Seek Him Now

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

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

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

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

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

Living In Uncertain Days

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

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

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

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

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

The Pastor’s Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Will I See You Again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Time Is Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anxiety Level Is High

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better Late Than Never

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

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

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

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

Sleep Where Are You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes God Closes Doors

Closed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty Of Reasons To Pray

Dad, Mom & Cassy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need Your Prayers Again

Written: March 12th

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

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

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

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

Clueless But Confident

Written: March 11th

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

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

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

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

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

God Will Reward You

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Our Children Only Knew

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

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

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

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

The Struggle Is Real

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

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

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

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

Wake Up Sleeper

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

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

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

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

I Just Have To Remember

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

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

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

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

Gotta Stay Prepared

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

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

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

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

A Total Setup By God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve Seen Enough To Pray More

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

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

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

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

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

I CANNOT BELIEVE IT !!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Daddy Made It

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

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

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

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

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

Best I’ve Felt In 5 Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Good News About Dad

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

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

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

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

Daddy Days

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

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

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

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

Learning From A Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Kobe Bryant Taught Us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Can’t Shut It Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Hate Chronic Pain

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

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

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

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

God Turned Things Around

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

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

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

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

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

Renewed Strength Found

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

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

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

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

Confession Is Healing

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

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

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

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

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

So Much On My Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opposites Do Attract

I’m very public.

She’s very private.

I want everything done now.

She’s extremely patient.

I like things simple.

She thinks outside the box.

I live in the spotlight.

She’s busy behind the scenes.

I stay busy outside the home.

She stays focused on our home.

I’m called to be a pastor.

She and her support make that possible.

I get most of the credit.

She deserves most of it.

I say a lot with my words.

She proves a lot more by her actions.

I am often a hot mess.

She loves me regardless.

I am half of a man without her.

She makes me feel whole.

I try to make her smile.

She always makes me smile.

I prayed for a help mate

She was tailored made for me

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

Keep Praying For My Dad

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

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

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

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

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

Struggles In Your Backyard

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

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

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

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

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

Not Tomorrow Satan

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

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

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

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

Still Learning Balance

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Them Coming Please

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Characteristics Of Great Parents

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

#1 RESPONSIBLE

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

#2 INVOLVED

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

#3 AWARE

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

#4 LOVING

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

#5 EXAMPLE

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

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

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

Gotta Give You Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let God Use It

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

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

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

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

Held By God

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

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

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

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

Hide Me Lord

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

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

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

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

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

Makes Sense Now

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Back Helps

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

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

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

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

Gotta Stay Disciplined

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

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

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

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

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

Pray About Everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tired Of Playing Games

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Learning To Fight Differently

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Preacher’s Saturday Night

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

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

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

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

So Glad To Fight

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

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

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

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

Been A Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

God Is Working

Dear Refuge Family,

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.RefugeChurch.org

Faith Under Fire

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

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

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

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

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

The Humble Pie Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe It’s Just Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her Love Carries Me

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

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

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

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

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

Before You Look Ahead

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

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

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

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

Always Hope In Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring On 2020

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

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

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

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

Considering A Diet Change?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Should Not Be Surprised

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

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

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

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

Sad But Glad Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

Partly Cloudy And Cold

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

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

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

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

The Stats Do Matter

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

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

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

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

Psalm 26:2

Celebrate The Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Give Up On God

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

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

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

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

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

Life After My Shot

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

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

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

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

Keep Walking By Faith

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

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

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

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

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

God Uses Genuine Faith Walkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40 Days 40 Nights Of Fasting

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

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

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

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

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

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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

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

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

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

Take My Hand Lord

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

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

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

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

Restore My Joy Lord

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Not Repeat This

Written 9pm 12/6/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painful But Preventable

Written 1:15pm Today

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

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

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

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

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

Why I Write A Lot Less

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

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

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

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

Just 35 Days Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total God-Made Day

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

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

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

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

Thanks For Answers & Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Shipwrecked Again

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

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

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

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

Pain & Hunger Don’t Mix

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

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

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

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

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

Praise Report After Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Made It Through Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You God

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

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

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

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

His love endures forever.” Psalm 36:1

Just Ask For Prayer

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

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

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

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

Lots To Swallow Daily

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

Anytime I’m forced to lay here in pain so much goes through my mind. Mainly, I try to remain a student of my condition. How can I possibly have a more positive outlook? What must I do to thrive not just survive? What should I do to give myself the greatest chance of healing. Here are a few things I know I must do physically everyday to be my healthiest.

#1 Get A Good Night’s Sleep

#2 Take necessary supplements and drink plenty of water.

#3 Eat Healthy & Stay Away From Unhealthy & Inflammatory Foods

#4 Walk Enough, But Not Too Much

(At least 2 miles no more than 3)

#5 Stretch Properly Morning, Day & Evening

#6 Keep Respecting My Condition

#7 Don’t stand, sit or drive more than 30 minutes at a time.

#8 Limit my stress load.

#9 Do what I can, but trust God with all I can’t.

#10 Get in the bed early. Generally in bed no later than 9pm and aim to be asleep before 11.

I Can Eat Whatever I Want

They say it takes at least 6 weeks to establish a new habit. Well, I’m exactly 4 weeks into this healthy eating lifestyle. And, I feel it may take much longer for this way of eating to feel like a true way of life. Especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas both hitting me over the next 30 days. Yes my efforts have been very strong so far. That’s only because I discovered my quality of life depends on it.

You see, this is not just a change of foods. This is a total change of perspective. Most don’t really believe that what they eat affects their overall health that much. Sure, eating clean may sound good to most. But, until you believe that you’re feeding yourself poison. You won’t see an urgent need to make changes.

Honestly, I don’t want to believe this even now myself. But, the leading killer on planet earth may be the American diet. Yes, I know that dressing, macaroni, fried chicken, and casserole takes so good. Don’t even get me started drooling over all those desserts. However, our decisions shouldn’t be fueled by our momentary gratification alone. Nor should it be dictated by the fact everyone else is or is not doing something.

We need to think about the long term impact of our present decisions. How will what I’m doing now affect those I love later on? This can be said about food, relationships and other lifestyle choices. As I close out another challenging day of choosing to eat healthy. I have to keep reminding myself why this is so important. Why this is worth such extreme measures. Why? I want to be as healthy as possible for my wife, kids, family, friends and ministry.

“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

Gotta Keep Believing

Earlier I was out of the house doing a few things. My normal 2pm medicine alarm went off as usual. So, I reached in my backpack to get my medicine. It was then I realized everything was in there except for ibuprofen. I had refilled my weekly medicine container this morning. Somehow, I forgot to put ibuprofen in my 2pm and 8pm slots. So, I took everything else planning to take my ibuprofen a little while later.

Around 5pm I arrived home feeling like someone with the flu. My entire body was aching from my feet to my face. I literally felt like someone had beaten me up. It was not until around 5:30pm that I remembered not taking my ibuprofen. Which meant it had been 9 1/2 hours since my last dose of ibuprofen. Of course, I took my ibuprofen immediately along with some CBD oil.

My body is still seeking to recover as my heart has been pounding. I’m typically so detailed with my medications, but Satan found a small window towards taking me down. Sadly, the pain got so much on top of me that it will take a little while for my aching nerves to settle. I can’t believe how missing just two ibuprofen could leave me feeling so bad.

Finally, I’m back in the tub for some relief. In fact, outside of being asleep it’s my only escape from this pain. I’ve been trying so hard to keep my mind on anything that could help my health. However, it seems I just can’t win for losing. I will definitely be going to bed right at 8pm and hopefully waking up much better tomorrow for Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, the past has taught me many reasons to keep believing. God always has a plan and a way to carry me through the pain. In the middle of the pain it’s so hard to see especially if it’s blinding you. God has proven His faithfulness in days gone by and promises His faithfulness days to come. I’m trusting that even now God is using my pain to encourage someone walking through a similar pain. If that’s you know that I’m praying for you and God will take you through.

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

God Is My Strength

One thing I hate about chronic pain is it’s never fully behind you. Even when you’re having a great day you know any moment could humble you quickly. Thank God I got over 7 hours sleep last night and I didn’t have to take a muscle relaxer. Maybe I should have considering my pain was very high. But, I’m no longer just trying to hide or drown the pain. Plus I don’t like waking up clouded by extra medication.

Honestly, the past few weeks have shown tremendous progress. Several nights have just proven I’m still a member of the chronic pain family. Guess I needed this reminder. Often my downfall has been when I quit respecting my condition. So, I will just take the last few nights as wake up calls.

I still feel this cooler weather has fueled my increased aches and pains. Plus, my ability to focus more has led to working longer days. So, I always have to reign things in by governing how much I sleep, eat, walk, sit, stand, drive or work. Trust me, it’s a lot to juggle subconsciously while trying to live a normal life. I’m just thankful to have bearable pain again and a greater quality of life. Praise God I’m back up for now.

“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

Pain, Pain Go Away

The last several nights have not been great to me. Every evening that old familiar pain keeps throbbing in my lower back. It melts me down so quickly. Funny how these intense pain moments make you feel like nothing much has changed. When I know good and well I’m not like where I used to be.

I’m still eating great and getting so much more accomplished during the day. However, driving, sitting and even standing are often a big issue. Been trying my best to stay away from certain medications. Yet, the pain has been forcing me to take some extra medication the past four nights.

Right now I’m drowning in pain and begging God to help me sleep. Anyone that battles chronic pain knows it can so easily get on top of you. And this colder weather is certainly not doing me any favors. I’ve been doing so well in so many ways. But, these moments help me see that I’m far from fixed. God just keeps holding me together. If I can actually get some quality rest. It would go a long towards greater healing and relief.

“At night my bones are filled with pain, which gnaws at me relentlessly.” Job 30:17

A Day To Just Breathe

There’s never a day I put my Christianity in the closet. I stay ready, open and willing for whatever God leads me to do. Honestly, this has been my way of life for over 26 years of ministry. However, time brings perspective and wisdom leads to change. Therefore, I’ve drawn a line in the sand. For now Mondays must be my day of personal recovery and renewal.

God has led me to simply be still every Monday. Honestly, it’s the closest I get to a true day off. Ministry never stops because there are always needs surrounding me. I love God and people with all my heart. But, I’ve had to stick to leading everyone to the Savior instead of trying to be everyone’s savior.

As each week passes I’m more and more grateful for this chance to catch my breath. This day that God just calls me unto Himself. I get to withdraw from the world and just breathe God into my very being. I ask God to renew my heart, mind, body, and soul. No one can do this except the God who created me and knows the plans He has for me.

God keeps showing me that all I need to do is walk with Him. I don’t have to figure everything out. I don’t have to rescue every hurting soul. I just need to walk with Him and allow Him to work through me. While continually giving God all my cares, concerns and all the glory. My recovery Mondays don’t fix everything, but they give me a much needed physical, mental and spiritual alignment.

Now, I know Mondays aren’t an option for everyone. Yet, we all really need a day that we’re not working. That we’re not worrying about everyone or everything else. A day we can just breath in God’s grace, mercy and love. A day we truly allow God to recharge our batteries. Otherwise, we are bound for burnout and can’t reach our full potential in Christ. One true day of rest can lead to 6 days of feeling even more blessed.

“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1

“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

Something Got In My System

Friday night while still out of town in Myrtle Beach, SC. I stopped and ate supper at a place called the Healthy Living Cafe. While the food I ate was great and most of it was very healthy. I’m pretty certain that the non-gluten oatmeal cup was filled with a little more than just organic bananas, carrots, raisins, pecans, honey, oatmeal and unsweetened almond milk. I made sure I asked the lady what ingredients she used. I should have known better just because of it’s sweetness.

However, I took her word for it. I was so excited to eat something that tasted like a desert that I bought three of them. I ate two that night and one more the next morning. It’s the only thing I’ve eaten anytime recently that I wasn’t fully of aware of all the ingredients. It didn’t take long for my stomach to tell me something just wasn’t right. By Saturday evening my entire body was vibrating like it would if I had a lot of sugar or caffeine.

Last night was a very long, stressful, and painful night. Of course, things always hit the night before I’ve got to preach. Even still, my increased health helped me override what could have been a day of disaster. So far, things still aren’t out of my system.

I can promise I won’t be swallowing anything questionable anytime soon. The pain and discomfort just aren’t worth it. Just another reminder that what I put into my body always matters. I am disappointed with the unnecessary pain I’m feeling, but I know it should be out of my system in the next 24-48 hours.

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

Come To Me Child

Headed to bed early tonight. I got to bed way too late last night and got very little sleep. Now, after a day of driving several hours back home my body is exhausted. I’ve been away the past five nights and six days from my family. God laid it on my heart to just get away. To seek Him about many things going on both now and ahead.

Of course, one week doesn’t fix everything. But, daily God has been changing me. I’m learning to be still and breathe God into my lungs. My identity can’t be wrapped up in anything but Jesus Christ. It’s never about seeing what I can do. My job is to be obedient and let Christ work on me, in me and through me.

In so many ways God is reconstructing me for this new season. A season of walking closer with Him than ever before. Trying to do God’s work is very wearisome. Mainly because He doesn’t call us to do His work. He calls us first to come to Him and trust He is at work. It’s only in God’s presence we find comfort and peace for our restless souls. So, I’m just seeking to keep my little hand in His big hand. Lord knows I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.

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

My Present Diet

For my present diet I’m simply doing what many call the “Elimination Diet.” Because my first goal was to make sure I eliminated things that have proven to most likely be inflammatory or create further health issues. My second goal was to make sure I didn’t just starve my body of bad stuff. But, I needed to know some stuff that I could eat to fill and nourish my body. So, it’s just this simple.

Foods To Remove:

Corn, Dairy, Eggs, Gluten Grains, White Table Sugar, Shellfish, Soy, Beef, Pork, Processed Meats, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, Caffeine.

Foods To Eat:

Fruits, Vegetables, Lean Meats, Nuts, Seeds, Healthy Oils, Legumes, Non-gluten Whole grains.

Now, it’s through this process of elimination that you start seeing how these things can affect the body. And, it doesn’t mean that all of these things have an equal affect on everyone. But, I can promise you this diet will make you healthier and definitely feeling healthier. When I started it I went all in because I was desperate for change.

Everyday I’m shocked at how much this not so easy diet is so worth it. And, daily I’m learning how to better approach my eating. You’ve got to stay on top of your hunger. You’ve got to keep foods around that you will eat that are allowed in this diet. As I’ve said, just eliminating high levels of sugar and caffeine would be a big step forward. But, if you want maximum results you’ve got to give maximum effort.

I’m praying for all of you who are seeking to take the next right step towards a healthier you. With God’s help you can do this. Don’t worry what you can’t control. Seize to do what you can control. Find someone who will support you through this journey of life change.

To Whom It May Concern

I think it’s very important to clarify that my new diet has not miraculously healed me. I still live a recovery lifestyle morning, day and night. I still watch how much I sleep, exercise, work, and now everything I eat and drink. It’s definitely not a walk in the park. I still deal with daily discomfort. But, my good moments far outweigh my bad ones. I’m discovering a much higher quality of life.

I simply had no idea how much my diet alone could help my nerve wrecked body and actually reduce extreme inflammation. In fact, most people’s diet increases their inflammation. Caffeine and sugar alone are like throwing flaming arrows into anything that is already struggling within your body. In ways I don’t even understand, but have observed firsthand. Much of what we call “normal” foods were never meant for healthy bodies. And, if you’re already struggling with other issues you don’t need to create further issues.

Honestly, if I had not long ago reached my breaking point. I would have never given up the banana pudding, carrot cake and processed foods lifestyle. I journaled my life practically everyday the past 4 plus years trying to discover things I could do to help my nerve wrecked body. Many times my body crashed after just a few cups of black coffee alone. I thought “Little Debbies” were my friends. But, after getting an absolute sugar high I would be suffering for days because my increased pain brought me to an even lower low. Just back to back nights of one cup of ice cream has made me feel deathly ill by the 3rd day.

Now, if my nerve damage was not so extensive I may have never registered this food related issue this early. But, if it can affect the body my nerves will let me hear about it quickly. It was only after I really stayed away from foods that have proven to create havoc in the human body that I realized my diet was killing my chances of any quality life. So, everything I share comes after a lot of sleepless nights and too much unnecessary pain.

The good news is you can control what you eat. And, if you’ve suffered long enough like me you should be willing to do anything that could change things. My longevity of pain has given me a huge compassion for those in pain. So, I plan to live the rest of my life sharing anything I have learned that can help. Anyone who thinks I’m just being radical just hasn’t gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired. Brokenness will eventually create openness.

Anyone wanting to read more about my story and steps forward can visit my craigcrosby.blog site. There is well over 1000 articles written under the “Faith Walking” category alone. Everything in that section is about me dog paddling my way by faith through what has felt like a nightmare most of the time. Now, I’m believing that God has allowed my pain so I can help others through their pain. I don’t write a lot of things on my personal FB page about my health issues because I know many don’t like to hear about misery. But, those who live in misery are very interested in others who can identify and offer hope. For that you can follow my Faith Walking page on Facebook as well.

Living My Best Life Now

Grilled Tuna with brown rice, quinoa, mixed veggies, & broccoli. Organic bananas, carrots, raisins, pecans, honey, oatmeal cups made with unsweetened almond milk.

23 Days of feeding myself nothing but healthy stuff. I’ve dropped 4 medications and reduced 2 others. Will turn 45 in four months, but feeling my best yet. I was 205lbs in January. I’m now down to 169lbs and holding. I eat triple what I was eating a month ago. But, because it’s good stuff it all turns into God stuff.

If you want to see your overall health do a complete 180 degree turnaround. Start with your diet it’s done more for me in one month than any medication, shot, surgery, or physical therapy was ever able to do. I share because I care. I’ve seen the light and I won’t be returning back to the darkness. Living my best life now!

Sorry, I’m still in awe of what God has done and is doing. Maybe someone reading this needs to see this post. None of this is about weight loss. It’s about healthy living.

Dear Mr or Mrs Not Okay

I’m in a season where God is rearranging my life. It’s obvious I can’t go back to living life as I once thought was normal. I’m now on a new journey towards true health. I’m aiming to be the healthiest I can be physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally, and spiritually. I realize there is no perfect blueprint and I will never arrive to perfection this side of Heaven.

We all know life can so quickly get off course. One moment you’re on the highest mountain. The next finds you in the lowest of valleys. Yes, I understand part of that is the earthly nature of this life. Another part of that is so many of us keep following a world that is headed for burnout, disappointment, and disaster. Part of it is us thinking we can simply hit the cruise control button. When in reality life is about dealing with real things in real time.

So, I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to keep taking the next best step in front of me. Weekly at the bare minimum I will evaluate my life’s direction and overall health. Daily, I will do what’s necessary to be the healthiest me possible. I will live in a proactive fashion that doesn’t make me such an easy target for the devil. Sure, it’s okay to say that you’re not okay. But, I’m not just striving to be an okay man, husband, father, or pastor. I plan to thrive in every way possible.

If that means greater discipline bring it on. If that means more times with just God and my Bible sign me up. If that means saying 99 no’s to ever 1 yes that’s exactly what I will do. If that means learning how to live totally opposite of how I’ve always lived. I am willing and ready to do whatever is best in the long haul. Instead of what seems right through my blurred perspective in the moment. Don’t just talk about the need for change. Start making the necessary God led changes. Then, watch as God changes you for the better and increases your overall quality of life.

Sincerely,

Someone who has already tried doing things His way and didn’t like it one bit. So, it’s time to give God the full reigns and look forward with great expectations!

“Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Proverbs 14:12

I Needed A Big Healthy Steak

I’ve been out of town all week on a spiritual retreat. God put it very heavy on my heart that I just needed to get away. To breathe Him in and hear His voice clearly about my next steps forward. I’m used to needs constantly surrounding me and my body failing me. Therefore, I’ve been making some big decisions for my physical, mental and spiritual health.

Recently, I’ve been surrounded by restaurants every direction. No matter where I’ve checked there’s been next to nothing I could eat on my present diet. Even the places you might think would be healthy are filled with things that are proven to be toxic. Most just haven’t discovered or don’t realize what they are digesting into their bodies morning, day and night. I’m not judging anyone because I’ve only recently fully realized this myself.

After literally not cheating on my diet even once the past 20 days. I just had to eat something familiar, filling and refreshing. I pulled into a local steak house that had excellent reviews. I ordered the best steak they had on the menu. It was my first time every eating Filet Mignon. I must say that every bite literally melted in my mouth. It was worth every dollar it cost me and fortunately I didn’t follow it up with dessert. It’s been another God made day.

(Psalm 107:8-9) “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

Hope Keeps Rising

I’m in such a season of undeniable and explainable breakthrough. Like a prisoner of war I feel God has set me free. Everything that the devil seemed to have taken from me. God has given it all back and more. I really believe I’m living my best life now and even better days are to come.

Without so much drowning medication my mind is coming back to life. I can see so clearly God’s vision for my life, marriage, family and ministry. I finally feel back in the game instead of watching from the bench. I may not be who I used to be. But, in so many ways that is a really good thing. God has used the pain to humble me, grow me, and give me a whole new perspective of life. Even when my body feels exhausted I feel so hopeful with every step forward.

I’m thankful for every quality moment. Tears flood my face every time I think of countless days of seeming hopelessness. Then, God reached down and changed everything. No, it’s not been overnight. However, as I keep doing all I can He keeps doing all I can’t. There’s so much I’m looking forward to in the days ahead.

I’ve got a lot of date nights to look forward to with my beautiful wife. I’m going to spend as many quality moments I can with my boys. I will spend more time with family and friends who mean so much to me. I will joyfully lead out the mission of Refuge Church. I know God is going to touch thousands of lives as I keep following His clear vision.

I have so much that I’m thankful for today. I’m so excited to say I’ve made it 20 days straight eating totally clean and healthy. I’ve literally not cheated even once by the grace of God. Although I’m sure there will be challenging moments to come.

God is literally breathing new life into me. He is slowing me down and marinating my soul in His love. I feel more alive and hopeful than I’ve ever felt in my life. I can’t fully explain how I got here. All I know is God is good and greatly to be praised.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1-4

1,522 Days Later I’m Shocked

Today, has been a day of recognizing all God has done and still is doing. Praise God, it’s been awhile since I religiously kept track of every day of my misery. Earlier I decided to look back and see just how long I’ve been on this roller coaster journey of pain. Yep, 1522 days ago my body and life were flipped upside down. For the majority of this time I felt like I had been given a life sentence of total misery.

All I could do was meditate on God’s words of promise and choose to trust Him daily. While I kept my faith in Him I kept losing faith in myself. My exhaustion and depression were gradually taking me down. I knew I had many praying for me. But, often it felt like the prayers weren’t working. Daily I thought there was no chance at a quality life. I certainly didn’t believe I could continue pastoring a church.

Yes, I had seasons of great optimism. However, each of them were quickly followed by crash after crash. Honestly, I’m not totally sure how I made it through such a long period of absolute Hell. I tried to be as strong as I could on the outside. However, on the inside my heart was racing constantly full of anxiety. I just kept casting all my cares on the Lord.

Day by day God kept giving me breakthroughs and hope. Hope that things could get better and healing could take place. My faith kept rising with every sign of victory. I changed my entire lifestyle and approach to ministry. Slowly but surely it felt like the titanic was not going to sink after all.

I had to learn how to equip others for ministry instead of trying to do it all myself. I had to do everything from sun up to sun down to keep my nervous system from crashing. From walking, stretching, counseling, shots, and medication I did all I could do to stay on top of the pain. Even then it was like trying to hold down a wild beast.

Then, God intervened with one more major life change. Never could you have convinced me that I would need to change my entire way of eating. Here I am 19 days later still living without sugar, caffeine, dairy, gluten grains, processed foods, beef, pork, corn, soy, eggs, and shellfish. Here I am feeling better and clearer than ever before.

God is restoring order in my life in every way. He is anchoring me, my family, and my ministry. Here I am just in awe of what God is doing. No longer do I fear the next nerve crash. Instead, it’s simply a thorn in my flesh reflecting the glory of God. I could have never gotten myself out of such a deep, dark hole. Yet, God reached in and lifted me over the giant wall that was in front of me.

To say I’m in awe is an understatement. I’m more like shocked. Like is this a dream? Did I just have a really bad dream and I’m just finally waking up? Or was that me on the verge of falling totally apart and God put me back together? For the rest of my life no one will be able to convince me they are hopeless. They may feel like it, but with God in the mix everyone has hope. I will forever praise the one who pulled me out of the grave and resurrected my hope.

(Psalm 18) “I love you, Lord; you are my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. 3 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.4 The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. 5 The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. 6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.

18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. 19 He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. 20 The Lord rewarded me for doing right; he restored me because of my innocence. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. 22 I have followed all his regulations; I have never abandoned his decrees. 23 I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin. 24 The Lord rewarded me for doing right. He has seen my innocence. 25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. 26 To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. 27 You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. 28 You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. 29 In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. 30 God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. 31 For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock?

32 God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. 33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. 34 He trains my hands for battle; he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow. 35 You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. 36 You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

16 Days Of Total Life Change

There’s no way to argue with such obvious results. This radical diet has literally changed my life. While it has definitely not been easy. It’s certainly working to reduce the inflammation and chaotic nerve pain inside of my body. In fact, I’ve never been so clear minded and optimistic during this entire 50 months of my rehabilitation.

I actually see myself having a future. My quality of life has increased drastically along with my optimism. No way you could have told me that a diet alone could change so much. After all, I had already lost 30 pounds since January of this year. In fact, I’m down a total of 35 pounds now. Yet, outside of coming off blood pressure medication. Losing weight alone really didn’t improve my condition. Starving myself was not the answer.

However, the diet I’m living out now has not been just about what I’ve chosen not to eat. But, it’s been just as important what I have been eating. Nothing but veggies, fruits, nuts, beans, and very lean meats (mainly chicken) have been swallowed. I’ve not had any caffeine, white sugar, gluten, eggs, processed foods, corn, bread, white rice, or even one dairy product. I’m not sure I can even spell the word dessert anymore.

Yes, I’m still in shock that I’ve made it this far and stayed this disciplined for 16 days straight. Sure, I’ve had many dreams of me eating cake, pie, ice cream, banana pudding or just a big bowl of cereal. And, maybe there will come a time I can eat some of those things with moderation. But, my freedom from insane pain has me pretty motivated to stay this course for now.

No matter what I know my way of living has to change for good. I believe I’m on track to be the healthiest I’ve ever been in my adult life. I’m now walking consistently, stretching as necessary, and always making sure I keep a proper balance. God is pouring out His blessing in my life. I honestly believe my God story is going to inspire so many others towards hope in their painful journey.

Piece by piece, God is making me feel whole again. The past two weeks have totally pulled me out of any depression. As my medications continue to be reduced. My vision keeps getting clearer and clearer. I feel God’s hand upon me. Healing is taking place physically, mentally and emotionally within me. God is restoring order in my life day by day. And, all I can do is praise Him while I keep taking the next right step. Four months from now I will turn 45 and I wholeheartedly believe the best is yet to come even with some aches and pains.

“So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.” Job 42:12

Gotta Keep Moving

Well, I’m finally in a very comfortable and consistent groove of eating healthy. I certainly wouldn’t be without a wife that will practically do anything to help me have the food prepared I need. She has always gone above and beyond to me my helpmate. I believe she can see that I’m committed to maximizing my health and recovery daily. This blesses me, her, my family and those God has call me to pastor.

Yesterday was a very long day for me. I drove myself to my own doctor’s appointment an hour away for only the second time in several months. Driving plus the colder temperatures did my pain levels no favors. In fact, it only confirmed the visit with my pain specialist was worth it. He is scheduling another quarterly shot injection for sometime late December or early January. The coccyx pain is definitely the main thing I can only contain with shots.

My doctor was very pleased with my progress. He is normally not very talkative. But, after he heard all the meds I had dropped and steps forward I had taken. He said, “ Wow! Great Job. You’re eating right, doing therapy and trying not to just live on anymore medication than necessary. I don’t see many patients like you.”

I may be a grown man, but his words made me cry. Because it’s not easy to make these changes sun up to sun down. To be able to measure any progress lifts your spirit and gives further motivation. We have now put together a plan of decreasing the dosage of my Neurontin by 100mg monthly per month. In 10 months I will officially be only taking 1800mg per day after being on 3200mg daily the past three years. Every pill gone gives my mind a greater chance of not being so cloudy. It’s not an overnight process. I’m now officially daily taking just 2700mg of Neurontin, 1200mg ibuprofen, 50mg Amitriptyline, and CBD oil. I take several necessary supplements to give my body what it needs to heal and help promote new nerve growth

Now, time to get one past habit back on track. About to head out for my first strategic walk in a long time. My walking won’t be about distance, but consistency. I’m aiming to walk at least a mile each day. To eventually get back to where it’s how I start and end each day. I’ve got to keep my lower back use to movement or it will be a very stiff and painful winter. Whatever you need to do to move forward. Focus on what you can do and trust God for what you can’t do.

“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

Observed While Eating Healthy

I’m now 34 pound less than I was just 11 months ago. Even more important I’m way healthier now than I was 11 months ago. Here are some things I’ve observed along my short journey of trying to eat healthier.

1. Most Are Clueless.

Most are clueless as to what they are doing to their own bodies. How their eating habits alone are affecting their everyday health. Trust me, I too was ignorant before my eyes were opened to what eating healthier looks and feels like. The average American’s diet is wrecking their quality and quantity of life.

2. Society Has A Careless Attitude.

It’s hard to go anywhere and find much of anything you should eat on the menu or in the grocery store. Weight gain is not the greatest concern I see. It’s realizing we’re poisoning ourselves with every bite from the drive thru and even our own kitchens. Oh and please don’t overlook the impact of those delicious, but very dangerous sweets.

3. Eating Healthy Feels Good Because It Is Good.

Piling in the sugar, fast foods and even what most call soul foods aren’t so good for the soul. That’s why later you feel like something just ain’t right. Not one day since I’ve started eating totally clean have I not felt internally much better. The flare ups in my nerve damaged body have been far less since I’m no longer feeding my own inflammation.

4. It’s Hard To Eat Healthy

With God’s help I’ve been staying away from almost everything that is normal for most to eat. It’s hard when everyone around you eats stuff you know tastes much better than your dishes. It’s hard when you’ve been eating one way so long and you’re having to totally reprogram your mindset. However, the fact is it’s worth it. It keeps helping me feel way better. This alone has me striving daily to make wiser diet choices.

5. Most Don’t Act Urgent Until Things Are Urgent.

Why wait for your health to get much worst? Why wait until you’re battling some life threatening condition that could be avoided? If I didn’t believe this stuff was life and death related you wouldn’t be hearing this rant. This is not a sermon to make people feel bad. This is a love letter from somebody who cares.

I pray it wakes up at least one person. To the one continuing to fill yourself with whatever tastes good to you. I encourage you to do your research and understand what you eat really does matter. In fact, it matters a whole lot more than you can imagine.

“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

GOD IS FAITHFUL

I’ve been feeling much better the past couple hours. Earlier I did go through another dark spot and let down. However, those times are just a part of life. Yes, some valleys are deeper and longer than others. Honestly, I’ve been experiencing way more breakthrough than let downs lately. In fact, today some very big prayers were answered in my life.

Now, I can’t go into detail as to everything that has happened. I can tell you that God has given me great closure and hope moving forward. I no longer feel like I’m just on the edge of a cliff. I’m no longer facing many of the battles only God totally knew about in the past. But, I do finally feel I’m at the beginning of a new era of hope in my life.

Later you will read in the book God has led me to write about things I trusted God for in the midst of my greatest brokenness. Many of those days I had tears rolling. Anxiety was constantly sweeping over my body. All I could do was cry out to God and keep believing in His faithfulness.

I prayed some very big prayers and just kept seeking to be faithful. Often I only shared pieces of my story feeling compelled by God not to waste it. I waited and waited for God to rescue me. There were many days I wondered just how long more I could hold on. Everything in my life was falling apart especially me. I just kept believing, crying, and praying.

God kept impressing upon my heart that everything was going to work out. That this was not where things were going to end for me. I could see Him using the pain to reshape and rebuild me. However, it took what seemed like forever for God to restore order in all other areas of my life. Now, I’m seeing God fully restore not just me, but resurrecting everything around me.

Today, marked the official end of a very dark tunnel I’ve been trapped in for quite some time. It marked the beginning of a new era of God displaying His faithfulness to me and my family. All I can say is God is good and worthy to be praised. He will not abandon you. He will carry you to a land of great promise. You just have to keep holding on by faith and trusting in His faithfulness.

“But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Isaiah 54:17

First Major Meltdown In 21 Days

To a certain degree I could see it coming from a mile away. In another respect, it just ran over me without warning. All I know was one moment I seemed okay and the next moment I clearly was not. I just finished having what I’ve not had in over 21 days. I just had a stressed induced neurological breakdown.

When this happens my entire body feels like it’s being electrocuted. My mind and body feel completely out of control. Now, that I’ve calmed down a little I can only try to catch my breath. Once again, I just reached my limit. A limit I’ve learned many times before must become a respected reality. Bottom line, I’m just not who I used to be and that I have to fully accept it. I’ve tried to do too many things for too many days straight in a row. And, I’m very disappointed in myself if I’m honest.

I’ve dealt with a lot of emotional things all week. From sun up to sun down I’ve been dealing with intense ministry moments. For nine days straight I’ve been eating with extreme discipline. And, feeling great from it I might add. However, while I have been taking great care of my body. I failed once again to fully respect my condition. The fact that I just have to straight up tell people that here is what I can and cannot do. I truly believe that overall health is made up of several components. Physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health all matter.

Honestly, while I’ve been doing great with what’s necessary for me physically. I’ve not consistently done what’s best for me mentally, emotionally, socially, or spiritual. I’m praying this reminder helps someone else besides just me. Seek to be healthy in all areas of your life. Because anything you let go for too long is bound to catch up with you sooner than later. Especially when you live with a condition that leaves little room for error.

Overall, I thank God for all the great days of breakthrough I’ve enjoyed. And, all the great days that still lie ahead. I would love to perfect this thing called recovery. But, there is no perfecting it. It’s just doing your best and trusting God with the rest. It’s daily seeking to learn, adjust, and seek to live life to the fullest. Well, I just had my 9 year old little faith walker pray with me and I feel much better. Now, I’ve got to do better.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)

So Tough But Worth It

I just finished a really long day of ministry. I dealt with as much today as sometimes I do in an entire week. Right now the body aches a lot. Eating with continuous discipline is not easy or convenient. Even still my resolve is very strong simply by the results I’m seeing.

Staying away from toxic food and drinks has erased my fears of when my nervous system might crash again. I’m actually able to focus now that my mind is not held hostage by so much medication. It’s like waking someone up from a coma they’ve been in forever. It feels like overnight my eyes were opened and my condition became so much more hopeful.

My life right now revolves around constant discipline and sacrifice. In the midst of it all I’m constantly free falling into God’s arms. No doubt I need divine strength, discernment, and devotion to keep going. I plan to do whatever it takes to thrive. Yes, it’s extremely tough as a patient, husband, father, and for sure a pastor . However, God has never led me down a tough road that He didn’t prove with time it was worth it all.

“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

Major Adjustments, Major Results

Well, I’m up much earlier than usual. Part of that is how brutal Sundays are on my body. The other part is being in another major health transition period. You see, I’ve not gone to sleep without major medication in nearly 4 years. In fact, any time I’ve tried in the past I remained awake all night long. However, this is a new era and I’m in a new healing season.

Anyone following my story knows it’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions. However, when I tell you this pain is leaving me better I really mean it this time. I’m absolutely certain that the changes in my diet alone are changing my life drastically. Forget about the delicious foods it’s taking away from me. Realize the quality and longevity of life it’s giving to me.

So, much has already changed in just a couple weeks of diet and further life adjustments.

One, my body feels healthier than it has in over 4 years. Two, I’ve now officially eliminated or reduced 6 different medications. Three, my body is now not only avoiding bad foods, but is consuming good nutritious foods. Fourthly, my overall pain is nothing compared to what it was before. That is as long as I stay away from inflammatory foods that most people don’t think are hurting them. Trust me, you will keep hearing a whole lot about my eating habits because my eyes are being opened more with each new day.

Honestly, I have a true shot at getting off most of my medications. No, this is not going to happen overnight. Every week I’m looking at how to take another strategic step forward. So far I’ve not been disappointed and every sacrifice has been worth it. Last night, I only slept 3 ½ hours. That was due to me completely eliminating two muscle relaxers and 25mg of Amitriptyline. The fact that I was able to fall asleep at all was a big deal. I’m certain that I will get more rest in a little while. I try my best to make Mondays my weekly day of rest.

Just for the sake of informing anyone interested. Here are the foods I’ve removed and the foods I’m allowing myself to eat. I will be getting some specific allergy testing done next week. This testing will let me know if there are other foods I need to eliminate. And, whether there are some things I’ve eliminated that I can at least eat in moderation. Here’s what I’m daily living by at the present time. And, I’m talking zero cheating outside of the stupid caffeine I allowed into my body yesterday.

FOODS REMOVED:

Sugar, Dairy, Eggs, Gluten Grains, Corn, Shellfish, Soy, Beef, Pork, Processed Meals, Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate

FOODS ALLOWED:

Fruits, Healthy oils, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, non-gluten whole grains.

“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

200 Ounces Of Water Later

Well, it was certainly another eventful Sunday at Refuge Church. I woke up excited to share another God led message. I figured the extra hour of sleep would give me an extra boost. Instead, after I took my morning medication I was quickly battling a major fog. I felt no choice but to drink something caffeinated in hopes of improving my ability to concentrate. Then, it all backfired on me.

Basically, I had the equivalent of three small cups of black coffee. No sugar or anything else I’ve recently eliminated totally from my daily diet. During the first service the entire room was spinning in my eyes. Unfortunately, my eyes have not adjusted well to wearing my new progressive bifocals. Honestly, nothing was clear all morning as I felt like a blind mind stuck behind some circus mirror. Experience has taught me to just keep giving my best God will do the rest.

After feeling God move mightily the first service conclude. As soon as I got ready to walk off stage my legs way. Just like they did the last time I had 3-4 cups of coffee. At best they were 25 percent as strong as usual. So, now I not only felt blind but crippled. I knew I had to drink plenty of water to clear the caffeine out of my system. Between services alone I drank well over 100 ounces of water in less than 30 minutes. I also had a little time to cry out some of the toxins that built up in my system.

After flushing my system out the next several hours my legs finally began feeling normal again. Once, again though I was reminded of how much inflammation caffeine alone can create. Overall, today I’ve drank over 200 ounces of water just to get myself to level ground. Thank God I’ve experienced another day of eating healthy and staying from all sweets. I’m just trying to do all that I can while trusting God to do all that I can’t. We all know the trial of life are constant, but the goodness of God is as well.

“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

I Love Carrot Cake

Back to back nights have been historic first ever moments for me. Halloween night I passed out every kind of candy available and miraculously ate not one bite. Tonight, I did something even way bigger. I watched people eating my Mom’s homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing. It literally took everything within me to not tackle someone for at least one bite.

While at a family gathering earlier tonight. All the party food looked so delicious. There was nothing I didn’t want to inhale like someone who hasn’t seen real food in days and days. Outside of eating 3 meatballs I stopped right there. I brought my own lunch box. Like a school boy I heated up my boring, but much healthier meal. Somehow I got through the night without giving in or giving up on my seeking to eat healthier.

Now, I didn’t get to this point just by making a choice. I had to reach the point of desperation and verification that what I eat impacts my pain levels deeply. I know beyond any doubt that my diet has great impact on my level of misery. Therefore, I’m aiming towards having a greater quality of life. I’m willing to do anything possible to improve that quality.

I can’t just say by faith God will take care of me. Faith is doing all you can while trusting God to do all that you can’t. When God enlightens me to know what is or not beneficial to me. It’s up to me to say no if necessary to ever cake, pie, and even banana pudding. But, man I may have nightmares for days just over longing for that carrot cake. God help me to keep taking the next healthiest step.

“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

God’s Not Done Yet

Today has certainly been one of the absolute longest days of my life. Last night I managed just over 3 hours sleep once my nervous system settled. Then, I drove an hour one way to my medical appointment. My medical assessment started at 8am and went continuously until after 2pm. I’ve been to a lot of doctor visits, but none anywhere near that long. Thank God I was able to use a heating pad throughout the day.

Outside of a lot of unexpected struggles today was a huge leap forward. Finally, I got to sit down with a caring and compassionate doctor. We discussed throughly my medical history. Looking at what has worked and what has not. What has healed and what has not. What we can’t control and what we can control.

Now, I will have to go back for several more allergy tests in the near future. But, they can’t be done until I’m off certain allergy medications for at least ten days. However, we didn’t need testing to identify certain things that must be addressed. I really came into this appointment as desperate, ready, and expectant as ever for God to take things further. The following are the things that begun today. Keep in mind this is a place that seeks ways to help your body heal and thrive the best possible.

One, they’ve given me resources to help me start recognizing and eliminating foods that are clearly creating greater inflammation. Two, they’ve given me supplements that can boost my energy, clarity and overall health. Three, they’ve given me natural supplements that can replace both my sleeping and pain medications. Most of all, they’ve given me the hope of my nervous system healing much further.

This place is not conventional and that’s a great thing. They don’t look how they can get you dependent on the next medication. Instead how they can support naturally your body and minds ability to heal. For so long I’ve just been dealing with symptoms. No one has taken the time to help me deal with the roots of my everyday pain.

Honestly, this journey has just begun. I’ve got a lot of information to digest. I’ve got a lot of new action plans to put in place. But, I don’t mind a bit because it all has given me great peace and home. I will with time be off most of my medication. I will with time be a much healthier me inside and out. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the least bit normal.

For now, I will not promote this specific place. I will let time and my story speak for itself. Everything feels like it’s finally heading in the right direction. Not just a direction of surviving, but thriving. I firmly believe this begins with my diet, other learned disciplines, and patiently trusting God for further healing. I truly believe God is writing the last chapter of this faith walking season. And, once this season reaches its end I will finally be ready to share my full God story with a world of others who suffer greatly. Thanks for every prayer uttered on my behalf. I’m exhausted, but way more at peace about the future.

“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

In The Eye Of The Storm

Misery cannot adequately describe the way I feel in these moments. Anxiety is feasting underneath my skin. My very bones ache as I try to catch my breathe. It’s like someone has my body hooked up to electricity. Even as I type this I know it sounds absolutely absurd and dramatized.

Honestly, this is me using mild words to explain a very heavy weight. To describe things as they actually feel to me would sound like some horror film. Like I’m job crying out to God for just a little relief. I’ve been doing so well recently all things considered. But, Satan has tainted me all day knowing I’m staring further breakthrough in the face.

I know there is a reason for all this pain. It is just so tough to endure. Especially as it continues to take more and more from my life. What I’ve got to do just to feel on top of it requires 24/7 discipline. I’m well on my way as I’m truly willing to do anything to find consistent relief. I’ve learned a bunch with still so much more to learn. The eye of this storm is so powerful. Yet, the one who calms the storm is more powerful.

“Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:24-27

So So Anxious Inside

Right now, it’s just after midnight. There’s literally not one fiber of my body that is not fried and aching with nerve pain. My heart is pounding and feels like it could explode. My hands, face, legs and feet are consumed with a constant burning situation. I’ve taken an emergency Valium just hoping to calm the fire raging within me.

I haven’t slept well the past two nights. Sadly,I won’t have a chance to sleep much tonight. In less than 5 1/2 hours I have to get up. I will drive an hour to a medical appointment that will last from 8am until around 3-4pm. I had to get a lot done early so I could focus on this very important health assessment. Now, my body is just trembling.

When I get in this condition I feel paralyzed by even the slightest stress. I long to talk with someone who truly understands the madness within my body. I will never understand how it can jump from zero to sixty in a split second. In these moments you can’t trust your feelings. It makes me feel like I’m going crazy. It’s breathtaking and so painful. All I can do is pray and ask others to pray for you.

“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

Jesus Help Me

15 days of no major sugar or caffeine. Just day two of no sugar, gluten, dairy or caffeine. I’ve never held this amount of candy in my life and not eaten one bite. I can’t decide if I want Jesus to just take me on to Heaven now or not. I’m absolutely convinced there will be all you can eat sweets in Heaven. Between this new necessary diet and glasses I’m not very happy, but I will do whatever it takes to keep my nervous system from crashing!

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

My New Outlook

Recently I got glasses for the first time in 44 years of existence. When I picked them up they said I probably needed glasses for a long time. I actually jumped from thinking my vision was perfect. To putting on my new pair of progressive bifocals. To say it’s been a major adjustment is an understatement.

I can see things far away that were once so unclear. Signs and colors pop out like never before. I no longer just see fuzzy objects. Instead, I see every detail of God’s creation. It’s opened my eyes to a who new world I didn’t even know I was missing.

Now, I’m still getting used to this new found sight. It’s going to take awhile for my eyes to fully adjust to these glasses. Much like what I’ve experienced through my pain. God really opened my eyes to see things that I couldn’t otherwise. It’s humbled me and given me clearer eyes of compassion towards others. Sometimes pain is necessary to open our eyes and heart to God’s greater will.

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 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.” Ephesians 5:8-9,14-17

Undeniable Breakthrough

Anytime you try to recover from something that has knocked the life out of you. All you can do is just walk through the pain one faith step at a time. I’ve been doing that for what seems like forever. However, I’m feeling more hopeful than I’ve felt in quite sometime. I can honestly see light in what has been a deep, dark tunnel.

Tomorrow will be two weeks straight that I’ve cut out all significant amounts of sugar from my diet. I also very rarely drink anything with caffeine. There’s no doubt that eliminating these things has drastically changed my painful condition. I’ve not even had one total nervous breakdown in this two week stretch. Prior to this time I had never had at least one day per week that my nerve damage didn’t totally take me down.

These two weeks have not only brought some relief, but way more consistency. Along with this clear discovery I’ve now officially reduced two of my main medications. I’ve reduced my Neurontin by 400mg and my Amitriptyline by 25mg. I’m now very motivated to do whatever it takes to keep this recovery momentum.

Earlier I started back physical therapy after several months of not going. I felt by far the best I have in over four years. This Friday I will be going to a place that will do a full assessment of my medical history. I’m praying this place will discover even more that I can do to increase my quality of life. Honestly, just feeling hopeful again has elevated my spirit so much.

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

Just Another Crossroads

I feel like I’ve been in this place a thousand times before. That place where nothing in my body feels right. That place where I’m not sure how much longer I can live this way. That place where Satan wants me to feel totally hopeless while I’m fighting to feel hopeful. Then, I’m reminded that it’s just another crossroads experience.

I’ve not been writing a lot recently for several reasons. One, the times I ever started writing my body was just too exhausted to finish. Two, I’m in that place where it’s not good that I feed my pain anymore negativity. Three, I’m so disheartened at times that it’s actually left me feeling speechless.

Very calmly I’m able to say that my silence doesn’t mean I’ve gotten any worse. There’s no doubt I’ve had many, many days in the past that I’ve felt much worse than today. However, I woke up today just tired of never feeling great. Sick of having this storm cloud hanging over me. Anyone that has dealt with chronic pain or illness very long understands what I’m saying. After awhile you just get tired of dealing with constant issues associated with your condition.

However, quitting is still not an option. I’m going to keep seeking to take the next God led step. I’m going to keep walking by faith through every crossroads. Even when I’m not sure of myself or how anything will ever change. Only God knows the purpose of this lingering storm. I’m fully confident that if I continue trusting Him. Everything will work out for my good and His glory. God help me to keep trusting you fully with each crossroads. For you’ve proven your constant faithfulness in every one in the past.

“This is what the LORD says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

Mentally I’m Shot

It’s been one of those weeks. I’ve given everything I had to give and some I couldn’t afford to give. When I say I’ve been going morning, day and night since Monday. I wish I was exaggerating. Praise God my physical pain overall has remained under control. However, my mental circuits are shot. I’ve literally been trying to get my sermon for Sunday finished the past 15 hours.

Finally, I just had to call it a night. My mind has to get some rest. I will get up very early tomorrow morning hoping to find greater clarity and peace. The perfectionist in me doesn’t like feeling this way. Not to mention I never take the platform God has given me lightly. I generally spend at least 10-15 hours preparing anything I ever preach.

I guess this is what I get for preaching a message entitled “Living Confident.” God started putting this message on my heart a couple weeks ago. And, while it’s absolutely what I believe God wants me to preach about this Sunday. I’m feeling anything but confident about what I’ve prepared so far. Deep down I know this is a combo of spiritual warfare and absolute mental exhaustion. Plus, God is further teaching me how to live out this message before I preach it to others.

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

Focus On The Blessings

The past 3 days of my life have felt like a constant blur. I’ve literally been busy with ministry from sun up and beyond sun down. I’m just winding things down for today after starting out at 7am. I know for certain I can’t repeat many 15 hour days. If I do, I know I’m playing with fire.

I am thrilled to say that my pain has been manageable for the past 5 days. With God’s strength I’ve been able to do two things consistently. One, I’ve been staying away daily from heavy amounts of sugar or caffeine. Two, I’ve reduced my daily dose of Neurontin/Gabapentin by 400 mg. I’ve taken at least 3200mg daily for well over two years. However, after several days of just taking 2800mg I’ve not felt any complications.

My goal is to get off every ounce of unnecessary medication possible one day at a time. There’s no doubt the collide of my present medications has really affected my mind. I struggle to focus and keep a clear train of thought. My vision is blurred most of the time. It all together makes everything feel so uncomfortable. Most around me just have not idea how much I struggle. And, in some ways that’s a good thing.

Crazy as it sounds with all this going on with my health. I’m beginning to feel the most peace I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer fighting to cure myself or living in denial. Maybe it’s because I keep seeing God at work despite me. All I know is I just keep feeling hope swelling up within me soul. I really do believe God can heal me. In many ways I feel God began that process long ago. It’s just not quite looked the way I expected.

All I know is it’s best you take things one day a time. Recognize what God is doing. Don’t dwell on all the uncontrollable stuff and brokenness. Focus on how God is at work in the brokenness and proving He is in control. Celebrate how God is using your pain to develop your character, faith and closeness with Him. Look how God is using you even when you feel like you have nothing to offer. I find seeking to live as a blessing and counting my blessings medicates my heart more than any pill I could ever swallow.

“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

A God Made Day

Last night God blessed me with 8 1/2 hours of sleep. I woke up feeling as good as I have all week. So, we got up and headed out to watch my favorite football team the University of South Carolina. Of course, I knew only time would tell whether I could endure the entire game. Especially knowing it would be colder than usual and the forecast called for a 100 % chance of rain.

Well, the weather man was right about the rain. Even wearing ponchos my wife and I were soaked even before halftime. The game was awesome. It was back and forth from the opening kick. We both have sore throats from cheering so much. The excitement was perfect for those who enjoy such sports.

By the fourth quarter I knew the colder temperature mixed with heavier rain was taking me down. Even still I enjoyed something other than pain for a change. Despite my team losing it was worth every second in that stadium. I’ve been only drinking water and staying away from heavy sweets for the past 3 days. There’s no denying it’s made a great difference. Not once today have I struggled with any anxiety or unbearable pain.

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

Help Me Soar Lord

I’m away overnight with my wife. It’s after 10pm on a Friday night. Tomorrow we’re hoping to watch the University of South Carolina Gamecocks beat the University of Florida Gators at Williams Brice Stadium. Our hotel is just ten minutes from the stadium. Hopefully, I can get a good nights sleep once my medications kick in.

Right now, I’m lying here waiting on my body to quit throbbing in pain. This cooler weather is doing me no favors. In fact it’s supposed to be a 100 percent chance of rain tomorrow at noon kickoff. Well, that just gives me even more to pray about. None of these make my body feel good. However, I knew coming this way that I might not make it to or through the game. I’m certainly going to try and enjoy something I love to watch.

Those battling with chronic pain know exactly what I’m talking about. You hope and plan for the best. Yet, you know your body will determine what you can and cannot truly enjoy. I’ve sold all my season tickets so far except for this one. This being an early game gives me the best chance to make it. And, if all else fails I will leave the stadium and watch the game on television.

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 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 40:28-31

Your Most Important Step

I still believe I’m in the heavyweight fight of my life. I also believe I’ve finally discovered a profound and simple secret. No matter what you may be facing. Regardless of how overwhelming you may feel. Especially if you’re struggling to even get out of the bed. Your next step is by far the biggest key to moving forward.

Every morning and practically every night I feel exhausted and somewhat paralyzed. My wife watches me lying in bed not sure if I can go on. As I lay there consumed in pain and disappointment. I feel like I’ve exhausted all known options. Of course, I ask God for strength and discernment. I know I’m always desperate for His healing touch. I know God can always take me through whatever I’m facing.

However, I’ve been wrong about there being nothing more I could do. God needs me to keep taking the next right step. By that I mean doing what I can while trusting Him with all I can’t. That next step might be simply getting up. That next step might be going for a walk. That next step might be talking with someone who can encourage my faith and perspective. That next step might be making that medical appointment that could change my life. That next step might be choosing to eat or live healthier.

This may sound so easy. But, it’s not when you feel defeated, discouraged, and broken. Sometimes the next right step is reaching out for a hand to hold. You may need a little help to take that next step. Regardless of your situation the next step is your most important one. Don’t worry about tomorrow and what it may hold. Trust God with the next step of your life. Just surrender everything to Jesus and keep following His lead.

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

Another Day, Another Valley

So, I’m back in bed hoping my body settles down sooner than later. It’s been a very uncomfortable past 24 hours. Earlier I facilitated my monthly chronic pain support group. Each of us had one big thing in common. We each absolutely hate how we feel each day. And only in Christ do we feel any hope.

I knew I would barely make it back home before I would be nearly in tears. But, it makes such a difference to know you’re not alone. That as much as you may hurt others can identify. I’m in another one of those stretches where all I can do is hold on. Just like all the times before I just didn’t see it coming again.

My entire body is throbbing with pain and I’m feeling so nauseous. Every time I feel this way I just want out of my misery. I can totally understand why people quickly turn to certain drugs. This pain makes you so desperate for momentary relief. Only God knows how I’ve made it this far. Only God knows how I will make it further.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.He renews my strength.He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23

Severe Panic Attacks

It’s like someone shot me right in the heart while I was sleeping. My heart starting pounding and pounding. Surging vibrations continue to run throughout my body. It was all I could do just to sit up in my bed. There was no denying I was having a severe panic attack. So, I had to quickly take one of my emergency Valium.

My heart rate is fine. However, I’m still not able to lay back down. Every time I try to it just adds to the remaining anxiety. I went to sleep easily tonight after a long day. Suddenly, I was awakened by what felt like a rocket into my chest. This kind of experience is definitely new to me.

I did reduce my Amitriptyline by 25m earlier today. Basically I just eliminated the 2pm dose of 25mg and continued my nightly 50mg dose. It’s very likely this created this issue. So, later I will still take a half dose at 2pm. I’ve got to gradually wean myself off the daytime dose.

I’m doing this because it’s been keeping me way too drowsy during the day mixed with extreme fatigue. Hopefully, I can just take 50-75mg of Amitriptyline at night since it makes me so drowsy. Although, time has proven a couple years ago that this medication can make my heart “feel” like it’s racing heavily at that level dose. Gonna have to see how it goes tomorrow and discuss it with my doctor soon. All I know is severe panic attacks are no joking matter.

“Be still and know He is God.” Psalm 46:10

New Levels, New Devils

Anyone who knows me knows I seek to be very transparent. I’m just a man like everyone else. I try my best in everything I do. Unfortunately, I fall short constantly. Right now, I’m experiencing the worst and best in my life. Please allow me to explain.

On one hand I’m seeing God do many amazing things. People are coming to Christ weekly. Church services are full every Sunday. I’m seeing God bless my obedience to His call on my life. Even within me God is doing a new work as He teaches me how to truly walk with Him. Not just work for Him.

These new levels have brought new devils. My body hurts as bad as ever. My heart hurts as bad as ever. Satan is attacking me, my wife and my children more than ever. We’re talking an all out spiritual war while I’m constantly feeling like a totally wounded warrior. My brokenness and depression can’t be hidden at this point.

Fortunately, I knew one day we would turn this corner and begin reaching multitudes of unchurched and lost people. I knew the devil would not like us invading territory he has dominated so long. Others who have done similar things before have experienced similar things. When your life starts making the greatest difference for Christ. You can expect the greatest adversity. Make sure you put on the full armor of God or you will not be able to finish faithful.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:10-18

God Never Waste Pain

It tears you down. It wears you down. When the pain never stops. All you can do is keep dog paddling so you don’t drown. Physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually it makes everything feel ten times harder. You know in your heart the season you’re in will never leave you the same.

Honestly, even after 49 months of nonstop discomfort. I still have a lot of dog paddle moments. Times when I’m just shaking my head in disbelief of the breath knocked out of me. There’s no denying the brokenness gives you greater humility. God suddenly has your full attention.

I’m in another season of embracing my new normal. I can’t stay obsessed with my pain. I must seek God with all my heart to press through my pain. Time has definitely proven I can’t get through this alone. However, if I keep my little hand in God’s big hand. I’m certain I will see the goodness of God. Hopefully, many will see the glory of God.

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

Take The Mask Off

We’ve all done it before. We smile and act like everything is alright. When inside we’re bleeding with pain. Personally, I don’t believe that’s how God intended us to live. Actually, we call that pretend relationships. God wants us to experience real relationships.

Well, for realness to happen you must be real. Those closest to you should be able to know the good, bad and ugly in your life. You should allow them the opportunity to share the same with you. True relationships are built on honesty, trust and unconditional love. It’s two imperfect people loving each other guided by God’s perfect love. It’s knowing no matter what you say that person cares. That if it matters to you it matters to them.

I observe so many people who continue to keep their mask on. So afraid to let others see their real struggles. Listen! Anyone who really cares about you cares about your struggles. So, realize it’s okay to say you’re not okay. Because I’ve never met anyone perfect other than Jesus. So, take the mask off and know it might inspire others to take theirs off too.

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

Tired Of Explaining Myself

I’ve cried a lot this past week. Sadly, I’m not sure I’m done. Not going to lie or sugar coat anything. Recently, it’s just been a living Hell as my nerve pain keeps rearing it’s ugly head. Every time things escalate it sends me into a level of shock. In fact, anytime your entire body keeps vibrating it feels like you’re being shocked.

Probably one of the greatest pains on top of the pain is misunderstanding. Anyone battling something that is invisible to the human eyes understands. Those who have no clue really have no clue. To them if you look great on the outside. You must be doing great on the inside. It gets exhausting trying to even explain your inside struggles and pain.

Guess that’s why I felt led to start this monthly faith walking group. This Thursday 6pm at Refuge Church (203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro) we will meet again. This is an opportunity for anyone that struggles some kind of chronic pain or illness. Join us to be encouraged and to help encourage others. We all need those who truly understand our struggle. I pray you can join us this Thursday!

“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

Pain Changes You

I’m in a very low spot that’s for sure. Not depressed, but certainly overwhelmed by the pain. Been having to just take deep breaths in and out. Fortunately, I’m not in unfamiliar territory. But, the pain and anxiety are no walk in the park.

Satan is trying his best to knock the wind out of my sails. I’ve known for months God has been greatly at work. I’ve been able to taste and see breakthrough. All I need to do is stay faithful and rely on God’s faithfulness. I would be completely doomed if I was relying on my abilities.

I feel so out of breath and outmatched. But, that’s often what it takes to realize my total dependence on Christ. I rarely enjoy the process while it’s happening. In fact, I struggle to see future life beyond my present pain. Lord Jesus once again I’m free falling into your arms.

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

In The Moment

Yesterday, I really did think I could have a stroke any moment. My heart was pounding more than ever before. I felt so light headed I could barely see to drive to Urgent Care. My wife wasn’t home otherwise I would’ve never driven myself. Only my growing fear by the minute compelled me to get checked out.

It was such a great relief for my blood pressure and heart to be okay. Thank God my wife was able to take me home. All I could do was let my nerves settle and my medications put me to sleep. I’m not going to lie. Yesterday’s experience took me back in time. Like back to when this nerve condition felt like a death sentence.

Fortunately, I’ve had enough experiences to know things can change. Not just for the worst, but for the better. Right now I’m just catching my breath. Once again I feel like I’m waking from a bad dream. I know deep down God is good and God will use all of this for His glory. These seasons just never feel good in the moment.

“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

It’s Just Where I Am

I just got home earlier from Urgent Care. The only reason I went this time was things just felt so different. In fact, to be honest I was terrified. I really thought I could pass out any minute. My heart felt like it could jump out my chest. My face was flush and my head was faint. My entire body felt it was full of electricity.

Yes, I’ve felt similar hundreds of times. And, my wife is usually able to remind me that doctors can do nothing for my condition. But, I really thought I could have a stroke or heart attack any minute. By the time, I got to Urgent Care there was no hiding the tears or pain.

To my surprise my blood pressure and heart rate were normal. EMT workers hooked me up to an EKG machine and offered to take me to the hospital. I do believe my wife was right that I simply had a very severe panic attack. I’ve had plenty in the past, but none quite this level. I just knew I couldn’t take lightly what I was feeling.

It’s very discouraging when you fight something day and night for over 4 years. When you strive to do everything possible to make yourself no longer a burden to others. Especially my family that doesn’t deserve to put up with anymore. I should be much better by now. All I can do is give God my broken heart and body. I’ve not lost my faith. I’ve just been hit with a really big dose of reality that hurts physically and emotionally.

I’ve had a couple Valium and my nighttime meds. I’m way more settled now than I was earlier. But, this is far from over as so many questions stare me in the face. It’s so much harder than most understand. To keep going through Hell everyday while trying to live normal. God knows I’m giving all I can while trusting Him for all I can’t. Thanks so much for the prayers. I certainly wouldn’t ask for them if I wasn’t desperate for them.

“Jesus Wept.” John 11:35

I Hate The Pain But

Laying on my heated mattress top trying to stay still as possible. The heating pad covering my back is on high. The pain has made me so nauseous. I would give anything for an IV drip of morphine. I’ve been so blessed to go days without this rotten feeling. All I can say is I hate pain.

But, I can’t deny it reveals where my real strength comes from. It exposes my great weakness and my total lack of control. Funny how you think you’ve got life by the horns. Then, you find yourself in a puddle of grief, pain, and total God dependance.

This pain humbles me every time. It instantly elevates my prayer life. It reminds me there is no such thing as a pain free life this side of heaven. It makes me wholeheartedly depend on the one who breathes life into my soul.

While I hate the pain. I can’t argue that in God hands the pain gets me right back where I should always be living. That is drawing close to God. I need keep my little hand in His big hand.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 1Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:7-10

Help Me Do Better Jesus

I hate days like today. There’s been very few moments that I’ve not been miserable. I’m also very mad at myself. Once again I didn’t respect my nerve condition enough in recent days. It’s that denial I talk about often. You start feeling better so you think you’ve been cured. You want to believe you’ve totally overcome this thorn in your flesh.

Honestly, I’ve been doing so much better overall in recent weeks. But, I’m just really upset at myself right now. So, I will do whatever it takes to get quality sleep tonight. I will operate proactively to ensure I don’t repeat recent stupid behavior. I don’t have a choice but to calculate my every step. I must always control what I can control. This means living with a constant recovery mindset.

This demands I operate with the right routines. I need to do stretching exercises at least twice daily. I need to walk enough, but not too much. When I know my body is nearing a danger zone I must stop working. I know I can do better. I will do better and feel better soon. God please help me not have another day like this anytime soon.

“I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 5:13

Understanding Chronic Illness

When I say chronic illness I’m talking about a life altering health condition that affects a person daily. Something doctors say they can’t cure. Sadly, all they can try to do is contain your symptoms. All you can do is learn how to best deal with it. Understanding what you can and can’t do takes quite awhile. I’m four years into coping and I’m still learning and adjusting to my new normal.

All I can speak from is my experience and perspective. However, I’m believing this can help others get just a glimpse of what chronic illness brings to a person’s life. One, you go through a lot of denial. Two, once you begin to digest your new reality it really affects you mentally and emotionally. Dark, depressive days are bound to come. Three, you fight with it until you’re absolutely tired of fighting.

After so many days of fighting the same painful battle. You’re finally at a major crossroads of brokenness. You can either give up or give things up to God. The only way forward is to keep giving things up to God. To believe that God is bigger than your pain and constant life disruptions. To believe that you don’t have to figure anything out. You just have to keep believing God has a plan.

A person with chronic illness is often uneasy. They just don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. Life is never easy from sun up to sun down. Even sleep is much harder to find. They don’t need you to fix them. They just need you to understand that the battle is real and constant. They need your compassion and prayers. These folks typically know how to lavish compassion towards other’s pain. Why?Because they know what it’s like to live in pain.

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

A Very Painful Day

Seems I can’t ever go more than a few days without my entire body crashing. It is always a combo of several factors. Often it’s a couple tough days that lead to the worst days. Sunday I drank way too much caffeine and walked way too much. Monday I did not rest like I should have and walked way too much again. Monday night I was not able to sleep until 4am Tuesday morning. Then, by last night after a stressful day my body officially crashed.

I’ve spent last night and today in the bed. My entire lower body is hurting and tingly intensely. The pain in my tailbone has been hurting and hurting. You wouldn’t think I just got a shot in that area a month ago. The worst part is my nerve pain is at a very high level. Meaning anything can make my entire body hit panic mode. It’s like having electricity running throughout your entire body.

I had to take one of my emergency 5mg Valium after being up for just an hour. Sadly my wife and kids have to deal with this roller coaster of pain and emotion. I’m learning that there is no use in trying to explain something to them I can barely understand myself. So, I just headed to bed, and took whatever necessary to calm the raging nerves within me.

These moments body slam my every emotion. They rip my heart out because I rarely see them coming. I’m left to feel like the only thing I can do is be still and pray. I’m no longer trying to fight with it. I’m just believing God has purpose for it. Now, I’m going back to sleep and hope to wake up better later on. We all know pain is never welcomed, but often a part of this imperfect life.

“We know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

No Sleep In 3 Years

Well, the title of this may be a little misleading. I’m sure if I had been up that entire time it would be a world record. It has definitely been well over 3 years since I’ve slept a wink without medication. Every time I’ve tried to not use some sleep aid. I’ve been left wide awake all night.

Here I am 3:30 in the morning and I’m just waiting to get some sleep. I did take my normal nightly medications many hours ago. But, I had to deal with some things and missed the window of opportunity to rest. So, I had to take another muscle relaxer as I wait on it to kick in.

For me, this is just another part of my new normal. There’s still not an hour of my life I don’t have to strategically plan out due to my condition. It definitely gets exhausting having to always live with a recovery mindset. But, I have to stay focused on my health so I can be able to help others. And, I certainly know that proper rest is a necessity. So, I do whatever it takes to get sleep.

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

I’m Doing Good, BUT

Anytime I look at how far down I was before. I can’t help but thank God for where I am now. I know what it’s like to feel you’ve totally lost control. I know what it’s like to feel one step away from giving up. To feel so bad that you can’t imagine continuing life in your present state of health. I know what it’s like to not even have your own home. To feel like you’re having to rely on others to take care of your family.

In so many ways God has restored my life. I’m able to get up each day with bearable pain. I’m able to actually sleep at night with the right medications. I’m able to dream again as God has blessed us with a new home and a new normal. In so many ways, my life and health have changed for the better. God continues to bless our faithfulness.

But, the devil continues his efforts to steal our joy and eternal focus. Satan preys on the weakness of my body in hopes of knocking the air out my sails. Satan tries to divide my marriage. Satan seeks to confuse and spiritually attack my children. Satan’s goals are never going to change. He always seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, I must keep seeking, trusting and obeying Jesus. Only in Christ can I experience life to its fullest.

“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

Every Time She’s Gone

My wife is presently away on a women’s retreat in Pigeon Forge, TN. She along with several ladies from our church are hoping to get spiritually renewed and refreshed. Personally, I’m ecstatic that my wife is getting this long overdue time away. I can’t think of anyone I know more deserving. This woman lives unselfishly from sun up to sun down.

Every time she’s gone I fully realize many things. One, what she does on a daily basis is amazing. Just one day trying to partially fill her shoes totally exhausts me. Two, even my best efforts can’t substitute for her presence. Usually my boys give me a look that verifies I’m not a very good Mr. Mom. Somewhere in there eyes I see them saying “God bless his heart for even trying.”

Finally, every time she’s gone I learn to fully appreciate her. Not just what she does, but who she is as a person. I can’t imagine life without her. I don’t want to imagine life without her. She completes me in every way. These times only confirm I truly married the right person. Because I only love her more as each day passes.

“I found the one my heart loves” Song Of Solomon 3:4

You Are Not Alone

I’m about to tell you something many need to hear. I talk with so many people who feel their life is a train wreck. People that feel they are the only hot mess. They feel this way because everything seems to be falling apart. They take one step forward and then start rolling backwards. They deal with issues they just can’t seem to overcome.

I try to assure them that we’re all in the same boat. Even with Jesus sometimes your life boat still feels like it’s sinking. No matter how hard you paddle you just can’t seem to get ahead. You feel like you’re giving all you’ve got, but it’s just not enough. You feel like you’re just one step away from a total meltdown.

Welcome to my world. Even though I’ve learned to cope much better these days. Even though I’ve learned to live wiser most days. Most days I’m far from having it all together. Even with both knees on the floor and continuous prayers. I can’t even walk without God holding my hand. So, don’t apologize for your struggles or feel you need to hide them. Without God’s grace where would any of us be.

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

Parenting Reflections From A Dad

As a dad of four boys I’ve learned more from them at this point. My boys are ages 20, 18, 16, and almost 10 years old. Of course, I give my wife the greatest credit for being an amazing full time mom. I hope I’ve been an above average part time dad. I say part time simply because my wife has devoted her life to motherhood. I’ve been working and trying to be like her when I grow up. Here are some things I know now that I really couldn’t fully see in real time.

First, your kids really do grow up fast. One minute you’re wishing that baby would stop crying. The next you’re wishing that same child would let you hold them. One minute you’re dropping them off at elementary school. The next you’re waving goodbye as they head off to college. Yes, they really do grow up in a blink.

Secondly, it’s the quality times together you will remember most. I remember every vacation we ever took together. The times I wasn’t working and could give them my undivided attention. I remember hearing constantly “are we there yet?” And while most of those car rides were full of shouting and threats. I would go back in time right now simply to see their excitement as we headed towards our family vacation.

Thirdly, I now realize just how important it is to parent intentionally. Every age brings a new season of opportunity. It’s so important regardless of their age that you seize the God given windows of opportunity early and often. For example, it’s much easier to teach a young child about faith, hope, love, and respect. Do know that your teenagers will seem like they were invaded by a hard headed alien. Keep on loving and teaching them the way they should go.

Finally, I realize it’s such a great privilege and responsibility to be a parent. Our kids will remember less what we preached and more what we practiced. We must strive to model for them the way God would have us to live. Good or bad they will learn and often repeat the values we demonstrated.

Now, we can’t do anything about past mistakes or missed opportunities. But, we can strive moving forward to be the best Christlike examples possible. Regardless of how old our children are at this time. Parents we should lead the way in showing them how to love God, love people and follow Christ. Why? Because at the end of our lives it will be God who gives us our final report card.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Something Had To Change

I woke this morning feeling like I had been tear gassed. By far it was the deepest fog I had ever experienced. I knew if I could get everything out of my system something had to change.

A deep fog was constant in my head. My ability to think, focus or even function period was beyond limited. I knew I had to fix things by process of elimination.

While the extra Amitriptyline did help initially it’s obviously colliding with some of my other meds. Whether it be my CBD, Zannaflex or the recent Valium I had to take for quick relief. Anything I read says certain combos of these can certainly increase dizziness, fatigue, and leave one very mentally limited. I was definitely experiencing this the past few days.

So, now I’m only going to take the Amitriptyline a few hours before bedtime. Instead of spreading out the dosage three times a day. I will not take even an occasional Valium except for extreme emergencies. I believe I should see a major change. My head has already been drastically clearer the past six hours. And, all I’ve done so far is not take my 2pm Amitriptyline.

One thing I’ve found on this journey is there is no perfect scenario. Every medication that helps also has some side effects. You just have to determine if the relief is worth the side effects. Right now I would say absolutely not. I’m just a shell of myself taking the Amitriptyline throughout the day. I’m very confident things will clear up soon. And, my night time meds are doing their job so goodnight!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

I’m Surprised He Is Not

Here I am headed back to bed. My heart still feeling like it could jump right out of my chest. I have no choice but to be still. To let God be God in my life. My weakness is leaving me speechless. My pain has clearly knocked the breath out of me.

It’s always unsettling when you feel you’ve lost all control. Panic knocks relentlessly at your heart’s door. Satan hopes you will freak out. He hopes you will give up the faith that God can or will change anything. Those temptations still stare me in the face daily.

Fortunately, this is not unknown territory for me. I know God is near my broken heart. I know God will give me the strength and support needed. With every breath in and out I’m praying. Just asking God to calm me, hold me, and help me through this present storm. I really didn’t see it coming. However, I know nothing takes God by surprise.

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

God Is Not Done

After taking a Valium earlier mid afternoon I finally settled down some. I slept over three hours. Something I never do during the day. But, my nerve wrecked body gave me no choice. I still feel overall like I’ve experienced some traumatic event. My nerves are just very stirred within. I’m still not comfortable in my own skin.

There’s no denying that these things are always associated with breakthrough moments. I’m determined and I’m trying with everything I’ve got to move forward by faith. I know God is leading my heart. In fact, I know He is holding my heart. Otherwise, I would have long ago been in some psychiatric ward.

Somehow this is part of my story. This pain, this thorn in my flesh. I’ve really never asked God to remove all my problems or fix me. I just keep asking Him to hold me together and use everything for His glory. Pain is a part of this life. We all have to learn how to walk through it by faith. Personally, I’m still learning everyday.

I know this for sure. God has proven His faithfulness time and time again. Just when I think I’m paralyzed he resurrects my spirit. Just when I think I’m useless. He shows me one more soul that is being encouraged through my faithfulness. I don’t know what the future holds. But, I do know who holds the future.

“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

Dear Counselor

*Below is exactly how I would start out if I were meeting with my counselor right now. Of course, I would elaborate even more on certain things. But, if God gives you anything to share below please do so. It would not only encourage me. But, it could also encourage someone else reading this that might have a similar battle. I’ve said it before… This page was not created to just share the good stuff, but finding ways to walk by faith through the toughest stuff. So share any scripture, thoughts, or truths that you feel appropriate. Praying for each of you and I appreciate your prayers.

DEAR COUNSELOR

My visit with you is long overdue. As I’ve told you before I believe strongly in being proactive not just reactive. I really need to at least get back to seeing you monthly. Time, distance, and my inability to drive any distance has kept me from coming to see you. I’m definitely at that point again where I need somewhere on the outside to work through my present feelings on the inside.

Overall my mind, heart, and faith have grown leaps and bounds. I’m no longer looking for a way out. I’m just constantly looking for how I can keep walking through this ongoing battle. That is and still be a husband, dad, and pastor. My stimulator and medications have at least brought me to a place of consistency. Meaning, at least I know what to do to keep my extreme pain under control. Unfortunately, anything that is helping me most is always giving me major side affects such as constant fogginess and fatigue.

This brings me to why I’m coming to see you. I’m here because my condition keeps making everything flat overwhelming. It’s like being in a non-stop war with flaming arrows coming at you from every direction. There is no break except when I’m asleep. I’ve been shot so often that my body just can’t recuperate. Sadly, I see know sign of anything changing anytime soon.

All of this to say, I need you to speak into my life. What might I need to hear? What might I need to do? I’m taking things literally one day and sometimes one minute at a time. It’s like I’m having to be my own caregiver all the time. There is nothing at home or beyond that is not affected by my condition. I can’t do anything without considering if my health will allow it. It has gotten back to feeling like this condition is a massive ball and chain.

Any prayers for myself are back to feeling like whispers. I’m just exhausted from feeling this way. If most truly understood what I am fighting they would be amazed that I even get out the bed. They would assume that I must be totally depressed. That there is no way I could be happy.

Honestly, I’m still very happy. I’m still very much believing God to take me beyond this season. I know I’m a walking, talking miracle. I know that I should be in a full blown depression. But, I’m just looking forward to whatever I can do with God’s strength. As long as lives are being touched I’m excited. As long as I can know I’m doing everything I can to faithful to God. Then, I can have the peace of God. I’m just back to being very weary.

I know the devil is constantly testing me. He is trying to see if I will finally give up . I can promise you this for sure. Giving up is not even a possibility. I just know I have to keep processing things. I have to keep giving things up to God.

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

More Than I Can Handle

I have to write this just to get it off my chest. I’m sure somebody else can identify. Right now I feel like a complete prisoner in my own body. It’s wrecking my every thought. My heart keeps beating faster and faster. I can’t figure out anything I can do presently to change things.

Fortunately, I’m not in unbearable pain. However, every nerve within me is on edge. Every part of my body is on the verge of breakdown. All it takes is the smallest amount of pressure, stress, or conversation. Honestly, just sitting still my entire body continues to vibrate. My ability to do any more than 25 percent of what I used to do is just not there. Everything takes so much more effort and time.

My medications have stolen my ability to concentrate. Every minute continues to be full of cloudiness. I’m squinting to see and fighting to stay awake. This is going on morning, day, and night. Even coffee and my usual healthy energy drink has been no match for my fogginess.

Whether I like it or not this is where I am. I will probably go back to see my counselor very soon. Not that he has all the answers. Sometimes you just need a safe place to process your greatest struggles. Especially when you have a chronic condition that others around you get tired of hearing about. But, you get even more exhausted and discouraged having to deal with it.

If this is similar to your battle. Know that you’re not alone. God has proven He will take us through whatever comes our way. It may be way more than we can handle. It’s never more than God can handle. I pray we all continue to walk by faith and not by sight. Keep believing God my friends!

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” Mark 10:27

Faith Must Override Feelings

Today has been one of the most uncomfortable days of my life. From the moment I got up my world has been spinning. I’ve not been able to see anything clearly. My entire body has been vibrating with nerve sensations. There is only one common denominator for any of these moments that occur.

Anytime I even make my way towards Refuge Church. Anytime, I’m absolutely sure what God wants me to say or do. Bam! Out of nowhere my body is rocked and my nerves are shot. Even a simple conversation with my wife seems impossible. Doing anything to further God’s kingdom brings extreme attack upon my every step.

Tonight, I stared a room full of leaders in the face while feeling extremely uncomfortable. In fact, had I operated off of feelings alone I would have run out of the building. Fortunately, I’ve learned all I can do is my best. I’ve got to trust that God is bigger than my condition. One friend even pointed out how the more I struggle the more the church keeps growing.

It’s so crazy how this take up your cross thing works. It’s not about operating based on feelings alone. It’s not about choosing easy street. It’s choosing that Hell or high water you’re going to serve the Lord. You’ve just got to trust, obey, and believe God is working with every faithful step you take. Sometimes there’s nothing you can make sense of even in the midst of your obedience. You just know that God said it and you believe its exactly what He wants you to do.

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Thankful And Partly Cloudy

Recently, I shared how I had to increase my medication dosage. Well, it’s certainly been doing it’s job. My nerve pain is much more under control. I’m very happy for the relief. Especially the fact I no longer feel like I’m constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

What I don’t like is the haze this medicine has greatly increased. The last several hours have felt like a blur. Even though I got nearly 10 hours of sleep. I still feel like I could sleep for ten more hours. I know my body was exhausted, but it’s definitely the medication making everything partly cloudy.

The room feels like it’s spinning. It’s so hard to focus or feel normal. Guess I’ve got to go through another season of adjustment. I certainly don’t want to go back to having unbearable nerve pain. So, I’m beyond happy for the relief. But, for now it’s making everything look partly cloudy.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What Are You Worried About?

For many of us our minds are filled with emotions. We over think so many things and situations. What could go wrong? What might go wrong? What has gone wrong? Next thing we know we need somebody to give us a chill pill before we totally freak out.

No, you’re not the only one that over thinks life’s endless possibilities. Satan looks constantly for any windows he can find. His hope is to get us all worked up. To make us so worried about everything the we can’t do much of anything. He knows that worry full blown will paralyze us from moving forward by faith.

Jesus himself addressed one of mankind’s greatest tendencies. In fact, over 300 times God’s word tells us to “Fear Not,” “Don’t Be Afraid” or “Don’t Worry.” Because any of us can fall prey to being consumed by worry. Therefore, we must understand the enemy’s strategy. We must understand how to counter satan’s lies with God’s truth. Otherwise there will be a whole lot more worrying than happiness in our everyday lives.

Jesus said “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:25-31

We All Need A Day Of Rest

I’ve been a minister of the gospel for twenty six years and counting. Nearly twelve years were spent in associate roles. The past 14 years I’ve been a senior pastor. Just like most ministers I can tell you that Sundays are anything but a day of rest for me. In fact, for me it’s by far my most challenging day of the week. I literally give everything I’ve got towards allowing God to speak through me.

Somewhere, I can hear someone saying the following underneath their breath. Well, preacher aren’t Sundays the only day you actually even work? I’ve learned to not even respond to that common joke. The truth is ministry to people is a twenty four hours a day and seven days a week deal. The only breaks you get are the ones you give yourself. And, it’s very important you give yourself a true day of rest.

For me, I try to make Mondays my clear day of rest. One, because it usually takes all of Monday to even think about recovering from Sundays. Two, because we all need a day that we truly unwind, rest, and get renewed. We can’t just keep going and going unless we want to get totally burned out.

So, I would suggest to most to make Sunday their biggest day of clear rest. Take your family to the church of your choice. Seek to just breathe in and breath out. Position yourself to be renewed and rejuvenated. Guard that day of rest the best you can. Because there’s nothing harder that trying to pour out to others when you have nothing pouring into you.

“On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2