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)

Seek Him Now

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

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

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

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

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

Living In Uncertain Days

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

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

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

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

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

The Pastor’s Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Will I See You Again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Time Is Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anxiety Level Is High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better Late Than Never

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

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

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

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

Sleep Where Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes God Closes Doors

Closed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty Of Reasons To Pray

Dad, Mom & Cassy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need Your Prayers Again

Written: March 12th

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

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

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

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

Clueless But Confident

Written: March 11th

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

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

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

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

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

God Will Reward You

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Our Children Only Knew

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

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

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

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

The Struggle Is Real

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

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

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

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

Wake Up Sleeper

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

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

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

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

I Just Have To Remember

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

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

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

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

Gotta Stay Prepared

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

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

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

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

A Total Setup By God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Seen Enough To Pray More

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

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

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

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

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

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT !!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Daddy Made It

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

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

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

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

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

Best I’ve Felt In 5 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Good News About Dad

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

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

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

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

Daddy Days

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

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

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

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

Learning From A Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Kobe Bryant Taught Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Shut It Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Hate Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

God Turned Things Around

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

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

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

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

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

Renewed Strength Found

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

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

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

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

Confession Is Healing

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

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

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

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

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

So Much On My Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opposites Do Attract

I’m very public.

She’s very private.

I want everything done now.

She’s extremely patient.

I like things simple.

She thinks outside the box.

I live in the spotlight.

She’s busy behind the scenes.

I stay busy outside the home.

She stays focused on our home.

I’m called to be a pastor.

She and her support make that possible.

I get most of the credit.

She deserves most of it.

I say a lot with my words.

She proves a lot more by her actions.

I am often a hot mess.

She loves me regardless.

I am half of a man without her.

She makes me feel whole.

I try to make her smile.

She always makes me smile.

I prayed for a help mate

She was tailored made for me

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

Keep Praying For My Dad

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles In Your Backyard

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Satan

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

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

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

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

Still Learning Balance

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Them Coming Please

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Characteristics Of Great Parents

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

#1 RESPONSIBLE

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

#2 INVOLVED

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

#3 AWARE

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

#4 LOVING

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

#5 EXAMPLE

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

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

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

Gotta Give You Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let God Use It

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

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

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

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

Held By God

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

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

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

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

Hide Me Lord

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

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

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

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

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