God You Take Over

Yesterday and today especially my dad has really been dealing with lots of pain. Seems like a fire that is never quite put out. When it’s bad it’s really bad. His shoulders, hips, back, legs and obviously many places throughout his body have been devastated by his cancer. Every day is a different battle, but still much the same. Apart from a miracle this cancer can’t really be stopped by man.

Now, none of us are throwing in the towel on hope. But, we all know you reach a point of major decision. Do you keep going to nonstop treatments and appointments? Or do you focus on comfort and some quality of life? Sadly, there hardly seems to be any place in between most of the time. Either dad is foggy or asleep so he can be comfortable. Or he has to endure pain that will bring any man to their knees.

I’m just not somebody who beats around the bush concerning this stuff. Who can love anyone and not want them to be comforted? Who can love anyone and not want to keep them on earth as long as possible? Of course, dad is the patient whose body is so weary and broken inside. Mom is the one who observes this brokenness from sun up to sun down. They both carry such a heavy load in their hearts.

There are many more decisions ahead in this journey. Only God knows when this battle will be over. All I know is watching someone suffer so much carries a great heaviness with it. You can’t unsee or forget certain things you will always remember. All we want period is what is best for dad. Whatever he wants is always what we want. Keep praying for his pain to be kept under control and for God to guide their every decision.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Romans 8:26

A Rare Rough Night

Anyone who has followed my pain journey long knows I’ve had a lot of rough nights in the past. It used to be that the only time I felt any relief was in my sleep. Night after night felt like a pain driven nightmare. Back then my prayers seemed like whispers. I really began to think nothing would ever change. All I could do is hold on to faith.

Fortunately, God proved my gut feelings wrong. Somehow, some way my life slowly turned around two years ago. Typically, my pain is usually bearable. I just have to live mindful of my condition. This requires living a recovery lifestyle, watching my diet and staying ahead of the pain.

Tonight has not been a good pain night. My entire body is flooded with nerve pain. I feel miserable and can’t wait for things to settle down. But, this unexpected flare up reminded me how far God has brought me. Praise God, most nights are no longer like this one. Maybe, I needed the reminder to remember God’s goodness!

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

Pastor To Pastor

Had a really good visit with my parents tonight. Dad and I were talking earlier tonight about the ministry. How very challenging and rewarding it can be. How he has seen me have to deal with many of the challenges he once faced in his 48 years as a pastor.

Talking with dad Easter 2021

We both agreed that pastoring is a calling. It’s not something a man just decides he wants to do. Neither of us were thinking about being a pastor when we grew up. God just prepared us long before we were ready. Then, when that clear call from God came we surrendered all to Jesus.

There’s something about talking to someone who understands your particular calling. I was 18 when I surrendered my life to full time ministry. Not once before that day had I ever pondered being in the ministry. Then, one evening an evangelist extended the invitation to me. He asked, “Is there anyone here that feels God is calling them to full time ministry?” I didn’t even know fully what that meant, but I knew God was calling me to surrender my vocational future to Him.

The rest is history as I’ve been surrendering daily to that call for the past 27 years. There are many people that I minister to now, that my dad ministered to their families years before. I always seek to tell my dad that I realize he has retired from being a pastor. But, the eternal seeds God planted through him and mom over the years are still growing.

“Such confidence before God is ours through Christ. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim that anything comes from us, but our competence comes from God. And He has qualified us as ministers..”
2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Dad’s Prayers Were Answered

It’s just one hour after resurrection Sunday. I’ve had a very long day. After preaching two Easter services we had to be at two different family gatherings. After a 14 hour day my body is just struggling to settle down.

Dad 5 Months Ago

Easter was a God made day in many ways. First, I got 7 1/2 hours of sleep on Saturday night. Secondly, when I woke up I felt good and my voice was much stronger. Thirdly, God just showed up and showed out at both Sunday services. It’s always obvious when God takes over because it’s nothing you could credit to yourself.

Yes, all of my dad’s prayers were answered today. Him and mom were able to attend our 11am worship service while listening from their van. Also, God gave dad enough strength to gather with our entire family for lunch. To some these things may not sound like a big deal. But, to a man who knows his days on earth are limited. Life is all about Faith, Family, and Friends. I may start having dad pray for me every Saturday night.

“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

Daddy Prayed For Me

Well, after literally being up all last night. I’m hoping my nighttime meds will have me fast asleep soon. Tomorrow is not just any Sunday for me. It’s world changing resurrection Sunday. I really want to be at my very, very best. However, I’m not actually feeling my best right now.

My voice has been struggling since last night. So I’ve sipped on a few cups of hot apple cider and swallowed some honey. I’ve also been limiting my words as much as possible. I only made one phone call today and that was to check on my parents.

Fortunately, dad’s pain was under control at that moment. I told dad that my voice was struggling and my body was weary. I’ve just put a lot of effort into getting ready for multiple Easter services both online and in person. I told him if he was up to it I needed to changed places with him tonight. I told dad this time I needed him to pray over me.

Of course, he stated that he always prays for me. But, that he would be glad to pray right now with me. In that moment, dad had no limitations whatsoever. Why? Because the power found in prayer is not about our strength or stamina. It’s about seeking God for the supernatural that only He can deliver in Jesus name.

I don’t recall every word he prayed. It did stand out that he said “Lord it’s in our weakness we learn how to find our true strength in you.” My past brokenness walking in pain and dad’s present brokenness has really put us both on the same wave length. We know we can’t even walk without God holding our hand.

Any brokenness in dad’s voice was not just because he is getting weaker. It’s because the weaker he gets the more he is aware of his desperate need for God to breath life into him. Dad’s sincere prayer over me increased my peace and raised my expectations. I know we serve a God who can and will take care of our every need. When you do what’s right according to God’s will you can’t go wrong. I look forward to God taking my little and doing a whole lot more due to His resurrection power. Now, it’s time to get some sleep!

“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

Take Up Your Cross

I’m typically in bed by at least 10pm every night. I’m generally asleep at the latest by midnight. Usually my nighttime medications help me fall asleep sometime in that window of time. However, tonight has been one of those rare occasions. Here it is 7am and I’ve not slept a wink all night.

Not really sure what the biggest reason is for my struggle to sleep. I’ve not slept great the last few nights. I have been way too busy mentally all week. A whole lot has been continually on my mind and in my prayers. I’m also a preacher who has done everything I can to prepare for multiple Easter services.

These days I feel like I have to wear a lot of different hats. However, my health really limits how much weight I can actually carry on my shoulders. I find that periodically you need to have these seasons. Times that force you to take deep breaths and revaluate your approach to life.

I believe most people feel out matched in this day and time. It may look different in each of our lives. But, we each have a cross to bear. Just like Jesus we have to strive to stay clean and close to our Heavenly Father. We’ve got to keep taking the next right step following Jesus with every step.

“Then he Jesus to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Keep Walking With God

The longer you live I really believe your faith should grow. As you realize your limitations. It should make you realize your desperate need for God. The older you get the more you should ponder life after death. You should think more about how what you are doing in this life will impact the life to come.

I really don’t know how anyone can even stay sane without turning to God. Life is too hard and full of so many heartaches. We’re all so desperate for God’s grace, goodness, comfort, protection and direction. There’s just too many moments that will leave you shaking your head. We weren’t meant to walk alone, but with God and each other.

Everyday, I realize there is a God and I’m not Him. Everyday, I start by giving God the reigns and striving to give him all the glory. My faith is always a work in progress. Every season brings new challenges and tests that God uses to develop my faith. All I really know for sure is I can’t even walk without God holding my hand.

“O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Something To Smile About

Oh what a joy it was to finally talk with my dad on the phone earlier. It’s been at least a week since he could even dialogue at all with me. His pain has just been blinding and disrupting his life so much. I just kept praying that we could hopefully see him smile again.

This morning they only gave him half of his normal weekly chemo infusion. They had to dial things back due to his weakened body. But, thanks to his pain actually being under control this evening dad sounded himself for once. Just hearing him talk for nearly 40 minutes had me smiling ear to ear. I told dad I looked forward to going to bed with a smile on my face instead of tears in my heart.

Dad just cried and cried before he got off the phone. Said he never meant for any of us to have to hurt over him. I assured him that it’s a blessing for him to still be with us and a blessing to be able to be there for him.

As tears fall, I must say that pastoring my dad was never something I envisioned. But if you can’t minister to your own family you shouldn’t be ministering to other families. This has been the most painful privilege of my life. Even when the heart aches I know my strength and faith are being renewed.

Funny how these seasons really force you to ponder what really matters in life. You just can’t escape the brevity of life or the frailty of mankind. We think we’re so strong, but we’re so weak apart from Christ. We think we’re in control until we lose all sense of control. We think we will live forever until something threatens our life.

I’m so thankful that God is using this season to strengthen my praying knees and open my spiritual eyes. Even in the broken moments God is making something beautiful. God keeps proving Himself faithful to dad, mom and each of us. I will trust God’s plans wherever that leads.

“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1

Living On Prayer

Well, dad’s doctor’s appointment went as well as we could expect. His blood platelet level has doubled. Therefore, he will receive his weekly chemo infusion tomorrow. Hopefully his body can handle more treatment. Based on his present frailty that will only happen through prayer.

Now, dad’s greatest felt pain was definitely addressed. He will have appointment with the radiologist as soon as possible. Then, he will undergo more radiation. Hopefully, the left shoulder that’s killing him so much can be comforted in some way.

Regardless of any further treatment dad’s pain management can’t afford to stop. Mom will continue to do all she can to keep dad comfortable morning, day and night. This has certainly proven to be a tall task when it comes to staying on top of dad’s pain. Unfortunately, when it’s bad it’s really bad. But, he does have relief at times they just have to proactively manage his pain.

Only God knows where things go from here. We will see rather quickly whether any further treatment knocks dad’s numbers right back down. He really doesn’t have a whole lot of strength left to overcome anymore decline. But, dad is simply not done fighting. And, I can’t blame him for his fight.

The great news is this doctor visit was very productive in at least giving them options of some hope and relief. It’s been a long day for dad and mom. Hopefully, they can both get some much needed rest. Praise God. dad’s night time meds do have him comfortable at the moment. Thank you all for your continued prayers.

“Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” Mark 9:29

Where Is The Easy Button?

Dad’s unpredictable pain continues to make his life at best feel bearable. He and mom really don’t know their days from their nights anymore. Mom has to practically help dad up 24/7 for him to safely get up anytime. Dad’s left shoulder is basically useless and causing him insane pain.

A walker is used at all times inside the house for safety. However, it’s hard to operate with only one useful arm and so many cracking bones. As dad says his hips and shoulders make actual crunching sounds often. Dad actually makes a lot of different sounds that indicate his body is so discombobulated.

All I know is dad is at a real crossroads. Of course, they know he has to have steady comfort care. But, we have no idea how they will handle his chemo treatments moving forward. For now all treatment has been halted. And my dad does hope to keep fighting the cancer at this time.

Yes, he knows that the chemo itself causes him many of his present difficulties. He also knows that if his cancer numbers are allowed to accelerate much it will disrupt every part of his body. Things could go from bad to worse in a heartbeat.

Tomorrow dad will go for a doctor visit at Charleston Oncology. Pray that whatever needs to be done will be done. Pray dad won’t go another day without the best possible comfort care plan in place. Pray Gods directs mom and dad on how to keep taking the next right step. Pray they both get some much needed sleep tonight. They are both exhausted and need some healing rest and peace.

I sure wish there was an easy button. Unfortunately, all they can do is walk through this valley together holding onto God’s hand. God knows what each of us need for each new day. All we need to do is keep asking Him to reveal His will to us. God will not only show us the way, but He will never forsake us along the way. I know God is with them every step of the way.

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

Dad’s Struggles Continue

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you about dad. One, I’ve been totally off social media for the past week. Two, there just really hasn’t been a whole to say until recently. For the past few weeks dad has continued to rapidly lose weight even with a good appetite. I would love to blame his continuing chemotherapy. However, I’m afraid it’s his cancer as his numbers significantly increased the past two months.

Dad has continued to feel extremely weak. His pain has seemed more manageable compared to the past. But, his get up and go has gotten up and gone. He has lost so much muscle and resembles a shell of the man we once knew. That alone has really taken its toll on him.

Yesterday, him and mom went to Charleston for his weekly chemotherapy infusion. Dad was in there waiting for over an hour hooked up and ready to go. Then, a nurse came into to tell dad they had to stop his chemo treatment for now. Based on his blood work dad is walking on very shaky ground.

Dad was not able to have his chemo treatment yesterday. His blood platelet level was extremely low. The normal range is 142-424. His number was 46 yesterday. Unfortunately, he already took his 12 oral chemo capsules that morning because they didn’t know about the platelets until he had his lab work done. He also lost a couple more pounds. He was told not to do anything that could cause him to start bleeding and to be very careful to avoid falling.

Dad has pretty much just laid around all day. I know the air has been knocked out of his sails in so many ways. Physically, emotionally and mentally he is in an outright war. He and mom have shared a lot of long days and many tears. Only God knows what each new day will bring. This has been an up and down roller coaster ride for sure.

Please continue to pray for God’s protection over dad. He basically has no immune system presently. Please pray for God’s peace and comfort for both mom and dad. Fortunately, I do know they keep placing everything in God’s hands. Even still, these seasons and long days can create such a heaviness.

My parents have prayed for and ministered to so many people throughout the years. Now, they need their own prayer warriors. I know no matter what God has a plan. I just want them to feel God’s love, peace and promise through it all. No matter what we all know God is good and faithful.

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

Limits Don’t Define You

When you see this video you just see an 11yr old boy having normal fun. When I see this young man riding what he calls “Rolling Thunder” I see the power of God at work. My youngest son Asher is one of the sweetest kids I know. However, he faces numerous physical, emotional, and mental challenges. He struggles with learning, countless phobias and pretty much anything physically challenging.

He’s been told the only sport he could ever excel in would be swimming. He’s never been able to ride a bike or even run like an average boy. He has gone to countless therapists and has come a long way. To him just being able to enjoy this rolling bike excites him so much.

Therefore, it makes me and God smile to watch him roll downhill with a true feeling of freedom. As he told me before “Daddy I’m just the way God made me.” Don’t measure your progress based on what you can’t do. Celebrate what with only God’s help you can do. Your limitations will not hinder God’s expectations for your life.

“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

Just A Tough Day

I woke up today in quite a fix. It was all I could do to get out of my bed. Sadly, it’s nothing that ever takes me by total surprise. I knew my nervous system was out of whack. I knew that nothing would be easy for me today.

Anyone who has battled long with chronic pain knows what I mean. It is such an unpredictable life disrupter. You can feel completely fine one moment. Then, complete at its mercy the next. The pain can be paralyzing and so deflating. You lose confidence in doing anything when the pain is blinding.

Fortunately, these days don’t always repeat themselves. Yet, in the moment you just wonder how long your condition will hold you hostage. No matter how long you’ve been dealing with struggles. You never get used to feeling so low, heavy hearted and overwhelmed.

My greatest confidence often comes from the past. Remembering how many times God has calmed the storm. Recalling time and time when things were even worst. Yet, God made a way every time I didn’t feel I could carry on. God has been so faithful time and time again. So, I will trust God again for my strength, protection, direction comfort and relief.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.” Psalm 6:2

Pain Connects Us

Last night and really all day my lower back pain has been constant. Fortunately, God gave me the grace and strength to preach two outdoors services. I’ve learned how to put mind over the matter when necessary. But, eventually the pain rushing through my body like a tornado threatens everything. It affects me physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally.

However, I sincerely mean it when I say “Thank you God for my pain.” Yes, even the pain that runs so deep at times it paralyzes me. Yes, even the pain that at times steals my joy and keeps me uncomfortable. Yes, even the pain that used to keep me up all night. Yes, even the pain that has made me cry a river many times in the past.

You see, without my pain I couldn’t relate to your pain. Without being in the fire I couldn’t relate to how it feels under fire. My pain gives me compassion for the hurting. It gives me humility towards others instead of puffed up pride in myself. It connects my heart to other’s hearts. Why? Because it takes pain to understand pain.

If we allow God to use our pain for His glory. Our pain will become God’s greatest platform instead of our greatest excuse. It will allow us to more effectively comfort and minister to others. While pain has many different languages. Pain puts us all on level ground in need of God and each other. I’m grateful for my pain in that respect.

“ 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

It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense

I understand what’s it’s like to have a chronic condition that can take you down without a moments notice. Honestly, I can’t lift over 5 pounds and it not give me fits. I can’t stand or sit for over an hour and not hurt like crazy. I can’t handle half of what I once could mentally or physically before my nerve damage. After 5 1/2 years of this constant realization I’ve had to accept my new normal.

For reasons I do and don’t understand God has allowed this melting pain. I used to just fight with it. Now, I just let God fight for me. I seek to control everything I can. Then, I have to trust God with everything I can’t. My chronic pain is a constant disruption to most of my plans. But, I still believe wholeheartedly it has been allowed for God’s greater plans.

So, don’t worry about what people think about you. Don’t think you can fill explain your condition to others who have not experienced it themselves. Let go and let God lead your heart. And He will turn your pain into a platform for His glory. Recognize your limits, but understand your condition doesn’t limit God.

“O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Jonah 1:14

Need Some Relief From Your Chronic Pain?

Let me begin by saying that anything I’m about to share has been proven. It has proven to at least help reduce inflammation in your body. To keep those of us who are already one degree away from boiling stay sane. If you battle daily with inflammation in your body you need to listen. If you know somebody else that does you need to share this truth.

Many of you know that I battle with severe nerve damage due to a lower back injury. This pain when it reaches it’s highest point doesn’t just ache a little bit. If it gets out of hand it consumes every part of my body from my feet into my face. I used to think I was going crazy, but thank God I learned over time how to at least keep things manageable.

Over two years ago I started what is called the elimination diet. On that diet I only eat mainly lean meats, fruits, nuts, veggies, and beans. I definitely stay away from high levels of caffeine and sugar. Both of those things have proven time and time again to be my kryptonite. Anyway, with the elimination diet and exercise I lost over 40 pounds. But, most of all I got my chronic pain much more under control.

Sure, I have to monitor my overall stress load, sleeping habits, and even exercise. But, nothing changed my life more than a change in my diet. Every time I think my diet can’t be helping me that much. God proves that it has certainly been a key to my miracle breakthrough. Trust me, once you’ve going through Hell for nearly four years. You can’t help but see your blessing once the storm is calmed.

Now, there are two things I know have a HUGE impact on anyone’s chronic pain. Those two things are Caffeine and Sugar. Just this past week I learned that lesson the hard way again. The past two week’s I got a lot more liberal with my diet. Once my body got a taste of sugar I found myself stuffing my face with goodies at least once a day. Then, last Thursday reality knocked me down again.

Last Thursday I didn’t eat anything crazy. I had one serving of Lasagna , a salad, and very little otherwise. But, I did drink one cup of coffee, one medium sized Red Bull, and one can of coke zero. Realize, these are not things I drink ever on a consistent basis. But, on that day I desperately needed the boost to concentrate.

I went to bed that night with no problem. Then, less than two hours after sleeping my body went crazy. You see, my nerves are so sensitive I can feel anything that contaminates the body. For at least three hours I felt out of my mind. My entire neurological system was going haywire. All I could do was pray, take all the medications possible, and wait on the storm to pass.

At that time, I just started drinking as much water as my body can consume per hour. The next few days were tough. But, all I did was go back on my diet. I started back drinking at least 100 ounces of water daily. I made sure I’ve not had anything with a high level of sugar. I’ve not had even one ounce of caffeine in 5 days.

Just like I’ve experienced in the past my nerve pain once again became bearable and under control. There is no way anyone reading my future book will be able to deny the impact of diet in my healing. Once you’ve spent four years mainly in a bed or bath you’re just so grateful. You’re so thankful for some answers and hope for a better tomorrow.

Now, the only reason I’m writing this is for that one person who needs the same hope facing their chronic pain. If you’re hurting enough you should be all ears right now. I’m telling you that a change in your diet will make a big difference. It won’t fix everything. But, it can definitely improve things dramatically. I feel it has improved me at least 50-75 percent.

SO, please hear me when I tell you all that caffeine and sugar is just feasting on your body’s inflammation. You’re just pouring gasoline on an already blazing fire. You need to make a change if you hope to see a change. It won’t fix things overnight. But, for me even one week made a massive difference.

If you want to recover as much as possible. You have to be willing to live a recovery lifestyle. Take one right step at a time. Eliminate things that you know you shouldn’t eat or do. Let the hopeful relief from that pain push you to make the drastic changes necessary. I pray this post helps at least one person who needed to hear it. God bless you as you walk by faith through you chronic pain.

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

God’s Not Done With You

Apart from a miracle I will be fighting with my body in some way for the rest of my life. I try not to dwell on it or feed it. I try not to allow that to be my permanent life excuse. However, my body reminds me daily that the doctor wasn’t lying to me. I still recall him saying “Son, I don’t care who tells you anything otherwise. You will have permanent nerve damage the rest of your life.”

At first those words deflate and almost paralyze you. The good news is my glass is half full not half empty. That same doctor said I could’ve easily been paralyzed based on my MRI. And, that without my first surgery I would’ve definitely ended up in a wheelchair soon. Praise God I’m not physically paralyzed or in a wheelchair.

Even as the pain runs deep in me now. I’m highly motivated to do whatever I can while seeking to trust God with everything I can’t. I’ve had time to learn this is a daily journey not a forty yard dash. We’re always having to get our minds renewed so we can live with a renewed focus.

Everyday I will choose to get up and live my best life now. I will continue eating and drinking only things that have proven to ease my inflammation and pain. I will do what exercises I can to keep my body in the best shape possible. I will keep praying and trusting God to use this purposeful pain. There’s no doubt God uses it to keep me humble, compassionate and God dependent.

What I won’t do is accept my felt limitations. God is bigger than anything that comes our way. Whether it be adversity on the inside or outside of us. It’s in the struggle we truly learn how to faith walk. As we learn to approach God daily with a childlike faith. Somehow God picks us up and carries us forward.

God has brought me so far and taught me so much. Yet, the daily struggle is very real when nothing physical comes easy. But, God has taken me this far and He will take me further. Here I am Lord once again free falling into your arms. Looking to you to finish your story for your glory in my life. I fully trust you moving forward to finish the work you started.

“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

Better Just Sore

Last night was a night I would rather forget. Every nerve in my body crashed leaving me just a shell of myself. For nearly 3 hours my heart was pounding and my body was burned within. It’s like having an outer body experience you can’t fully explain. You feel trapped inside and the nerve pain rocked me from head to toe.

While I would rather forget last night it’s critical I remember. There’s no doubt this was a byproduct of too much sugar and caffeine getting into my system. I eaten clean for so long now my body just didn’t know how to handle it. The last two weeks I’ve got more and more slack with my diet. If I ever wondered if my diet really helped that much I no longer have any diet.

I feel majorly sleep deprived and bruised all over. But, other than that I just feel some PTSD after last night’s neurological meltdown. Where would I be if God hadn’t given me answers? How have I been able to carry on all this time except by the grace of God. Last night revealed that God has been so good to me. That experience felt like Hell, but most days I’m now able to enjoy my new normal. Thanks for your prayers!

Nerves Are Fried Again

Well, I was asleep for an hour or more. Suddenly, my nervous system literally woke me up going completely crazy. Every part of my body has been constantly vibrating. The least little sound, movement and even my own voice sends me into orbit. This experience is like having an internal earthquake that is way off the charts.

When my nerves get this way there’s very little I can do. I have already thrown every bit of medication I have at this fire. All I can do now is sit up, pray and try to process my emotions. It’s one of those things you just can’t fully explain. It’s like having an internal seizure that seems to have no end. You feel trapped in your own body as you pray for the storm to calm down.

This makes three nights in a row that have been very painful. This stuff tonight makes you feel crazy. You don’t feel like yourself and definitely don’t feel in control. I’m afraid this fluid commotion has been building up for days. History has taught me certain factors that likely brought this own.

My stress level has been very high. My days have been very long. My eating habits have not been the consistently what they should be. My intake of any daily caffeine always serves as a threat. Sadly, today I drank an energy drink for the first time in a long time. I knew I was playing with fire and it could cause me to eventually crash.

There’s something about taurine, caffeine and sugar that can crash my entire nervous system. The good news is I’m calming down even as I write this for you. Also, I’m so glad I know things I can do to hopefully prevent this from happening again. So many times in the past I just felt hopeless, clueless and desperate in these moments.

Now, I know better what can get things settled back down with time. I’m drinking lots of water to flush out my system. I will stay away from sugar and caffeine. I will seek to stay away from inflammatory foods and drinks. I will get back to living a recovery lifestyle.

Sometimes you need these awakening moments to remember your reality. I can no longer just do things in a normal fashion. This is a thorn in my flesh that’s always a constant threat that my health. I’ve got to live with a new normal perspective. I need to be grateful for what I can do and actively live aware of things I shouldn’t do. Even these tough times are purposeful in God’s hands.

“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

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 12:7-10

A Bad & Good Kind Of Pain

I’ve not had a bad day overall. Had a fairly productive day of ministry. Had a daddy night with my youngest son. I was blessed by God to be able to get up and show up. These days are definitely way better than some of my most painful days in my past.

That said I’m in a great deal of pain tonight. I’m talking about my legs aching continuously. My lower back surgical area throbbing and making me feel nauseous. It’s the type pain you can’t allow to stay on top of you for long. Fortunately, I have taken meds that I’m hopeful will help me rest within a few hours.

I absolutely hate feeling this way. In the moment, it always feels like it’s going to take me down for good. Fortunately, I’ve learned this too shall pass. I will get past this momentary madness even if it makes my heart race momentarily.

I know this because God has proven His faithfulness time and time again. It lifts my faith to remember where I used to be. It lifts my faith to know how far God has taken me. It lifts my faith to know that whatever comes my way God will take me through it. This bad, but good pain reminds me that without God’s help I could do nothing.

“I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalm 77:12

From Pain To Purpose

There was a time when all you heard about was my pain. Everyday felt like nonstop torment. Hope seem nowhere in sight. Life was just a fight for survival. The days and nights seemed endless. Only misery consumed me.

So much has changed over the past two years. God has used my pain to keep me humble. God has used my pain to strengthen my faith in Him alone. God has used my pain to give me a true understanding and compassion for others in pain. God has used my pain to accomplish things for my good and His glory. God has used my pain to teach me that miracles still do happen.

While I may still have limitations and some daily discomfort. The good in my life now far outweighs the bad. I’m back to living my new purpose while embracing my new normal. I’ve always got reason to praise God because rarely are tears pouring down my face. Before it seemed to be a frequent occurrence.

For 4 long years I thought nothing would change. All I did was keep the faith while seeking to take the next right step. I had many praying for me along the way. In God’s perfect timing I found the other side of my misery. What was once just pain is now my new found joy in the Lord.

I’ve learned that I can make it through anything with God on my side. I’ve learned God will always make a way when there seems to be no way. I’ve learned that even the things that surprise you never surprise Him. I’ve learned there are two types of pain. There is wasted pain and purposeful pain. In our hands pain is only heartache. In God’s hands it’s clay that God is molding into something beautiful.

“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

P.S. I used to hold these spinal cord stimulator batteries in my hand just choosing to believe God would change things. He helped me and He will help you.

Please Keep Praying

I know so many people are struggling in this season one way or another. Sadly, most of us don’t feel like we can physically support one another the same due to social distancing. But, no amount of distance can stop our prayers for one another. My parents still need those prayers to keep coming. This week alone is a very intense one.

This week alone my dad has scheduled 8 different treatment visits. Everyday this week he is undergoing radiation to hopefully reduce some pain. Today he starts a new chemotherapy infusion. He will have these infusions done every Wednesday and Thursday for the next several weeks. He will also have 5 more straight days of radiation next week too.

All I know is dad is very weak. Much weaker than he has ever been in his life or this journey. Even with his cancer numbers much lower due to treatment. This cancer has torched my dad’s body and all he can do is keep fighting. He is no longer in remission. They are just trying to hold back the cancer as much as possible. But, it’s painfully obvious dad’s body can only withstand so much.

We all know cancer is a very ugly disease. It takes so much from a person day after day. All my family wants is God’s will, peace and comfort for both dad and mom. I wish to God I knew more to do. All I can do is try to be there and invite others to join me in praying for them. And, if you or your loved one is struggling. Know that I’m praying for you and them as well.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16

My Forever Valentine

The longer you’ve been with someone the more you actually learn about love. Love is not a feeling that just comes and goes. Love is not just a few voiced vows and then everything is happily ever after. Love is a daily decision to say “I do” for the rest of your life. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. For richer or poorer as long as you both shall live.

Well, Aimee Crosby has proven her love for me over the last 27 years. From the early years of being an indecisive jerk. To the later years of being an insensitive jerk. From the time I was healthier than most to the times I could barely get out of bed. From the times we could only live paycheck to paycheck. To the times we found God’s greater blessings.

Honestly, it’s just not easy being a pastor’s wife apart from the other growing pains. She has to share me with so many people. She has to carry whatever I carry plus four kids she dearly loves. Never does she complain or demand everything be her way. Instead, her love just keeps proving itself day after day.

There was a time in our marriage I thought she needed to do all the changing. However, time has only proven she’s gotten it right all along. I recall one time God led me to turn to the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Then, I read the first 8 verses of the love chapter. There I further understood the characteristics of true love. There I realized that everything I read was every way she loves me to this day.

Now, I’m still seeking to be more like her when I grow up. But, I know I’ve found the person I can’t imagine living without. Someone who loves me like God loves me. She loves me despite me. She loves me unconditionally and relentlessly. That’s why she will always be my valentine. Her name should be Aimee “Love” Crosby.

“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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

P.S. I chose this old picture because it just reminds me how much she always makes me smile. I still love you with all my heart Aimée Crosby!

Don’t Ignore The Warning Lights

Here I go again experiencing another night in the flames of nerve pain. I really had a pretty decent day after a good night’s sleep. But, by supper time I didn’t even feel like the same person. These burning nerve sensations run from my feet all the way into my face. There’s no quick fix or running from them. Eventually my medication will help me drift off to sleep.

In the meantime, all I can do is wait and learn from my mistakes. There’s no doubt I’ve been doing way too much with my nerve condition. Too much stress, too many hours and too many possible pitfalls to mention. At least I know that recovery always starts with rest, diet, discipline, and monitoring closely my work flow.

I’m convinced our bodies are much like vehicles. When something lights up on our car dash we know it indicates something needs to be addressed. When things act up with our bodies it usually indicates something needs our attention. I hate these feelings and nights like this one. But, it’s these nights that remind me I’ve got to listen closely to my body. I’ve also got to be still and let God be God.

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

Look What God Has Done

The past few nights have been very painful . Not sure what exactly has triggered my nerve pain. I have been very busy from sun up to sun down. I have been under a lot of pressure as my ministry keeps growing. Honestly, life in general has been very demanding and challenging.

Even still, God has really been helping me see all the positives. One, my pain is nothing compared to my dad’s battle with cancer. Two, my pain doesn’t compare to the emotional pain my mom carries daily caring for my dad. Three, I just know things could always be much worse. My present difficult moments are nothing compared to some of my past darkest days of pain.

I remember how all I could think about was my pain. I was taking twice the amount of medication before than now. I recall like yesterday having to rely on a cain or a walker just to take the next step. I basically lived in doctor’s office. I really couldn’t see any future with the pain blinding me day and night.

However, that was then and this is now. I can now smile and operate with a clear mind most of the time. I’m able to enjoy moments with my family and continue to minister to others. A few years ago, I didn’t think any of this would be possible. Seeing God continue to do miracles really lifts my spirits. There’s no way for anyone but God to get the glory when it comes to my God story. Even my present limitations continue to be used by God to accomplish His purpose.

“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

Update On My Dad 2/4/21

So, the last week especially has been really tough for my dad and mom. It all started when dad spiked nearly a 103 degree fever 8 days ago. Anything like that is extremely scary when the doctor had just informed him that his immune system has hit rock bottom. By the grace of God we were able to see dad’s fever go away and stay away. It had to be the chemo infusion he received that dad that zapped his entire being. The look of him in pain that night was as extreme as I’ve ever seen.

Dad has really struggled to find any comfort any time except when medication puts him to sleep. His head constantly hurts, his bones continually crunch, and he struggles to do anything much. Even with increased medications around the clock dad has been in a dog fight. Mom just keeps doing all she can to keep him comfortable and help him get through another day.

Today, his doctor has stopped all of his chemotherapy for at least the next two weeks. Dad’s body is just absolutely exhausted. He has very little appetite and very little he can ever enjoy. While I know God can change things at any time. I know that only God can make things turnaround. It feels like things have really been rolling down hill the last few months. And, dad’s cancer numbers have started climbing back up even with constant chemotherapy.

Of course, it’s very hard to see your dad or anyone you love in such constant discomfort. You pray for their healing and comfort that only God can give them. You ponder anything you can do to help or ease their struggle. Still you often conclude that only prayer can change certain things. So, I ask you to please keep praying for my dad and mom. I wish there was more I could do for them. However, all I know to do is keep striving to be there for them any way possible. Only God knows what the future holds!

DADS ARE NEEDED TOO

I’ve always loved each of my boys very much. I’ve always wanted to be the best dad possible. Sadly, I’ve missed a lot of moments. Not intentionally, but just due to many things. Sometimes ignorance, busyness, tunnel vision or life circumstances got in the way. I guess I’m still striving to overcome some of those challenges.

My boys are now ages 21, 19, 17, and almost 11. My youngest has gotten the best version of me as a dad. I was only 24, 26, and 28 when my three oldest were born. Like many young dads I didn’t realize how quickly time would fly by. My wife has always been a wonderful mother. However, time has had to raise me into becoming the dad my boys really need me to be.

At nearly age 46 I see things much clearer than in years gone by. Sure, I’m still learning daily. But, I realize it’s not about having all the answers or just working a job. It’s about making time to spend with your children. Treating each one as a precious gift from God.

I wish I could go back in time. I can promise you I would do a lot of things different. You see, parenting must be intentional. You have to learn how to love each child in an understanding way. Sometimes that just means listening more than yelling. It takes speaking hope and truth into their life. It requires praying over them and constantly for them.

If you’re a young dad I hope you’re listening. You will be shocked how quickly your kids will grow up. It’s never too late to wake up and show up. Your first step might just be apologizing for things done wrong. Then, expressing to your children just how much you care and long to be the best dad possible. Because no matter how wonderful moms are in this world. Dads we are still needed too. Don’t settle for just being an average dad. Seek to let God lead you as you seek to lead them. God will bless your efforts if you let Him lead your heart. This was just on my heart to share with you for some reason.

Just Checking In

I’ve been away from social media for a few weeks. Just trying to stay focused on things that matter most. This never ending season has been tough. All you can do is keep taking the next right step. Times like these demand we walk by faith and not by sight.

You can be certain you’re not alone in your struggles. None of us can predict what tomorrow brings. None of us can makes sense of all the madness. None of us can thrive mask or no mask without God’s continued strength and guidance.

My prayer is that none of us live with a misplaced hope. Presidents, pastors, and even the best intending people will let you down. This world is full of empty promises and shattered dreams. There’s no drug, drink or man made thing that can truly fill you with lasting peace. Only in Christ will you no longer live with a God shaped void inside.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

It Was Different But

Praise God we all able to get together for Christmas with mom and dad. We did so today because the weather allowed us to gather safely outside. It was different, but much like this past Thanksgiving. It was just a blessing to still have dad with us.

Due to dad’s necessary pain meds he was not extremely active. However, he was there and his pain appeared under control. I knew he wouldn’t want to miss being with us if the environment was safe. I could tell dad had plenty on his mind and only God knows what he was thinking surrounding by family.

My older brother gave a really good talk about embracing life’s transitions. How in Christ we can be uncertain and still be certain. You see, our hope is in Christ not our circumstances. He mentioned that none of us know whether we will be at next year’s Christmas gathering. Therefore, we need to express our love to one another now while we still have the opportunity. It certainly wouldn’t have felt like Christmas had dad and mom not been able to join us.

“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:16-17

Keep Praying For Dad

In so many ways this Christmas will be different and full of emotions. It remains to be seen if our entire family will gather together at all. Dad has certainly had his share of setbacks lately. He spent hours at the emergency room this past Saturday due to extreme pain in his eye. He was sent home on antibiotics and told he had a bad case of cellulites.

However, it turns out that his recent radiation has been his biggest issue. He hoped the radiation would reduce his pain. Turns out it has greatly increased his pain. He thought the radiation was treating the cancer. Turns out it can’t do anything for the actual cancer. It’s just one disappointment after another for him and mom.

Dad has taken some morphine along with other pain meds since Saturday. He pretty much has to do whatever necessary to endure this constant pain. Mom called the dr today due to dad’s ongoing discomfort. They ordered ER Morphine for him temporarily until this stuff settles down. We are praying optimistically that happens soon.

Doctor said the cellulitis does cause pain. They also said his jaw is probably hurting because of the radiation he had. That it is not uncommon to have it radiate downward after having the radiation on the nerves above. With consistent meds dad’s not in severe pain but in constant pain.

All I know is dad’s body is getting so much weaker. I can tell talking with him that it’s so hard to fight this disease. God is still giving me the pleasure of praying for him every night by phone. But, him and mom certainly need more prayers. I would appreciate you continuing to lift them both up to a God who cares deeply about them.

God Whatever You Want

My dad was a pastor for 48 years. He can’t remember any church being closed more than a few times period. I’ve been in the ministry 27 years and I can only remember the church being closed a couple times ever. Yet, here I am pastoring a church that has not met “inside” for corporate worship in over nine months. We’ve met for the past four months outside. However, this weather is starting to get much colder.

Now, I realize everyone has different opinions concerning the threat of this pandemic. However, I can promise you we’ve tried to make the safest God led decisions every step of the way. No, I’m not personally fearful for my life. But, I do believe God keeps leading us to be mindful of countless others whose lives could be very threatened by this present virus.

Anyway, it’s getting a lot harder to keep moving forward. In fact, it’s the toughest it’s ever been to be a pastor. Nothing is normal or easy right now. Society is spiraling out of control in many ways. People aren’t thinking clearly and most are struggling greatly. Unfortunately, it’s harder than ever to experience close fellowship with others.

In the midst of it all my dad’s cancer battle keeps giving me perspective. Compared to his battle this season is a piece of cake. He is literally fighting for his life everyday. Most of us are just fighting with this new way of life. Guess it’s really not nearly the big deal we make it out to be.

You see, a person fighting for their life doesn’t get so caught up in trivial matters. They are just glad to wake up and see another God made day. Most of us have become so spoiled in this life. Anytime we get the least inconvenienced we throw tantrums like children. Man, God keeps using my dad’s cancer battle to rearrange my life perspective.

Honestly, I feel like God is trying to speak loudly to us all right now. It really doesn’t matter where we are God can be found. On our knees in a parking lot or at the altar inside a church. We’ve got to learn how to follow God no matter what our circumstance. Otherwise, every time things change so will our faith. I’m praying and believing God is growing our faith with each passing day. And, whatever God wants is sincerely what I want.

“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 4:13-15

Even In The Bad Times

I’ve been off social for nearly one month. I’ve not preached on a Sunday in over 3 weeks. For many reasons I had to step back from the world as I once knew it. I desperately needed to catch my breath. I had to get my own self healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That is before I could help another soul find their way through this challenging season.

Yesterday I returned home after spending over 11 days away from home. Much of that time I spent with just God. A few days of that was great quality time with my family. We all know sometimes you just have to stop, drop and pray. Sometimes you can’t expect anything to change without making drastic changes.

As a senior pastor to many the spiritual warfare in my life has been beyond measure. Yet, I can feel God remaking me stronger each day. I’m not overly concerned about God’s plan for my life, my family or my ministry. I’m just focused on making sure that I continue taking the next right step as God leads me forward.

Of course, none of us know what tomorrow may bring. But, we know that when our little hand stays in God’s big hand the future is always bright. You may not know exactly what God is doing. However, you can trust He is doing something. He is humbling you, growing you, and preparing you for battle. His ways are always higher than our ways.

Over the last few weeks I’ve gotten my health back regulated. I’ve been very strict with my diet, consistent with my exercise, and constant in my pursuit of God’s face. God keeps showing me better ways to cope with my body’s many limitations. Very exciting is how God is using my own limitations to increase my greater expectations in Him. So, my confidence in Christ keeps growing by the day.

My dad continues to fight his daily battle with cancer. Today he finished up his 7th straight weekday of radiation in his head. He has 3 more days of radiation in conjunction with all of his other chemotherapy treatments. As dad says often “Son, it’s just one of those things. You just keep dealing with as it comes. The pain is part of it. The ups and downs are part of it. I know God has it all worked out.”

Dad and mom face a whole lot of ups and downs. But, one thing is constant they’ve never lost faith. They know God is with them and always for them. They know God has a plan even when they can’t make sense of that plan. They know that God is always good even when things feel constantly bad. Fortunately, I’ve learned the same thing as God continues to prove His faithfulness.

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

Taking An Extended Break

I’ve not been on social media in quite awhile. I don’t plan on being on here for several more weeks. Last Sunday night I had another major neurological breakdown. I’ve not had one that severe in at least 3 years. My body is still recovering from feeling so fried inside.

Of course, initially it brought lots of anxiety. Especially when I know I’ve come so from where I used to be. God knows I’m nothing like I was back when everything felt so hopeless. I may still have the same nerve damaged condition. However, I now live with full hope God will always take me through anything.

Most all week I’ve felt like all the air has been knocked out of me. I’ve not had many outside conversations. Instead, I’ve had to preserve my strength every way possible. I’m still struggling especially in the late afternoons and evenings. But, today has not been terrible at all. So, I feel like I’m healing forward.

This past Monday I went to the doctor and got some breakthrough medications. They definitely helped me get through some really tough moments. I also got my spinal cord stimulator adjusted for the first time in almost two years. I still can’t tell you whether I’m fully on the right track towards consistent pain management. But, I’m a far cry from how I felt last Sunday night.

All I know is once again I feel mostly out of control. I’m having to fully depend on God’s grace and strength. My past days of nonstop pain have definitely helped me cope in these days. Even still it’s never easy to feel out of breath, overwhelmed and uncertain about your health condition.

One thing I never doubt is this pain is divine. God has allowed this condition to humble me and keep me where He needs me to be. It opens my eyes, ears and heart in so many ways. It’s a burden and a blessing all wrapped in one. For me it’s simply a cross I feel called to bear as I seek to accomplish God’s will.

My dad’s up and down battle with cancer continues. It was recently confirmed that the cancer has spread into the left side of his head. Typically this cancer has mainly rested inside his blood and bones. But, this time its gotten into his skin affecting his vision and pain levels. Fortunately, his pain is presently under control. But, everyday seems to bring unexpected challenges.

This Tuesday he has an appointment to discuss more necessary radiation. We’re just praying God directs the doctors steps. We pray this upcoming radiation will ease his pain and shrink the cancer. We all know cancer is an unpredictable and reckless beast. Fortunately, my parents and all my family know who is ultimately in control.

So, please keep praying for dad and mom. All I want is God’s will and God’s peace in their life. It sure is settling to know that no matter what cancer will not win the victory. Dad is a blood bought child of God covered underneath the sheltering wings of a loving God. Thanks for all of your prayers and know that I’m praying for you as well.

(Romans 8:35-37) “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Living The Dream

In 2007 I had a dream from God. In that dream God showed me people my ministry would impact if I stayed faithful to Him. Blindfolded, God took me to the edge of a cliff. Then, he removed the blindfold and it took my breath away. There were multitudes of people as far as the eye could see. You could see every race, tribe and language represented.

Suddenly, I woke up and started crying uncontrollably. I told Aimee that I couldn’t handle the mission God was giving me. How was I supposed to minister to all those people in one tiny church? Later, God would reveal He is not limited to the church house.

Sometime in 2012 I was preaching a funeral for one of my many previous hospice patients. I knew only two people in that entire sanctuary. Yet, over to my right were faces I knew were in the front row of that dream. I remember being shaken inside as I couldn’t deny what my eyes were seeing.

Then, God led me to start writing blogs online. I just felt led to share some real life stories with others. At best I thought a few family and friends would read them. Then, one day I was checking my WordPress stats of who and where people were watching. That’s when I discovered over 130 countries had read my online blog. All I could do is once again just shake my head in disbelief.

In August 2018 a group of international teachers would be sent by God to Colleton County. We were able to help some make a smooth welcoming transition far away from their families. Beyond those from the United States, folks from India, the Philippines, Kenya, Jamaica, Cameroon, Jamaica, and Ghana have all been a part of Refuge Church. I know in my heart each of them were in that dream God gave me nearly 13 years ago.

Refuge International Care Group

Then, this morning God took this dream much further. Our International Pastor Lephen Kumar connected me with many Christian leaders back in his home country. I preached to leaders from India through zoom. I could feel God’s spirit so strong even with hearing languages I will never understand. I got to meet his former pastor, Uncle George, who has planted 450 different churches in India and Nepal. I told my son Matthew it felt like we were landing on the moon for the first time.

So often we only see the world through our limited eyes. God wants us to see way bigger. Jesus calls us to take the gospel to every nation and tribe. God willing I will get to visit each of these places and their families one day. In the meantime, I hope to keep living out the dream God has given me.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Another Wall To Scale

My pain has been relentless practically all day. My lower back surgical area has just stayed on fire. Nerve pain keeps flooding my body. My face has stayed on fire as the nerve sensations have no where else to roam. This gnawing sensation keeps me feeling nauseated.

Early this morning I put together a new aggressive eating plan. I’m officially back on my elimination diet. Time has proven it’s the best chance I’ve got to get back on track besides removing all unnecessary stress and prayer. So, I’m back to eating only fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, lean meats, fish and eggs. Basically I’m having to stay from all sweets, sugars, caffeine, dairy and a whole lot of other good stuff.

It’s very hard trying to eat this way especially with the holidays soon upon us. Oh, and of course I’ve got to make sure I drink at least 80 ounces of water daily. My pain is an easy motivator right now. If I don’t get this turned around soon an absolute crash is ahead.

I’m definitely not comfortable in my own skin right now. But, I know how to get through this pain. Just as important, I know I will get through this pain. I’m not freaking out inside because God has brought me through so many times before. I’ve just got to keep fighting forward knowing God is fighting for me.

When you’re in your toughest moments you can’t afford to give up. Focus on what you can do and trust in what God will do. Sometimes the battle is way bigger than you. Sometimes it’s just a testing and stretching of your faith. Keep taking the next faith step forward. God will meet your faithfulness with His faithfulness.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” Psalm 18:25-29

When The Pain Runs Deep

Toxins have been building up inside of me for weeks. Last week was very tough. This week has been tolerable, but still somewhere miserable. My nerve pain is consuming my body. My entire face is flooded with painful nerve sensations. I feel so irritable most of the time due to my ramped up pain. The later in gets at night all I can do is pray God uses my meds to put me to sleep.

Fortunately, I understand what I’m dealing with best one can. Time has revealed that my permanent nerve damage is easily flared by certain stress, foods, physical activity and lack of rest. There’s no doubt something in my life or diet has to change. I’m doing everything I can to discover the problem by process of elimination.

To say my condition is life altering is an understatement. I hate to admit it, but it handicaps me greatly. All I can do is what I can do. God is my strength and shelter from this constant storm. I seek to learn everyday how to avoid things getting worse. However, lately my condition has certainly got the best of me.

Earlier I did have a great visit with my parents. Dad’s pain has been kept under control all day. Praise God he will get a CT scan with contrast done this Friday. Then, hopefully we discover soon what is causing such pain in his temple. This issue has been affecting dad’s quality of life and vision for far too long. But, I’m very happy to see him much calmer these days.

Whatever pain you’re going through right now. Know that you’re not alone. I know firsthand it’s not something you just get over. When it’s deep pain only God can take you through it. Just keep putting your little hand in His big hand.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

I’m Really Upset, But

Well, my dad had a very big doctor’s appointment today. We were optimistic that it would finally confirm the reason for 5 months of extreme pain in his head. His recent surgical biopsy was the only way to verify that he was battling temporal arthritis. Unfortunately, the biopsy showed that dad does not have this condition. Instead, it’s likely the cancer creating havoc in his head. Only God knows what that means when it’s discovered.

Now, while my parents are disappointed I’m very upset with this outcome. My dad has gone to so many doctors over this time. Not near enough testing has been done in any timely manner. I realize things are more complicated during COVID-19, but I still expect doctors to treat every patient like their own family member.

For months I’ve known dad needed to have a CT scan done with contrast. Why? Because without this done with contrast this cancer has never showed up in his body. Yet, when they have used the contrast it has shown lesions all over his upper body and into his skull. He needed this scan done months ago. But, his cancer doctor just kept saying that’s not the issue. They did a CT scan without contrast months ago, but of course it showed nothing.

Now, I know they are trying to be careful with each step. He does have to limit his radiation exposure due to his struggling kidneys. But, when you’re already in such a battle pain management must come first. I’ve seen way too many patients struggle forever because no one was keeping them comfortable. All patients deserve to know what they are dealing with so they can make the best decisions possible. Yes, it’s my dad but I’ve always been an advocate for any hurting patient.

If I didn’t know God was still in control I couldn’t maintain my composure. I hate it when sick people have to play their own doctor. Cancer is a bad enough experience. You don’t want anything that just waste more of your time or increases your misery. I’m sure you can tell this has hurt my heart deeply.

However, this is not about me. This is about my dad. I will always make sure that I’m doing anything I can to help. I’m doing my absolute best to give it all to God now. I can’t get over this experience easily or quickly. All I can keep doing is praying and praying.

I told my dad earlier that I would be glad to give him a kidney. Of course, he said I needed to hold on to mine. Because I still have a lot of life ahead with 4 boys and my wife. Even still, I’m not focused on the length of life. I’m focused on making sure we enjoy the best quality of life. I don’t want whatever time we have left together consumed with just running here and there. All I can do is take a very deep breath and say Jesus take the wheel. Rest assured I will be alright and God will work things out.

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

The Prayers Are Working

Dad had a much better day on Sunday. His morning started out a little rough. But, Dad’s pain is back to being under control. He really does look day and night different when he’s not enduring breathtaking pain. I enjoyed a great visit with dad and mom right after Sunday worship.

As for me, my pain is staying bearable. I’m back to having to watch my eating habits closely. All it takes is a little bit of something getting into my system to create havoc inside. The flushing into my face is caused by a high level of inflammation in my back. Therefore, I have to do all I can to calm my nerves down.

God is teaching me to slow down and smell the roses. How to rest in him and totally rely on him. God is reordering many things in my life right now. I’m having to step back and let Him direct my every step. I feel such a peace about the path God has for me now and later.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Dad Turned 72 But

Unfortunately, my dad didn’t end up having a great 72nd birthday. That is at least from a pain management standpoint. However, I’m so glad he is still here. I can tell his mind and body are flat wore out from his cancer battle. He’s definitely a fighter, but sometimes the fight is just way bigger than you.

Of course, dad is not the only one caught in this battle. Mom is always by his side. Yet, she desperately needs rest herself. They were both up most of last night with him in extreme pain. Seems all they can do is run from one urgent issue to the next. Doctors appointments have filled up the calendar for months. But, so many of dad’s issues never get resolved and the pain just keeps piling on.

No, I’ve not been doing the best myself especially at night. Nerve pain is rushing throughout my face even as I write. But, my stuff is nothing compared to my parents. I knew looking at dad yesterday that he looked drastically different after just a week passed by.

I have decided long ago that I will walk with them both through this valley. I will not let time pass me by and not be there. You don’t get these days back once they’re gone. I feel strongly that my first ministry priority should be my own family. Especially the two people who have been there for me my entire life.

I’m really hoping I can help make things easier in some way. Please keep the prayers coming for them both. They really need it and appreciate every one of them. Pray they get the answers they need from this coming week’s doctors appointments. I know God has a plan.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Finding Comfort In Pain

I understand my body is broken. I remember the doctor saying nearly 5 years ago words I never cared to hear. He said, “no matter what anyone tells you this can’t be fixed. Trust me, you have permanent nerve damage.” I wish I could say that doctor was dead wrong. However, my body keeps confirming he was telling the truth. Still it’s often a message I refuse to accept fully into my mind and heart.

This past week my nerve pain flared back up to a high level. My surgical spot has been aching often. From my legs all the way into my face I feel a sharpe, shooting sensation. It’s been much harder to ignore how sick and nauseous it makes me feel. I don’t like to write about it much anymore because I try not to feed it. Sometimes you do better putting your mind over the matter. Yet, sometimes God allows the pain so you have something to share in common with others.

Now, I will never say this pain makes my life enjoyable. Especially when it often makes anything I pursue so much harder. I have to live a constant recovery lifestyle with this thorn in my flesh. I never know when it’s going to take me down. I’m still learning to ride this roller coaster of ups and downs. Sadly, just about every emotion possible is associated with this painful mess.

Right now my pain has humbled me once again. It’s put me back on my knees realizing my desperate need for God’s help. I’m sure I thought once again that I had everything under control. God had to allow me to fall back down so through me He could be lifted up.

While my flesh tells me these days are just miserable. My faith tells me these days are most meaningful. I realize most of my spiritual growth was birthed through painful yesterday’s. I’m certain God is still using my pain today.

Don’t see your pain as only a barrier. See your pain as something God wants to use as a platform to display His greatness. In fact, it’s through your pain that you find God’s true comfort. And, then you actually have comfort to share with others.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Thank You Jesus

Now, I may still be sore and limited in certain movement. But, there’s no doubt things are trending in the right direction. This heating pad on my back right now feels like Jesus with skin. The medical massage I got earlier was Heaven sent at Total Wellness. Then, I went back for another neck and back adjustment by Dr Jenkins at “The Joint” Chiropractic place.

What they have been able to put back in order in just two days has been incredible. Like the hands of Jesus they put my entire spine back in order. They broke every physical stronghold throughout my body. Now, I’ve just got to be careful, keep stretching and keep getting proper rest.

Now, that was not the only lift I got today. Some dear friends called me and prayed with me. It still means a lot for people to realize that pastors are human too. Then, the icing on top was talking and praying with my dad earlier. His pain presently is being kept under control which is healing to my bones. I’m just so thankful for such a God made day. God always comes through just when we need him most.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

While I Was Sleeping

Last night I had a full night of sleep for the first time in many days. By that I mean uninterrupted. I didn’t wake up tossing and turning. I wasn’t feel one ounce of pain while I was actually sleeping and that’s a God thing.

Today, I woke up just feeling very sore and cautious about any sudden movement. My back is still very fragile and somewhat spastic. But, I was able to lie flat on not back on a heating pad. I could never have done that before. But, my spine is completely aligned. I recommend to anyone needing a back adjustment to please check our Dr Jenkins at “The Joint” in Summerville. You won’t go anywhere more God gifted in your life.

Sadly my dad had another very rough night. Sore throat, spitting phlegm, and pressure in his lungs when he got up. He went to the doctor first thing for COVID test. Praise God it came back negative. Chest sounded good. He gets very anxious when it comes to COVID symptoms due to hardly any immune system. He had a bad headache for hours but it has finally eased off a lot. Please let those prayers keep rolling for my dad and mom.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” Romans 16:20

Finding Peace In Chaos

Well, let me start this out with some good news. Today, dad safely endured being put under anesthesia. Then, his doctor removed surgically a biopsy from his temple. It will be at least early next week before he hears any results. At the very least we figure he is battling temporal arthritis among other things.

Overall, dad had a major headache all day. Especially after he spent all night with no pain meds concerned about the anesthesia. But, somehow God took him through. When we talked earlier I could tell dad had given everything over to God. He said he had been doing a lot of praying and truly had God’s peace no matter what happens.

I’ve been feeling bad most of the day. But, I went to see a chiropractor earlier and God did through him what few have ever done. He cracked my neck and back despite all my limitations. I could tell everything was falling into line. This was a wonderful feeling I’ve not felt in a long time.

Tonight, my nerves are raging from being so stirred up during the adjustment. However, I’m so thankful to feel like I’m on the path towards greater relief. I’ve not been in the best of spirits lately, but it’s not because I don’t have God’s peace. My body just has to heal and rest as much as possible.

I can’t say I’m enjoying many moments in life right now. I can tell you I’m learning to trust God with every moment. God is still taking the training wheels off my faith life. You want to think your faith as arrived. But, time proves that you’re always a work in progress.

“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

P.S. I appreciate all your prayers for my dad and mom!

When The Pain Is Blinding

My health is presently not good at all. You name it and it hurts on my body. I’m trying my best to weather this storm and see beyond this misery. I know this isn’t my first rodeo with pain. Still it makes everything harder when I’m consumed with such misery. Nights have been the worst. I’m just waiting to fall asleep and escape this pain.

My dad has been in way more pain than me all week. His battle appears to be moving from bad to worse. He has so many health issues attacking him all at once. The pain in his head has literally been blinding. Tomorrow he will get a surgical biopsy just hoping for answers. However, it seems that nothing is very simple to fix or discover these days.

Now, I do know what it’s like to be in blinding pain for days. However, I don’t know what it’s like to truly be fighting for my life. Through my dad’s eyes many earthly things aren’t near as important right now. Even this presidential election is meaningless to someone just trying to make it through another day. I really wish I could do more to help my dad and mom. All I can do is pray for them and trust the God who I know is watching over them.

Wherever life finds you at this moment. Know that God will help you make it through. God promises to walk with you and watch over you. Through every storm and valley God is with you. There is never a second a child of God has to be afraid. We just sometimes realize more than others that without Jesus we’re all doomed.

“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

Let’s Not Go Back To Normal

Our church has now gone over 8 months without meeting inside for worship. When we do officially move back inside it will have been 9 months. This is very hard for me to wrap my mind around. Especially since I’ve never known a church to miss regular worship more than one week in a whole year. But, this season has given me a new perspective I believe is by God’s design.

One, there is definitely power in gathering with others for worship. No, going to church doesn’t save you. However, being with other believers does encourage you. It reminds you that you’re not alone in your struggles. It helps you stay focused and accountable in your faith. It lifts your spirit to face another week with God’s help.

Secondly, the church has nothing to do with a building. In fact, a church building can actually get in God’s way. We can get so focused on meeting inside those walls that we quit reaching those outside those walls. Sunday worship is nothing but a weekly pep rally for all those on the Jesus team. The real mission exists outside the church at home, work, school and wherever life may find us.

Thirdly, whether it’s a normal season or abnormal, God is not restricted. In fact, I’ve seen God do way more in this shutdown period than in the previous year before. Over 16 states have listened to our online messages. We are now on Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, & Cable television. We’re no longer just impacting those in the church house, but many others listening or watching in their house.

Fourthly, God likes to keep us realizing our total dependence on Him. I’ve prayed more in this season than any before. Totally out of my comfort zone, God has been my constant shepherd. I’ve had no choice but to give Jesus the full reigns of my life and ministry. With each day of surrender I keep seeing God doing greater and greater things.

Finally, I’ve seen enough to know I don’t want things to go back to normal. In fact, I believe it’s the worst thing any of us could do. We’ve seen more people come to Christ in the parking lot in eight months than we ever did inside the church house in the same length of time before. In fact, I’ve never been more excited about what God is going to do one week to the next.

So, I want you to know that we’re not a church looking to go back to normal. Instead, we’re going to keep letting God take us out of our comfort zone. What’s happening and what’s ahead will be worth every bit of discomfort. We don’t plan on ever being a church that just has church. Instead, we want to be the church no matter what life brings our way.

Now, we look forward to seeing you all inside the Ivanhoe Family Cinemas starting on November 15th. We will have two services every Sunday 9:15 and 11am. In the meantime, we will continue to meet in the theatre’s parking lot. You can be sure that God has amazing plans for us. In fact, the best is yet to come. Thanks to all of you who continue to make this ministry possible.

In This Season

God is teaching me so many things in this season. No, it’s not been fun or even enjoyable. But, I would say it’s been worth the sweat, stress and tears. Now, I’m not talking about this world’s craziness or anyone’s political views. I’m talking about what God has shown me during this time in His workshop. Here are my top three lessons during COVID-19.

First of all, God is teaching me what is truly essential. No, it’s not toilet paper, restaurants, or sports. It’s not even being able to attend some church. It’s all about my need for relationships. We need a solid relationship with Jesus to get through this tough life. We need other people in our lives to help us become all God created us to be. We need faith, family and friends. But, if all I can choose is one I would have to pick Jesus every time.

Secondly, I’ve learned that everybody thinks differently. I don’t have to agree with someone to love someone. I don’t have to even like someone to love them. These times often reveal the worst in us. Of course, I wish we all agreed but that’s just not possible this side of Heaven. We all must learn how love each other unconditionally. After all, that’s exactly how God loves us and calls us to love one another.

Thirdly, God is teaching me how to truly wait on him. All of us have been guilty of wanting this chaos to be behind us. Well, I’ve concluded that’s not the right perspective. God teaches us way more in the valley than He does on the mountain. We have to learn how to wait on God and trust God no matter where life finds us. Even when it hurts and even when it takes us out of our comfort zone.

Now, none of these things are easy to do. Yet, I’m glad God is still teaching me a better way. A better way to see things through the eyes of faith. A better way to experience God’s peace even in the chaos. I’m sure God is teaching all of us new things. Hopefully, He has our full attention by now.

“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

The Struggle Is Real

My flesh doesn’t want to share these words with you. In fact, the devil really doesn’t want me being honest. Yet, there are many times we must get over our pride. We must be real about our feelings and fears. Our hurts, our pains and our everyday human struggles.

The past eight months have been some of the longest of my life. As a pastor, I’ve been out of my comfort zone the entire time. All I’ve known to do is wake up each day and live for God’s glory. It has been so hard watching so many bleeding inside. You want to fix things for everybody. Then, you realize that only Jesus does the saving, fixing, healing, and comforting.

This season has helped me see my many limitations. My desperate need for divine intervention. My prayer life has been forced to drastically increase. Relying on God’s love, truth and plans have become my only sure things. I’ve had to totally transition from trying to live self-dependent to constantly living Christ dependent.

I say this to assure you that you are not alone in your struggles. Anxiety, fear and depression are hovering over many of us like buzzards. Our patience has been pushed to the max as we all wait to see what happens next. Apart from Christ it would be really easy for someone to fall apart in this day and time.

The good news is even when we fall apart Christ can put us back together and hold us together. You don’t have to be perfect just forgiven. You don’t have to have all the answers you just need to trust the one who holds today, tomorrow and forever in His hands. You don’t have to pretend like you’re okay when really you’re falling apart.

I may not know all the magic words to say. There may not be a simple fix to all that you’re going through. Even still, I know that hope begins and continues through Jesus Christ. Everything and everyone may disappoint you. However, Jesus will always be there, never let you down and will pick you up regardless of how far you’ve fallen. I pray that you know that Jesus is only a prayer a way.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10

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

Pain Pain Go Away

As most of you know I don’t write much these days about my pain. Only when pain compels me to share my story. For at least 4 years straight pain consumed my life. Fortunately , I really do have more good days than bad now. But, recently my pain has reared it’s ugly head again. Nights are the absolute worst when my body aches so deeply.

My increased pain is usually a combination of many things. Busyness, stress, unhealthy diet, not enough rest, and definitely cooler weather. All of these things can melt my fragile nervous system. I always know my nerve damage is flaring badly when my surgical spot feels like I’ve been kicked repeatedly. Also, my hands and feet start breaking out due to my dermatitis.

All I can do in these times is lay on my side or in a hot bath. I’ve been living on my heating pad recently as it does calm my pain. Thank God for pain meds and muscle relaxers. I usually deal with heavier pain every night for at least a few hours. However, the last few days I’ve been living and breathing discomfort.

Tomorrow morning I will go back to Total Wellness for a medical massage. Not just anyone can work on my back due to the surgical implants. I can barely even touch my lower back surgical area right now. Getting that pain spot to decrease will change things in my entire body. I’m confident that God will calm my flaming nerves once again. Why? Because He always has and always will pull me through. He will do the same for you my friend.

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

Things Have To Change

For 7 1/2 months straight I’ve been going and going. Ministry has never felt more demanding. Time has never felt so fleeting. My body has been screaming for my attention the last few weeks. I’m well aware that I’ve got to make some life adjustments ASAP.

Sure, I could justify most of my steps. I do very little for self-pleasure. In fact, day and night I’m doing what I can to touch others. However, the demand on my life would be difficult for most who are healthy. But, it’s especially impossible for someone with my broken body and nervous system.

As I catch my breath I’m just trying to relax. I realize no one else is to blame for my ignorance or lack of boundaries. So, I’m owning the fact that I’ve been working too much and often ignoring my own pain. However, it can’t be ignored anymore. Most evenings I’m back to having to spend hours soaking in the tub.

I believe many can relate to my present wake up call. Sometimes we just fail to acknowledge our own humanity. We forget our limitations and ignore God’s daily warning signs. Yes, this is a tough season for many. All the more reason to live with a balance of work, rest, fun, and fellowship by faith.

Anytime things are out of order your mind and body will let you know. Sometimes we just need to be still before God. Sometimes we just need to be still period. Sometimes we just need to withdraw from all the madness and rest in the arms of Jesus. Only then can we be filled by God’s peace and have something to pour into others. I’m seeking to make every adjustment I can as I set new boundaries once again for myself.

“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

He Won’t Fail You

Tonight, my lower back is giving me a little extra grief. It seems my surgical spot is more inflamed than usual. Honestly, my pain level is no more than a 4 out of 10. There’s just enough discomfort to hinder my sleep for now.

Now, I’ve taken my normal night time medications and some extra. And I’m certain my pain will ease off soon. But, this reminds me how far God has brought me. This may not be an easy night, but it’s so far from my worst night.

Before, I would have given anything to even feel this good. Morning, day and night were filled with such misery. Life was carrying on even though I could not. Back then all I knew was pain, suffering and it appeared all hope for healing was gone.

Here I am today feeling like an absolute miracle. Even is some discomfort I feel so blessed. I no longer dread each day. God has given me so many reasons to smile, praise Him, and to just be thankful. This has taught me to trust God more. Trust His timing, His healing and His will even when things feel hopeless.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

I’m Really Surprised

Well, I drove early this morning to Charleston to see my pain specialist. An hour of driving one way doesn’t sound like a big deal. But, it’s a very big deal for me even still. My wife does the driving 95 percent of time for us. When I do drive it’s typically only a few miles unless I just can’t avoid it.

The entire way to my appointment I was in a great mood. I knew deep down that I’ve never felt any better over the past five years. My doctor told me he couldn’t believe how well I’m doing. He said, “I’m really surprised you’re doing so well with your condition.” Especially since I’ve gone so long without a pain shot. I told him all I can do is smile and thank God for His blessings upon me.

I made sure he knew that it wasn’t like I just sat around and prayed. I’ve been doing anything possible to help matters. My diet, my movement, my sleep, and even monitoring my stress daily. Basically, I live with a recovery mentality from sun up to sun down. I have to do so if I hope to keep carrying on with much quality of life.

Today we’ve not reduced any medications and we’ve not increased any. They are scheduling me for a pain shot to help keep my coccyx pain under control. This cooler weather coming won’t be easy on my body. Plus this particular shot has proven to give me some relief.

For my regular daily meds I still take Neurontin, Amitriptyline, Zannaflex, and Ibuprofen. But, I have a lot of daily natural supplements that I’ve been taking for awhile. CBD caplets, Turmeric, Fish Oil, Ginger, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Potassium, Fenugreek, Ashwagandha, Magnesium, Melatonin, Cognizin Citicoline, and a Vitamin B Complex.

Even still, nothing helps more than a positive and prayerful mindset. You have to learn to listen to your body. Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but celebrate what you can. Be honest with those around you as they can’t always see your invisible pain. Whatever you’re going through know that God is with you. He will carry you forward to brighter days.

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

Look What God Has Done

Tomorrow, I will go see my pain specialist. Hard to believe it’s officially been one year since my last pain shot. Based on my condition I was supposed to need at least 3 or 4 shots every year. Before, I really had no choice with my persistent pain. But, here I am still not presently scheduled for another shot.

I’ve seen many miracles since September 2015 changed my life. I’ve endured 3 different back surgeries. I used to spent most of my days in a bed, bath, or doctor’s office. I’ve gone from using a walker to walking on my own two legs. From nonstop sleepless nights to usually restful nights. From nonstop insane pain to usually under control pain. From medications that kept my mind hostage to reducing my medications over 50 percent. From 205lbs to 165lbs.

I can’t say enough about how my diet has changed my life. I may not be able to do any heavy weight lifting. I’m certainly limited when it comes to doing anything physical. However, I have my life back with family, friends and ministry. I’m at peace with my new normal. Sure, I may need a few more shots here and there. But, there’s no denying how far God has carried me.

“Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24

Finding The Blessings

My arms were tired. Then, I saw a man with no arms.

My legs were weak. Then, I saw a man with no legs.

My back was aching. Then, I saw a man who was paralyzed.

My heart was broken. Then, I saw a man whose heart quit beating.

My life was altered. Then I saw a man who lost his life.

My life seemed shipwrecked. Then, I realized I’m just so blessed.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

How Is Your Pain Now?

I’m jumping on here to give a little update. I’ve had many ask from time to time how my pain level is now. Obviously, that’s not a crazy question considering I spent nearly 5 years straight in smothering pain. Honestly, I don’t even like to think about those painful days. Certain times of reflection just put a big ole lump in my throat. So, where am I now?

First, I’m back to truly living my best life now. Of course, permanent chronic pain never leaves you the same. You can’t do many things you used to enjoy physically. It’s still not easy to sit in most positions. My wife does practically all the driving and heavy lifting of anything. However, she knows most things just aren’t worth the price we all pay when my condition flares up.

Secondly, my pain no longer defines me. It may constantly alter my life, but it’s not consuming my life. I had to quit writing about it because I realized it was feeding even more pain. Even in the dark times I’ve refrained from sharing because I knew it was best I just get relief that night. I’ve learned that even if I have a really bad night that tomorrow could be much better.

Thirdly, my diet and life adjustments prove to make the biggest difference. 2 years after losing 40 pounds that weight loss has been sustained. Now, it’s not the actual weight loss that has helped anything. It’s the fact that I do all I can to limit any caffeine and sugar intake. Anytime I eat or drink much of what you might call normal my system goes crazy. Then, I just melt physically and emotionally. However, now I know something I can always do to help things.

Trust me when I tell you these things in order. Staying away from loads of caffeine or sugar will reduce inflammation in your body. There is nothing about that to debate. I’ve tried this experiment long enough to know it is absolutely true. Drinking half your body weight in water will help in keeping your body flushed and feeling much healthier. Maintaining consistent movement throughout the day is always good for your back issues. In fact, with my nerve condition I should always be doing some daily physical therapy exercises. Finally, it is critical you reduce unnecessary stress and get adequate sleep. All of these things have proven to be the biggest medicines for helping my chronic pain.

Of course, you can’t walk through the fire without faith and prayer. I’ve not forgotten what I’ve gone through. I’ve not quit thanking God for all He has done. My body does seem overdue for another shot. I’ve been spending a lot more time in the tub lately. Even still, God has restored my mind and purpose in life.

One thing I still choose daily is to allow God to use my pain. As I’ve said before I know it’s not meant to be a crutch but God’s platform. I still have an instant compassion for those in crippling pain. I still thank God for what I can do instead of focusing on what I can’t do. Everyday I’m just glad to have reasons to smile. To not just be a burden to my wife or kids.

Anyone right now reading this experiencing breathtaking pain right now. Hear this my friend, God will help you through this valley. Take each day one step at a time. Believe that God has a purpose for your struggle. Don’t be afraid to cry or share your struggles with others. Don’t expect others who haven’t experienced your brokenness to fully understand. Know that God always understands and hears your cries for help.

No, I wouldn’t want to walk back through my most painful days. But, my pain has totally revolutionized my life and ministry. I’ve learned how to delegate, persevere, and see God’s purpose regardless of my life situations. While I’m may be weaker physically. I’m so much stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. God has proven that my pain has a purpose and will have the rest of my life.

It’s okay to work through your pain. Just don’t allow yourself to wallow in it too long. Seek the support you need and ask others to pray. Most of all, keep the faith because God is working on you. You will see with time that God uses your greatest pain to take you to His greatest purpose. All this I’m sharing after walking through days I thought I could never see beyond. I still live a recovery lifestyle, but my pain is fueling God’s daily purpose for my life.

“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

When You Feel So Restless

Sometimes you just find yourself restless. You may not even be able to pinpoint exactly what has you so worked up. All you know is your feelings are drowning you. If you could shutdown your mind you certainly would.

Honestly, these are the moments satan can’t wait to pounce on you. You will be tempted to do anything to just feel better. For some that may mean a few more drinks. For others that may mean smoking away your anxieties. For many it’s just doing anything to give you that momentary high you’re longing for inside.

None of us are exempt from temptation and testing in this life. There is always a battle raging within in our flesh. It can be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual all wrapped into one. However, it’s in these moments we must recognize the enemy’s plan.

Satan tells you there is a quick fix to be found. Satan tells you to do whatever it takes to numb the pain. Satan hopes you crack in your deepest moment of vulnerability. Yet, Jesus is the only one that can give you true peace, comfort, strength and life worth living.

Sometimes you just have to tell the devil to get behind you. You may have to literally get up and run from your current situation. Most of all, you’ve got to run to Jesus. Only he can heal your bleeding heart or calm your raging storm. Trust me, I’ve called on Jesus in many dark moments. Somehow, someway He has always helped me overcome what was too overwhelming for me alone.

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

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Preparing For The Next 9-11

For those of us old enough to realize what was happening at that time. We couldn’t forget that day if we tried. Those planes took down way more than those twin towers on September 11th 2001. They ripped open our hearts and exposed our fragile humanity. That day forced us all to stop dead in our tracks.

That following Sunday most churches were packed. Many of us were on our knees saying God please forgive me. Help me be the person you created me to be. Help me to not take another second for granted. Help me spend my life focused on the things that truly matter most.

Sadly, it often takes 9-11 experiences to wake us up. In this world, it’s so easy to get side tracked by the meaningless. It’s so easy to focus on the things that divide us instead of what unites us. The truth is we’re all sinners in need of a savior. Apart from God’s amazing grace and forgiveness we’re all bound for Hell.

I’m so glad God sent His son Jesus to die for my sins. All I did was realize my sins and repent of them. I said, Jesus I believe in your death, burial and resurrection. For the forgiveness of my sin and the promise of eternal life. That very moment Jesus saved my soul and my future has been certain ever since.

Now, sadly I know there were many who died that sad 9-11 day. None of them could have ever seen that day coming. However, some were eternally prepared and probably most were not. I wonder if you were caught by surprise today would you be ready to meet your maker? The truth is you can be certain of your eternal salvation even in a world full of uncertainty.

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

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

If We’re Honest

No wonder everyone seems so irritable. No wonder the least little thing causes people to go crazy. One, it’s been hot enough to instantly catch on fire. Two, most of us have felt stuck in hibernation for 5 1/2 months. Three, social media reminds you of “The Three Stooges.” Four, most days keep feeling like a re-run of all the countless days before.

Most of us just don’t know what to do with ourselves in these uncertain times. We’re like fish out of water. We’ve been flipping and flopping for a long, long time. We might not all say it but we’re desperate for normalcy. Bedtime starts to become you’re most anticipated activity of the day.

Honestly, it has finally worn out it’s welcome in our house. Fortunately no one has killed anyone YET. But, we’re all just watching a crazy world that’s waiting to see what tomorrow holds. I don’t know how anyone without faith gets through such days. This season has definitely exposed our humanity. Our desperate need for God’s divine intervention. None of us have all the answers. I’m just glad I do know who still has a plan.

“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

Pray For My Parents

My dad and I just finished one of our daily night time talks. As usual it was full of many different emotions. We both can see God’s grace, recognize the pain and still pray in full faith. We both know God always has a plan. We just don’t always know how that plan will look from day to day.

Dad is looking forward to his midweek day of chemotherapy tomorrow. Not because he enjoys the process. But, because He knows God has sent him in there as a missionary. Therefore, there is purpose for his great pain. Even though it’s uncomfortable and at times unbearable. He sees the mission God has called him to as he gathers weekly with others who battle cancer.

Now, there were tears shed tonight for many reasons. Mainly because it’s just not easy for anyone to endure this kind of battle. I told dad I can’t understand everything he is feeling. I do know what it feels to feel hopeless. Like there is no way humanly possible for me to change anything. I also know what it’s like for God to intervene completely into my situation. For God to do more than the doctors said was possible.

God has now called me to share with others the hope I found in the midst of my greatest brokenness. Not a tear, fear or pain in my past been wasted. God keeps using it to rebuild me stronger than ever. God keeps using it to show others what He can do once we’re completely out of his way.

I’m so glad my dad and I can walk together through this season. I sincerely treasure every conversation. I hate to see his ongoing battle. However, I see God at work everyday in his life. I love my dad and mom so much. And, I ask you to keep praying for him and her. When your back is completely against the wall you need prayer warriors more than ever. I would greatly appreciate you continuing to lift them up.

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

Our Favorite 19 Year Old

Yesterday we celebrated my 21 year old. Today, we celebrate my 19 year old son. We named him Joel Andrew Crosby when he was born. Joel means “God with us.” Joel has always been a special young man. He cares deeply about other people and we care deeply about him.

I’ve got a lot of stories to tell about Joel. For instance, that time he decided to drink the neon liquid out of a glow stick just to see what it tasted like. His older brother Matthew nearly passed out on the spot observing that spontaneous event. He was convinced Joel was gonna die. Of course, Joel not only easily survived, but found out his brother really does love him. We recommend you don’t try that at home.

Now, I will stop right there with the Joel stories. I certainly don’t want to upset him on his special day. We are very proud of Joel and his accomplishments. He is not only a great son, but one day will be an amazing dad. Joel is funny, smart, and loves deeply. I’m very proud to be Joel’s dad. Happy 19th Birthday Joel and thanks for many unforgettable moments. Life wouldn’t be the same without you.

A 21 Year Old Surprise

I remember like yesterday when our first child was born. I was only 24 years old. His beautiful momma was only 22. After a couple of ultra sounds the doctor said we would be having a little girl. So, we picked out her name and looked forward to that special day.

At the baby shower we were blessed with countless gifts. In fact, most of them were pink and pretty. Someone gave us a cute little dress with her name embroidered on it. Between the pretty dresses, bows, pampers, and bedding items we were ready for her arrival. Then, came one of the biggest surprises of our lives.

Because they were inducing labor we had quite a cheering section in the hospital waiting area. We were all waiting anxiously for her arrival. Then, the moment we were all waiting for arrived. The doctor said you’ve got a 9 pound 10 ounce surprise baby boy. I remember just shaking my head in disbelief.

Due to my joking nature no one in my family believed the news when I told them. So, I had to snap some Polaroid pictures for credibility. Then, everyone was just happy for a healthy baby boy. All I remember after that was staring at my son in the nursery for hours. Beyond that my wife needed to catch her breath and that baby needed a new name.

After a couple days of processing our surprise baby boy. My wife and I finally agreed upon a name. We decided to call him Matthew Aaron Crosby. Because Matthew means “Gift from God” we knew it was a perfect fit. We both felt very blessed by the healthy baby given to us by God.

Now, there were a few matters I had to address. First, I told the doctor we needed to take her license. After all, how can you misjudge a 9 pound 10 ounce Shaquille O’Neal. Secondly, I asked the nurses to please move our child away from two extremely small pre-mature twins in the nursery beside him. I didn’t want anyone accusing my big boy of eating them. Finally, we had a lot of girl gifts to return. Thank God, back then Walmart took back just about everything.

For the past 21 years Matthew has been nothing but a blessing from God. Being our first child he really taught us as much as we taught him. He has already graduated from college with a bachelors degree. He is very gifted with video production and presently helps record my weekly sermons. We are very proud of the respectful and responsible man he has become. Happy 21st Birthday Matthew!

Teachers Have A Calling

I’ve been a minister of the gospel for over 27 years. The only thing that keeps me committed is a very strong call from God. Never do I feel like I’ve got things figured out. Rarely do things ever go as planned. However, the call and the opportunity to impact lives keeps me motivated.

I believe most teachers have a similar calling. They feel led to educate our children. They feel called to love and lead whoever God puts in their path. They know opportunity to touch someone’s life is always before them. They also know that most days rarely go as planned.

Right now, teachers everywhere are like a fish out of water. Many have been forced out of their classrooms. They are having to do most things virtually or socially distanced. This is hard to embrace five days out of each week. It’s like being kicked out of your home or normal environment.

Now, I believe if anyone knows adjustments it’s teachers. Teachers are always trying to meet students right where life finds them. Even during this new normal season teachers will rise to the occasion. Their call will keep them motivated. God will guide their steps. Because whoever God calls he also equips.

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

We’ve All Been Contaminated

I rarely ever watch anything on television these days. If I do it’s certainly not the news. I don’t listen to the radio period. I’m not around anyone filling my ears with the latest bad news. I may get on social media an hour each day. So, you would think my chances of feeling contaminated would be a lot less.

Nope, I can still feel the chaos in the air. People fighting from left to right. People tired of hearing people fighting. People thinking about fighting somebody if they say one more word. Between COVID-19, politics, racial wars, social distancing and masks we’re all just exhausted.

Emotions are at an all time high. We all wonder the same thing deep inside. When will things go back to normal? Will things go back to normal? I’m afraid none of us want to hear the real answer to that question. I’m certain that normal is in the far distant past.

Honestly, my life has been consumed with ministry and family the past 6 months. So, I’ve really not been watching the clock or pondering this subject matter. I’ve just been seeking to encourage who I can and seek God’s will in everything I do. There’s no doubt that brokenness creates a new level of openness.

Our family of six definitely feels the current of a chaotic culture too. All we can do is pray for one another. All we can do is take one day at a time. We have to trust that God has a bigger plan for all that is happening. Even in the eye of this seemingly never ending storm. I truly believe God is wanting to do something new in each of our hearts.

So, I’m asking God to keep teaching me. I pray my faith keeps growing along with my gratefulness. Maybe we all will learn to cling to Jesus more when this is all over. After all, He really is the only non-changing factor. Everything else and everyone else is bound to let us down. Thankfully I can say that with Jesus my faith and family have stayed anchored. Jesus can anchor you as well. Just invite Him into your heart to be your savior and Lord.

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:19

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

Dear White Friends

Obviously, I’m one of you so I’m addressing myself too. Honestly, I’ve not even been watching the news lately. I’ve been too busy seeking to love God and people. However, I can feel the tension rising again in our society. Sadly, it feels like more of a war between all humanity.

Listen, if you weren’t born black you can’t say you know how that feels. Sure, there are many of us who don’t see color. We understand that skin is just the outer shell of a living soul. We believe that all men and women were created equal by God. But, it doesn’t mean that all men and women are treated equal.

Now, for right now I want you to forget about what you believe about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This is not about our opinion of a certain organization. I’m just asking you to join me in having compassion for those hurting. Please seek to put yourself in their shoes instead of just defending your perspective.

When someone is really hurting you don’t just keep spouting out words. No, if you really care you show you care. You lift those hurting up in prayer. You seek to encourage those who are consumed with fear. You do your absolute best to meet them where they are with God’s unconditional love.

Well, right now many of our African American brothers and sisters are unsettled. They can’t help but be moved by media headlines. They feel unsafe for themselves and certain loved ones. They don’t need us to agree with everything they may feel or think. They do need us to love, love, love them just like Jesus loves us all.

Jesus came and died on a cross for every soul on this planet. His red blood was shed for every person who bleeds red. The way we show our love for Jesus is by our love for one another. We all have our seasons where we need a shoulder to cry on. We all have times we just need to know someone cares about our bleeding heart.

So, please join me in letting those with darker skin know we care. Yes, all lives do matter. Yes, I do believe we have made great strides in racial equality. But, there is obviously still work to be done. I believe the best thing we can do is to make sure our hearts and actions are full of God’s love towards all.

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Day 7- Just Keep Pressing Forward

Had a great and long day out with my wife today. We celebrated 23 years of marriage and her by my side. I can assure you I would’ve never endured the past five years without her. So many times I was close to giving up. I certainly thought I would have to resign from pastoring. I just couldn’t carry any more weight on top of my chronic pain.

Anyone who sees me is looking at an absolute miracle. God resurrected my life in every way possible. He gave me a new strength and perspective towards life. Everyday I keep seeking to adjust to my new normal. I have to constantly work smarter and not just harder. I have to completely free fall into the arms of Jesus from sun up to sun down.

I’m wrapping up day 7 of implementing new life disciplines. My body keeps reminding me that all these daily changes are essential. My pain is pretty significant tonight. However, I’ve had worse and I mean a much worse. I’m so grateful for God, my wife and others who helped me keep pressing forward.

I will go to bed by 10pm tonight and turn off all social media once again. I will get up early and start another God made day. I will listen to my body and for God’s voice. The most important step is always the next right step. You can’t stay focused on the past. You must keep putting your best foot forward by faith.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Everyone Needs A Aimee

We’ve now been married 23 years and started dating 27 years ago. Like a bottle of fine wine my wife has only gotten better with time. Our four boys adore her and I don’t deserve her. Even still God has blessed me with a beautiful woman who always stays by my side. Through the good, bad, and ugly unconditional love pours through her veins.

It has taken me years to fully appreciate this woman by my side. Her French feminine name translates as “beloved.” This explains why she is such a dearly loved person. Anyone who truly knows her could never dispute these facts about her.

The urban dictionary says that “Aimee is intelligent and nice. She will always stick by you. She will always smile even in the darkest times. The best friend to have is a Aimee.” I agree that everybody needs a Aimee. I thank God for mine every single day.

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

Day 5: Breakthrough Is Coming

Today has been much better than yesterday. I can feel and see God putting everything in order. God is growing me, stretching me, and readying me for greater days. Breakthrough is coming with every faith step forward.

I started this new journey five days ago in obedience to God. I had no agenda or program to follow. I just knew God needed to do a great work in me so He could do a greater work through me. Everyday a new discipline is being formed. Yet, it takes time to make certain things a lifestyle.

God often does His greatest work within us in the midst of our greatest chaos. We have to learn how to keep walking with him. We have to realize that God is walking with us. We have to know that if God is for us nothing can take us down. The more we decrease the more our God confidence has a chance to increase.

(John 15:5) Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Day 4: Giving All I’ve Got

I just finished a day that seemed like it would never end. Right now, my nerves are absolutely fried. Never have I ever been any busier with ministry. Honestly, I can’t delegate things fast enough. As soon as I get done with one thing another follows. I’ve been giving everything I’ve got possible from sun up to sun down.

This coming Saturday I will preach another funeral. I’ve preached more funerals the past two months than I have the past two years. And, that’s with having to say no to many other requests along the way. Fortunately, God keeps leading me step by step. I feel like I’m in the process of turning around the titanic.

Right now everything just feels harder due to this pandemic season. Yet, God keeps giving me clear vision of things to come. I know beyond any doubt that God is doing amazing things. Presently He is building the foundation and framework. He is teaching me how to do things in a way that will bring about God sized results.

One thing I know for sure is it’s all about continuing to faith walk. Anything God sized can never be fully man handled. God is reordering things within me and around me. All I’ve got to do is keep taking the next God led step. All I’ve got to do is keep trusting Him and obeying Him. Time has proven this is the only strategy for true success.

“Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

Day 2: Another Step Forward

Last night I slept in the exact time frame scheduled. All my phone apps were deactivated from the hours of 10pm and 8am. So far this is working great for my overall health. I slept a solid 8 1/2 hours last night. Getting up today was also much easier than the day before.

This morning I went on an intentional walk for the first time in months. The past has taught me it’s not about the distance, but my consistency along the way. After a mile of walking I had to soak in a hot bath. My surgical area in my lower back was definitely sore and irritated. My legs were weak as well since they are no longer conditioned for daily exercise.

Basically I’m returning back to a recovery lifestyle. The only way to do this is one step and one day at a time. I’ve had another full day and evening of work. I’m more at peace because I’m operating at a much healthier pace. I’m seeking to stay ahead of any pain or anxiety. I’m definitely praying more and worrying less. God keeps leading me one step at a time. I’m the healthiest spiritually and mentally than I’ve been in over five years. Now, I’ve got to get in bed. I’ve got to get up extra early tomorrow to see my dad prior to his chemotherapy.

“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

Day 1: 40 Days Of Discipline

Day one of 40 is officially in the books. With God’s help I got up and out of the bed early this morning. It was not easy to push my body forward. However, it felt great to take the next right step. My entire day has been very productive.

My mind was very clear so I began to study God’s word. When you’re a preacher it feels like you’re always studying for something. Daily I have to seek God’s face and keep studying God’s word. You never know it all and you have to remain a student of God’s word.

Most importantly today was knowing I was truly present inside my home. I don’t want to just be a minister to others, but also to my family. I’m looking for ways to help my wife and encourage my four boys. Because of Covid-19 all 4 of my boys have been with us for months. I don’t want to miss this rare season of us all still being under the same roof.

This is my first time on social media all day. I’ve intentionally removed my Facebook app from my phone. This not only allows me to sleep soundly, but also to be free of distractions. Shortly, I will begin to settle down and hopefully get some quality rest. I certainly feel more empowered living back on a schedule. But, it will take many days for my body to completely adjust and retrained to this normalcy.

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

40 Days Of Discipline

40 Days Of Discipline
(August 17-September 25th)

Well, God has led me to start another forty day journey. The number 40 is significant in scripture and in practical terms. You see, it typically takes at least 40 days to create a new habit. Which means it’s not about things changing overnight, but over time. So, here I go as I seek to establish some new disciplines.

The past five months of dealing with this pandemic has ruined many of our schedules. Often it’s hard to separate your days from nights. At first you just try to adjust to a new way of life. Later you realize you must learn how to still live life to its fullest. I believe that maintaining certain disciplines and consistencies are critical for being at your best.

So, tonight I will make sure that I’m in bed before 11pm. After 11pm I will not mess with social media and my phone will stay on silence until morning. I will seek to get out of the bed completely by 8am every morning. Then, during the day I will seek to do all I can work related between the hours of 9am and 6pm.

My goal is to not spend more than two nights weekly on things ministry related. I’m referring to things such as meetings, counseling and even studying. I have to create these boundaries for the health of myself, my marriage, my family and really my ministry. You can only live wide open so long. Sadly, I’ve been going way to hard for the past five months.

So, my first goal is getting back on a schedule and having daily healthy routines. I want to be a man on his knees before Jesus every morning. I want to be a present and involved husband and dad. I want be available to it closest family and friends. I want to be a pastor who leads by a healthy example not just from a Sunday pulpit.

Fortunately, I’m much healthier now than in recent years. But, it’s time to crank up the discipline further. It’s time to learn how to live my best life now even in this new normal. I don’t want to just survive this season. I want God to show me how I can thrive, grow, and do everything He wants done for His glory. For this reason I must put my own self back into training.

“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

When This Is Over

It’s been 5 months since the world quit turning as usual. Our churches, schools businesses and even sports have all been stopped in their tracks. Our very way of life has been changed in so many ways. Amidst all the conflict, chaos and fight to return things back to normal. God help my heart never return back to normal.

When this season is over Lord may my heart stay open to your will. I’m sorry for all the times I thought I was in control. I’m sorry for all the times I got caught up in the ways of this world. I’m sorry for all I took for granted that you so graciously allowed. Lord help me not to waste this season you’ve allowed for your own good reasons.

I pray many others will join me in this resolve. Help us to turn from every wicked way and to wholeheartedly seek your way. Help us to surrender every second you allow us to breathe from this moment forward. Help us to not ignore all the warning signs you’ve sent our way. Have your way in us, through us, and despite us. When this is over may none of us ever be the same as before.

“O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” Jonah 1:14

Count Your Blessings

I’ve dealt with a bit of a flair with my nerve condition. For the past 6 hours my skin has been crawling. This uncomfortable tingling is running throughout my entire nervous system. I wish I could find the off switch. So far nothing has stopped it or slowed it down.

This chaotic disruption within me always leaves me feeling just a shell of myself. Sure, I can try to ignore it but that would be a hopeless cause. It’s like having an internal seizure with no pre-warning signs. Fortunately, this pain no longer owns me. It’s just a thorn in my flesh I have to allow for in my everyday life.

Honestly, my blessings list is way too long to complain. I’ve really had an overall great and productive week. When I recognize how far God has brought me. I can’t not be amazed. Feelings like tonight used to be my everyday and every night experience. Now, it’s just a couple nights per week this stuff takes me this far down. Evidently, God must allow me to still have these struggles so I can fully realize all my blessings.

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

Dad Needs Me Now

All my life my dad has worked hard. He has sought to be a great provider and dad. He has been a great man of God and example to follow. The first half of my life he was my actual pastor. The second half of my life he has still been a pastor I could call on anytime. He has certainly prayed me through some very dark valleys in the past.

Dad’s cancer battle and chemotherapy keep knocking the wind out of his sails. He keeps getting up each day striving to walk by faith. However, the body is very weak even though the spirit is very willing. There aren’t many conversations these days that don’t involve some tears. I know he hates for us to see him in such pain as he battles for his very life.

Now, my dad needs me to do what he taught me to do for so many years. It’s my turn to be his listening ear. It’s my turn to kneel by his side and pray for him. While I wish I could fix everything for him and mom. I know my role is to just be his chaplain, son, and spiritual cheerleader all wrapped into one.

What’s awesome is seeing how God is still using dad even in this season. Dad knows every Wednesday he will be surrounded by many others going through chemotherapy. Dad and I pray beforehand that God opens doors for him to minister to others. In a time when none of us can go into the treatment area. Dad knows he has been sent into this captive audience to be God’s messenger of hope.

(Romans 10:14-15) “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!”

Fishers Of Men

What If College Football Is Cancelled?

Right now it appears college football will likely not take place this fall. We’re talking about a sport that annually makes billions of dollars. A sport that is watched religiously by millions of people. In fact, many of us won’t know what to do on Saturdays if the season is cancelled. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this possibility for a couple months.

I’ve also been thinking this could be the last idol God must temporarily remove from society. You see, fans have shown for years they will do anything to cheer their team towards victory. Endless money, time, and energy are poured into our worship of college football. As a big fan myself I can easily see how your favorite team could become your church. Especially if it becomes your everything in life.

Now, if there is no football season I believe God hopes to repurpose our time. Maybe spend more time with your family. Maybe spend more time investing in your faith not just football. There is so much God can do through the people of God if He has our full attention. So, if this college football season is cancelled I’m praying for once God will have our undivided attention.

(Matthew 6:19-21) Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Leading In This Season

I can’t put it fully into words. This season has just been a tough time to be a leader. So many divisions, opinions, and anxious thoughts. Everybody is seeing things through their own viewpoint. Some watch this network and others watch another. Some believe in masks others don’t even believe there is a threat. All you hear is some are on the far left and others are on the far right.

Now, for most leaders it’s even more complicated. We have to try and make decisions regardless of the chaos. In the midst of the mixed emotions and flaming arrows. You have to find a way to keep taking the next right step. However, you must know that nothing you do will make everyone happy.

This season has tested even the brightest and best. Even the most veteran leaders have never dealt with such uncertain times. Leadership can feel very lonely, overwhelming, and not much fun. However, this is when leaders are needed more than ever. No it’s not always easy, but that’s why many aren’t leaders. Leaders, I encourage you to keep leading and trusting God for the results.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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)