoped that I would never feel this way again. Then, seemingly out of nowhere I find myself in this puddle of pain and distress. All I’m praying now is for this storm to pass.

This comes after experiencing one of the best weeks of my life. Now, I’m experiencing the worst week of this year. Fortunately, I’ve experienced far worse than this the past five years. So, I know I can and will get through this season. However, your faith certainly gets cloudy when you’re in the middle of such disappointment.

I’ve gone back completely on the radical diet that initially changed my life. How long it will take to right this ship I do not know. Nerve pain has been running throughout my body. It leaves me feeling so weak, nauseous and helpless. But, I’ve seen what faith and prayers can do. Please join me in praying for my much needed breakthrough. Know that I’m praying for each of you as well.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Clueless But Confident

Written: March 11th

Well, I’ve had a few rough days physically speaking. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve felt so clueless. Once again something has disrupted my entire body. This time I can’t tell you whether it’s my diet or some other contaminating component. All I know is I once again feel miserable and on fire inside.

Everyday has gotten somewhat progressively worse. It all started shortly after getting home from our week long cruise. Daily I’ve had some equilibrium issues after being on a somewhat rocky ship. This plus the fact I definitely got away from my normal strict diet for an entire week. By God’s grace it didn’t catch me until I got back home.

Now, I’m left to recover from my risky life choices. My hands and feet are back to intensely itching. I had been taking daily doctor prescribed drops to counter any potential food allergies. Maybe they were helping way more than I assumed. So, I just started back tonight following previous routines that somehow kept me sane and thriving.

All I know is the surgical area in my lower back is very inflamed. The least little thing is sending indescribable sensations all throughout my body. I have not felt anything like this in a good five to six months. I’m definitely in another testing season of my faith.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6

God Will Reward You

We live in a world that is used to living on two different planets. Sometimes we socialize on earth. Most today primarily socialize on the internet. Yes, technology has made it possible for us to be connected to the entire world at once. Technology has also overwhelmed and distracted us in many ways.

To counter the negative effects of social media. God has often led me to fast from it many times. To step away from keeping up with what everyone else is saying or doing. Instead, to focus on what God is saying and wanting me to do. I’ve stayed away from social media as long as eighty days straight before. This time God has led me to take a 10 day fast from any online distractions.

Well, it’s only been 36 hours and God is already rewarding me. I’ve got way more clarity, focus, and a greater sense of peace. My prayer life has been elevated. God has been revealing things in my life that need to change or be readjusted. God has my full attention as I continue to push aside anything necessary in my pursuit of His will.

What has God revealed to you that needs to change or go in your life? What might you intentionally fast from so that you can more intentionally pursue God? I can promise you nothing in this world can satisfy you like Jesus. Don’t let your sin or out of order priorities hinder your pursuit of God. I can promise you God will reward your wholehearted pursuit of Him every time.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

If Our Children Only Knew

I’ve been a parent for 20 1/2 years. Not long enough to know everything. But, long enough to know certain things to be true. I love our four boys more than they can ever understand right now. Mainly because none of them have been a parent themselves. One day God willing they will understand once they have children of their own.

If our children only knew how much we think about them. If our children only knew how much our lives revolve around them. If our children only knew that everything we do or say is for their own good. If our children only knew how many nights we toss and turn hoping they will be okay. If our children only knew how much we daily sacrifice and endure just to make sure they have a brighter tomorrow.

Guess that’s why they are the children and we are the parents. It’s our God given job to protect, provide, and purposely lead them by example. It’s our privilege to pray for God’s will to be done in their life. Sure it’s a task way bigger than us. But, what a joy it is to be a vessel God has chosen. To be called to care for God’s most prized creation. Maybe it’s best they don’t know everything for now.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

The Struggle Is Real

Just hours ago I would’ve said I’m doing great considering. I was and still am very grateful for the blessings in my life. However, I don’t think I’ve gone an entire day all week without the air being knocked out of my sails. It never feels good. Nor is it easy to just get over how I feel.

Time has proven I simply never know when my nerves are gonna go crazy. In just a matter of seconds my nerve pain can escalate. Therefore, I’ve spent the last two hours feeling like I’m burning inside all over. The tingling is running from my feet into my face. All I have going for me is much experience and perspective with these episodes. I’m experienced enough to know I’ve got to call it a night.

So, here I am again heading to bed at 8pm on a Saturday night. I’ve taken my nighttime medications early and hoping they kick in soon. I’m well aware that many, many have it far worse than me. And, I have such a sincere compassion for all who struggle. So, if you’re struggling know that you’re not alone and I’m praying for you.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:7-9

Wake Up Sleeper

Well, last night was pretty rough. But I ended up getting nearly 10 hours of sleep with the help of medications. Anytime my body crashes it’s like recovering from some internal seizure. My entire body just aches all over and demands rest to recoup. Once I got that much needed rest I felt like a brand new person.

For the most part I feel back on track. This cold front moving in is doing me no favors. But, I’m back to eating wisely and living with a recovery mindset. Meaning I’m doing all I can while trusting God to do what I can’t. Overall, this has been a pretty good day.

God once again has my full attention. I find my degree of felt brokenness is always linked to my degree of openness. Sadly we often try to hit spiritual cruise control the moment we feel we have things under control. So, for the sake of drawing me closer to God I’m grateful for the awakening pain.

“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14

I Just Have To Remember

I’ve been at this point what seems like a thousand times. Oh how tough it is to keep eating different than most people all the time. I’ve not eaten quite as strictly for nearly a week. Today, it’s just finally caught up to me. My neuropathy has been back to running from my feet to my face. It’s a constant sensation you never get used to experiencing. It turns your plans upside down.

Thank God I’m much better than I was earlier. I just spent the entire evening in the tub out of necessity. It’s in these moments the enemy wants to take me back to the old days. Constant feelings of misery make it really hard to look past the moment. Even when I’ve seen God take me to higher ground so many times.

Fortunately, I know in my heart I this season will pass eventually. It may not pass as quickly as I would prefer. The enemy has really sought to knock the air out of my sails all week. Therefore, I’ve got to rely on all of God’s past faithfulness. Otherwise, I won’t have enough faith to see beyond this present discomfort. It’s always tough, but I’ve certainly experienced tougher. Those days in the past seemed absolutely hopeless. But, it’s those days gone by that now assure me of hope today.

“I remember the days gone by; I think about all that you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds.” Psalm 143:5

Gotta Stay Prepared

Preaching on Sundays is never something I take lightly. I prayerfully prepare all week to the best of my ability. I ask God to direct my every thought. To give me the message He would have communicated. Then, I ask God to help me share it with great clarity, power, truth, and grace.

Being a pastor makes many things challenging. You never really feel off the clock. I’m fact, you don’t feel like you’ve been hired by anyone. You feel called by God to be available any time He plans to use you. So, it can be really hard to plan other things in life. Spending time with family or just resting your own mind is tough.

Earlier this afternoon I got back from a great two day trip with my family. I always look forward to any quality time we can spend together. But, now it’s time to switch gears. To get my mind focused on the mission before me. This Sunday I will once again trust God to deliver through me. The message He alone gave to me. Fortunately, He never lets me down.

“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

A Total Setup By God

It’s been over 9 hours since I heard the news. Since God showed up and showed out on my dad’s behalf. I’m still wondering when I’m gonna wake up from this dream. No matter when I think of what God has done. I just keep shaking my head. I’ve never felt more awe struck and speechless in my life.

Earlier this evening I had a conversation with my dad by phone. Him and mom were home playing cards. In some ways it feels like dad has totally bypassed the healing stage. After all he was just one month into what we knew would be at least a six to nine month chemo journey.

Dad said the doctor just kept saying “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.” Dad didn’t know if that was good or bad in the moment. Then, she said “Mr Crosby you won’t be having to take anymore chemo.” Once again dad’s heart dropped figuring all hope must be lost. He’s like what do you mean I’m all done with chemotherapy since I just got started.

That’s when the doctor tried her best to explain this miracle. That somehow all his cancer numbers had changed. In fact, they went from really bad to really good seemingly overnight. We’re talking after nearly a month of absolutely no chemo treatments. She said “According to these numbers you’re cancer is in full remission. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.”

Dad said him and mom just looked at each other teary eyed and speechless. Both of them in total disbelief of what was being said. Mom asked “So you’re saying no more treatment is necessary? That his cancer is in full remission?” No wonder mom still sounded like she had seen an angel when she called me. She was startled, amazed, and overjoyed all at the same time.

I have no doubt that I will never forget this day the rest of my short life. Today God revealed His great power. Today God set things up where only He could get the glory. Today God answered a lot of prayers and extended my daddy’s life. I will be forever grateful for this miracle.

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:1-3

I’ve Seen Enough To Pray More

I’ve decided I must write this while I’m at my highest point of confident faith. I’ve seen a lot the past 5 years alone. I’ve seen God resurrect a little boy who was sure to leave this earth. I’ve seen God restore my health, life and ministry. Now, I’ve seen God take the prayers of many and put my dad’s advanced stage cancer into total remission. When none of this seemed possible!

There’s no way I can walk forward with the same faith as before. Not after seeing God do the seemingly impossible time and time again. I truly believe God has meant for all I’ve seen to take my faith higher. To never leave me the same for the glory of His name.

Honestly, God has shown me the most through my now 10 year old. He prayed relentlessly for me when all I could do was lie in a bed of misery. He prayed for my dad’s healing from cancer way more than I did to be honest. Now dad’s cancer is in full remission quicker than doctors could ever have imagined.

Asher just comes to God with a total childlike faith. He believes that God always cares and hears our prayers. He believes God can do anything if we just have courageous faith. He prays for so many so earnestly and wholeheartedly. It’s time for us to join Him. I will be doing all I can to create a true intercessory prayer ministry. I’m convinced now that the biggest God sized things can only happen through prayer.

“And Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:29

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT !!!

I just got a phone call from my mom. She was very hard to understand due to her intense crying. My heart dropped as the only words I could understand at first were “Your Daddy.” As her voice got clearer I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Could this really be true!

They had just left the cancer doctor’s office. As many know my dad was just diagnosed 54 days ago with Multiple Myeloma Cancer. It was not just in its early stages. He has spots on his hips, spine, ribs, shoulders and even in his skull. We’ve known that he was in the most advanced stage of this particular cancer. Especially since his kidneys have functioned as low as 13-15%.

Over 3 weeks ago dad had to take a break from his twice a week chemo injections. It was just too brutal on his body and he was rapidly losing more weight. We knew this was a risk since time was not on his side. This cancer needed to be pushed back aggressively. However, we just had to trust God in these deep waters of uncertainty.

My 9yr old Asher who prays with his granddaddy every night. He just told me yesterday that when we pray even cancer can’t kill us. Well, from this point forward I’m choosing to believe my 9yr old. The doctor just informed my dad that HIS CANCER IS IN REMISSION.

His cancer doctor said she’s never seen anything like this before. That it had to be an act of God knowing how dad’s numbers have been. Knowing that dad only had a little over a month of treatment! They will be running the numbers once more just to be sure. But, for now WE HAVE RECEIVED OUR MIRACLE.

My mom’s tears were happy tears of almost disbelief. My heart is still pounding from that phone call. I can’t believe it God!!! I can’t believe it GOD. This has raised my faith to the highest level possible. I feel like I’m dreaming since I knew there was nothing much man could do. BUT, GOD JUST DID IT for the glory of HIS NAME!

“Jesus said, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

My Daddy Made It

Today marked exactly 50 days since we discovered my dad is fighting cancer. I would say that was the exact day my entire life perspective drastically changed. So often we think we’ve got forever on this earth. Then something exposes our humanity and the brevity of life. All things considered dad is doing the best possible at this point in his chemo journey.

Dad spent the Christmas holidays in the hospital. Then, he came home and we all just started breathing in life’s daily uncertainties. There’s been a lot of tears, prayers, and deep pondering moments. The past month my 9 year old has called my dad most nights. He just says “Grandaddy I’ve called to pray with you tonight.” Then dad simply says, “you go right ahead. I will take all the prayers I can get.” This has been very moving to watch every step of the way.

Every night this past week my 9yr old kept telling his Grandaddy about his birthday party. He was like a kid waiting on Christmas daily. His face would light up as he asked his granddaddy if him and Mimi would be able to come to his birthday. Of course, my dad said he wouldn’t miss it for anything. However, I knew deep down only time would tell if that was possible. Sadly, I didn’t feel I could fully explain that to a 9yr old boy.

I’ve never been so glad to see someone arrive at a birthday party. There dad was right behind the happiest birthday boy ever. He might not have felt like it. But, he made it and I’m sure my son felt it was a total answer to his prayers. I don’t think there will be anything moving forward I will take for granted. Each of us must know that today or tomorrow is never promised. So, love others while you can and celebrate every blessed moment from God above.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Best I’ve Felt In 5 Years

It’s been a long week full of discovery. This past Tuesday I spent all day getting allergy testing. I’ve waited for this appointment for nearly four months. Anxiously I’ve wondered what allergies might be triggering my nerve pain. After 25 shots in the arm I finally left with some answers.

First, it was discovered that I’m not allergic at all to titanium. This is awesome because I have plenty of it implanted in my body. Also, I have no allergic reactions to dairy, Gluten, Splenda or bakers yeast. However, I do have a reaction to dust mites, whole wheat, corn, cane sugar and for sure caffeine. All the other reactions were average. But, my reaction to caffeine was off the charts. This only confirmed what time has proven.

After my allergy testing I got to see my doctor one last time at the Center For Occupational and Environmental Medicine. It was the end of a four month discovery season. We discussed how my diet alone has changed my life all together. We talked about how I can continue to learn and take notes on my journey. Due to my allergic reaction to dust mites they suggested I get zip up allergy covers for all my pillows and mattress. The doctor was very pleased with my progress overall in such a short period of time.

Today I had a follow up with my pain management doctor. We began by deleting from the computer several medications I no longer take. We also put together a plan to help me continue my med reduction. The main reason for this appointment was to discuss my last shot and schedule my upcoming steroid injection.

For the first time ever I was informed of the dangers of too many steroid injections. Turns out that overtime these shots can make your bones begin to crumble along with other possible side effects. My doctor suggested I postpone my next shot. He wants me to wait until I know I need the greater relief. Considering I’ve had so many of these shots I certainly agreed to the plan. I left out of this doctor’s appointment all smiles.

I’m by far doing the best I’ve been in nearly 5 years. It’s been a combination of daily diet, medications, and a constant recovery lifestyle. God has been so good to me. I never thought I could reach this point after so many dreadful, tearful, and painful days. I’ve even dropped my blood pressure meds. I’m now 5 ‘11 and only 165 lbs. I was 205 lbs just a year ago. I’M SO GRATEFUL FOR GOD’S GRACE!

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Some Good News About Dad

Haven’t updated you guys lately concerning my dad. His pain and nausea have been much more under control in recent days. His doctor gave him a two week break from his chemo injections. Mainly so his body could get some much needed rest. However, he will get another infusion tomorrow.

Overall, I can sense my dad getting some stronger. Mentally, physically, emotionally and for sure spiritually he is progressing. He got an MRI yesterday to see how much the cancer may have impacted his hips. He spends a great deal of time in the tub to ease that pain. At least that’s something he can do to keep walking through this pain.

Today, dad saw his kidney doctor for the first time in a month. When the cancer was first diagnosed dad’s kidneys were functioning 13-15 %. Now, they are operating around 35%. Dad told my nine year old his prayers were working. This is a very big deal as we knew dialysis was a possibility if things kept declining. What an awesome God we serve. Thanks for all your prayers. Please keep lifting dad and mom up to the God of the impossible.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

Daddy Days

Tonight is one of my favorite nights. We call it “Daddy Day.” Asher Crosby and I have been spending a weekly night together the past 4-5 years. I wish I could say I started this tradition with my oldest 3 boys. However, I did learn from them that time goes by way too fast.

Asher turns 10 years old this month. I pray the daddy days I have with him now. Will matter even more deeply to him later in life. We eat, we talk, and we treasure the opportunity to be together. I highly recommend this for your heart and their heart.

You could do this as a parent or grandparent. It gives you a chance to look them in their eyes. To really seek to know what’s going on in their world. It sends a message that you really care and they matter so much to you. Giving your time is a huge demonstration of your love.

“Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

Learning From A Boy

Today, I had the joy of visiting with my dad. He was much more comfortable than many past visits. They decided a week ago that his body needed some rest from his chemotherapy injections. However, the reality of his condition is beginning to take it’s toll on him and mom. The past six weeks have felt like six months. Dad is having to embrace a lot of changes in a short period of time.

I told dad I’ve learned how to fight best through watching my youngest son. Asher will turn 10 years old this month. But, he’s been praying for me since age 5 years old. His very presence has settled by soul. His faith in God has lifted my spirits. His countless prayers have carried me through many otherwise unbearable days.

Now, the same little boy that prayed me through. Is the same little boy praying his granddaddy through. Asher calls my dad most nights to pray specifically for him. He asks God to give his granddaddy peace, courage, faith, and relief from his pain. He prays sincerely, passionately, and purposely.

Recently, when I told him Grandaddy was just real sick. That he was just having a lot of bad days. He said the following with great conviction. “Well, daddy we just need to pray more for Grandaddy. God can help him like he helped you.” That really hit my heart.

I told my dad my faith has grown so much. One, because I’ve witnessed a huge healing miracle in my own life. Two, because I keep seeing a little boy who still prays and believes in miracles. His child like faith moves my heart to believe God for the otherwise impossible.

“But Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

What Kobe Bryant Taught Us

By now most of America has heard the news. Even if you aren’t a sports fan. The sudden death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has dominated headlines. In fact, it seems his sudden death has grabbed the hearts of so many. I think I know why and it has little to do with basketball.

One, Kobe was only 41 years old. His daughter Gigi was only 13 years old. Both seemed to have lots of life in front of them. Until the helicopter they were riding suddenly crashed killing them and 7 other passengers. The others on board were ages 13, 14, 38, 45, 46, 50, and 56. None of these folks believed death was just ahead.

Two, sometimes we think celebrities are invincible. Surely there fortunes and fame will protect them. Yet, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank. It doesn’t matter if you’re flying first class or last. Death is no respecter of age, position, finances, or fame. Death can come like a thief in the night for anyone at anytime.

Three, it just doesn’t seem right. Honestly, many deaths never seem right. Life and death is not in our hands. Only God knows our birth date and our eternal transition date. It often takes us by complete surprise. However, nothing takes God by surprise. He always sees the bigger picture.

Now, hopefully all that were on board that helicopter were prepared to meet their maker. Sadly, none of them will be given a second chance. What about you and me? Are we living like we’re dying? Are we more prepared for a Super Bowl party than for where we might spend eternity?

Honestly, no man knows the day or hour. Today, could be your last chance to get things right with God. I can promise you this my friends. One day we too will die and give account of ourselves to God. All that will matter is two things. One, did you know Jesus as your personal savior and Lord? Two, did you seek to live this life your way or God’s way?

Honestly, I too am saddened by Kobe Bryant’s passing. For some reason it feels like a dear loved one has suddenly passed away. I guess basketball just gave him a huge platform. In this life, Kobe taught many the game of basketball. Through his sudden death he taught us all we better have an eternal plan in place. For this life is very short. Eternity will last for forever.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 5:13-15

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

“Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

“ I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

You Can’t Shut It Off

Been a lot on my mind all day long. Situations, people, problems, potential problems, and just an overall heaviness. Seems to be in the air everywhere I turn right now. Of course, I’m trying to be optimistic concerning all of it. Even still I wish I could find a shut off switch.

I know many reading this can relate. This world is filled with chaos every direction. Hearts are heavy and stress is real. There’s no use sugar coating these realities. You would be hard pressed to find anyone not going through some kind of storm.

Now, believe it or not this world has been this way a long time. Social media and the local news just keep it all in our face. Plus more people are realizing that mental wars can’t be taken lightly. Therefore, more and more people are taking their pretend masks off. That’s actually a good thing.

Fortunately, we all have somewhere to turn with our fears of today or tomorrow. Jesus came so that we might have peace and hope. Yes, this world is full of imperfect days. No, we don’t know what tomorrow will hold. But, thank God we do know who holds tomorrow. So, even when you can’t fix one thing. You can overcome anything with Jesus Christ as your savior and Lord.

Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37

I Hate Chronic Pain

Both my college boys came home this weekend. So, I attempted to play Monopoly with them tonight. Less than 1 1/2 hours later I’m just a puddle of pain. How can I go from feeling so good to so bad that quickly? This kind of experience always leaves me shaking my head.

Finally, I just had to swallow my pride and head to bed. I’m laying here again on my side just waiting on the pain to settle. I had already spent hours in the tub. Plus I took my nighttime medications several hours ago. Regardless, my pain has no mercy on me.

I guess that’s why they call it chronic pain. It’s not something you ever get over. You have to learn how to daily cope with your new normal. Sometimes I feel like I’ve come so far. Other times I feel like I’m back at square one. Thank God for medication, sleep, and new mercies everyday. I can’t wait to sleep off tonight’s pain. I have learned that God is faithful no matter what pain life brings. For that reason I’m still going to bed with a smile on my face.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

God Turned Things Around

This long day has been full of moments worth celebrating. These moments involve my church, my dad and my health. I believe all three are trending in a much healthier direction. Let me briefly explain myself.

One, it was a breath of fresh air to attend the church I pastor. I walked through the doors just a little before 9 in the morning. I was greeted by smile after smile. I joined several leaders for pre-worship prayer time. Then, I took my seat as just another worshipper. I didn’t have to preach or do anything. Yet, I felt God’s presence throughout the building. It was awesome to see all that God is now doing without me. It’s taken nearly 8 long years of church planting to reach this day. I’m so glad I didn’t quit all the times I felt so weak and incapable of leading God’s flock.

Next, after staying for our early service. I made my way to my dad’s church. Sadly, my dad resigned from the church he has pastored the past 27 years. After surprising him with my presence he cried like a baby on my shoulder. I knew this would be very emotional. However, my dad had to step down due to his health. The good news is he can now focus on his fight against cancer. Fortunately, dad is growing in strength and got several hours sleep last night. As hard as it was for him and mom to part ways with their church “family.” I could tell dad was relieved and at peace with this God led decision.

Finally, I seem to be back on track with my health overall. I’m eating right, sleeping better, and feeling much less pain. My anxiety is decreasing and my confidence is once again increasing. It was a very rough week in most respects. But, God showed today He is still in the business of turning things around.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

Renewed Strength Found

We were blessed to go out to eat with my parents tonight. It was so good to see dad out of the house. Even better it was great to see dad looking somewhat comfortable. After some new pain meds he was able to rest a few hours. That rest gave him just the lift he needed.

After a few days of what looked like torture. Dad looked good considering his weathered body. I could actually see a renewed strength rising up. I know the cancer is responding to the chemotherapy. I also know God is answering the prayers of many.

Seeing dad with some noticeable improvement really was medicine to my soul. I’m still very sluggish feeling. However, I needed an emotional lift just as much as physical relief. I’m continuing to learn how to eat healthy. I feel like my quality of life depends on it. Daily I’m learning new things and I’m seeing God hand in it all.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Confession Is Healing

Some may think I share too much of my feelings. However, as most people do there are lots of things I hold back too. Not everything is meant to speak out loud. Not everything is meant to be heard by everyone. So, it’s not about telling everything to everyone. However, I have learned that confession is a critical component to healing.

Last night I went to bed very exhausted. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. My lack of consistent quality sleep definitely didn’t help. My many thoughts, feelings and concerns were taking me down. Unfortunately this all led to my physical pain once again being on top of me. My entire body and being was very heavy and hurting.

Somehow just admitting some of those struggles released me. I gave them all up to God and shared them with others. I went to bed just hoping to wake up much more relieved. Once again I did just that my friends. I got 8 hours of sleep for only the second time in 7 days. Oh how I needed this with how my body has felt recently.

I encourage you to let it out. Share your thoughts, concerns, and prayer requests with others. You aren’t meant to carry those burdens alone. There are others who will understand and can encourage your heart. God will take your confession and lead you out of depression. Cast all your cares upon Him. Don’t let things keep building up within you. For sincere God led confession can put you on the road towards healing.

“I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, You alone know where I should turn…No one will help me; No one cares a bit what happens to me. Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry for I am very low..” Psalm 142:1-6

So Much On My Mind

Right now, I feel I could write a book. Not about the past, but just expressing my present feelings. My heart and body have really been hurting. My wife said something that was pretty profound. She said “you know the two are connected.”

Yes, I know that sounds so silly. However, there’s no denying my heartaches often escalate my nerve pain. Physically I’ve struggled more this week than I have in over four months. There’s a whole lot of factors that have contributed. Some food I’ve eaten, too much on my plate, and no doubt the concern I have for my dad.

For the second night in a row he has experienced a living Hell. Dealing with the side effects of his chemotherapy has proven to be a beast. Knowing someone you love so much is in such misery. Certainly doesn’t sit well in the mind or heart. It breaks my heart honestly.

We keep praying and believing God for healing. Yet, I pray the road ahead is not going to be like this past week. If so, I’m not looking forward to one second of it. Having worked hospice I’m used to seeing comfort. Right now dad is anything but comfortable. He has been dealing with hours and hours of nonstop nausea, hiccups and spitting up. Not to mention any wrong move can already take his breath away due to his fragile bones.

Earlier my 9yr old was praying by phone with my dad. He was pouring his heart asking God for healing. He said, “Please take that pain right out of my Grandaddy. Help him to have the best day of his life.” Honestly, I don’t recall anything else he prayed. I just know it was powerful and effective.

On the other end of that phone I could hear my dad breaking down. I can totally understand why certain words made him emotional. It all made me very emotional and I was just sitting beside my son. I know if my 9yr old really knew Grandaddy had cancer he would crumble. We’ve chosen not to use that word with Asher at this time.

Yes, so far I don’t feel like I’m passing this season of testing. I know God is working in the midst of it all. But, it’s got every fiber of my nerves in knots. I’ve been by so many bedsides this should be much easier for me. Only thing is those folks weren’t my dad. And, I know now that makes all the difference. Just keep praying dad and mom might get some rest tonight. That God would be glorified through it all.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Opposites Do Attract

I’m very public.

She’s very private.

I want everything done now.

She’s extremely patient.

I like things simple.

She thinks outside the box.

I live in the spotlight.

She’s busy behind the scenes.

I stay busy outside the home.

She stays focused on our home.

I’m called to be a pastor.

She and her support make that possible.

I get most of the credit.

She deserves most of it.

I say a lot with my words.

She proves a lot more by her actions.

I am often a hot mess.

She loves me regardless.

I am half of a man without her.

She makes me feel whole.

I try to make her smile.

She always makes me smile.

I prayed for a help mate

She was tailored made for me

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

Keep Praying For My Dad

My dad is once again in a whole lot of discomfort. I hate to see him or hear him crying. However, that’s what makes me know the pain is so great. We are seeking to trust the Lord with every step. We’re praying for God to bring healing to his body.

His kidneys are still struggling. He has lesions in his hips, spine, shoulder, and even his skull. Even still, this type of cancer is different than most. Even being in the most advanced stage. Many have seen this type of cancer put in remission. Dads cancer has already responded to the past month of chemotherapy. So, we know there is certainly hope for dad.

Unfortunately, we all know chemotherapy always has major side effects. Dad had an extremely rough night. I prayed with him earlier as he’s still in the eye of this storm. Dealing with the kind of pain that leaves you breathless and crying like a child. This is very painful to watch. I’m certain it’s even tougher to be the actual patient.

I can identify with the ongoing torture of pain. But, I can’t identify with knowing I’m fighting for my actual life. With not knowing what tomorrow will bring. One of these struggles would be enough. I know others reading this can identify with my emotions and perspective. Just know I’m not trying to make this struggle about me. I’m just using this forum to process my emotions and generate prayers for my dad. I love that man so much. It’s not time to give up. It’s time to pray and give things up to God.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

Struggles In Your Backyard

I used to say this all the time. I’m realizing more and more this statement is so true. Things are always different when it’s happening in your backyard. When the struggle belongs to you, a family member or a close friend. Otherwise it’s just someone you’re prayer for from a distance.

Praying for someone struggling is always easier than struggling yourself. No one wants to get that terminal diagnosis. No one wants to go through a devastating divorce. No wants to see someone drink themselves to death. No wants to hurt or see someone they love dearly hurting.

So, we would rather just see someone we didn’t know on that prayer list. The things we hear on the news may be disturbing. Yet, if it puts anyone close to us in harms way. The news and concerns may keep us up all night praying.

Maybe we all need to realize this for sure. That any struggle we hear about is in someone’s backyard. Meaning those folks need our prayers. Just like we hope others will be prayerful and understanding for us in our troubled times. We too should pray for others in battles we may not understand. But, God knows they need our love, support and prayers.

(1 Peter 5:9) Stand firm against the devil and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Not Tomorrow Satan

LWell, I’ve had another great day along with a very tough night. My nerve pain has been buzzing throughout my body the past 5 hours. Like always there’s so many factors that contributed. Of course, I’m not shocked anymore. I am always surprised by how bad it actually feels.

I do live with a certain degree of denial when it comes to my extensive nerve damage. It’s also been a challenge transitioning back to what I call a normal work week. Maybe if I had just a 9-5 job I could handle it a little better. Right now I’m managing a ministry that is constantly growing, changing and challenging. I wake up each day outmatched.

As always I’ve evaluated things I’m sure contributed to my downfall. I should’ve rested all day yesterday. So, I will finally seek to do so tomorrow. Three straight ten hour plus days was not what the doctor ordered. I’m thrilled about what I’m seeing God doing daily. However, once again I must preach to myself. It’s always important you consider your health before help. Devil you won’t take me down again tomorrow.

(Matthew 26:41) Jesus said, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Still Learning Balance

Laying here on my side waiting on my body to settle down. I’m still not used to putting myself to bed early like an old man. Time keeps proving it’s my new normal. I keep showing it takes time learning to live with a new balance. I guess we’re always kinda seeking our past way of life.

The last few days have been long and intense. God is doing so much at the same time. God windows are every direction. And, I don’t like to miss any opportunity to save a life. I also realize I’m not the savior.

I’ve always been an all or nothing person . When I jump into something I go all the way. My body and mind’s limitations are revealing themselves daily. Today should have been my day off. But, my heart got kicked into fifth gear. It ended up dragging my body several more miles than normal.

My overall nerve pain is fine. All my recovery efforts are on track. My nerve wrecked body just can’t go like it used to go. And, if I push it too far I’m left with a lot of unnecessary aching. So, here I am again saying God help me to keep learning balance. Keep me from the trap of today’s rat race. Help me to embrace my limitations. While I also seek to follow you with great expectations.

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

Keep Them Coming Please

It’s been a 31 day roller coaster ride. Most days we’ve had more questions than answers. Of course, you hope and pray for divine intervention. Even still, each day brings many doubts. I could tell in dad’s eyes he knew his cancer was aggressive. All he needed to do was go by the chaos abounding in his body. Seemed every doctor’s appointment points out a new issue.

Many have been praying for my dad. My 9 year old calls his granddaddy every night to pray with him. I find myself praying hard as I can around the clock. I know my praying mom has bathed him in prayer. Plus, let’s not exclude my dad’s own sincere cries for mercy morning, day and night.

Last Friday afternoon eight different prayer warriors from Refuge Church went to pray over my dad and mom. After all there is power when two or more gather in His name. My youngest son told my dad the prayer warriors were coming. To pray with him so he could be healed. I could tell my 9yr old believed every word he was saying to his granddaddy.

The same day the prayer warriors came to my dad’s house. My dad had a doctor’s appointment to discuss another recent scan. Dad’s understanding only led him to believe things were even more wide spread. All he could do was keep praying his chemotherapy was do something.

Today’s oncologist appointment was kinda feared by us all. It seemed all we were going to hear was more discouraging news. This past week was dad’s greatest visible improvement. But, we knew that may have just been due to him gaining a little strength back.

Around 5:15pm my mom sent me a text message. I remember thinking “do I really want to read this?” Then, I began to read the following text from my mom after dad’s appointment. She wrote “Good news! Myeloma is responding to the chemo. Numbers are better! Only one broken rib. Praise God!! Eating dinner now.”

It was our first big breakthrough. One that I know is a direct result of much prayer. My dad has said many times. “Son, it’s only the prayers lifting me and getting me through. So, please keep the prayers coming.” Folks I ask that you continue to lift up my dad to the gracious throne of God. It appears God is bringing some healing and showing this cancer who is really boss.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

5 Characteristics Of Great Parents

I’m far from being a perfect parent. In fact, I’m afraid no such human exist that I’ve met. However, I have been a parent for over 20 years. Even better I was raised by two great parents. Plus, I’ve had a close up view of many other great parents. Here are five things that set apart the great parents from the average.

#1 RESPONSIBLE

The first thing any parent must decide is will they step up to the plate. Will you embrace your God-given responsibility? Many can become a mother or father. However, only the great ones choose to play the role of a momma or daddy. The first step every great parent takes is choosing to show up for duty. Don’t act like a child yourself. Choose to help raise the child God has placed under your care.

#2 INVOLVED

Great parents don’t just make excuses for their absence. Instead, they choose to keep their priorities in rightful order. You see faith and family go hand in hand. In fact, your primary mission field should be your family. Great parents make time to be involved in their kids’ lives whatever it takes. Their presence goes a long way in their children knowing they are supported.

#3 AWARE

Great parents stay alert and aware of what’s happening both inside and outside the home. They look for ways to protect, encourage, and guide forward their children. They realize the devil is always looking for easy prey. So, they continue to pray and parent daily. They don’t assume everything is alright. Instead, they seek to stay aware of their children’s physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well being. For them parenting is not a single event, but a nonstop work in progress.

#4 LOVING

Great parents leave no doubt they love their children. They purposely show it and communicate it when possible. They know love builds a bridge like no other. Great parents make sure their kids know they are loved no matter what they do or don’t do in this life.

#5 EXAMPLE

Let’s face it some parents don’t even make good chaperones. Sadly, many kids have to raise their own parents. Great parents know the best way to lead is by example. They know their own actions speak louder than any speech. Sure, we all fall short from time to time. However, great parents own even the messy moments and seek to lead by example in everything they do.

Now, this is not an exhaustive list of great parent qualities. These things should however make any parent’s top five. Personally, I’m still growing and striving to learn how to be a great parent. I know I’ll continue make mistakes. But, I refuse to be an average parent in a world that needs us all to man our post.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Gotta Give You Up

Dad it’s becoming a normal routine. I wake up several times throughout each night with you heavy on my mind. Of course, I’m concerned about all that is going on with you. I go to bed with you heavy on my mind. I wake up each day with you heavy on my mind.

Deep down I know God is in control. There’s no doubt God is using your pain and that dreaded “C” word. I recall very vividly that night four days before Christmas. That Friday night we both heard words we didn’t want to hear. It’s like the doctor wouldn’t quit saying things none of us were ready to hear.

Yes, I cried plenty that night. Honestly, those tears weren’t for me. My tears were for you and mom. I had never seen tears roll down your face that way. That look on mom’s tear filled face was very heartbreaking. All I knew to do was to step up and step in with immediate prayer. To do exactly for you both. What you’ve been doing for me all my life.

You see, there’s nothing else you owe me at this point. Your love has been proven. Your faith has been demonstrated. Your prayers have taken me to higher ground. You led me to Christ. You taught me how to be passionate about leading others to Christ. You and mom have been amazing parents always going above and beyond.

So, it’s my turn to step up and give you up. To keep praying without ceasing on your behalf. I sincerely believe God hears the prayers of his people. That God cares about our hurts, pains, and fears. I believe God still does miracles each and everyday. I’ve seen Him do them in my life and countless others.

Therefore, I’m gonna keep giving you up. When the doctors give us news we don’t want to hear. I’m gonna give you up in prayer. When you have a really bad day. I’m gonna give you up in prayer. When the fears of today or worries about tomorrow come. I’m gonna give you up in prayer. Why? Because you’re safest in His hands.

With God all things are possible. He will not waste your pain. He will not leave nor forsake you. He will not take a break from watching over you. He will keep giving you strength to carry on. He will give you faith to see beyond. I know the future is brightest if I keep putting you in His hands.

So, from this point forward I’m not just gonna sit around and worry. I’m going to pray Big, Bold and Believing prayers on your behalf. Knowing that the best way I can love you is to keep turning you over to Him. It’s what you taught me and showed me to do. So, never doubt that I’m giving you up to God. Every time I think about you I’m shifting those thoughts into prayer. Which basically means I’m praying for you a lot.

I thank God for every good moment. I trust God with every bad moment. I consider every tear that falls a sign of healing. God is shaping us all more and more into His likeness. Teaching us to depend on Him and trust Him fully. We both know that God uses seasons like this one. To wake us up and teach us to give up everything to Him. So, I will keep giving you up to Him.

“And which of you by worrying can add one hour to his life’s span? So if you are not even able to do a very little thing [such as that], why are you worried about the rest? Consider the lilies and wildflowers, how they grow [in the open field]. They neither labor nor spin [wool to make clothing]; yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory and splendor dressed himself like one of these. But if this is how God clothes the grass which is in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You of little faith! So as for you, do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink; nor have an anxious and unsettled mind. For all the [pagan] nations of the world greedily seek these things; and your [heavenly] Father [already] knows that you need them. But [strive for and actively] seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12:25-31)(AMP)

Let God Use It

Laying here just asking God to settle my mind, heart and body. The past 24 hours have been full of much needed pain relief. Overall, my body seems to be back on track. I rested well last night. I hope to do so tonight.

My body is still sore from the previous days of pain. It’s like recovering from a 15 round boxing match. You just don’t wake up the next day without feeling the body blows. Even still, I know I’m on the other side of that unexpected storm. Most of my world seems to be back in order.

There’s no denying that pain drives me to my knees. In fact, it drives me towards greater compassion for others. I find pain to be a gift that helps me relate to other people’s brokenness. It may not feel great at the time. However, there’s no denying God does His greatest work in the midst of the madness. That is if we surrender fully and let God be God.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Held By God

The past few days I’ve had some really rough moments. Pain I used to have came flooding back into my body. My wife can testify that it sends me into orbit. I’m talking the kinda pain that can’t leave you in your right mind. It’s like being trapped in misery you can’t stop. All you can do is pray, pray, pray.

Several hours ago my body was draining me by the minute. No doubt my spirit was sinking and my body getting weaker. However, after I got my meds into my system all is well. I feel like a brand new person in every way. I can breathe, think clearly and smile. When you’re locked down in chronic pain you can’t do any of those things well.

I’m so glad God allowed me to feel all that pain again. It reminded that God has just been holding it back. My nerve wreck body is not fixed. God has chosen to give me relief and my life back. I’m smiling big as I write these words. I know I’m a God made and God held man. Anything good in my life has been done so God can get all the glory. I plan to spend my life sharing my testimony and celebrating God’s healing touch.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Hide Me Lord

Earlier this afternoon things seemed to be turning around. I finally got some quality sleep. My overall pain had gone down considerably. After a very long, uncomfortable night. I was so grateful for the relief. Yet, here I am again back in middle of the pain.

This time I’m feeling a bit more overwhelmed. One, because I’m still trying to recover from last night’s body slamming experience. Two, my nerve pain is consuming every part of my body. My overall vision feels blurred. Three, I can tell my enemy the devil is hoping to take me down again.

This time I’m being attacked relentlessly physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. These moments make it difficult just to breathe. Nothing feels right or looks right. My heart is pounding like a small animal running away from a ferocious beast. While my words may be dramatic. This fierce spiritual battle is anything but make believe.

Yes, I’ve been here before. Still it takes me by surprise and to my knees. I have to be still, quiet, and rest everything on Gods shoulders. There’s not a direction that feels safe at the moment. Therefore, I must rest underneath the protection of the Almighty. I need His peace, presence, promise, and power to pull me through. I can’t make it anywhere without Divine intervention. Only in Him can I find refuge from the storm.

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91:4

Makes Sense Now

Last night I could not understand why I felt so bad. Like way worse than I’ve felt anytime recently. I had eaten a few things not on my diet plan. But, nothing that made me tumble so quickly in recent days. Well, I’m hoping I found the answer earlier.

Around 2am this morning I took a couple more ibuprofen. I just couldn’t understand how my 9pm nighttime meds had done nothing. After all, I even took an extra muscle relaxer around 11pm. Well, come to find out I never took my nighttime medicine. How my mind missed it I do not know.

However, when I went to take this mornings 9am meds I discovered last night’s meds still in the container. I literally went 12 extra hours without taking my most needed medication for my nerve pain. This explains why my body has felt totally inside out. Why I kept tumbling down and down with each hour. I’m lucky to have even slept a few hours.

I literally have 4 alarms set per day for this stuff. I check behind this stuff thoroughly knowing I need every medication I’m scheduled to take. Somehow, Satan pulled one over on me. It was a roller coaster of a night. Hopefully, my body and meds get back regulated real soon. Just shaking my head in disbelief. Still I’m grateful for answers!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Looking Back Helps

Even after hours in the tub and a lot of water digested. My hands and feet are itching. That old familiar surgical spot is aching constantly. There doesn’t appear to be any quick fix in sight. A little surprised the meds I took hours ago don’t have me totally comfortable.

Now, I’m not lying here freaking out. I’m uncomfortable, but I’m not feeling desperate. This season’s worse days don’t compete with last season’s average bad days. Back then the pain never ended and no hope seemed in sight. Now, I know this is just a rough patch that God will counter sooner than later.

So, it’s very important I remember days of old. Not to live in the past. But, to draw great faith from the past. I used to live in the fiery furnace morning, day, and night. Now, I actually get surprised when I have great discomfort lasting more than a few hours. Thank you God for taking me through those unbearable days. Now, I know I can trust you with anything.

“I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.” Psalm 143:5

Gotta Stay Disciplined

Lots going on the past few weeks towards taking my body down. Busyness, stress, less sleep, and hardly any exercise in forever. However, the biggest issue has once again been a change in my diet. Of course, there’s no such thing as eating perfect. I did consistently eat extremely clean and healthy for nearly 80 days straight.

Now, I’ve not totally fallen off the healthy eating wagon. I still eat and drink with great discipline. But, the past week has not been acceptable. A few very poor food choices are starting to catch up with my body. All it takes is a small window for me to start tumbling due to increased inflammation.

For the most part I’ve been very fortunate on the days I’ve swallowed any inflammatory foods. But, it seems a few consecutive days of poor decisions have caught up with me. Chinese food and two donuts earlier certainly got my attention. I can feel the fire inside me rekindled. Nerve pain is radiating throughout my body from my feet to my face. Now, all I can do is get back on track tomorrow and give my body time to settle down.

Praise God I know where to find the fire extinguisher. It’s all starts with what I choose to eat and not eat. Like it or not this is the lifestyle I must live and breathe. So, once this inflammation settles I will start another streak. I will make one good decision at a time in a world where temptation sits on every corner. With God’s help I will continue on this health journey. God just needed to remind me that my diet really does matter!

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Pray About Everything

Well, my dad looked a lot better tonight. At least, compared to the past several weeks. The circles under his eyes give away his sleepless nights. His constant agitation gives away his discomfort. But, sometimes things can only get better. Overall, I see increased strength and his appetite has improved.

Probably the biggest reason for this improvement is his week long break from chemotherapy. Yes, he is still having to take chemo pills nightly. But, he’s not had to go in for his usual Monday and Thursday chemo injections. He has also had a break from steroids until his chemo injections resume. Seems like everything he takes has so many side effects.

Even still he continues to fight and be in good spirits. This is so hard to do when your nerves are fried. When your back is against the wall. When everything about the future feels so up in the air. It’s really when God must become real in your life.

My 9yr old read his granddaddy some scripture and prayed with him. He really doesn’t understand most of what’s going on. However, he knows the power of prayer. He knows that my dad needs us to keep prayer lifting him forward.

As faith rises so does the peace of God. None of us like to feel out of control. Yet, it’s a feeling all too familiar in this life. Dad and I discussed how we can see God at work. How these are the seasons God draws us closer than ever. That is if we choose to turn everything over to Him. I’m very thankful for God’s answered prayers so far.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Tired Of Playing Games

On March 4th I will turn 45 years old. I have to say those years have flown by. Seems like yesterday I was still in grade school. Most of my school years I was best known as a class clown. Yet, more than ever I’m tired of playing games. It’s time to rise up. To live out my God given purpose with great faith.

When I turned 40 I thought was having a midlife crisis. I’m sure my extreme health issues the past 4 years contributed highly to some of my thinking. However, this time I feel pretty certain. I’m close if not already years beyond the midway point of my life expectancy. Statistics show the average age of death male or female in U.S. is 78.87 years old.

Now, I don’t know how this motivates or frightens you. But, it puts a fire under me to make everyday count. It’s time now to seek God’s will like never before. It’s time now to love others as God lavishes love on me. It’s time now to tell every soul I can about Jesus. I would like to see every person I encounter in Heaven one day.

You see, this life is but a vapor. You’re here one moment and gone the next. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. So I plan to live each day as it might be my last. Lord knows I don’t want to play games anymore. The brevity of this life lets me know I can’t afford to waste another minute. God take me over and use every second remaining for your glory.

(Psalm 90:12) Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

(Psalm 144:4) Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.

 

(Ephesians 5:15-17) So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

(Hebrews 9:27)People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

Learning To Fight Differently

Dad preached again this Sunday. Even though he could have collapsed any moment. I can totally relate to the calling he feels within him. I’ve had countless Sundays I had no business getting out of my bed. Still God put a fire in my bones compelling me to share His words of hope with others.

I just got off the phone with my dad. Thank God he was able to get a couple hours sleep today. The chemo, steroids, cancer and many side effects have made it very tough. Dad basically has to get rest anytime his body will allow. The past 3 days have left him winded, exhausted and at times very weepy. We all know a lack of sleep will suck the life out of anyone.

Dad loves for my 9yr old Asher and myself to call and pray for him. It seems to be a form of spiritual CPR always resurrecting his spirits. Dad knows only prayer is going to run this demon out. This battle is just way bigger than he can conquer alone.

Praise God dad is determined to get through this storm. He’s not just seeking to weather it. He plans to thrive in the midst of it. Daily he’s been forced to recognize his limitations. However, his growing faith keeps raising his expectations.

God is at work! Especially as dad continues to let his pain lead him to his knees. The more dad humbles himself. The more his strength and hope keeps rising. I really feel a peace about where we are regardless of where this may or may not end up.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

A Preacher’s Saturday Night

I’ve now been in the ministry for 27 years. I spent 11 years as a student minister and associate. The past 16 years I’ve been a senior pastor. Honestly, my Saturday nights have never been normal as a minister. But, since becoming a senior pastor things have drastically changed.

Now, in many ways a pastor never feels off duty. However, as a preacher Saturday nights feel like you’re waiting for the big game. You know so many people rely on your effective deliverance of God’s message. You do your best to pray and prepare the best of your ability. Then, you just keep asking God to get you out of his way.

Underneath the God-given role there are always some anxious nerves. For you know in your flesh alone things are bound to fail. Yet, guided by God’s spirit and truth lives are bound to change. As the time to preach gets closer and closer. You keep asking God to please get you out of His way and to have His way. Then, come Sunday morning somehow God does more than imagined despite you and through you.

“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

So Glad To Fight

Tonight was a huge rarity for me. Not only did I stay awake past midnight. I enjoyed every minute of it. I sat down for hours at our dining room table. I barely had any pain. There I enjoyed playing two games of monopoly with my boys.

It really did feel like we went back in time. Due to my nerve condition it’s been nearly 5 years since I could endure such a time. Typically, I’ve had to pass all family game nights. But, not this time my friends. I was finally back in the game.

Just minutes into the first game competitive spirits were rising. Anyone watching might have thought a street fight was about to occur. But, it was one of the best nights of my life. There were plenty of looks and laughs. And, while playing Monopoly felt more like a family feud. I was beyond grateful to be able to fight and enjoy quality time with my boys.

“ I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

Been A Long Time

Well, it’s certainly been awhile since I’ve been this way. Nerve pain running throughout my body. Pain in my lower back just wreaking havoc on me. My hands and feet are constantly itching. All of this because the pain has gotten on top of me. I guess it was just a matter of time.

This week I’ve spent hours daily in the tub. I’m seeking to be reactive and proactive towards calming my pain. Not resting well night after night has caught up to me. I always hate feeling this way. Fortunately, it’s no longer always this way.

There was a time when this was a morning, day and night thing. But, I’m encouraged because it has been so long. Satan loves to get us focused on all that is going wrong. All I can see is how much has been going right for so long. God has actually given me my life back.

Fortunately, I have medications for times like these. Presently, I’m just waiting on them to kick in. It could take 30 minutes to an hour to settle down my flaring nerves. For now I’m just focused on all God has done. This has given me great confidence in what God will do. He’s proven this to me time and time again. Everything is always going to be okay in His time.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

God Is Working

Dear Refuge Family,

8 years ago this church was only a dream and need for this community. 6 years ago this church started Sunday worship with just a handful of people and a God-given vision. Now, we have over 30 key leaders and many other volunteers. 240 souls worshipped with us this past Sunday. Over a hundred souls have been baptized into the faith since we began. People from 10 different countries have walked through those doors. God has and continues to bless the faithfulness of many.

Now, you need to know we’re just getting started. God is just pouring the foundation of this ministry. He’s raising up folks up like you to be His soldiers. Yes, this world is a wreck in so many ways. But, that only makes this mission together even more urgently needed. People are searching for hope in all the wrong places.

There are people who still need you to reach out. To let them know there’s a place they will always feel God’s love and hear His voice. Tell them to come as they are to a place where God’s grace and truth abounds. 9 out of 10 first time visitors say they wish they knew about this place much sooner.

So, please keep praying for God to raise up an army. Make sure you are making yourself completely available to God. You see, the harvest is plentiful. The workers are few. God wants to use you to accomplish more than you can imagine. Make sure you continue to help us Love, Lift, & Lead people to Jesus.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. AsK the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-38

http://www.RefugeChurch.org

Faith Under Fire

This past week has been really tough. Both physically and emotionally I feel drained. God has been doing a lot of really awesome things. Yet, my emotions keep taking me for a ride. I’ve had a lot on my plate and I’ve not slept well all week. My legs are heavy and so is my heart.

In many ways, I’m in the prime of my life. God is putting so many things in order. Things I’ve prayed about for years are happening daily. Yet, at the same time I keep coming face to face with new giants and my humanity. No matter how much I do there’s always much more to be done. I mean this as a husband, father, son, brother, friend and pastor.

There is one thing I cannot deny. God has my full attention. Not in a bad way at all. I’m learning to lean on Him completely. My feet are on the prayer pedal around the clock. I just keep giving God all that’s on my heart. I keep thanking Him for all He has done, is doing and will do. I’m back on another faith walk for sure. One that feels really deep, but is also deepening my faith.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7

The Humble Pie Club

It’s been 20 days since my dad found out he has advanced Multiple Myeloma Cancer. It’s taken at least half that time for reality to move from our heads to our hearts. At first you just want to fall apart when you see someone you love struggling so much. Then, you catch your breath and start trusting God with each breath forward. That’s where we are at this point in this painful journey.

My dad is just a couple weeks into his chemotherapy treatments. Everyday appears to be unpredictable. Dads had some really good moments and some really bad ones. Putting this cancer in remission seems very possible. However, the journey towards that remission is proving long and painful. I truly hate to see my dad feeling so weak all the time.

Now, tonight my dad and I grew a little closer together. He said, “Son, I hate that you had to eat the first piece of humble pie. I realize now why all that pain you had before changed you so much. Now, it’s my turn to eat humble pie. And, it’s changing the way I think about everything. I pray more now than ever before in my life.”

I couldn’t help but get choked up as I could taste his pain. I could identify with how it strips you down to the core. When the pain is so great you can hardly catch your breath. You can’t hide your extreme weaknesses from the world anymore. All you can do is keep crying out to Jesus for relief and healing.

I was able to tell my dad how his pain was not being wasted. It’s not just changing his life, but mine too. I’m now making decisions with much greater urgency and perspective. I’m thanking God for each moment. Not just looking ahead for what may never happen. We’re both official members of the humble pie club. And, while I hate the pain I see in His eyes. I can’t deny I feel God working both in, through and around him.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Maybe It’s Just Me

We all know this life is full of ups and downs. One moment you feel on top of things. The next minute things feel on top of you. Presently it just feels like there’s a dark cloud hovering over this world. Maybe it’s just what I’m feeling in my soul.

Now, I don’t think things just suddenly got this way. American values have been spiraling downhill for quite sometime. No, I’m not talking about what’s going on in the White House. Im talking about things in my house, your house and even inside the school house.

I’m afraid the average American has turned their back on God. Sure, many reference the words “In God We Trust.” But, does it really count when someone’s heart is so far from meaning those words. You see, to trust God is much more than a few words.

It’s saying God I surrender all. Please forgive me of my sin and selfishness. Take my heart and lead my life. I believe your son Jesus paid it all for me on that cross and even overcame the grave. Be my salvation, my stronghold, and my reason for living every breath.

Then, somehow God lavishes us with His grace and healing. Hope becomes more than a word. It becomes a certainty in our heart no matter what life brings. By grace through faith in Christ alone. We find forgiveness of sin, eternal security in Heaven and a hope that can’t be taken away.

Maybe it’s time for America to spiritually wake up. Get down on your knees. Let God take you over. Trust God with all your heart, soul, and situation. Worry alone will change nothing. Giving things completely over to God can change everything.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Her Love Carries Me

This woman by my side is something special. Her love looks beyond my many imperfections. Morning, day and night she seeks to love me for better or worse. There’s no way our marriage is still standing without her unconditional love and unwavering commitment. There’s no way I’m still standing if she hadn’t carried me through every valley.

She’s deserving of so many (P.H.T.) Putting Him Through awards. Since the day we got married I’ve never felt alone. She got me through college & seminary. She’s believed in me when others didn’t. She’s helped me through every shipwrecked moment. She’s helped me recover from things I never thought possible. She’s made me look better than I am just by her presence and consistent character.

I’m a hot mess to begin with, but she knew that before marriage. However, as a pastor’s wife she has to share me with so many others. She chooses to stay behind the scenes because she doesn’t do anything for self-glory. But, sometimes I just have to acknowledge the jewel she has always been.

One of my greatest New Year’s resolutions is to treat her like a queen. To not take what she does for granted. To enjoy more dates and even go on a few more memorable trips. Ministry is a very huge passion of mine. But, if I fail to treat her right. I will consider myself a failure. After all, I really can’t do much without her. I love this preachers wife God gave me!

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.” Song of Solomon 3:4

Before You Look Ahead

It’s that time of year again. A time that most of us think about new beginnings and resolutions. A time we aim for old and new targets on the wall. We hope and pray this new year is full of God’s blessings. Honestly, I believe we should be looking forward with great expectations. However, there’s one thing we should do before we ask God’s blessings forward.

We need to thank God for past and present blessings. For God’s hand of protection and provision up to this point. For all the things God made possible that otherwise were impossible. For faith, family and friends that bring so much joy into our lives. Yes, we need to count our blessings naming them one by one. Otherwise, we will just be focused on what we don’t have instead of all God already has provided.

Going into 2020 I have a lot of things I’m hoping to accomplish. But, I don’t want to pursue any of it without being full of gratitude. Too often I’ve been focused on what needs to be done instead of all God has done. This sucks the joy out of my sails and makes everything feel like a job. So, my first New Year’s resolution is not just to see God do more in my life. Instead, I hope I will continually see and celebrate what God has done, is doing and will do.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Always Hope In Christ

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since my dad discovered he has cancer. Even still today was a good day. His kidneys have improved a little. His pain has become a little more manageable. The eye of the tiger is back in his eyes. Regardless of this disease’s progression. His doctor really feels confident in their ability to treat this particular cancer.

In some way, form or fashion dad may always be battling this disease. Putting it in remission is definitely achievable. But, it’s going to take at least 6 to 9 months of chemotherapy before that happens. While only two weeks have passed. It feels like it’s already been 2 months as we’re all walking this journey together.

Sometimes the enemy gives you a knockout blow. Well, at least he hopes it knocks you out. Satan seeks to discourage you with bad news. He aims to paralyze you with great fear. Then, he tries to steal every ounce of hope from your heart.

It’s in these intense seasons you must recognize the devil’s strategy. Jesus always has plans for hope, peace, purpose, life and joy. Satan plans to derail all of these things. No, you can’t overcome these attacks by yourself. However, through Christ the victory has already been won. Trust him, follow him, and keep your eyes on him.

Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Bring On 2020

Well, I definitely came into the New Year sick. This past Monday morning I went to the doctor. Seems I have some kind of viral infection. My throat has been killing me. My head has been beyond stuffy. I’ve struggled to do much. Even still I’m coming into this new year feeling stronger than ever.

By far, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in quite some time. Physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually I’m very encouraged. My overall pain has been very minimal. Making constant healthy choices have become a way of life for me. From what I eat to what I do. Finally, I’m fully embracing my new normal.

The biggest thing God has taught me the past year is crystal clear. That is with God all things are truly possible. All I’ve done is trust Him everyday. Sought to do all I can while trusting Him for all I can’t. In every way possible God has poured constant blessings into my life. He will do the same for you if you’ll just keep taking the next God led step.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Considering A Diet Change?

Sixty days ago I resolved in my heart to start eating clean. For me this has meant eating only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grilled lean meats and beans. Yep, I had to wave goodbye to sugar, caffeine, and lots of other tasty things.

Rarely have I eaten anything outside of these lines. The one day I did eat whatever I wanted was Christmas Day and it proved very painful. There’s no doubt that eating healthy has much greater value than just losing weight.

Most know that I’ve got a lot history of major chronic pain. In fact, prior to this new diet my nervous system crashed weekly for over four years. All of that changed when this diet was put in place. The inflammation throughout my body has drastically decreased. My pain level has now been consistently bearable. This new way of eating has helped me eliminate 3 medications. Also I was able to greatly reduce the dosage of 3 other medications by fifty percent. My stamina and ability to focus has completely returned.

Day by day I’m convinced that what we eat and don’t eat really matters. In fact, your diet is just as important as any physical exercise, rest or stress management. The right food is the best medicine on the market and doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription. So, if you want to feel better don’t overlook your daily diet.

Eating healthy could drastically increase both the quality and quantity of your life. No, it’s not easy, but so worth the daily discipline. Many are learning this truth. Most won’t believe the difference eating healthy can make. That is until they wholeheartedly try it for themselves and choose to eat and drink counter culturally.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

I Should Not Be Surprised

It’s been several weeks since my nervous system last crashed. Lord knows I’ve been doing all I can to eat right and live right with my condition. However, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I totally abandoned my daily diet. I knew in my heart there would be some pain to follow. Had no idea that my entire body would be vibrating with pain so quickly.

Once again a huge confirmation that my diet has been changing my life. Without warning my heart began racing and my nerves just crashed. Thank God I don’t typically feel this way. It’s paralyzing and very deflating. All this has come from just one day of me consuming a lot of sugar. Just one day of me eating like a mad man whatever I desired.

Been eating totally clean all day. Hoping now to cleanse this out with water and sleep. These breakdowns are so hard to explain to most. It’s like suddenly relapsing in your recovery journey. You feel like you were doing so good. Then, boom you find yourself in pieces on the ground. With time and rest this will change soon. While all the food was very tempting and delicious. There’s no doubt I clearly lived outside of what I knew was best for me.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17

Sad But Glad Christmas

Well, it’s been a very blurry past five days. The blurriness began after finding out my dad is battling some very serious health issues. Since then our family has just been walking through this valley together. My dad is still in the hospital and only time tell when he gets to go home. Anyone knows that living in the hospital is no fun at all.

Fortunately, we did get to spend Christmas Eve all together in the hospital cafeteria. Then, today I was able to see my parents for a short visit. The great news is my dad is still here to be seen. And, as long as God remains in control hope will always be found.

Physically I fell completely off the wagon with my necessary diet. After 55 days of eating so disciplined the dam of discipline finally broke. I’ve had more sweets the past 24 hours than I’ve had the past 55 days combined. I have thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas. Just the opportunity to be present, clear minded and feeling good. I will likely pay big for all the consumed sugar. However, my tastebuds thoroughly enjoyed every bite eaten.

Overall, this was my best Christmas physically in nearly 5 years. It amazes me what God has done in my life. This new season of strength is much needed right now. My past weaknesses are proving to be today’s strengths. Somehow God keeps using yesterday’s difficulties to really help me appreciate today’s trials and victories.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Partly Cloudy And Cold

Based on stats alone it was a much better day on the books. My day began after 9 hours of sleep. Then, I ate all the foods I should and stayed away from those I shouldn’t. Overall, I was only active for a little over six hours. And, most of that was spent sitting down or lying on my side. However, I’ve just not had much energy all day long.

Of course, these rare freezing temperatures here in South Carolina aren’t doing my nerve wrecked body any favors. Inside or out it seems to cut right through my skin. Overall, I just feel zapped of all my energy. I may have some kind of bug. Right now it’s just too early to tell.

Finishing up preparation for my Sunday sermon feels impossible right now. So, I’m going to bed and praying I feel much better in the morning. If I don’t I will quickly make a doctors appointment to get on top of this sickness. I have taken some medicine for sinuses and cold symptoms. Seems like my body doesn’t handle a sugar or a little sickness well. This to shall pass!

““Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

The Stats Do Matter

My body is definitely in need of some quality rest. The last four days straight have been very fruitful. However, they have been way too busy and long. I don’t have to look long at my Fitbit stats to recognize the problems. The past has proven the stats do matter.

Now, I’m been doing great at keeping my daily walking under 3 miles daily. But, I’m been averaging 10-12 hours of activity daily. I’ve learned 7-8 hours should be my daily max. I’ve been averaging under 7 hours sleep nightly when my body requires 8-9 hours. No wonder I’ve been coming home every night and having to spend many hours in a tub for relief.

So, tomorrow morning I will do nothing all morning. I will seek to get the rest my body desperately needs. I will give my mind rest from having to work so much. I will seek to make the next few days a lot shorter work days. This is why I keep my Fitbit charged at all times. The stats and facts speak for themselves. They provide revelation, confirmation and direction.

“Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Psalm 26:2

Celebrate The Blessings

Finally, I’m home from a very physically and emotionally draining day. Anytime, I’m out of the house for nearly 12 hours I’m asking for increased pain. But, this wasn’t one of those days I could just stay in the bed. I needed to get up and show up. I’ve already missed too many big moments in the past due to my health. I was determined to see my oldest son’s college graduation.

So, despite the fact my body was already exhausted I joined the family for this special day. God keeps telling me to remember the blessings. The fact I’ve gotten so much stronger. The fact my pain has become so much more manageable. That I’m no longer just stuck home and soaking in misery. I’m out living and enjoying the next God-given moment.

Now, I will probably spend hours tonight in this soaking tub. I’m just way too sore to even consider sleeping right now. Yet, my blessings are overflowing. I’m so grateful for days like today. For family and reasons to celebrate. For God carrying me this far in my recovery journey.

Having to eat so disciplined is getting much harder at day 47. However, I’m very thankful for answers and options for pain relief. With God’s help I will make this way of eating a constant part of my recovery lifestyle. That way I can be around for many more God moments to come.

Even when I want to wallow in my pain. God keeps pointing out countless reasons to keep praising Him. I’ve already run out of fingers and toes in my attempt of counting them all. So often satan seeks to elevate the pain over the gains. What’s going wrong more than what’s going right in your life. God wants us to choose to dwell on the praiseworthy.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Don’t Give Up On God

I’m still breathing in my new normal. They say if God brings you to it. Then, surely God will take you through it. Well, that’s exactly what I experienced firsthand. I truly had to see it to believe it. Honestly, I didn’t always see things working out in any positive way. I was prepared to wave my white flag of surrender at any moment.

Most mornings I could barely get out of the bed. Most days I could barely handle each minute. Most nights the only way I got to sleep was by intoxicating myself with lots of medications. It was nothing for me to spend 12 to 14 hours in the bed and 6-8 hours in the tub. Misery was my main company for much of the past four years.

Then, God reached into my desperate situation. Pulling me out of such a deep distressed black hole. I saw no way out or through before. Then, God proved He had bee working everything for my good and His glory all along. Everyday I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger. I may not be cured, but I’m certainly on the other side of the valley.

Who knew that a total change in my diet would bring so much promise. For 45 days straight I’ve just stay away from all inflammatory foods. Now, I’m feeding myself nothing but whole and healthy foods. It’s breathing new life in me everyday that I stick to the script. I will spend my life telling others in breathtaking chronic pain there is always hope for your situation. Just put your little hand in God’s big hand. He won’t let you down. Do all that you can while trusting God for all that you can’t do.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Life After My Shot

I’ve now been on ice half of the day. My shot this morning went as smoothly as possible. In fact, it was the least painful procedure I can recall. I’ve just gotta keep icing often and resting properly. It’s not easy to stay lying down. But, I know the next 48 hours I have to let my body heal.

My doctor said today he could tell my diet was really reducing my inflammation. That if I continued on this path I won’t need a shot every three months. So, it was encouraging to heat his feedback. He said there’s just too much evidence out there. That there are inflammatory foods and non-inflammatory foods. He said people just don’t realize that the wrong diet fuels their pain. I told him I’ve definitely learned this is so true.

Not being able to use heat or the tub has been difficult. However, these shots have knocked me down way more in the past. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be. Every area of my life has progressed forward. I’ve just got to keep take one step at a time.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Keep Walking By Faith

Been a long and fruitful day. I’m so grateful God keeps giving me opportunity to be a blessing. My stamina, focus and ability to minister keep growing daily. Things have been very busy lately. Driving any distance continues to be a challenge. These are just a few things I have to work around and learn to balance.

I am now officially replacing breakfast with a cup of juiced vegetables. Again, it’s not great on the taste buds, but it’s good for the body. I keep eating several times throughout the day in order to stay ahead of my hunger. I’m learning how to maintain my new diet whether home or away. I’m always around food I can’t eat and drinks that aren’t best for me. I continue to take this one step at a time as day 42 is about to begin.

I still have to spend hours most evenings in the tub for relief. But, thank God I’ve got a very deep soaking tub that I thoroughly enjoy. Tomorrow morning my wife will be taking me to get another quarterly shot. While I know I will be sore for several days afterwards. Time has proven that I need to proactively get these caudal injections. Otherwise the lower back coccyx pain will take me down quickly.

As I’ve said to you all many times in the past. God wants to use your pain as a platform. God wants you to know that with his help you can get through anything. God just ask that you keep taking the next right step. Then, after you’ve done all you can trust God fully with all you can’t.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

God Uses Genuine Faith Walkers

I want to ask everyone to pray for my Uncle Mitch. Tonight he had to be admitted into Trident hospital due to extreme pain. The kind of pain you cannot hide even if you aim to mask it. CT scan revealed there is definite life threatening concerns. But, no clear answers as to what he’s dealing with exactly until other specialists get involved. I just know things are so heavy on his heart physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Right now just pray that he knows God’s love, feels God’s presence and is calmed by God’s peace. The kind of peace you can’t find anywhere else. He’s never been the church going type. However, I know he believes in Jesus. He just needs to feel the love of Jesus through people like you and me.

Earlier tonight in the Emergency Room my youngest son and I were visiting him. My 9yr old grabbed my Uncle’s hand for prayer. Then he uttered a prayer that only a person with a true childlike faith can. Power was felt in that room as God flooded His love through a little boy to a grown man.

Because my Uncle is somewhat withdrawn. I know he’s had very few if any of these type moments. The kind where you can’t help but feel God’s power in the room. The kind where God’s love surges from a little boy’s heart to a grown man’s heart. He was obviously moved even in such pain.

All I know is too often we expect people just to come to church. When we should be seeking most to be the church. People are searching in every direction for hope. Before we pray for them to change. We need to demonstrate the change God has made in us. We do this best as we love and care for others like Jesus does for us.

Even though he is my little boy. God uses Asher often to touch my heart. My son tells me that God has given him the gift of prayer. He also says that love is His super power from God. Who am I to argue with a 9yr old? One who speaks so confidently and expresses His faith so loudly. So, I’ve decided to join him in loving and praying for those around me. I encourage you to do the same.

“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

40 Days 40 Nights Of Fasting

Maybe I need to get myself a trophy or a small ribbon. All I know is the last 40 days and nights have felt like 40 years. I’ve now gone 40 days straight eating with a discipline only God could give me. This has all been motivated most by wanting to live in much less daily pain.

This entire time has been such an eye opener. I now know without any doubt that what you eat highly impacts how you feel. You’re either feeding yourself inflammation or quality nutrition. I’m not only seeking to stay away from all inflammatory foods, but I’m trying to eat healing foods.

So far, I’ve been able to reduce a lot of my medications. No longer am I just living in a fog. Instead, I can actually concentrate most of the day. Sure I still have pain due to my nerve damage. But, eating clean has changed my extreme pain anywhere from 50-75 %. This entire time I’ve mainly eaten only fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, and very lean meats.

I just officially started juicing very healthy veggies. None of it does good to my taste buds. But, it feels like medicine as I chug it down. I’m aiming to eat around 12 servings of veggies daily. Seeking to resist all the delicious foods around me has been very challenging. Especially during the holiday season. However, by the grace if God I’ve stayed the course and my body keeps thanking me for it. If you’re trying to get healthy. Start with your diet before you take any other steps forward.

“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:8

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

God has proven faithful once again. He not only got me through both services. He kept my mind focused on the task at hand. It’s awfully hard to override fogginess when you can’t have caffeine or sugar. Still somehow I was able to keep myself out of God’s way this morning. And, I feel much much better than I did before.

I’ve got to brag on God’s faithfulness a little bit more. Based on the past 26 years of ministry God has always come through. When I feel like nothing good can happen. When I feel I have nothing more to give. God picks me up and carries me through the fire. Based on the past He can be trusted 100 % of the time.

I could share story after story of His provision, protection, and power being so evident in my life. I can promise you I’m not worthy of being a pastor. I’m not capable of being a pastor. Apart from the call of God and the goodness of God my ministry would have long ago ended. God keeps working on me to make me what I can only be through Christ. My heart will sing his praises forever.

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23

Take My Hand Lord

For the first time in a month I’m not feeling well on a Saturday night. I can’t put my finger on exactly what I can do. All I know is nerve pain is running throughout my body like electricity. Over the past few years this is what I felt every single Saturday night. Then, I would get up on Sundays and preach back to back services feeling blinded by pain.

Somehow by the grace of God I’ve made it through every Sunday in the past. Somehow God uses my weakness to demonstrate His strength. God uses my desperation to help me totally depend upon Him. I guess we’re all tempted to think we can depend upon ourselves. It’s only when we reach the end of ourselves that we can be totally full of Christ.

Now, I’ve taken medication that should ensure that I get much needed sleep. But, I have no idea how I will wake up feeling Sunday morning. I do know God’s grace will be sufficient. His strength will be enough. I’m doing all I can on my side so I’ve got to trust what God sees on the other side. Lord, take my hand and lead me where you want me to go. I know I can trust you with all my heart.

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

Restore My Joy Lord

Sitting here just taking one deep breath at a time. Honestly, I’ve got a lot of settling down to do. Physically, emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually. I need to be still and know God is in control. My overall pain is under control presently. The angry nerves throughout my body just won’t quit going crazy. Now, all I can do is control what I know might help.

One, I don’t need to talk about it too much right now. Two, I need to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Three, I need to keep doing what I do know as I trust God with all I don’t know. Four, I need to keep taking the next God led step. Lastly, I need to realize that I’m not where I used to be and I’m not all I’m gonna be.

The last month has been such a blessing. I’ve not experienced any neurological crashes. My ability to focus and live have been so encouraging. I’ve just ran into a few rough patches and discouraging moments. But, life is full of ups and downs for us all.

My blessings still far out weigh my disappointments. No doubt my glass is still more than half full. Today’s tough days are nothing compared to my worse days in the past. Thank you Jesus for peace, healing, answers, purpose, and the joy of knowing you are always at work. Especially in the midst of our trials you are working for us and despite us.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4

Let’s Not Repeat This

Written 9pm 12/6/19

Here I am 13 hours later still hurting very badly. In fact, it feels like someone released fire ants to run loose throughout my entire body. No, I’m not exaggerating about how I feel right now. The misery just hasn’t gotten out of my system. Today’s been one of those days I pray is not repeated anytime soon. After further assessment I don’t think there is just one culprit this time.

As I’ve done throughout my recovery. I keep up with critical stats and consistency through my Fitbit and personal journaling. While I totally believe something in my diet took me furtherest over the ledge. A few other things have definitely impacted my current situation. One, I walked nearly 1 1/2 miles further than I should have daily this past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Two, on those same 3 days of walking further I was active daily for nearly 3 hours longer than time has proven is good for me. Thirdly, my sleeping schedule has been much later and inconsistent all week. These are what I call measurable success stats.

Time has proven it all matters. I’m not just managing food, but miles, sleep, stress and overall daily activity. This is what I mean about maintaining respect of your condition and consistently doing what’s best for your overall health. Oh, and I have been taking Mondays off but I worked all day on this one. Yes, we’re all going to have off days, but it’s when a series of off days pile up that we’re typically asking for trouble.

All day I’ve been fighting to right the ship. All day I’ve been paying for thinking I could just ignore these consistencies all week. Again, it’s usually not just one thing that takes you down. It’s when all the poor choices collide that you will go down. Even still I’m thankful for answers, measurable stats and a chance to get it right moving forward. While I hate the pain these insights give me hope.

I know things can and will change. This was just a day that tackled me from every angle. My heart is not crushed and my future is not shattered. God is just needing to get my attention so that I keep learning how to live a continuous recovery lifestyle. Ask yourself, “what might you need to adjust in your life to get back on track?” Whatever it is I pray you decide to do it.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Painful But Preventable

Written 1:15pm Today

The only thing good about this day is at least I have answers. Pretty much I have to read the ingredients of EVERYTHING so closely. I can’t eat anything partially normal compared to others. Anything with sugar in it pounds my body so quickly. Grams of sugar add up so quickly even through foods we perceive are totally good for us.

My body has been raging all day with nerve pain that makes me want to throw up. Fortunately, I know it’s due to sugars that I didn’t even realize were in certain things. It’s so hard to keep reading the fine print or having to research everything before you eat it. I’m sure I’ve drank at least 60 ounces of water so far just in hopes of flushing out my system. However, the damage happens so quickly.

I’ve really not added anything much to my diet. I’ve just not recognized the sugars that were in certain things. So, today I learn another painful lesson. What I digest into my body is the biggest game changer in my condition. I can’t emphasize enough to some of you who think this knowledge isn’t for you. Your diet always impacts your overall health. Your diet affects your mood, your fatigue, your pain from inflammation, and your overall health in general.

If you want to feel better and live better. Choose right now to eat better. Quit drinking those sodas and energy drinks. Quit eating lots of sweets and fast food. Seek one step at a time to make healthy food and drink choices. I’m telling you that in less than 1-2 weeks you will feel a major difference. Learn from my pain so that you can reduce your pain. Trust me, you will thank me later for telling you this absolute God ordained truth.

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” 1 Corinthians 10:23

Why I Write A Lot Less

I used to literally write day and night about my pain. It wasn’t something I just talked about. Pain was something I was continually living and breathing. In fact, it had me really, really down for so long. Therefore, I had to find a way for God to use it to encourage others. Somehow it lifted my spirit to lift up another.

Now, I find myself writing a lot less. One, I’m back to living out my new normal. Two, while I’m still always in pain. I’m not always consumed by that pain. Thirdly, I don’t like to feed my pain. Used to I always wrote in the midst of my greatest pain. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to be still and allow God to calm you. Then, after the storm settles you can better share of God’s goodness despite your pain.

My steps towards recovery are still day and night. I still watch closely my daily activity, exercise, sleep, diet, and overall health. I don’t have much time to write about all I’m seeking to put into practice. I still try not to waste my past or present pain. Daily I’m able help somebody up because I know what it feels to be knocked down. God never ceases to put windows of opportunity in front of me. In some way, I hope my divine journey has encouraged you.

Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” John 9:3

Just 35 Days Later

In just a little over a month my eyes have been opened big. Who knew that diet alone could play such a big role in drastically reducing my chronic pain. I’m not talking about because of any weight loss. I had already lost 30 pounds prior to starting this elimination diet. Even after maintaining my body’s ideal weight for over 8 months straight. It never did anything significant for reducing my pain.

However, once I wholeheartedly started my present diet my life quickly changed. There’s no doubt that what you eat impacts the chaos within your body. As long as I stay strictly within the lines of this diet I’m nearly 75 percent better then just 35 days ago. The moment I get away from this discipline my nerve wrecked body begins to melt in just a matter of hours. Maybe we are actually what we eat.

Anyone who has watched my journey up close can see the drastic difference in me. Before I was barely hanging on. Fighting everyday to have the ability to focus. Now, I’m not afraid of crashing anytime. I can maintain focus daily. Before my mind couldn’t get off the pain and my nervous system crashed weekly. Now, I’m living with consistent quality moments and I’ve never crashed while sticking to the daily plan.

Has it been easy? Absolutely not! Has it been worth it? Absolutely yes! It’s not what I would have chosen to do. However, if through this God can give me a better life. I’m willing to maintain this discipline until the day I die. The past 35 days I’ve only been eating fruits, veggies, nuts, lean meats and beans. I’ve been staying away from corn, dairy, eggs, gluten grains, white table sugar, shellfish, soy, beef, pork, processed meats, coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Today, I’m officially adding back to my diet eggs, cheese, corn, shrimp, and lean beef. I’m going to add these back one by one to see how my body responds. But, I have no doubt that white sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine create havoc quickly inside my body. Maybe there’s other foods on my elimination list that are keeping me sane. All I know is this diet has change my life completely. Anyone’s health would change for the better eating this way.

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.”1 Corinthians 10:23

Total God-Made Day

Before my day even started I was blessed with nearly 9 hours of sleep. I did have to take some muscle relaxers, but I woke up very refreshed. After eating some fruit I headed out the door. Fortunately, a friend was able to drive me to Columbia,SC to watch my favorite college football team’s big rivalry game. Other than hating the traffic I really enjoyed my day and the weather was beautiful.

Due to eating totally clean all day I’ve had no major pain all day. There’s no doubt that what I eat always affects my pain levels. The results just keep proving themselves time and time again. It’s such a relief knowing I can actually do something to better my condition. With hope sitting in front of me I’m not about to waste it.

Tomorrow someone is blessing me with a really nice juicer. I will be making sure my body gets the nutrition it needs each day. I will continue learning how to live this new lifestyle of eating. I’m not going to complain anymore about the food I have to eat and the food I can’t eat. No, it’s not easy. But, the quality of life is well worth the discipline. Thank you Jesus for a great day without any painful surprises. Watch out devil I’m seeing the light.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Thanks For Answers & Perspective

Earlier I felt deeply the crippling pain that once owned my body. In the past, things would have just kept spiraling downhill. My heart would keep racing. My body kept aching and I would just lay there feeling anxious and hopeless. Those days are officially behind me as I’ve seen the light. I now know without a doubt the power of eating healthy.

Over 100 ounces of water and a few hours later I’m back on track. Physically and mentally I’m even more on track than before. There’s no doubt that even most artificial sweeteners are not good for me. Even the decaf coffee I started drinking is not good for me. Even my sugar free popsicles must go. Bottom line is before last Friday night I was eating totally clean without question. My body had never felt better until I started adding things that were questionable back to my diet. I should’ve stuck with what was working.

Goodbye popsicles, artificial sweeteners and anything that might even have the least bit of caffeine. I know how easily you guys flood inflammation to my nerve wrecked body. I will now very happily eat my salmon, asparagus and sweet potatoes. In fact, I will smile and be grateful with every single bite. In fact, this water has never tasted so great.

Folks, I’m telling you try eating totally clean and good for you self. That is after you actually discover what that means. It will reduce your pain and anxiety. It would help your overall health. It will proactively and reactively fight many battles for you. For the one who maybe needs to hear this the most. Diet alone has done more for me than any doctor or medications could do.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Psalm 143:10

Shipwrecked Again

I can’t believe I’m saying this again. My entire body is aching terribly and I’m so nauseous. I’m barely able to handle even the simplest conversation. My nerves are just a wreck. The only possible inflammatory food I’ve had is sugar free cool whip. Between last night and today I easily ate half of that regular sized container. Most of that was eaten today.

I’m guessing that once you’ve eaten as clean as I’ve been doing. Even an artificial sweetener is going to create havoc in your system. The only other things that could have contributed was sugar free creamer in a small cup of decaf coffee. I also had two sugar free popsicles last night. Who knows and I guess it really doesn’t matter. I guess it all produces way more inflammation than I could ever imagine.

God willing I will be going to the Carolina vs Clemson football game. For now I’m guzzling at least 100 ounces of water in hopes of flushing all of this out of my system. This is like having a disease that is so hyper sensitive. I’m feeling absolutely miserable right now. But, this is just further confirmation that everything I eat affects my condition. It’s all the motivation I need. Lord knows I never want to feel this way ever again.

I hate that I even gave the devil a small window. I’ve been doing so good and I’ve got to be even more disciplined moving forward. God please keep guiding me towards what I should and should not do. The more I’ve swallowed the more it has helped. And I’ve also taken a product my doctor gave me that is supposed to counter any potential food allergies. Thank God I eat least have answers this time. I will be going to bed extra early and hoping to be much better in the morning!

Pain & Hunger Don’t Mix

Because of much tougher seasons I’m pretty used to pain. I truly can’t remember waking up and not aching in some significant way. However, I feel like food can make one just as crazy. I guess you could say it was the one thing I could still control. Before, I could wake up and eat whatever I wanted. Then, all that seemed to change overnight.

It’s been 30 days, but now reality has finally hit me. If I’m going to do this I have to eat differently than most around me. I can’t just grab some ice cream, pie, cake, or banana pudding. Notice, I’m just listing a few things I would give anything for at this time. However, I know if I started feeding my real appetite things would get out of hand very quickly.

Earlier I was waiting on some salmon, asparagus, and sweet potatoes my wife was baking. All I did was walk in the kitchen to see things every direction my body shouldn’t digest. After discovering some sugar free cool whip in the fridge I began to indulge in what felt like a drug. After several big dips with some strawberries I got another big wake up call. I’m thinking to myself “this is my new reality.”

This not easy and the battle is not over. I literally yelled for my wife to come take the cool whip bowl from me before I cleared it all out. Yep, for me there really is no in between. Either I will eat disciplined or I want. Either this fight is worth the discipline or it’s not. Fortunately, my mind knows the right answer and my stomach is now full of salmon, asparagus, and sweet potatoes. But, it has left me irritable and moody to say the least.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Praise Report After Thanksgiving

#1 I fell asleep quickly last night and slept over 7 hours with great comfort.

#2 I woke up able to focus and finish this Sunday’s sermon.

#3. My pain level has been manageable all morning as I’m just very sore from the past week.

#4. I’m still only 5 ‘11 weighing in at 169.2 pounds since I didn’t eat any of the good stuff that I’m sure many enjoyed. How I stared those desserts in the face I will never know. But, it was not easy.

#5. God woke me up another day feeling very hopeful.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

I Made It Through Thanksgiving

Been a long, but blessed day with family. We’ve literally been gone since noon and should be home before 11pm. I didn’t start out this day feeling great. But, somehow I’ve survived the day without totally collapsing. My chronic pain has shown it’s ugly head in many ways.

Sadly, because I look so healthy on the outside most can’t see my inside brokenness. The fact that every step is painful in my present state. I’ve been very grateful for the quality moments I’ve had today. But, I would be absolutely lying if I said there were many easy moments. Pain just has a way of sucking all the joy clean out of you.

Even still, God keeps using my pain to increase my humility and compassion towards others. I’m literally drawn to anyone whose pain I can see in their eyes. Today, I had a few conversations that would not have been possible prior to my painful journey. Funny how you can feel God working so much when you can barely hold your head up.

Hopefully, tonight I won’t have such a tough night. Praise God, I was still able to stay completely on my diet. Plus, I’ve taken my nighttime meds early hoping to keep my pain from getting too out of hand. I’m sure I will have to spend a few hours in the tub. But, I can’t wait to get in my bed.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Thank You God

Thanks for your many prayers. I’ve gotten my breakthrough once again. I just finished sleeping almost 4 hours once the meds and prayers kicked in. Just gonna have to take at least one muscle relaxer much earlier each night. That is until I get back on top of things.

My recent days have been alright, but my recent nights not great at all. There are a combo of reasons this is happening. I’ve just made too many drastic life changes over the past few weeks. Medication reductions, totally new diet, and a major increase in daily activity. Even seeking to drive more recently has done me no favors.

Praise God I do have medications that can help me rest if I’m able to stay on top of the pain. Life is all about adjustments. I will learn from here. Still far beyond where I was before in this journey. Just gotta stay proactive with my self care at all times. Gonna try and get a few more hours sleep even now. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

His love endures forever.” Psalm 36:1

Just Ask For Prayer

I’m laying here just drowning in pain. My entire body is aching and my legs are throbbing so much. Seems it’s actually gotten worse instead of better. Even after a muscle relaxer and muscle rub the fire just won’t die. There’s definitely been some extra anxiety associated with this unexpected, escalated pain.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I need your prayers once again. God impressed upon my heart to get over my pride. Don’t worry about what others might think. Be honest about your struggle and invite others to join you in prayer. So, here I am spilling my guts.

I really have no idea how things have gotten this bad. Or why things are so much worse at night. All I know is I’m laying in a bed of pain I can’t make go away. I do believe some things can only come out by prayer. And, this man be one of those things.

“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21

Lots To Swallow Daily

My mind and heart are gradually calming down. I’m laying in bed on my side. Presently this is my only possible position for some comfort. Right now, I can’t lay on my back, sit up or stand without discomfort. My nights continue to make me feel trapped inside of my own body.

Anytime I’m forced to lay here in pain so much goes through my mind. Mainly, I try to remain a student of my condition. How can I possibly have a more positive outlook? What must I do to thrive not just survive? What should I do to give myself the greatest chance of healing. Here are a few things I know I must do physically everyday to be my healthiest.

#1 Get A Good Night’s Sleep

#2 Take necessary supplements and drink plenty of water.

#3 Eat Healthy & Stay Away From Unhealthy & Inflammatory Foods

#4 Walk Enough, But Not Too Much

(At least 2 miles no more than 3)

#5 Stretch Properly Morning, Day & Evening

#6 Keep Respecting My Condition

#7 Don’t stand, sit or drive more than 30 minutes at a time.

#8 Limit my stress load.

#9 Do what I can, but trust God with all I can’t.

#10 Get in the bed early. Generally in bed no later than 9pm and aim to be asleep before 11.