God Doesn’t Waste Pain

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The itching and throbbing I wake up to each morning is pretty intense. That has actually been worse the last few days. But, I’m certain that my body isn’t happy with me getting back into consistent exercise and that always stirs things up more. I’ve just gotta survive this transition time and not let it throw me off this horse called recovery.

Even though I hate feeling this way there is a lot of truth when It comes to the saying “No pain, no gain.” This applies when it comes to the development of strength, character and faith for sure. You’ve got to go through some uncomfortable stuff for growth to take place. It’s often far from fun, but usually totally necessary.

I’m like most others I don’t enjoy pain at the time, but I’ve learned it’s the way life works. So, we can’t let the painful moments throw us. God is doing something or trying to show us something. Worst thing we can do is waste our pain. And no matter what the cause of our pain in God’s hands something good is being developed.

“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

Just Continue To Faith Walk

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Well I’ve been back in the tub for awhile and might be in here the rest of the evening. Fortunately, I’m prepared now with a TV that stays setup in the bathroom since this has become my daily routine. I also purchased a nice medical table that can go over the tub, by my bedside or across the living room lazy boy. I’ve learned you might as well make the most of wherever life finds you.

I just filled up my medicine holder with my daily meds and healthy supplements. I’m now digesting 29 pills per day. All have been approved by my doctor and can contribute to my healing. In addition to what I’m digesting daily I’ve now done intentional exercise the past two days in a row. In my heart, I feel my recovery momentum returning with the weather working to my advantage. It’s just a proven fact that cold temperatures are brutal to those filled with metal.

I’m also doing all I can to marinate my mind in God’s truth instead of just wallowing in my pain. I’m putting my hope in God’s healing power not man’s limited discoveries. In many ways I still feel like I’m just running in place. I have the same aches and pains as before. But, I do believe life is 20 percent what happens to you and 80 percent how you respond to it. I’m learning how to cope better with my present disability. I’m choosing to believe this is all a part of God’s masterful plan. That it’s not an accident, but God’s divine plan that I find myself with such human limitations for all the world to see.

“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 9:3

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

Update 4/3/18 Re-evaluation

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While I feel really tired today has been productive. I slept exactly 7 hours putting my past weekly sleep average at 5 hours per night. I did have to add a few melatonin last night to my normal meds to get that much sleep. But, my body desperately needs more healing rest.

In many respects this was a day of new beginnings. I sat down with a very nice and bright doctor concerning my health situation. We discussed many ways to hopefully reduce the inflammation in my body. From what I eat, supplements I take to how critical my daily walking is to my overall recovery. Changing up what I eat is really the greatest challenge in my eyes, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes. Not even trying to change everything, but making sure I’m still doing my part.

Earlier, I took a necessary walk even though I felt like crashing in my bed. The return of personal discipline is always a good sign. I’ve been sitting in an epsom salt bath for the first time in over 2 years the past few hours. I’m back to trying to keep a balance of movement and rest. My greatest goal right now is to simply regain my recovery momentum. Most of the time I’m really dragging, but I’m trusting God to change that one intentional step at a time

Don’t Give Up The Fight

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If you’ve had anything rock you to your core over a lengthy period of time this message is for you. Pain is like bad company after a few days both have over stayed their welcome. At least with company you can tell them when you’ve had enough. Unfortunately, when it comes to prolonged, disruptive pain you can only control one thing. Will you keep fighting forward or will you give up?

I know personally that after awhile you just get exhausted and feel way more fragile. Satan begins to pound upon your weakest moments. He knows you’ve barely been hanging on day by day. That the longer your pain continues the more hopeless you start to feel. He is hoping that you just flat give up and quit trying.

First, if we quit things every time we felt like it we would rarely accomplish much. Secondly, you can’t run from your pain, but you do need to work through it appropriately. Thirdly, if God has carried you this far you can trust Him to carry you further. Let faith be your wings and keep taking the next God led step. We’re not called to figure things out, but to keep trusting God to work things out. No, we can’t see the other side of where we are now, but God is already there. God has a plan so don’t give up!

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

 

Update 4/2/18 I Still Believe

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I’ve literally only slept a few hours the past 48 hours. Even medicated it’s just not coming easy for me. My new, Big stimulator battery has really been hurting me a lot lately. It seems I now have two different corners pushing hard on my nerves. If it continues like this months from now I will gladly entertain switching it out for something smaller after I get my MRI God willing on April 12th. But, right now not being able to get quality rest isn’t helping anything. I’ve spent over 6 hours today alone in the tub. I’m back in it again trying to stop the itching in my hands and feet. It’s starting to get really old, but at least things are bearable. God has really been holding me together lately. I’ve concluded my greatest handicap from my standpoint is the fact that nothing ever seems easy or sounds fun anymore. My greatest prayer to God is to restore my quality of life. I still feel beyond blessed I’ve just got a lot of healing that needs to take place. And I’m still believing will come with time.

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

Garth Brooks Was Right

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Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. I’m so thankful for all the things I’ve prayed would happen that God made sure didn’t happen. Over time I’ve learned that only God’s plans flourish. I may feel compelled by my gut, but I can only trust my God. I may think something is best at the moment, but only God can see the bigger picture.

Thanks to many unanswered prayers my life continues to fall into place. God makes sure my needs are met. He keeps putting things in their rightful place and does things with perfect timing. He keeps guarding me from taking paths that aren’t meant to be. He keeps opening doors making it clear when to move forward.

You see, part of discovering God’s will is eliminating what is not. Thank you God for many unanswered prayers that have kept me from a world of trouble. Thank you for intervening when I thought I had things figured out. Thank you for leading me away from the wrong relationships and guiding me to the right ones. Heaven Father, I now fully trust you with every detail of my life. I’ve learned that success is only found through Your plans.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:21

A Behind The Scenes Angel

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She doesn’t like the spotlight. She does nothing for show and tell. She’s the least dramatic angel I’ve ever met. By the grace of God, I’m lucky enough to call her my wife and hopefully lifetime side kick. Even still she prefers to be the wind beneath my wings.

From morning until night she gives her best. She embodies unconditional love with every step she takes. She gives demanding nothing in return. When you need her most she is right by your side when others are nowhere to be found. Her name “Aimee” fits her perfectly meaning “Dearly Loved or Beloved.”

She consistently embodies love from above. She is patient when others would have long before their lost their cool. She is kind even when it’s far from deserved. She keeps no record of wrongs and just keeps loving me relentlessly. Instead of reacting to my thoughtless words her example simply gives me plenty to think about. She aims daily to bring a smile to others and she makes me smile daily. She is my angel and I thank God daily for Aimee “Love” Crosby.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[a] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

A Painful Work In Progress

Let em work Let em live

My body finally collapsed last night and with the help of some knock out meds gave me a whopping 4 hours sleep. The itching in my hands and feet from this nerve pain has been very bad. I spent over 4 hours straight in the hot tub yesterday evening, but I just don’t feel like staying in there every minute. I’m sure I’ll be back in there soon.

This pain can be blinding at times. In fact, I would be afraid to see someone dealing with this without faith. They would have to smoke something strong or keep swallowing something to numb the body and mind. It’s relentless. I wake up to it and go to bed with it. I would love to say something has changed, but the only thing that’s changed has been me.

I’ve learned how to cope a little better with the constant ups and downs. I’ve learned how to persevere through it most of the time. I’ve learned how to ask for help often, otherwise I would have long given up. I have learned to do whatever it takes to take care of myself. It sounds selfish, but most of my life revolves around the consideration of my health mind, body, and soul. While my humanity can’t be hidden Godliness is being developed day by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Philippians 2:13

He Never Promised A Bed Of Roses

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I spend two thirds of my life in a bed or hot tub due to this failing body of mine. It appears that even with the best of meds solid sleep is rarely found. My entire body throbs constantly and it gets very old fighting with it. However, the devil is crazy if he thinks I’m gonna give up the fight.

We all go through difficult tests and seasons when we feel like giving up. Satan is hoping these seasons take us off the course God has planned for us. God is is hoping we stay the course learning to trust Him no matter the season. Satan is hoping we let these times define us. Jesus hopes we allow God to refine us.

Through tears, heartache, suffering, and moments you just don’t feel you can take anymore. Fix your eyes on Jesus who endured hardship, stayed God’s course, and won the victory. We too if we stay the course and keep the faith will overcome all that comes our way. For even when we can’t carry on Jesus will carry us.

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 Went Wrong Last Night

Anxious Thinking

So I discovered why I couldn’t sleep last night. When I went to take my morning meds I realized I had never taken my nighttime nerve pain meds. That never happens with all the alarms I set. So, it had been over 17 hours since I had taken my nerve meds and I’m used to taking them every 8 hours. And while I had taken 2 muscle relaxers last night my body simply can’t function without my medicine.

I’ve had to drink so much caffeine this morning in order to preach 3 back to back services. I only slept 1 1/2 hours last night so it was by the grace of God I made it through. I’m hurting so bad just from standing up. Little sleep and caffeine only intensifies my flared up nerve pain. So I’m back tub.

But, I’m glad God has given me something I can do to make a difference. I’m convinced that just being able to preach every Sunday has kept me from living in darkness. We all need things that keep our mind off the pain. While I’m totally exhausted I’m also grateful for every life touched. I’m simply honored that God woke me up another day to live for His glory! #JustBrokenNotHopless

No Coincidence: I See A Pattern

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I’ll never forget a lady coming up to me after a worship service. She said, “Pastor Craig, the devil doesn’t have but a few outfits. Figure out what he is wearing and recognize it.” While I never heard it put that way before it made a lot of sense. The devil really is rather predictable if you’re staying alert to his patterns.

For instance, he looks for any way he can to deceive, discourage, and destroy you. He preys on your weakest areas for sure. He takes life’s most stressful moments then heaps more rocks on top of you. He is hoping it shatters your faith, steals your joy, and makes you believe there is no hope.

I’ve noticed a pattern every Saturday night. It’s the only night I need sleep the most before I head out to preach on Sunday morning. Is it coincidence or the enemy looking for a window to pounce? It never fails that I can’t even count one sheep or depend on my meds to put me to sleep like normal. As I sit here in this tub I’m reminded it’s a spiritual battle. One that is won on your praying knees not by human efforts.

So, here I go again recognizing the enemy and running to my savior. Lord have mercy on my body. Settle my mind, body, nerves and soul so I can rest.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Way Beyond Me

Off My Chest

I believe God calls us all to do things that apart from Him are doomed to fail. It just becomes more obvious when our limitations keep staring us in the face. For instance, I can hardly do anything now without sucking air, feeling like I’m falling apart, and just minutes in knowing I have to take a timeout. I constantly feel like the man in the wheelchair watching everyone else do the work.

I had no idea when God gave me such a big vision to start a church that my entire health would fail. However, I’m starting to see that none of it has taken God but surprise. In fact, it appears to be a huge part of God’s plans. It’s no wonder that in the midst of my greatest limitations God is doing things beyond my imagination. I always knew God would do things in a way that only He could get the glory.

All I have to offer right now is a clear vision and mission to my church. Piece by piece God is putting together an unstoppable body of believers. In fact, we have more leaders at our church now than many have people in their entire church. God is raising up an army despite this wounded warrior. I now know why God put it heavy on my heart 5 weeks ago that “I must decrease and He must increase.”

I’m so glad God got me out of His way. Otherwise I would have never seen the exciting season Refuge Church is experiencing. As a result so many more souls will be reached and cared for personally. When my legs left me God provided servants to carry things forward. When my arms failed God put into place others who can be His hands and feet. When my body fell apart God was then able to assemble the true body of Christ. I’m doing what I can daily, but I’m realizing I can totally trust God with the rest.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27

Purposeful Pain

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The longer you live the more you will endure much pain. Jesus warned us that this life would be full of troubles and sorrows. Pain comes in many forms. Obviously there is physical, but I believe the toughest things are mentally and emotionally painful. One thing for sure is Jesus can relate to them all.

Jesus was constantly misunderstood, used for his superpowers, and betrayed by his closest friends. His entire life he was running for his very life. A man who only cared and loved everyone unconditionally was ultimately sentenced to die on a cross. He was beaten so relentlessly and hurting so bad he wished he was dead.

However, it got much worse as he allowed roman soldiers to drive nails through his hands and feet as his body hung in complete agony on a cross he didn’t deserve. He knew this was sinful man’s only hope. So he endured the pain and purposely died a criminal’s death so all who believe in Him might have eternal hope.

I know I have pains in my life and I’m sure you do as well. In our hands they’re nothing but a handful. But, in God’s hands even our pain is used to touch lives and bring God glory. We many not understand it all or enjoy any of it. But, God often used our pain to accomplish His deliberate plans through our livestock

“But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.”
Acts 2:23

Just One More Night

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It’s 2am and I wish I was even close to going to sleep. My nighttime meds have failed me and my nerve pain has made me totally at it’s mercy again. Seems like just another night of my hands itching and my body aching. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been at this crossroads forever.

However, I’m trying to make it through just one more night. I’ve learned you can’t focus on what didn’t go right in the past and what might go wrong in the future. You’ve just got to rely on and trust in God to carry you through the next moment. And while you learn the significance of patience it doesn’t mean you don’t have the same old feelings.

I’m know satan just hopes I’ll just give up. That I will just quit trusting in God and believing God for my miracle. What satan needs to understand is this is just increasing my faith. Sure, it’s one more night of pain and discomfort. But, I’m paying attention to 915 straight nights God has carried me through the seemingly unbearable. God I trust you for night number 916.

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”
Psalm 143:5

GOD DID IT AGAIN

Victory In The Cross

“Oh Victory In Jesus, My Savior Forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood!”

Late this afternoon I got the call and news I’ve been praying for the past week. On April 12th 8am @ MUSC Hospital. I will without a doubt become the first person ever at that location to get an MRI with my volume of inside hardware. They are basically having to take the MRI machine down to it’s lowest setting possible. Otherwise the coils would be too hot and could burn all the tissue inside me connected to any of my leads, paddles and battery.

All glory to God! This is one giant step forward for me. But, I’m also excited that God opening this door for me will open the door for countless others. It’s no fun having something you need implanted only to find out you can’t get other things checked as promised beforehand. There was a lot that had to be done to make this happen.

The last days have been very stressful on my body. My nerve pain has been flaring head to toe. It’s so easily escalated by just about anything. So, the good news was healing for my soul. Plus, my nighttime meds have calmed things quite a bit. Hopefully I get some sleep tonight as I’m very grateful for all God has done!

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

God Use It

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Often on here, I’m just prayerfully processing from the gutter. I figure my God story won’t be complete if it doesn’t include the good, bad and ugly. I’m still waiting on my meds to make me comfortable enough to rest. Once again it feels like I’ve got ice water running through my veins. And I certainly don’t mean that in a good way.

There are times I wonder, what if I’m left to feel like this or worse the rest of my life. Then what? Not only do I not enjoy thinking about that possibility I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I knew all hope was gone. Sure, I know no matter what God has a plan. But, it’s dealing with the long term misery I can’t get my head fully around. At least not at this age and season of my life.

Most of the time I feel either on fire with nerve pain or just broken all over. Finding ways for God to use this valley is critical for me. Believing it is purposeful motivates me to keep the faith. I’m praying and believing that one day I will look back and see clearly how far I’ve come. But, for now I’m just at this seemingly forever bus stop while feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I’m just begging to use every struggle.

“But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
John 11:4

Do I Have An Identity Crisis?

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I’ve been reading the last few weeks a book that has really spoken to my heart. It’s called “When Your World Falls Apart” by Dr. David Jeremiah. I’ve realized that I really didn’t even know what I was made of until my world as I knew it literally flipped upside down 30 months ago. I thought I had been through tougher seasons before, but I was wrong. I definitely thought my world would already be back back in normal order by now.

Nope, here I am still only a third of the person I used to be. I’m no longer able to work my former hospice chaplain position. I’m no longer able to pastor like I used to do. I’m no longer able to be there for others the way I used to do. Quite honestly it’s all I can do to preach once a week. I’ve missed a couple months of even doing that due to all my surgeries the past 2 years.

By the grace of God I’m still standing. What I’ve realized over time is just how important it is that we don’t get our identity confused with any position, season or perception. Your identity has be built around who you are in Christ. Because any other identity is subject to change. Your job, relationships, and even your personal abilities. Trust me, if underneath you have an identity crisis it will reveal itself with time. So make sure you base your identity on the only one who will never change Jesus Christ.

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

Exhausted But Not Hopeless

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Well, my body allowed me to sleep a little over 3 hours and now I’m back up. Not feeling the best physically after what was just one of those days you would rather forget. Trust me when I tell you that I’m doing all that can be done to deal with my many battles concerning my health and future. There are many battles in life that leave you fighting for strength, scratching your head, and wondering where this or that might lead. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating until the day God calls me home. FAITH IS – doing all you can while trusting God for all that you can’t. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I don’t plan to stop. But, we all know that many things life brings our way don’t give us any choice. Many of the greatest battles like unexpected health issues, tragedy, loss of a loved one, or a relationship gone wrong were never things we invited or wanted in our lives. Therefore, we can’t control many things. All we can do is ask and allow God to lead us through everything.
 
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

I Want To Jump Off A Bridge

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There is no way I can fully describe today’s doctor visit in just one article. Thank God for a great friend driving me an hour there and back. I desperately needed someone who at least is trying to understand my situation. Earlier I went to see my pain specialist and just as I expected absolutely nothing was accomplished. Well, actually they did a great job of raising my blood pressure and testing every nerve within my body.

Things got cooking while I’m talking to my case manager in the lobby beforehand who told me I really could use some patience. That most with my stimulator aren’t even trying to get an MRI. That I’m basically just being difficult wanting the device I have to be MRI friendly even though I was told often in advance that it would be. Honestly, I did all I could to not go Pentecostal on her in a bad way. I did tell her that I knew today would be another totally wasted visit and I was exhausted from being up most of the night due to my stimulator battery poking me.

I was then called back for a surprise drug test. I told the nice lady assisting me that I was actually excited about this test. Because I knew I would get a perfect score considering you will rarely run into anyone in my condition who does not take either narcotics or much heavier drugs. You can bet I made sure I personally signed the label of the sample they were testing. But, it’s just another day of playing both patient and defendant. I know I’m paying big time for so many dishonest souls out there before me.

Then, it’s finally time to see my doctor. I discover quickly that I’m once again not even going to see him, but only his assistant. How was he going to evaluate my battery site if he never looked at it? How would he answer face to face all my questions concerning a stimulator he ordered to be put in me? You see, he didn’t even know all the issues I was even having with the battery or that I had to get a new one that was MRI friendly. I wanted the man who sold me on this total MRI friendly device to have to answer me face to face.

After demanding that the doctor himself step in they agreed. He came in with his familiar smirk and normal no solutions. I literally had to catch him up on everything. His response to practically everything was don’t worry about any of it they will get it figured out. Then, he too acted like it was no big deal that I expected the implanted devices to be MRI friendly just as he promised to countless others who are in for a rude awakening at some point. He never acknowledged any misleading or apologized for any mistake. He just looked anxious to drive out in his Porsche parked behind the building ASAP. Keep in mind this is only the 4th time I’ve even seen this actual doctor out of at least 10 different visits to his office.

I left away once again with nerve pain running all throughout my body and not an ounce of understanding or compassion coming from that office. Nothing was resolved and nothing was even given to me. I get all my meds from my surgeon because my so called pain specialist doesn’t believe I need any meds along with the stimulator. Understand my stimulator alone gives me at best 20 percent of any pain relief I receive. I couldn’t even get up out my bed without my daily nerve pain meds.

I could tell satan was still seeking to steal my joy and take away my hope. However, I believe wholeheartedly that if you do what’s right in God’s eyes you can’t go wrong. One last time my case manager said I needed to have patience as if the past 30 months of nonstop chaos doesn’t count.

I’ve literally never gone to this doctor in well over a year that anything was ever accomplished. Yes, I received a spinal cord stimulator referral but outside of that I’ve only been told I’m over medicated, need to give things time, and it all will work out. The Lord above knows I’m doing my part in actions, attitude, boundaries, and lots of prayer. Sometimes you’ve got to just recognize the battle is bigger than you and you can’t fight things by yourself. Then, you’ve got to trust God to fight for you before you’re compelled to jump off a bridge. What a journey? What a test? And, when it’s over what a testimony I will have to glorify God! The Lord just keeps  bringing me back to this verse as my nerves are fried.

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

Pierced For Me

Jesus on the cross

According to my Fitbit I’ve slept 5 hours, but my exhausted body has been laying down much longer. Besides the normal itching nerve pain is something much more painful. It’s clear that my big, recently implanted new stimulator battery has officially shifted. I noticed a painful change this past Saturday after going for a much needed walk.

However, now it feels more like the end of a drill is trying to poke out of my back. One corner of the battery is pushing hard right on the still healing and very sensitive incision. I already had reasons I could not lay long on my lower back, but now add to that my right side. My patience is running thin especially while my battery is truly becoming more of a thorn in my flesh. It’s like a nightmare that never ends and constantly keeps you uncomfortable.

I woke up this morning finally just nauseous from the continuous stabbing in my right side. I can’t imagine what Jesus endured for me on that cross. How could he endure such nonstop pain? How could he let them beat him until his body was absolutely raw? How could he let them break every bone in his body? How could he swallow nails driven into both his hands and feet? Only pure love for you and me!

“He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsa that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.”
Isaiah 53:3-7

Health Update 3/28/18

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

Besides still spending plenty of time in the tub I’ve discovered a little that still appears hopeful. Today s friend will take me to my pain specialist. The doctor I will be seeing has not seen or talked to me since I found out I had to change about my stimulator battery for full MRI comparability. However, this doctor is the one who actually got me to get the stimulator and said it was all MRI compatible. This should be some interesting conversation.

Until then hear is what I’ve learned from stimulator rep who continues to look for a place that can do my MRI. He said,
“As of right now it looks like Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Tidelands hospital system in Murrells Inlet and MUSC all have the proper equipment. To ensure that you are not turned away again we have to do educational calls with our MRI team and each facility individually and get everyone on the same page. This is something I am working on and will be moving along as fast as I can schedule these meetings.”

GOD HAS THIS UNDER CONTROL!

I Never Fully Realized It’s Power

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The Bible says that anyone who truly believes in Jesus is promised the Holy Spirit. In fact, it clearly states that anyone without the Spirit of God living in them doesn’t know God. Now, I’ve known and believed that truth for a long time. I’ve had countless times I felt God’s spirit leading and comforting me. But, it’s only been in the last month that I’ve fully realized the power living inside of me.

Seemingly overnight I discovered a connection like never before. It’s as if I have to direct connection with God all the time. He keeps flooding things to my heart and mind. He keeps giving me just the right words to say. Like pulling a rabbit out of an empty hat is the power flowing through my veins.

I can now tell that God is always with me. Whispering in my ear secrets that I could never discover otherwise. Reminding me of truths that calm my soul and add flames to my faith. All I do is pray and seek God with all my heart and I’m constantly led to take the next right step. It’s as if someone has cleared debris that once clogged my deeper connection with God.

Now,  I know I’ve got this constant advocate that keeps guiding me to say things, do things, and know things that I could never discover otherwise. Honestly, I realize I was living a limited Christian life before and now thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit I’m now on the unlimited track. The Holy Spirit now helps me overcome all fear and conquer everything by faith. It breathes soundness to my mind and calmness to my soul.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

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

The Current Is Strong Be Careful

 

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Spiritually speaking I’m somewhere I’ve never been before. With every faith step forward I can feel the invisible forces of the enemy. Nothing is coming easy, yet God is doing so much. I can feel it in my bones. I can see it with my eyes. However, the current of resistance is so strong it’s taking my legs out from underneath me, knocking the breath out me and leaving my head spinning.

By now some reading this are wondering if I’ve not been drinking just a little too much. Actually, I have been drinking something it’s called the Holy Spirit. I’m literally living by every word God puts on my heart. No matter how I feel or how much the pain. I’ve surrendered my very being to seeking and doing the will of God.

Now, if you are seeking to do the same you must understand a few things. One, the enemy is not going to give up easily  territory he has always owned. Secondly, it’s always easier to flow with the crowd versus taking up your cross and walking with Jesus against  the current. Finally, know that anytime you’re close to a spiritual breakthrough satan is going to raise the intensity level. Keep  your eyes on Jesus not your circumstances. Keep praying, believing in God’s promises, and staying the course God has marked out for you. Because anytime you’re seeking to live boldly for Christ on the frontlines the current will always be strong. But, it doesn’t mean victory is not right ahead.

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12

Then & Now Update 3/27/18

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Well, I spent over 4 hours straight in the tub again tonight. I guess I could become one of the California Raisons one day. But, not only does it help bring me relief, but it seems to shrink any feeling of swelling in the new battery incision area. I’ve been out the tub for about 2 hours and I’m still struggling to sleep at 2:45am.

Sleep is getting harder and harder to come by especially when both my hands and feet are itching constantly. And I’m not talking the kind of itching you just scratch away or put some cream on.

It’s noon the next day and praise God I did abruptly fall asleep again thanks to meds. I found the above paragraphs just sitting on my phone when I woke up. I slept nearly 7 hours comfortably even while waking at 7am to take more meds. I’m not hurting badly or itching anymore. I just feel like could sleep another 7 hours.

Anyway this is the life of severe chronic pain. Your life is built around it and it’s unpredictable nature. You do what you can when you can. For instance, I did go and exercise in the pool at the YMCA last night as I find it’s critical I don’t let the rest of my body just fall apart. Even if you feel you’re just running in place every faith step matters.

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

A Glimmer Of Hope

Grieving

Earlier I did receive a glimmer of hope concerning my possible future MRI. My representative called me early evening and said they should know something tomorrow. It appears that MUSC hospital does have a machine that should be compatible. Tomorrow the lead representative of my stimulator company will meet with someone at MUSC to further discuss my options.

My representative assured me that somewhere in the United States this MRI can be done. It just comes down to the fact that most MRI machines are older technology and doing MRIs on people with my volume of interior hardware is still foreign for many.

I told her that I really am not worried about whether I get an MRI or Myelogram. I know God will lead me to the best option. However, living with this much larger battery pressing on a nerve for possibly no reason will make me upset. Not just for me, but for the thousands I know have been misled. I told her one of their lead technicians told me by phone the following in a very nasty tone of voice. “Sir, you didn’t get this device so you could get an MRI, but you got this device for pain.” I responded, “No sir, I got this device for pain knowing I could get a future MRI anytime necessary.”

So, I will wait and see what tomorrow holds. I’m simply praying and believing God will make a way. And, I’m praying that no matter what does or does not happen I will conduct myself in a way that honors God. My hope does not rest in an MRI or a Myelogram. My hope rests in the Great I Am.

“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

Dear Parents Who Are Separated

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Earlier I was sitting inside a Chick-fil-A restaurant with two of my boys. Across from me nearest the playground area was this young couple who were clearly still in the honeymoon phase of dating. They had 3 little kids with them in the play area that didn’t appear to be their own. Mainly because they reminded me of two 15 year olds that barely recognized any of them. They kept flirting as if they were sitting at home alone on their couch.

Finally, it came time to leave and they began to gather up the kids all under the age of 6. Suddenly, the youngest who was maybe 3 years old screams out in tears. “But, mommy, I want to go home with daddy.” The mom very sternly said, “Well you can’t and if you say it again I’m going to tear your behind up!” She then slings the child into a chair to put her shoes on with zero emotion. At least nothing that showed the little girl’s tears bothered her. It was obvious that the little girl was making a very poor impression upon her date with lover boy and that was momma’s greatest concern.

Then, the obvious dad of the child comes out of the playground area. He had one child in his arms and his daughter being left behind simply begging for him not to leave. The dad didn’t even look her way but kept on walking out. It was at that moment my heart broke. It was obvious that mom and dad still hadn’t reached any point of learning how to communicate. Not even on behalf of the child. Neither said a word to each other or seemed moved by the little girl’s heartfelt cry. You could tell this scene was not new to either of them and the child was still having to be punished for their breakup.

Listen up parents of children who no longer live together. I’m gonna make this short and sweet. Wake up, grow up, and step up. Your children did not cause your marriage to fail. They’ve already been sentenced to separation from living at home with both parents. Don’t keep making decisions that punish them beyond that life sentence.

I realize divorce happens all the time. I’m not saying that you did or did not cause things to fail. However, at this point it’s not all about you. Make the best decisions you can from this day forward with your child’s best interest in mind.

Don’t put lover boy or lover girl before your children. You were that child’s parent before your newest romance. When your kids are already hurting you don’t need to be average, but you need to take an above average approach to making them feel loved and secure. No, you can’t control the other parent’s actions, but you need to do whatever you can to make sure that child doesn’t keep paying due to your selfish and childish behavior.

Take the high road not the low road. Allow them to talk about their feelings but don’t put them in the middle of a continuous heavyweight boxing match. Find a way with God’s help to at least realize your child is on a roller coaster ride they didn’t choose. Act like grownups, not like children. Act like parents not out of revenge. This message is not for you to send to your ex romance. This message is for you to make sure you take time to ask God to examine your heart, your motives, your attitude and your approach to being the best parent you can be for your child.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24

I Have No Clue, Yet I’m Ok

Walking Towards the Crsso

Most of you know that my journey with my health issues has been a flat roller coaster ride. I know what it’s like to wake up from a major surgery and wonder who attempted to beat you to death. I know what’s it’s like to not be able to walk for 8 days straight. I know what it’s like to push a walker around 2 miles everyday for 30 days straight. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re finally at the top of the mountain in recovery only to roll completely backwards right back to where you started.

I know what it’s like to be told you are permanently disabled and things will never change due to your severe nerve damage. I know what it’s like to get up each morning just wondering if you can get up. I know what it’s like to cry my eyes out daily over things I can’t control and must walk through by faith. I know what it’s like for everything that was familiar in my life before to be taken seemingly overnight. I know what it’s like to simply wonder if I can keep fighting a seemingly losing battle.
I know what it’s like to have no clue where things are headed because it’s where I’m living right now.

However, it truly is ok because I’ve learned so much on this journey. I know that no matter what God will provide. I know that God will always give me the strength to take the next right step. I know that even when I’m flat on my back God is still at work. I know that no matter what tomorrow brings I know who holds tomorrow. I know how to walk with Jesus, totally trust Jesus, and release everything to Jesus. I have no clue what the upcoming future holds, but I know I will be ok as long as I keep putting my little hand in God’s great big hand.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13

LORD HELP ME NOT GO CRAZY

Well, ever since trying to get out and walk yesterday for exercise my battery has just not been right. The entire thing bulges out the back of my back, but one corner of it is pressing on a nerve area. I’m telling you right now that if I find out that getting this huge replacement spinal stimulator battery still didn’t make it where I could get an MRI as promised I’m going to be REALLY upset. Because living with this big battery is totally different than living with the one I had before which was 1/4 it’s size. Not to mention it’s going to take quite awhile to heal. So far no word on any place that they’ve found that will allow me to get an MRI. My stimulator representative did say I would be eligible for a Myelogram, which I believe is able to capture better footage than a regular MRI. But, even still that would mean this new battery implant I just got nearly a month ago was a total waste of time and much unnecessary pain. I’m praying even now that God will give me the patience I need should I find out I never needed this battery and the lead wires inside of me are not MRI compatible either. I can’t lean back on anything firm all because of this battery not to mention I still have to deal with the sore spot in my lower back at all times. It really is a big deal and if not resolved this means a MULTITUDE of people are being led astray and in for great disappointment later. All they tell you is that everything is the newest technology and completely MRI friendly. You tell me how you would take such a statement.I’m trying to remain as calm as possible, but it’s much harder when you have a painful reminder sticking you constantly in your back.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear. But, of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

*I’m especially relying on that last part to carry me through countless moments of negligence and misleading during my medical care. All the other things that have happened to me during this 30 month period you will have to read later in my book one day.

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning Problems

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It’s 2:25am Sunday morning and I just took back multiple ice packs to the freezer. My recently implanted new battery incision didn’t respond well to maybe my 3rd intentional walk in a month. Saturday evening I just knew I had to get out the house and regain some type of recovery momentum. So, I met up with a friend and the walking began.

It felt good to see sunshine and get back on the saddle of exercise. I figured it would help me sleep. But, here I am after a couple hours sleep only sitting up in my bed. My hands and feet are itching like crazy from nerve pain. My lower back and battery site inflamed again. Of course, I am at my worst the night before Sunday.

Sunday is literally the only day of the week I need to get up and show up. However, it never fails the devil does all he can to make this day especially difficult. No matter how confident I may feel days before preaching you can bank that confidence will be gone by Sunday morning. I will be so exhausted, fried with nerve pain, and once again having to totally free fall into the arms of Jesus. It’s no coincidence that my greatest spiritual warfare comes the moment I try to show up for a very serious spiritual battle.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12

Being Lied To Hurts

 

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I’ve been fortunate throughout my lifetime up to this point. However, I’m starting to realize I’ve been lied to quite a few times over the past 2 1/2 years and counting of this health journey. I have to admit it doesn’t feel good to the mind or heart. In fact, it doesn’t feel great at all knowing those lies will have lingering effects on the rest of of your life.

One, I was told I just had a small tear in my L5 S1 disc and I didn’t need surgery. Eight months later it was confirmed that surgery was not even an option if I ever hoped to keep walking.  I had to have “major” back surgery ASAP. That the disc was beyond repairable and only replaceable. That this was clearly shown by the first MRI. That the pain was “not just in my head” as one person in the medical field once told me. That the tear was as large as it could be without causing paralyzation. And everyday it was left unattended it was just pouring toxic fluid throughout my lower body that did create extreme and permanent nerve damage.

Then, after never feeling better even one day from the major surgery I had 20 months ago, I needed a spinal cord stimulator to offset some of my nerve pain. Now, I knew it would not be a cure, but simply a tool to give me some quality of life back. In fact, I’m still fighting for better days and I’m glad I got the stimulator. But, once again I was lied to. My device is only 7 month’s from being surgically implanted in my lower back and spine. I have the latest and greatest system they offer. They absolutely promised that it was totally“MRI Friendly.” It made the decision to get it and go through more surgery a no brainer due to my extreme nerve pain.

So far, I’ve had to get another surgery to replace the battery implant so I could supposedly make it MRI friendly. And, now even after that I’m being told that not only is the new, much larger battery not MRI friendly, but neither are the five paddles as they call them implanted in my lower back. I’ve been denied an MRI 3 times in as many months. This procedure is critical to seeing what is really going on in my back now 14 months later since my last MRI.

Now, I could share many more lies and let downs in between the above. But, for the first time I’m realizing the emotions I must process in such an event of being lied to in a costly manner. You deal with anger, betrayal, frustration, sadness, and anxiety over what you were promised. Then, you discover and have to swallow the actual truth. You really do have to “choose” to forgive while knowing you have to live with the continued repercussions. You have to totally believe by faith that God is bigger than whatever comes against you. It’s the only way to live better and not bitter. You can’t let it hold you prisoner if you want peace or to move forward in a healthier manner.

“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
(Ephesians 4:25-27, 31-32)

Smiling Through The Pain

 

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As frustrating as things have been recently I’m far from discouraged. Sure, I’m concerned about what the future might hold with my health. But, I’m too consumed with seeking to let God work now rather than just worry about what happens later. Honestly, I’ve never seen God more at work. I just don’t feel great. However, it’s crystal clear that God is still great.

Concerning my MRI it’s still up in the air where, when or if I can get it with all the hardware throughout my back. They have tried for 2 days straight to find a place that can do it. The other night was definitely a disappointing nightmare. It hurt me so bad just to lie down in that MRI machine with a huge battery gouging me to the bone for 25-30 minutes. Then, to be told it just couldn’t be done for the 3rd time in 3 months. Then, to have my Honda Pilot breakdown which will require a brand new motor to ever drive it again. So, we’re down to one vehicle  for all of us. Like they say when it rains it pours.

Even still I feel God’s goodness all around me. It’s a messy site within, but I just can’t deny all I see God doing despite my continuous nerve breakdowns. I truly believe my best days or ahead. And, I know that if I am to be healed it will be a very clear miracle work of God for all to see. I’m still praying and slaying the enemy in Jesus’ mighty name. And, I’m still believing that this is purposeful pain for Heaven’s gain.

“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

My Phone Spoke To Me

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Many of you know that follow my journey I’m known for sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. Well when my first medicine alarm woke my exhausted body up this morning at 7am I found the following words typed, but left unposted on my phone. All I remember is it was after 3am and I was begging God to help me and knock me out as quick as possible as I was loaded with every sleep med and pain med I could take at that time…

(Around 3am) “Real & Raw 6000
Any of these posts are clearly for my sanity. Apart from feeling like a truck hit my body the torment is even worse. The nonstop itching in my hands and feet are like fire ants you can’t just brush off. Laying in any position hurts as I can feel any metal within me. The massive battery on my right side is still extremely sore from laying down for an MRI that never panned out. My level of misery would certainly be a 7-8 right next.”

(7:30 am) Evidently God heard my prayers once again. At some point, right when I thought I was literally going to go crazy in pain God swooped in once again and said “Peace be still, devil I’ve seen enough.” Then, I fell right out asleep and my severe pain ceased while the above words were left sitting on my phone for me to see later.

Now, that I’ve taken my morning meds I’m heading back to sleep in a moment very thankful. For while very sore I presently feel nothing like I did hours ago. And, I’m reminded of how much God has done and does do for me every time I’ve reached all I can physically and emotionally take. He swoops in and saves the day. And remembering His constant faithfulness can help carry me through one more day with great faith forward.

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear….”.  Psalm 118:5-6

What If?

On off switch

I’ve finally just got to accept the fact that without strong meds I will hardly ever sleep a wink. Plus it’s not helping that I’m not presently even 25 percent as active as I once was even 2 years ago in my past rehab days. If I’m to reach any greater level of recovery my walking regiment must return. I’ve simply lost all momentum and strength. At least warmer days are in front of me. That makes a big difference with lots of metal in your back.

Oh the ups and downs of recovery. I’ve experienced the highest highs and even today the lowest of lows. I still remember my surgeon saying 30 days after my first major surgery “sir you may become my poster child for recovery you’re progressing so well.” When I look over the past 30 months of relentless recovery effort I can ponder so many “what if” moments it’s far from funny.

What if I had never slipped on that wet floor? What if I had not been put in physical therapy several months too early that actually set me way back and killed my daily walking momentum? What if they didn’t make me wait 8 months to have my first surgery when the first MRI showed my lower back disc was close to paralyzing me and increasing my permanent nerve damage by the day? What if ????

Honestly, that approach changes nothing except my anxiety level. Yes, it’s human to look back and second guess many things. But, ultimately you find yourself right back desperately needing to trust God with everything. I’m certainly trying and confident that God is bigger than everyone of my “what if” moments. Nothing can stop his plans and his grace covers over a multitude of our shortcomings. Lord Jesus, I give you the past, the present, and the future. Help me to rest it all in Your hands.

Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:25-34

Hope In Front Of Me

Victory In The Cross

I may be down, but I’m not out. I may cry often, but I’m far from hopeless. Life is full of painful, unexpected moments. We all must learn how to walk through the valleys so we can appreciate the mountain top experiences. We all must learn that no matter what life throws our way God is with us, for us , and nothing can take certain hope from us.

In Jesus Christ the future is always bright even if we feel like we’re walking through a constant tunnel of darkness. So, don’t lose hope no matter where life finds you right now. Hope is not lost. For our hope doesn’t rest in our circumstance, but in our lord and savior Jesus Christ. He will never change, leave, or forsake you.

“ This hope [this confident assurance] we have as an anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it]—a safe and steadfast hope that enters within the veil [of the heavenly temple, that most Holy Place in which the very presence of God dwells],” (Hebrews 6:19)(Amplified)

When Life Overwhelms You

Inadequate

I’m writing these words for my own peace and hopefully to encourage someone else. Sometimes life is just too overwhelming to swallow all at once. It’s in these moments that it’s critical we take a bite out of that elephant one piece at a time. Otherwise, you will be paralyzed by all that needs to happen and nothing much will happen. Therefore, before you go any further take out a sheet of paper and map out your best God-led approach.

First, write out a list of the most important things that need to be done or given attention. Then, seek to put things in an order of priority from most important to least important. This doesn’t mean that all these things aren’t important, but not everything needs to happen right this moment. What do you need to do today that can’t wait for tomorrow? What do you need to do right now that if not done will be deeply regretted later.

One thing I can tell you from experience is you need to pray. Not later and not just in reference by some words. You need to earnestly put everything in God’s hands and ask God to guide your every step forward. Let Him reveal the difference between what you can handle and what you can’t. Often God’s word and spirit simply sheds light on the next step and doesn’t give us the full picture. However, as a buddy of my used to always say “If you do what’s right you can’t go wrong.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving present your requests to God. Then, the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ. Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Was I Just Dreaming?

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I just woke up at 7am this morning to the first of 4 daily alarms that remind me to take my scheduled medications. My hands, lower back, legs and feet all aching and itching long before my my day will even get started. As I struggled to just walk to the bathroom I couldn’t help but wonder was last night a dream. Did I really show up for a 3rd guaranteed MRI only to be told this time that neither the wires in my spine or “newly” implanted battery in my back weren’t MRI compatible. This time not only two hours before I got to my appointment, but this time nearly two hours after I got to my appointment. Even after 25 minutes in the actual machine thinking I’m halfway done.

I can barely type this due to the nonstop nerve pain itching and running constantly through both hands. Yep, thanks to my Fitbit that tracks my sleeping things have been confirmed. Last night was a reality and my most reliable car did break down on the way back home delaying me from getting in my bed before even 2am. So, I’ve only had 3 hours sleep after having my vehicle towed still awaiting major repairs.

Now, here is the good news. Nothing irreparable happened last night. The night could have been a whole lot worse and the challenges so much greater. Yes, I’m still frustrated and I’m in more unnecessary discomfort as a result. However, there will always be times in life mankind makes plans only to realize they are often subject to change. Therefore, I thank God that while I don’t like what happened it was just another long night. And, it changes nothing, but only confirms that only God knows all each day or the future holds.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
Proverbs 19:21

 

 

Satan Has Me Up After Midnight

Uphill Climb

It’s 2am and me and my car just got towed back home. My nerve pain is flaring, my body is dragging , and my nerves are literally shot. Seems that the devil is coming at me from every direction. Inside, outside and anywhere in between. This was not how I ever expected tonight to end.

Now, I’m certain God has a plan and will work everything out in the end. However, in the meantime my nervous system circuits are blown. I’m trying so hard to be strong and weather this storm. I thought I did everything possible to ensure that my 3rd scheduled MRI in just 3 months would finally take place. Nope, I was still disappointed and shocked that nothing went as planned.

If I was trying to create daily nightmare scenarios I’m not sure I could have scripted all the mishaps. It’s like satan is hiding behind every corner just waiting to jump out and shock me. Oh wait, that’s exactly what he is doing. That’s ok my God is bigger. He won’t steal my joy and he won’t determine my future. He’s just doing all he can to steal, kill, and destroy all God has planned. So, I’m not gonna fall to pieces. I’m just gonna fall to my knees.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I’ve come so that you might have life to it’s fullest.”
John 10:10

The Battle Is Real

For those of you who only follow me online you know I was so excited about finally getting my MRI this evening. Was there almost two hours after riding over an hour to get there. Here is how the evening ended, Here are my back to back Facebook posts as I wait patiently at Trident hospital for a tow truck.

8:45…..UNREAL!! The drama continues. They put me in the Roper St Francis MRI machine twice only to tell me they can’t do it either because of my battery that I just got replaced just for this and my lead wires in my spine can’t be scanned. I was in there at least 20-25 minutes in the machine and been here since 7:15pm. They say they can’t do it at any of their 3 locations. Neither can MUSC. They are very fortunate I’m full of Valium. The devil is determined to discourage me, but I know who’s still in charge! There is somewhere out there that can do this I know and they confirmed. Maybe it’s in Africa! I need no explanation just prayers for patience. 3 scheduled MRI’s in 3 months all turned away the day they were scheduled. All of them admitted they never looked at my information thoroughly or had it before scheduling me. #HowDoesThisHappem
#SpiritualWarfareIsARealThing

9:30pm…. I told you we are under attack. My Honda Pilot that has never given me a day of trouble just broke down on us. We rolled into the Trident hospital parking lot. Freezing because my heat went out earlier and we had to walk a mile to get inside anywhere! #JesusLiterallyTakeTheWheel
#YouCantMakeThisStuffUp

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

When You Feel Chained

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Right now I literally feel stuck. Stuck in a body that won’t quit aching. Stuck in a situation that has a strangle hold on all areas of my life. Stuck with a diagnosis that apart from divine intervention will not change for the better. Stuck in a bed of pain that I would give anything to get out.

These seasons are frightening if you ponder the “what ifs” too long. You don’t know what’s gonna happen next. You don’t want to suffer the rest of your life. You don’t want your suffering to define your life. And you certainly don’t want to lose faith that God can change things.

As a 94 year preacher old once told me, “Theses are the times you must pray, pray, pray!” Pray when you wake up and when you lie down. Pray when you breathe in and breathe out. Ask other true believers to join you in praying for God in His perfect timing to break the chains that presently have a hold on your life, mind, and future. As my dear friend further said, “After you’ve done all you can do pray, pray, and then pray some more.” But, don’t ever quit believing God can do a miracle. Pray scripture and believe God can break the chains that presently bind you.

“He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains.” Psalm 107:14

When You’re Just Not Sure

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There always seems to be something or someone you’re just not sure how to approach. Usually when you’re just not sure it truly is best you move forward with precaution and preciseness. Obviously it’s something you feel like is fragile and possibly risky. So, the situation demands you begin by being still before God.

Here is what you usually should not do. One, don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Two, don’t ever make a big decision  while fueled only by emotion. Three, don’t try to play God in any situation. Overall, don’t ever let your gut lead you more than your God.

Bottom line, if you feel very uncertain about anything  you need to let the God of all certainty guide you in everything. Do what He tells you to do and say. Bathe every move in prayer and marinate your mind in God’s word. Just keep taking the next right step and trusting God day by day. Ask God for the courage to change what you can and the faith to trust Him with all you can’t.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].
(Proverbs 3:5-6)(Amplified)

I Just Can’t Keep Going

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I can feel it and I can see it. God is at work in so many ways despite me, through me and around me. Yet, I can also feel the winds and waves of adversity like never before. Am I comfortable with all I’m going through? Absolutely not! Am I confident that God is heavily at work even in this category five hurricane? Absolutely yes!

I believe the process never makes sense or feels good during the downpour. It’s like you can’t catch your breath before the next bomb blows up your best laid plans. You literally feel like you’re having to dodge constant flaming arrows that the enemy hopes destroys you. While you feel so close to victory, you also feel so close to collapsing.

These are the signs of getting closer to your God-sized goal. These are the signs of seeking  to let God take over territory the devil has had for far too long. So, it’s not gonna be easy and it’s not supposed to be. God is growing you as God takes you where you’ve never been before. Faith is not about how you feel. Faith is believing that God has you and the future in His hands. Your role is to simply stay the course, keep believing, and don’t give up when you’re so close to your breakthrough. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”

GOD CALLED ME

 

Victory In The Cross

“Oh Victory In Jesus, My Savior Forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood!”

Today has been quite a day of confusion and emotion. I was literally convinced for a short while that the spinal cord stimulator lead wires buried within me were totally MRI unfriendly anywhere. Thank God the person at that MRI facility had no idea what she was talking about when today’s scheduled MRI was canceled. They just had no machines that could handle all the metal inside me.

I just got the most relieving phone call all day. A lady left me a message saying, “Mr. Crosby you have been pre-approved for an MRI at Roper St. Francis. Please call us tomorrow to schedule the MRI that has been expedited for you.” My friend you just don’t understand. Nothing dealing with workman’s compensation works this fast.

God expedited things on my behalf. Just hours after dealing with one of my greatest disappointments. God calls me with one of my quickest blessings. One hopeful door closed and God open another. God, thank you for divine favor and continuous blessings!

Waiting On A MRI

I’m trying my best not to lose it. Fortunately, I already had a Valium in me before I ever ran into the chaos of finding out I could not get my MRI for the second time in three months it was scheduled. There are places that can’t do my MRI, but why after 20 days of processing and 6 phone conversations I would find out on the day of my appointment (on the way to it) that this place did not have any machines compatible with my stimulator is beyond me.

I did just receive a call that I should be getting my MRI done at Roper St Francis once that is ever approved. Once again I’m having to dive through hoops the devil has created. What a journey! You make me surgically change out my battery and now you tell me the leads in my spine aren’t compatible. All this in the midst of one of my most unbearable seasons.

What a plan my God must have ahead! I literally can’t wait to see what He unveils after He parts the Red Sea. The devil is just getting me giddy with excitement and allowing God’s glory to build. So, I’ll wait again and believe God for the breakthrough!

“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

On The Way To My MRI

UNREAL….. I get my spinal cord stimulator battery surgically replaced to one that is 4 times the size of my previous one before so I could get an MRI. And now Tri-County radiology waits until 2 hours prior to my scheduled MRI and informs me that the leads down my spine are not MRI compatible on any of their machines. Can’t take much more while dealing with discomfort of such magnitude even now. Waiting now to hopefully get my stimulator adjusted and back on track. But, Tri-County radiology will never get my business again. Fortunately for them I did have a Valium in during our conversation. And they didn’t even call me I just happened to call them!!

Thank God For All Hope

Anchor Of My Soul

Well, my knockout meds allowed me to sleep nearly 7 hours. I had to take everything I could to calm down the storm within. I’m beyond grateful for any moments where I don’t have to feel the present state of my body. My nerve pain is definitely still out of whack and I feel almost certain so is my spinal cord stimulator. I did leave a request last night that someone call me to readjust my stimulator asap. Hoping that gets done before or after my MRI at noon today.

You see, these stimulators with this newest technology called burst have only been around s few years and are still very unpredictable by even the programmers. It can take up to 72 hours after a readjustment to even get things on track or know if they are even headed that direction. I’ve definitely experienced the good and very bad of this man made device. But, I would still rather have it with some hope than not have it at all.

My legs still feel raw, throbbing, and on fire within. Pain in my lower back and battery area that were being masked a lot better before just aren’t right now. So, I feel certain the stimulator is my greatest issue, but have no idea how to fix it. However, these days remind me how bad the root of my problem still is and that I must keep praying for my miracle. Thanks for all your prayers that are felt and appreciated more than you know. Hoping my morning meds buy me a couple more hours rest. May God bless you all and meet all your needs in Christ Jesus our rescuer!

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

Misery Loves Company?

Depressed

No, I believe they got that all wrong. Miserable people like myself can be miserable to be around. But, anyone who truly knows what it feels like to be miserable would never wish such on anyone they love. I hate how my misery affects all those around me. It’s not something I can totally control, but it does affect my family and friends.

Today has been another miserable day. God has still done great things but I’m just as miserable now as when my day got started. Nerve pain is crawling through my skin and has been all day. I have no answer for it. All I can do once again is pray my meds knock me totally out. Because it’s only when I’m not awake that I’m not miserable.

It would be impossible for me to hide my misery from others. Especially when that misery is flowing through my veins. I would love to go to a hospital and just be hooked up to a nonstop pain pump for the week. Sadly, I know my return home would only be met with misery. I want so bad to be a better husband, dad, son, brother, friend and pastor. But, miserable island is where I’m living at the moment while still rejoicing over all God is doing despite my condition.

Father God, I am sincerely thankful for every good gift You have given me. I’m even thankful for my trials that I know You are using daily. Yes, I’m miserable physically and in need of desperate relief. But, I thank you for the peace and strength You give me to just make it through another day.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
(Philippians 4:4-9)

Covered In Ants

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Somebody recently told me “all you write about is your pain.” Well, it’s just where I am and I can’t get out the ant bed. I feel like I’m covered from head to toe with ants and nothing I do is changing that. It’s the greatest test and torment I’ve ever been through. You tell me what you would say about the following.

I’ve got a spot in my lower back that continuously aches. My legs stay so heavy as if they are fifty percent lead. The metal in my lower back is more temperamental than a two year old. My hands and feet are always itching as nerve pain surges throughout my body feeling like ice water. The massive battery implanted in my right side bulges out my skin and presses against bone. This is not some times this is all the time. And I’ve been in this ant bed 30 months.

I’m physically and emotionally drained. If God’s strength was not in me I would have long ago given up all hope. My prayers are constant and at times have literally been just whispers. I would give anything to take even one foot out this ant bed. I spend two thirds of any day in the bed. I’m trying to learn the lessons God wants me to during this time. I’m trying to allow God to carry out His purposeful plan through my life, but man this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done! I can so relate to Jesus as he knew the cross was near!

“ Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
(Matthew 26:38-39)

Real & Raw Take 4000

I’m not gonna lie. Every time I hurt this bad I’m shocked. I’m always hoping the nightmare is over. It hurts so freaking bad in that same old spot. How can it still be this bad? What will this mean for the rest of my life?

Who am I’m kidding? I’m still trying to figure out how I’ll deal with this for the rest of this week. Since 9am Sunday morning I knew things weren’t trending in a positive direction. By that afternoon I was just pure nauseous from the pain. No bath or meds have done much to faze it.

It sucks so much joy out of my life. Makes me not look forward to anything. There is nothing you can fully enjoy when you’re consumed with this level of pain. And, I have no idea what my spinal cord stimulator is or is not doing.

Lord Jesus you know I need you. Once again, I pray you ease my aching body. Once again, please give me the strength, peace, comfort and faith I need to see beyond this season. Help me hold on to hope when I feel hopeless. Remind me often how faithful You have been all my life!

We All Need Somebody Like This

 

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How many times has someone uttered the words “you just don’t understand”? I know I’ve said it on more than a few occasions. It doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t struggle, but not everyone has the same struggles. For example, I’ve never gone to war. I’ve never gone through a divorce. I’ve never dealt with the death of a parent, spouse, or child. I have experienced life changing chronic pain.

September 2015 my life was totally changed when I suffered a major slip and fall. Much like a car wreck that happens so quickly I’m still digesting my new normal. I’ve gone through all the stages of complicated grief. I’ve tried with all I’ve got to just get over it. I just can’t when my pain is still so great and my permanent nerve damage is still wrecking every area of my life.

I’ve concluded there is only one way to find healing and that’s to walk through it. However, I don’t believe God wants me to do this alone. Outside of letting Him take me by the hand I believe I must surround myself around with others who really understand. Those who battle chronic pain day and night. Who wonder how they can go on living in their present condition. Who know apart from Jesus they would be strung out on some drug or jumping off some bridge. I need people who really get my pain, my struggle, and the everyday griefs associated with it. Therefore, I plan to start a chronic pain support group soon for mutual encouragement with others who really understand my kind of battle. Whatever your greatest struggle you need somebody who understands you when many others just can’t understand.

“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)(NLT)

Devil You Don’t Stand A Chance

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My body woke me up around 4am this morning. I knew I would not be going back to sleep anytime soon. I also figured it would only add to my chances of collapsing early this morning. So, the first thing I did was get down gingerly on my knees beside my bed. I said, “Lord, don’t let my limitations determine my expectations.”

After prayer I got in the bath to ease my aching body. Then, after taking my morning meds I swallowed down a high powered energy drink just hoped would chase away the fog my medication always produces. From a staying alert stand point I was blessed, but my body would quickly fail me again. I had to lay down on ice three different times in my church office. I also had to free fall into the arms of Jesus to carry me through two sermons.

Seeing as how Sunday is my only true coming out day it’s always an uncertain day. But, what I’ve found is certain is that God is able to accomplish His amazing will without me. What God continues to do despite my condition keeps amazing me. Leaders are stepping up. Every type of mission group imagined is surfacing. All this while all I have to offer is vision, passion, and prayer.

I would love to swallow a magic pill to feel better. However, I’m able to see the miracles God is performing. I’m not just sitting around feeling sorry for myself and focusing on what I can’t do. I’m doing what I can and asking others to do the same. I’m actually seeing God do more while I’m down than when I was up. My suffering continues daily, but God is still accomplishing His will in even greater ways.

(Romans 8:31-37)(NLT) 31What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?32Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36(As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

I Lost My Superpowers

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They say if you don’t use it you will lose it. But, I was using it all the time to help as many people as I could. You see, I used to be that guy you could call on for anything at anytime. With God’s help I would leap over tall buildings and fly over to help you get through whatever the crisis at hand. You could say that the desire to be a super hero ran strong through my veins. Who am I kidding it still does.

There is only one big problem. I keep discovering daily that I’ve lost my superpowers. Dealing with the greatest of crisis was always my calling. With God’s help I was able to help when others felt they couldn’t help. I’ve been by the dying bedside of hundreds. I’ve counseled many marriages that seemed hopeless back to hope. I’ve always done things that others either couldn’t or wouldn’t.

Now, if I try dealing with even one major crisis I quickly begin crumbling. I use to deal with more in a day than I can seem to do now in a year. My severe nerve pain has forced me to get rid of my cape. I’m no longer at people’s bedside, but I’m now doing most of my ministry from my bed. My health keeps knocking me down and has long ago took away my super powers.

I believe it’s in these painful transition seasons we must embrace our new identity. Maybe we never had any superpowers of our own. Maybe it was God’s superpowers flowing through us to do those things we did before. Maybe God still has a mission for us now that just looks a bit different than the one before. And if we call ourselves believers in Jesus Christ then we know God’s superpowers called the “Holy Spirit” still lives within us.

“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Sleepless In South Carolina

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I’ve only had 2 hours sleep over the past 36 Hours. My legs are vibrating and my body just weary. I’ve not gone this long with this little sleep in quite sometime. My body’s condition just can’t afford to go without the rest. However, despite meds that would usually guarantee rest, sleep just won’t come. It’s as if there is just too much current running through me veins and it’s keeping my internal clock in four wheel drive.

I’m spent so many hours in a hot tub that I should be a prune by now. It’s still my guaranteed go to for instant relief. My stimulator is just not covering my nerve pain like it had been. And any time it’s not I can expect pain in my lower back and itching nerve sensations running from my hands through my feet.

Sitting here in this tub I’m realizing God is developing one thing I rarely had before called patience. I’m actually surprised at myself as I’ve learned to not just watch a time clock, but instead live each moment. Going wild changes nothing for me. I’ve actually tried that approach many times. However, waiting on God means I’m choosing to not run ahead or lag behind of what God presently wants in my life. Yes, it’s still painful but in God’s hands still purposeful. God is teaching me to trust in His timing, seize each moment, and not be afraid to wait on Him to always delivers things in His perfect timing.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

Pastor Craig Crosby

One More Brutal Night

 

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It’s 3am and I may or may not get even an ounce of sleep all night. I can promise you it won’t happen unless I really load up on extra medication to knock myself out. These moments are all too familiar. Nerve pain has my entire body in a fix. In so many ways absolutely nothing has changed in 2 1/2 years.

These times are so hard to swallow when you know how hard you’ve worked towards recovery. I’ve not just waited around for my miracle or ignored what doctors have told me. It’s been a morning, day and night grind everyday. I’ve gotten several pain shots with no results. I’ve gone to countless physical therapy sessions only to have to stop due to inflammation. I’ve tried a Rhizotomy trial with zero results. I’ve had 3 surgeries and a stimulator implanted with little to show for any of it. I’ve walked a couple hundred miles literally trying to keep my body from folding. However, even in my most depressed moments I’ve never given up faith.

There is no denying that it’s a miserable way to live. I’m so tired of fighting with it and still feeling like I’m just running in place. I still can’t believe I actually have to take 4 times the amount of nerve pain meds than I was taking before my first major surgery. To say it’s a thorn in my flesh is an understatement. It’s literally turned my entire life upside down. There is nothing it doesn’t affect. There is never a point when I’m conscious that I’m not feeling bad. Technically I’m already considered disabled in doctor’s eyes.

I’ve prayed and I’ve prayed. And, I plan to keep on praying for my miracle. But, in the meantime I have to embrace the present reality. If most walked one day in my nerve damaged skin they would wonder how in the world I’m even able to get out of bed. Why am I not drowning in the pit of depression. The only answer I could give them is “But, by the grace of God go I.”

Seriously, one of the reasons I’ve not gone totally crazy is because God has led me to be very honest about my condition. I’m not complaining right now, I’m simply confessing that the struggle is way beyond what I can put into words. And, for reasons I don’t have to understand God continues to allow this condition to serve His greater purpose.

Fortunately, I know that this short life is not about me. So, I rarely ever ask God to just fix me. I do ask Him to continue holding me together as He accomplishes His will. I desperately need Him to carry me forward and keep fueling my faith. I don’t like any of this process, but I don’t believe any of it takes God by surprise. If you’re reading this and suffering constantly know that I understand. And even better than that God understands. He will make a way for you and for me.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Confessions Of A Broken Pastor

Man Praying
I’ve known for a long time that God has placed a huge call on my life. I’ve always tried with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength to carry out God’s will. Honestly, I think I’m just really learning how to get out of God’s way and allow Him to have His way in my life. This revelation didn’t happen by accident, but by God purposely allowing me to become broken.
Every morning it’s just hard to even get out of bed. And, once I do get up my daily medications make me quickly want to lay back down. Every step in my life right now is difficult, painful, and an uphill climb. Even still I believe God is using me more now than before. While all I can really do is prepare to preach each Sunday I’m finding great joy in encouraging and equipping others for God’s work. I really believe that’s what God wanted me to be doing all along. But, it took me 25 years of ministry and total brokenness to embrace this approach. Bottom line is I had to decrease and Christ needed to increase.
 I honestly have no idea what the future holds for my health. But, I do know who holds the future and I trust Him with every step in front of me. I’ve learned the best thing I can do is just free fall into the arms of Jesus. Somehow, He keeps picking me up and carrying me further than I can carry myself. Many look at me and think I’m such a rock, but the truth is I’m just holding on to the rock of ages. So, while I am broken, bruised, limping, and crawling forward. I do so in full faith that God has a plan regardless of my list of uncertainties about today or tomorrow.
 “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.(Isaiah 26:4)

Turn Your Stimulator Off

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

Its noon and I’ve not even gotten out my bed yet. Both my legs are buzzing like crazy as if they are hooked to some electrical machine. I guess that’s because they actually are impacted by my spinal cord stimulator that sends pulses all throughout my body’s nervous system. I have what they call 5 paddles connected to the lead wire they implanted down my spine. This gives me the widest coverage available today. Between that and the fact I have the newest technology this device can touch anywhere in my body from middle of my back, my ribs, and down through both feet.

While it may at best only give me 15-20 percent relief it makes a major difference. It’s like someone who needs a low level of oxygen. When it’s taken from you it’s hard to breathe without it. The stimulator along with my meds usually keeps my nerve pain from running wild and that keeps me from going crazy. Because when my nerve pain reaches its higher level it literally shuts me down. Before I ever got a clear diagnosis of my severe permanent nerve pain I really did think I was going crazy. I thank God daily for the meds even if they keep me foggy. And I thank God for my stimulator even though it’s not a miracle maker.

Anyway, my stimulator representative just told me to turn off my stimulator for 4 hours. It seems that after a while awhile of this device constantly running your body gets over stimulated. It begins to throw everything out of whack and discombobulates you. So, I’ve turned it off once again and I’m praying that God will keep my nerve pain under control until we get the unit back on track. Dealing with this stimulator is much like life. We must constantly make adjustments, but we must also realize the need for the power of God in our lives.

“With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”
(Ephesians 3:20)(NCV)

I Don’t Know

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I’ve been in the bed for 10 hours. However my Fitbit shows I’ve only slept 7 hours and I feel the truth of that revelation. I believe my greatest issue right now is my body (even medicated) is just not getting the rest I once did. I realize the reality of my health issues, but solid rest is critical to everything when your body is in this kind of connection.

After getting up only to take my morning meds my legs still feel the same as last night and the tingling continues. Taking another muscle relaxer now hoping I can sleep 3-4 more hours or longer. No doubt my body can feel every bit of this weather change. I even wore tights to bed like I did back when it snowed hoping it would protect me from my extreme sensitivity to any cooler temperature.

While I know life is full of “I don’t know” moments they are never fun. I don’t mind saying that about many things in life. But, this far into my health issues I would like to be having far less “I Don’t Know” moments. So here I go again when it comes to my nerve damage, leg pain, back pain, stimulator, surgeries, sleep issues, and future issues. I honestly “don’t know” what’s going on. But, I do trust the only One who does. And I’m doing everything I can while trusting God for everything I can’t.

“Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”
(Proverbs 3:5-6)(Amplified Bible)

Fresh As It Gets

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial

It’s 10pm and I’m lying on my side in my bed. Please let me describe how it feels during the moment of misery.

First, both legs just won’t stop tingling, vibrating and aching. It feels like ice water is literally pouring through my veins.

Secondly, my first major surgical sight still aches just as bad as it did prior to surgery. In fact, I would say my lower back hurts worse. Especially since it feels like steel daggers pushing into my L5 S area.

Thirdly, my brand new ginormous stimulator battery is always calling my name. Found out today that it’s actually at least 4 times the size of my previous battery. It hurts any way I turn or however I try to sleep.

Finally, outside of all that metal inside poking me I can hardly bear the sensitivity of my spine. Evidently it had all it could take before giving way yesterday. This is all just a glimpse of my struggle physically, but I’ve not even begun to share all the emotional and mental stress it brings me daily.

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

I Want Off This Hamster Wheel

Rat Race

Earlier a buddy of mine took me to Charleston to get my spinal cord stimulator adjusted for the first time since my surgery. I went straight from getting out of my bed ti getting in his truck. Anytime I take a trip like that It always come back exhausted. This time was certainly no exception.

Hours after my adjustment I could feel nonstop burning in both legs. I actually feel even more pain than usual in my lower back. I took all my nighttime meds early just hoping for some relief. Unfortunately a couple hours later relief is nowhere in sight.

I just flipped my stimulator settings back to what they were before today’s adjustment. Sometimes you’ve got to be quickly willing to go back to proven methods for results. No matter how hard you know there is no exact science to certain things. I’m nauseous, completely exhausted, and hoping my pain goes away soon.

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

 

It’s No Coincidence To Me

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I’m not sure most are aware, but my health issues over the past 30 months from a major slip and fall work injury has rocked my life in practically every way imaginable. Other than losing my wife or children practically everything has changed as a result of blow after blow. I’ve been knocked out of daily work the majority of the time. I’ve been in major discomfort practically everyday and night. My medications literally have quadrupled since my first of three surgeries back on May 5th, 2016.

With each med increase has come increased side effects that further limit my ability to think, concentrate, or handle much of anything. I rarely go anywhere besides Sunday morning church that doesn’t involve a doctor’s appointment, physical therapy or counseling. I’ve missed over 5 months away from preaching alone and even that is something evaluated on a weekly basis. I can no longer counsel, pastor, or visit folks like I did before. There is no activity you can even mention that I can easily attempt or enjoy. I spend 4-5 hours daily in a hot tub just for some relief.

II’ve missed so many key moments with my children and wife as my nerve pain keeps paralyzing my every move. My teenagers keep growing up and my time keeps standing still. Every medical procedure I’ve needed has been an absolute dog fight dealing with the Workman’s compensation system that interrogates you constantly.

We’ve not only had to move out of our local rental home we can’t get financing for a new home with my health and finances still so uncertain. We’ve had to rely heavily on family and friends to get us through each week. I’ve had to do anything possible to keep myself from full blown depression and to maintain a hopeful mindset. And, every time I think the nightmare is over I just keep getting knocked down to my knees.

In fact, even in the life of my church I’ve noticed something that just isn’t coincidence. Every time the ministry has made a significant move forward I’ve been taken down. I’ve practically delegated everything I can to others besides preaching. I’m trying my best to keep that one thing as it at least gets me out the bed one day a week and focused on something on helping others rather than my pain. My severe neuropathy prevents me from doing anything that requires critical thinking or crisis. Which was what most of my life use to revolve around.

Now, knowing you’re called to lead out a mission intended to reach countless throughout Colleton County and beyond already keeps you on your knees. But, during every significant break through season I’ve always been dealt another unforeseen blow. I know it’s no coincidence that the enemy keeps throwing his flaming arrows. Doctors keep telling me that my severe nerve pain is irreparable and that I’m headed for certain disability. All God keeps telling me to do is hold on and seek to maintain my faith.

You see, it’s when we become a true threat to the enemy that the defense rises up even more. When you’ve resolved in your heart that no matter what life throws your way you will seek God’s will. It’s then the enemy throws your way every trick in the book. He wants you to feel out of breath, helpless, and hopeless. Now, I can’t control all that goes on with my health or future disappointments. But, I can recognize that the enemy’s main objective is not just to discourage, depress, or detour me. But, ultimately he is set out to kill God’s every hope and dream for my life.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”
(1 Peter 5:8)

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)

 

From The Floor View

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Today I had a very humbling experience. I had just walked into Walterboro Family practice with my sick oldest son. Literally seconds after walking through the doors I knew I was in major trouble. On top of recovering from the 3rd recent surgery in my lower back the rest of my back totally gave out. I knew that I needed my son to help me gingerly lay down on the floor ASAP.

I had no idea that I would lay there the next 45 minutes looking like I converted the waiting room into my own personal living room. I quickly became the greeter to the many who walked through the door. Several said, “Oh hey Pastor Craig, How are doing?” While I thought that answer looked obvious I smiled and tried to explain.

Then, there were those who said, “Hey, you’re the guy that writes for the newspaper.” I said, “yes you can expect this week’s article to be called “From The Floor View.” You see, I was extremely humbled while laying there on that floor desperate for God’s help. However, I know there is never a valley that God plans to waste. And never a humble pie moment that God isn’t trying to get our full attention. I actually had my bible with me while on the floor. And, immediately when I opened it here were the two scriptures highlighted.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear….”
(Psalm 47:1-2a)

“Be still, and know that I am God.”
(Psalm 46:10)

There Will Be A Day

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Pain has had me up for hours early this morning. Physically I don’t feel well at all. In fact, it would be easier to tell you what’s not hurting on me. Pain is a hard thing to swallow or ignore. It’s also  a part of this life at all times.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical or emotional. Pain is never fun or something we welcome into our lives. In most cases we really don’t get a choice. If it were up to us sickness or sorrow would never exist. However, we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect moments full of pain.

God does use pain in many ways to shape us and strengthen us. In hindsight it’s actually something we must credit in helping take our faith and endurance to the next level. It helps us appreciate every great moment and look forward to the pain free life to come for those who die knowing Jesus Christ as their personal savior and lord. Until that day comes we have to believe that God has a purpose for every painful, tearful and sorrowful moment that one day will be no more.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Revelation 21:4

We Really Did “Spring Forward”

Changing The Way You Think

Today was the biggest step forward in the life of this church other than the day this mission got started. Over the next 2 months at least 20 new Care Groups will kickoff. All of these groups rallied around common ground and led by God called leaders. These groups will be the roots of our church body and the greatest arms of outreach. These groups will make the difference in us reaching hundreds versus thousands.

I’m sure you’re thinking “that can’t happen in Colleton County.” God’s simple response to the doubters is “Just Wait And See.” You will see people from every walk of life reached. You will see people all over met where they are with the amazing love of Jesus Christ.

These groups will minister to the multitudes that otherwise would never be reached. The lost, lonely, grieving, and often feeling forsaken will find the Care Group that is tailored made to minister to them and through them. As seen today whether a cancer survivor, animal lover, or a person feeling called to carry the gospel clear around the world. God is in the midst of assembling an army of leaders and soldiers to accomplish what will be an absolute God-made journey.

A few years from now you will remember a church that used to be a place of just 250 worshippers. Then, you will reflect with amazement over what God did past this Sunday. Every week from here on out you will observe many new missions and miracles. God is building a massive rescue mission that is serious about Loving, Lifting, & Leading people to Jesus. We will do anything possible short of sin to reach every soul we can. I’m seeing the official liftoff of a vision God gave me over 14 years ago. And, even greater something God is doing while I’m flat on my back. The best truly is yet to come!

“They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers. A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need. Day after day they met in the temple [area] continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.”
(Acts 2:42-47)(Amplified Bible)

Remember this date: 3/11/18

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Uncertain, But Certain

 

Anchor Of My Soul

I’ve been back in the tub for maybe an hour. Earlier before I ever even saw the light of day I spent another hour in here for relief before heading to church. I’m back to spending 4-5 hours a day in this pool of relief. My new battery is really hurting me. It literally feels like it’s pressed against  nothing but bone. Hoping and praying that with time it will become less and less painful.

This morning I drank just a little too much of my energy drink mix. By 9:30am I could feel my heart pounding. In fact, most of the day my heart rate ranged between 110-115 BPM. There were some times that it really scared me, but this was all my attempt to counter my medication and springing forward an hour. So, I will not repeat that dosage again.

Even still today has been a God made day. I love how God can use our greatest weaknesses to strengthen others. I’ve never been more confident that I’m exactly where God wants me to be doing all God called me to do. Do I enjoy the many long days of pain? NO. But, do I feel His absolute peace? YES.

Life is full of “This Doesn’t Make Sense” moments. However, even in those moments God has a plan. And, no matter where life finds us we’ve never been called to make sense of anything. We have been called to trust and obey God with everything.

“Trust in Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

900 Days And Counting

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Many of you reading this can relate to nearly every word I’m about to say. You know what it’s like to feel like your life drastically changed overnight. Whether something happened to you or someone you love dearly. Since that day or you got that news life has been full of daily pain. Sure, some days are better than others but all force your faith into four wheel drive. And, you just like me never saw it coming.

For me, it was over 900 days ago that I experienced a major slip and fall. That life changing event was first witnessed by one man and woman. The young lady in front of me simply said, “Chaplain I believe you just broke your back.” The senior citizen man behind me said, “you know Reverend if that happened to one of us it would have killed us.” Honestly, both were speaking more truth at the time than I realized.

As my doctor once said, “when you took that great fall the dam broke loose in your back.” It wasn’t long before nerve pain would start raging throughout my body. I’m talking there have been many times it’s flooded from my feet to my face. It’s shown it has the power to shut me down physically and emotionally any moment.

The tear in my L5 S1 disc was as big as it could be without causing paralyzation according to my doctor. For over 8 months prior to my first of three surgeries my doctor said it was like having “battery acid” constantly pouring into your body. While surgery repaired the dam the nerve damage has proved to be irreplaceable by man.

Every day is long, painful, and completely life altering. I do praise God that I can still walk, talk, and be around for my family. But, I’m not gonna lie there have been MANY days where my prayers have only been whispers. I’m just exhausted from the battle and still overwhelmed I’m still in this shape over 900 days later at just 43 years of age.

I do truly thank God for this painful bend in the road. It has transformed my relationship with God. It has increased my compassion and understanding towards other people’s pain. I don’t see it as just an accident, but something God is using for greater things. I’ve spent many days just laying on my side with tears rolling down my face. However, it’s been in those countless moments that God has spoken deeply to my heart.

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

It’s Like A Death Except

Depressed

It’s only been 30 straight months of dealing with uncontrollable nerve pain. I’ve gone through more medications in that time than many will see all their entire life. Everything has been a process of trial and error. I’ve tried surgery, a spinal cord stimulator, therapy, walking, pain shots, Rhizotomy, natural supplements, counseling, prescription medications, lots of prayer and I’m still in a dog fight. I’ve gone through all of those things only to be right back where I started.

Everyday I can either lay on my side with unbearable pain or I can keep myself loaded with medication. The latter helps me get through the day, but still leaves me missing so much. Especially when any really good meds leave me feeling under the influence. Either my head is spinning because of medication or I’m in absolute agony wishing I would have stayed on top of the pain.

It’s like a death except there is no closure. You long to have just one great day of health. You hope one day you are miraculously healed. It affects your relationship with your spouse, children and really anyone who really knew you before your world turned upside down. But, there is just one thing that keeps you going when you feel like you’ve been staying in a hospital bed forever. You have to keep believing that God has a purpose for everything He has orchestrated or allowed in your life. Jesus I believe in Your plans for me!

“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

God, I Need Your Mercy

Walking Towards the Crsso

Most have no clue what it’s like to start everyday off miserable before you ever step out of the bed. Chronic pain and certainly nerve pain is so difficult to predict. It’s been cranking back up within me since 3:25am and I know for certain my spinal stimulator is presently hardly touching things.

Thank God it finally reached 7am and time for my morning days. I’m still waiting on any kind of relief. On ice and literally my last nerve right at the moment. I hate this feeling so much. Gonna have to take a Valium as well before this takes me totally off the edge.

The moment I think I’m headed towards possible normal moments my present reality rears it’s head like a terrible nightmare. Father God, I ask You once again for Your mercy and grace that have never failed me before. I can’t live without it and Your constant love!

Written later in the day. It’s now 1:40pm and I’m just waking up from my meds that did give me some rest and some relief. I don’t feel great, but much better than earlier. God always comes through and answers prayers!

“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

Please, Can I Get A Hot Tub?

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I would give anything to take a hot bath. It’s always been one of my biggest pain relievers. To go from hours a day in a hot tub to zero minutes is hard to swallow. It’s been 8 days since my recent surgery and I’m supposed to wait 14 days before soaking in any hot water. It feels like a forever wait right now.

This new larger stimulator battery hurts so bad. It feels like I have a softball stuck in my back that needs to come out. Also, I’ve had to turn down my stimulator battery due to my legs vibrating so much and my heart rate increasing. My nerve pain is not being covered very well. When you’re in constant discomfort it’s so hard to wait on anything. Especially, when you know something could give you instant momentary relief.

I believe this very issue is what compels so many in deep pain to take certain drugs or alcohol. They just want the pain to go away. So, they reach for the quickest relief possible. They know it’s just gonna numb the pain for the moment, but they are just so tired of hurting. I do know it’s in my best interest to wait. I need the root of my pain healed. Anything else is just momentarily numbing the symptoms.

“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31)

 

Sent from my iPod

Jesus I Still Believe, BUT

 

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I Keep This Sample Stimulator Battery By My Bedside.

It’s 9:30 pm on a Tuesday night as I begin writing these God led words. Here I am again, lying on my side waiting on the beyond agonizing pain to settle down. It always feels like someone unexpectedly jumped me from behind and started beating me head to toe. I finally had to take a Valium on top of my other meds in hopes of calming myself down. This, after seeing another amazing God-made day even in the midst of being home bound and constantly in discomfort.

In these moments so much goes through your mind. You wonder if it will always be this way. You wonder if you can even still function with such severe pain and constant full body breakdowns. These are moments you can’t ever predict, but always know are possibilities. The longer they go on the more satan seeks to get into your head. Thank God, my sleepy meds are taking me out for the night that I could not bear otherwise. To be continued…

It’s now 5am Wednesday morning and my extreme pain has played my alarm clock once again. I’m back on ice and living on a prayer like Bon Jovi and Jesus highly suggested. Fortunately, I know my God is able to always calm His child. I know God can work despite my condition and even through my condition. None of what I’m going through takes my loving Heavenly Father by surprise. He saw these days coming way before I was ever born. I still believe in His faithfulness, grace, miracle power and amazing plans. Despite the hellacious moments, God brings me constant hope. Jesus, I still believe in you for everything I need and more, but I need you to help me through my periodic unbelief moments.

“Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I do believe; but help my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:23-24)

 

My Faith Has Outgrown My Pain

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I couldn’t have said these words so confidently before. Not in the midst of feeling this bad and really mean them. It’s 5 am and my body hurts so bad. I mean just throbbing with nauseous pain. My recent surgical incision feels on fire. I’m getting so tired of icing. My poor wife cares so much about making sure I can rest anytime I can she has fallen asleep way too many times on the living room couch.

My faith has truly grown so much in the past 48 hours alone that even feeling this terrible I feel so anchored and confident in God! That doesn’t mean I’m not gonna take my pain pills because that would be called stupid. God provides certain things like medicines and doctors to help us along the way. He also wants to show us along life’s way that He alone is all we need.

God, I know You are with me and for me. I know You are carrying me through this purposeful, painful valley for my good and for Your glory. Thanks for waking me up again and being such an awesome God. I believe in You and I will trust You this day! Before these were just words, but now they are proven truth in my own life.

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

 

DON’T EVER FORGET: A GOD-MADE DAY

Victory In The Cross

“Oh Victory In Jesus, My Savior Forever. He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood!”

Today is a day I will never forget. In fact, to do so would be a total slap in God’s face. I’m laying here once again with my legs killing me and nerve pain running wild throughout my lower body. However, I can actually smile through the pain. Not a fake smile, but a real liberating knowing God has a plan smile.

I’ve been in ministry for 25 years. I’ve been closer to having to call it quits due to my physical health for over two years. Any little thing I do or say takes all I have to offer. I’ve finally embraced my new humble position. I spend more time in prayer and God’s Word than ever before. I still pray for a miracle healing of my body. But, mainly I’ve prayed desperately that my lack of ability would not hinder the work God called me to do years ago.

The church I pastor in my eyes has seemed at a stand still for the past few years due to my health. Worship services are full of people every Sunday, but nowhere close to the huge vision God gave me. All that God changed today will make the difference in thousands of lives. While flat on my back today God has raised up an army.

Seemingly overnight Refuge Church is moving from just a place of worship to an outreaching machine. We will soon have countless Care Groups all rallied around common ground, struggles, and interest. There will be groups to encourage the grieved, addicted, heartbroken, pet lovers, golfers, sports fanatics, fishermen, bible hungry, prayer warriors, lonely, depressed, battling cancer, special needs, mental illness, single mothers, fighting chronic pain, and those just needing a friend in their season of life. Refuge is a place for anyone who truly wants God to use them to set the world on fire for Jesus.

For many this will just be another article written. But, for me it’s a huge reminder that God can do anything even without me. Literally fifteen new groups led by God called, passionate leaders will start in less than two months. And, years from now people will be flocking to Colleton County to observe this God led mission called Refuge Church. We will reach over a thousand active worshippers and one day have over one hundred different care groups all over. Then, we will trust God once again to do the impossible above and beyond what we can fathom. God literally did things today I have had vision of Him doing 14 years ago. I give Him all the glory! Many will soon say only God could do such a work.

“Some plant, some water, but God brings the growth.”
(1 Corinthians 3:6)

My Sickest Blessed Day

Yesterday was one of the sickest blessed days of my life. It was a Sunday and only five days after my recent surgery. The big incision in my lower back was still throbbing. I had literally been up the entire morning due to much pain and nausea. But, I knew God was telling me to go and preach. Therefore, whether I stood or sat I planned to preach. I knew deep down the message God gave me could speak for itself.

I arrived later than I ever had before. Still nauseous and with an incision beyond flared up from my first time driving. By the grace of God, I got through the first service without crying too much or collapsing. I could tell without a doubt God had everyone’s attention including mine.

I fought really hard to make it to the church office in between the two morning worship services to catch my breath. I just did make it before literally collapsing to the floor. No, I didn’t fall, but I knew I wouldn’t be getting back up by myself. Literally my entire back was overtaken by muscle spasms. My neuropathy was shutting me down and all I could do was lay there crying uncontrollably. Praise God for two dear friends who pressed on my spasm points and held ice on my back for the next 30 minutes. They literally were the hands and comfort of Jesus. Later, they helped me back to my feet just in time for the next service.

Honestly, I felt better not just because of the ice but from crying out some of the pain. I knew once again that I had to totally free fall into the arms of Jesus. I felt like all I did was get up and then God showed up. I could feel God carrying me. I could see God at work all throughout the congregation. I felt God’s power more ever in 25 years of ministry.

While full of pain and weakness it was one of my best birthdays ever. It was a day I will always remember that God carried me when clearly I couldn’t carry on. It was one of my sickest most blessed days ever. For God reminded me that He is faithful and will always bless our faithfulness.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity.” Psalm 18:25

Here was the message that “God Preached” that morning. I just showed up! It’s called “More Than Words.”

Inside The Mind Of A Preacher

Man Praying

It’s Saturday night and I’m seeking to prepare myself for bed. I’ve taken all my nighttime meds that should take me out shortly. If I was not a Pastor I probably wouldn’t be heading out anywhere tomorrow. But, I feel a strong call to preach God’s word even though I’m still pretty weak from recent surgery.

But, please don’t think I’m trying to be a hero. I just feel very passionate about pointing every soul I can to the true hero my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m finding I do that best when in the midst of my greatest weakness others are able to see my God’s great strength.

So, whether I’m standing or sitting to preach my prayer is the same. I pray God will get me out of His way. I pray that God’s Love, grace, and truth might pour through my veins. I pray that every soul in attendance is touched in some way by the spirit of God and the never changing Word of God. I really believe this is the prayer of many God called pastors everywhere.

“And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.”
2 Timothy 1:11

Dear Unchurched Friend

Death To Life
I feel led to share just a few words with you. Nothing that I will say will be from a condemning or judging attitude. In fact, I know plenty of people who go to to church that act worse than most outside of the church. But, this has nothing to do with comparing anyone or even beginning another unnecessary argument. Every word I’m about to share comes from my heart for you and what you might not realize you’re missing. 
Everyone reading this falls into one of the following categories. One, you make up the 25 percent of society that actively attends church. Two, you make up the majority of people who don’t go to church regularly, but you do find your way there on special occasions such as Easter, Christmas, weddings, or funerals. Then, there are many who just don’t believe in Jesus and therefore see absolutely no value in his church. It doesn’t matter why you do or do not go you fall into one of those three categories. 

In a world that is full of constant chaos, I believe it’s critical we all find a church home. Not because going to church makes you a believer or better than anyone else. But, because it’s a proven fact that we need each other. We desperately need to find ways to come together as satan is constantly trying to pull us apart. Why? Because he knows that we’re stronger together and way more vulnerable as lone rangers. 

We also need to be encouraged together through Christ centered worship. Yes, I know you can listen to or watch sermons from your home any time. But, none of that will match the powerful encouragement that happens when believers are gathered together in Jesus name for corporate worship. You need it. Your marriage needs it. Your children need it. Honestly, I need it. 

Now, maybe you’re like many you’ve just had a lot of bad church experiences. Actually, I bet I’ve had more bad church experiences than you. Maybe you’ve actually had no church experiences at all.  Regardless, you need to know that God created the church not man. It was His idea that we come together for mutual encouragement in Christ. It was His idea that we look past one another’s imperfections and put our total faith in Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time that you consider what you might be missing by not being actively involved in a local church? At the end of the day I know you have the right to make your own decisions. But, I’m telling you that the day you find a church like the one I personally pastor you’re going to thank me for taking the time to write this note for you. 
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:25
Craig Crosby is senior pastor of Refuge Church of Walterboro, SC. A place you can always come as you are, but you will never leave the same. Go to http://www.RefugeChurch.org for more information. 

My Heart Is Crying

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I’ve been loaded with medicine for hours that should have calmed the storm by now. I feel like I’ve been this way forever. My body feels like it’s been kicked relentlessly from head to toe. Saying the pain is miserable is an understatement. I’m laying on my side aching, reading scripture, praying, and listening to select music to calm my soul.

No, I’m not sitting around asking God ,”Why?” I am asking God, “What?” What does he want me to learn, see or do differently? What is he needing to remove from my life? What is He preparing me for in the future? I know He knows why and I know He knows what He has planned.

So, I’m not wrestling with His will. I am struggling with myself. I’m so tired of fighting and hurting. Everything within me longs for some relief. I actually think my heart is crying inside. It’s begging for instant calmness and a cure for this madness. However, you can’t have it all. God is heavily at work it’s just painful. It’s natural to desire that your life fall back into order. But, I’ve seen it for far too long not to know this truth. God does His greatest work in the midst of our greatest pain.

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

Please Stop This Merry Go Round

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It’s only been 2 1/2 hours since I last posted how much better I felt. And, in my mind and heart I still believe it. But, the pain has actually intensified over the past two hours. Yes, I realize I’m only 2 1/2 days into my recovery from surgery. But, it’s amazing to me how quickly things can change.

First of all, both hips are beyond sore from laying on my sides. I can’t even put the slightest bit of pressure on my left side. However, because of the new battery implant on my right side I can’t just lay flat on my back or easily on my right side. It can be so frustrating when you’re dealing with something you can’t ever figure out. Don’t forget the fact that my usual nerve pain issues are easily flared up.

I’ve slept most of the day. Now, I’ve been back in the bed since 7pm. Not being able to take true breakthrough pain meds due to side effects has led to many miserable nights. I have taken some meds that should at least ease something and for sure help me sleep. I would give anything for someone to stop this merry go round. But, I’ve just got to hold on and remember who is holding on to me.

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.”
Psalm 73:23

Just Wait

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My temporary trials continue to compel me to my knees. This is not a time to give up, but instead press in closer than ever to my loving Heavenly Father. So much is coming together while so much is falling apart. My private prayer life and personal bible study time are at an all time high. Not because I’m super spiritual, but because I realize more than ever my extreme dependence upon an almighty God.

Typically the anesthesia they give me prior to surgery lingers in my body for a day or two. Well I can promise you it has officially and totally gone away. My discomfort level tonight has definitely risen around my incision. Besides reopening a big incision they put a much larger battery implant 4cm deeper into my body. While later I’m sure it will be great right now it feels like things have been ripped open and more metal stuffed into my body.

Try dealing with this with no breakthrough pain meds because you’re highly allergic to anything with codeine. Rotating ibuprofen and Tylenol just don’t cut it. I’ve said many times that it’s a blessing and a curse to have the allergies I do to most narcotics. It’s only by the grace of God that I’ve not become hooked on some strong substance during this journey.

As I lay here on my side once again on ice I just keep hearing the words “Just Wait.” A time is coming that you will be restored. A time is coming that this will all be worth the momentary life disruption. Just wait my child and you will see that this is accomplishing so much for the glory of God. Just wait and your faith and strength will be renewed to levels greater than you can imagine. So, I will continue to wait on the Lord and know God is working more than I can ever fathom even through the pain.

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

My Bend In The Road

A scenic bend in the road leading past Buena Vista

It’s my first time back on social media after having another back related surgery Tuesday morning. It was an emotional day from start to finish. I knew going into things that my body was on the verge of its breaking point. even if nothing else was added. However, I knew a third surgery in just 21 months would be quite a test.

By the way, everything went well in replacing my spinal cord stimulator battery with a bigger, more deeply placed non-rechargeable one. I was encouraged to hear that this battery will not have to be replaced for another 5-7 years versus 2-3 years as previously told. Just that little bit of good news really lifted my spirit. However, the outward swelling the size of a softball on my lower back has definitely added to my ongoing pain. I’m laying on my side right now typing this message on my phone while icing the surgical area for the one billionth time.

Once my head cleared even a little there was no better time to start reading Dr David Jeremiah’s book “When Your World Falls Apart.” It’s about “Seeing Past the Pain of the Present.” After just the first few pages alone I knew this book was for me. I can relate to almost every struggling, hopeful word spoken. And while God has been strengthening the inner man within me daily I needed to be encouraged through another fellow pastor who has found hope even through his greatest crossroads in life. Dr. David Jeremiah shares the following powerful, heartfelt, and now experienced words.

“Sometimes we come to life’s crossroads and we view what we think is the end. But God has a much wider vision and He knows it’s only a bend.
The road will go on and get smoother.
And after we’ve stopped for a rest,
the path that lies hidden behind us is often the path that is best. So rest and relax and grow stronger. Let go and let God share your load. And have faith in a brighter tomorrow. You’ve just come to a bend in the road.”

Choose To Rejoice

Bionic Pastor Pre Surgery

GOD HAS PUT IT HEAVY ON MY HEART that this week I need to limit my focus on my pain. Yes, it’s still there and a lot more is coming when I have more surgery this week. BUT, I find that when I’m totally fixated on nothing but my pain satan has me right where he wants me. It’s then he tries to go ahead and put me in a choke hold just hoping he can finish me off.

This week I’m going to look for the praiseworthy as much as possible. I’m going to remember what God is doing instead of just where I desperately wish things would change. I’m going to keep praying about everything while praising God for everything. It’s not always about how you feel, but choosing to praise God even through the storm. Trusting that God is at work totally rebuilding you stronger than ever, not just allowing you to totally fall apart.

I’m encouraging you my friends DON”T LET THE DEVIL STEAL YOUR JOY. Choose to recognize the blessings and keep giving God your burdens. There will always be life disappointments, but God will never disappoint. His goodness or greatness are not dependent upon your circumstances. Even when you’re having the worst day God is still with you. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

God Uses Brokenness

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For sometime now I’ve felt like I’m stuck in a bad dream. Or that I was in some bad car wreck that I can’t remember. Whatever the case, I’ve never felt more broken in my life. Literally my entire life has been changed from just one major slip and fall. I feel like I’ve been broken down on the side of the road bleeding to death for years.

However, I’m beginning to see that brokenness is a universal language. While it comes in many different forms it all produces similar feelings. You feel so helpless and the hurting seems to have no end. Once you’ve experienced true brokenness you can recognize it much easier. In fact, in many ways it creates a brotherhood with others who feel their lives were suddenly turn upside down.

There is no doubt that God uses brokenness. He uses it to get us where He needs us to be. He uses it to increase our compassion towards others facing it. And, He uses it as a bridge of opportunity to connect with others in a way otherwise impossible.He even uses it to increase His closeness with Him. While we might hate the painful process we can’t deny the obvious platform brokenness creates for God’s goodness and grace to be revealed.

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”
(Psalm 51:16-17)(The Message)

Real & Raw Take 2000

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I literally feel like a fish out of water. My breathing gets more laboring by the second. I’m laying on my side constantly praying for relief. I honestly wonder how much more I can take. It hurts even thinking about it. Not to mention going through it.

I don’t have any explanation for how I’ve made it this far except by the grace of God. Daily I feel I’m one step away from a total nervous breakdown. I can’t think about the week or the day ahead. I’ve just got to take things by the next minute or hour. It’s like I’m in a jail cell full of pain and anxiety.

It’s getting harder and harder. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear. But, it’s where I am and I’m desperate for your continued prayers. My faith is being tested beyond its borders. My strength has long been gone as I’m just running totally on Jesus fuel. I know I will make it through I just don’t have the answers or strength myself.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.”
Psalm 6:2-4

Critical Thinking Paralysis

Depressed

It’s something I’ve done for years. In fact, I’ve helped well over a thousand plus process critical situations. It was a gift from God to be able to encourage and help others discern God’s best in some of life’s toughest moments. But, my present limitations just keep shutting me down. I mean that statement in a very literal way.

It always seems to catch me off guard. I can be talking to a family member, friend, or stranger. Then, boom my entire nervous system is rocked due to critical thinking. Practically any conversation that involves the slightest bit of stress or concern for something or someone can melt me in seconds internally. My body vibrates and aches within. I feel faint and all I can think is I need a Valium real quick.

I hate it so much because I know it makes no sense to others. However, it’s a reality that affects every aspect of my life. Even trying to prepare a Sunday sermon takes every ounce of energy and focus I can muster. What used to not be a challenge is now completely overwhelming. I ask God by the minute to help me deal with what feels like a form of mental and physical paralysis. Never more than now have I had to rely totally on God’s strength in the midst of my incredible weakness.

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

A Million Bucks Short

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As I write this I’m just tired! Not for sleep, but from physically hurting so long. The roughest moments get harder every time. Especially after I experience just a little momentary relief. Then, my pain comes running back with such a vengeance. You would think someone was unplugging and then plugging  me into an electrical outlet.

I’ve only been home from my earlier doctor’s appointment maybe 6 hours. I’ve spent five out of those 6 in the tub just hoping for things to ease off. It sucks the life right out of me and takes away my ability to enjoy anything. My lower back feels like I’ve been kicked repeatedly or been in a very bad car accident. My hands, legs, and feet are lit up as usual with that same familiar nerve pain. It even occasionally runs into my face.

I do believe I would be willing to sign up for a million dollar loan if I knew money could fix me. However, I know I’m dealing with something only One can fix. And, don’t think for a moment I’ve lost faith in my unlimited God. In fact, apart from that faith I would have long ago gotten high on anything that might temporarily take away the pain. But, that’s not the answer and I know it. The answer is Prayer, Prayer, Prayer and then more Prayer. There are a few things money can buy, but for everything else there is prayer!

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

 

I Surrender

White Flag

For reasons only God knows my body and mind remain under attack. This coming week I will have my back operated on for the third time in just twenty one months. I may not have any tattoos, but I’m building up a pretty good scar collection. I used to joke all the time that I may not have given birth, but according to my scars I’ve already had an A, B, C, D and E-section.

Unfortunately, it was discovered recently that my spinal cord stimulator battery I had implanted just seven months ago is not fully MRI friendly. So, scar section E will have to be reopened years before I expected and replaced with a new battery. The present battery has a life span of 7 to 10 years before replacement. But, the MRI friendly battery taking it’s place only last 2 to 3 years before another surgery replacement. The new battery is significantly larger than the present battery. Therefore, not only will they have to open an incision that took months to heal. They will have to cut me even more to make room for this larger battery. All this by the way is not my fault. I was told the battery I first had implanted was completely MRI friendly.

However, I have to say that each surgery has prepared me to better handle the next. My first major surgery was by far the worst. Then, the second one was bad, but it seemed nothing like the first. And, now while I don’t look forward to more incisions I feel stronger than ever going into this next surgery. Just because I don’t like the trials doesn’t mean God is not using each trial. He is building my endurance. He is elevating my faith. And, He is preparing me for other trials to come that hopefully don’t involve surgeons. It’s just the way God works and in the process makes us stronger.

“ 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

My EGO Had To Go

Walking Towards the Crsso

This process didn’t start overnight in my life. Day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute God has been removing my ego. EGO stands for Edging God Out. I had no idea how much I was actually standing in God’s way. I especially didn’t realize how much I was relying on myself instead of Him. I’ve always preached that you’ve got to decrease and He must increase, but now I’m having to live out that sermon. 

One by one the things that used to prop up my life are being removed. As my strength keeps fading the more I have to rely fully on God’s strength alone. What I used to be able to do for others I’m now having to totally put in the arms of Jesus. How I approached life in the past has been totally rearranged. God has torn down the self-reliant man I use to be and is teaching me to fully rely on Him. On one hand it’s completely liberating and on the other it’s somewhere I’ve never been before. 

I wake up daily trying to reach back to how things used to be. However, God has removed those crutches and ego driven ways. I’m well aware that my every breath depends on God breathing into me. It’s no longer just lyrics to a song to say “I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.” I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know fully it’s not about me feeling in control. From here on out God will receive all the glory for anything and everything good in my life. 

“If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.” (2 Corinthians 11:30-31)

I Want To Be Like Him

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Today, at the age of 99 one of the greatest ambassadors of Christ passed away. I’ve never met the man in my life. However, I know he impacted many lives including mine. People were drawn to his crusades all over the world. Even on replay television Billy Graham led countless souls to Jesus. I readily admit that I want to be like him for the rest of my life.

Please let me clarify just what I mean. I’m not saying he was a perfect man. He would quickly tell you himself that only one perfect man ever walked this earth and his name was Jesus. He would then boldly tell you just how much God showed his love for you when He sent His only son Jesus to die on a cross for your sins. Then he would extend a personal invitation to you from God to admit your sin. Believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins and the promise of eternal life. Then, to publicly declare that Jesus is now Lord of your life. You see, he knew he was just a vessel letting God speak through him.

Here are a few of my favorite Billy Graham quotes. “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.” “God proved his love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’” Suppose you could gain everything in the whole world, and lost your soul. Was it worth it?”

Rev. Billy Graham knew this world was not his home. He said, ““My home is in Heaven I’m just traveling through this world.” Therefore, he spent his life doing all he could, while he could to help men, women, boys, and girls find their way to Heaven. He knew apart from Jesus we’re all destined for Hell.

So for the rest of my life I’ve asked God to help me never get used to men, women, boys, and girls dying and going to Hell. Help me God to do all I can, while I can to be a vessel You use to make an eternal difference in countless souls. Rest in peace Rev. Billy Graham.

Thank God For Hot Tubs & Hardships

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I spend hours per day in a hot tub. Somehow the hot water soothes my crawling skin and eases my aching back. I would venture to say that 80 percent of anything I’ve ever written on this faith walking journey has been under the influence of hot water. Maybe it’s God’s venue for allowing me to share with you.

I still remember thinking when I first started this page, Craig why are you doing this? Don’t you know your journey of pain is almost over? The Lord blessed my efforts despite my ignorance. How often do we hope something is almost over only to realize later it’s only just begun.

I must say that I’m truly thankful even while greatly disturbed. Before, I thought I understood difficulty and pain. Before, I thought I had extreme compassion for those around me struggling. Now, thanks to this journey I now have extreme compassion towards others who face hardships of many kinds. And, I sincerely understand what it means for your entire life to be disrupted by one major life event. Therefore, I thank God for the fall that helps me see brokenness at the ground level.

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
2 Corinthians 1:4

I Apologize For Wallowing

Wallowing PigsI readily admit that when severe pain grips you it’s very hard to see beyond it. However, over time I’ve learned the difference between wallowing in your pain versus working through it. First, let me apologize for allowing Satan to take me down the wallowing lane recently. The past few days have been very tough. But, the way I’ve processed that toughness has not been healthy. Let me explain the difference between wallowing and working through things. 

Wallowing by definition means to roll oneself about in a lazy, relaxed, or ungainly manner. What I’ve chosen to do the last few days is to just soak in my pain. I’ve allowed it to control my every thought, mood, and action. My wallowing has fixed nothing, but it has been producing a defeated mindset. It wouldn’t have taken a lot more wallowing to have totally stolen my joy and recovery momentum. Without me even realizing it my wallowing was slowly drowning me in my own self pity. 

Now, to work through your pain is completely different. Yes, you’ve got to process and confess at times what’s really happening inside. But, you also need to be careful that you don’t let your pain paralyze you. You have to take intentional steps towards dealing with things in a positive fashion. You can’t just lay there and let your praying knees get lazy. You’ve got to keep doing things that allow you to work through your pain towards positive progress. 

Today, by far was one of my worst days in quite awhile. I felt like I was drowning in my pain and that I couldn’t do anything about it. Then, God opened my eyes and led to me to get out of my wallowing cycle. I knew I needed to get out of the house and do some kind of exercise. Almost six days had passed since I last went for some pool therapy. So, even while I still felt terrible I packed my bathing suit and headed for the pool. Just as I expected, it moved me once again from wallowing in my pain back to working through my pain. Mentally, I feel completely different and physically I know I just took another step in the right direction. Thank you Jesus for continuing your work despite my recent wallowing.

“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

Life In The Desert

Footprints In The DesertIt’s as if my body has an internal alarm clock set to ignite the flames within. Then, I know what’s about to start shooting through my veins like poisonous venom. As each minute and hour passes it’s like having a constantly flowing IV slowly sucking the very life out of me. Underneath my skin is crawling with nerve pain that makes every part of my body miserable. It typically starts in my hands and feet then flow through my legs and ultimately into my face. Unfortunately, this is where it already stands right now.

I do everything I can to stop it and not focus on it. But, it’s like asking someone to ignore the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. You can’t ignore how it makes you feel. All you can do is try to momentarily numb the pain or let the misery escalate until you’re desperate for relief. I pretty much choose the latter option daily because apart from something that totally knocks me out all the time nothing is going to change. As each day passes I think to myself, How much more can I really take before I have to turn to something really extreme?

Therefore, here I sit like someone whose been lying in the driest desert for ages desperate for a drop of water. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow. I don’t know how I will handle the next hour, but I’m trusting God to once again handle things for me. Someone reading this right now knows exactly what I’m talking about. Whether it be from absolute physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion. You don’t know how everything is going to work out. However, you’ve seen time and time again that God always works things out. And, that’s all you need to remember to walk that next step by faith.

Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.”  (Psalm 143)

I’ve Cried A River

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One more night my body has physically and emotionally let me down. The flood gates of tears has once again been released. Sometimes it’s just pure grief, but it’s almost always a direct result of my nerve pain breaking down every part of me. I wish I could control my emotions. I wish I could cry once and get it all out. However, tears are usually not something we can directly control.

I did have a great visit with my counselor earlier today. We talked about God’s goodness throughout my journey of suffering. How obvious it’s been that God has never left my side or family. How much glory God keeps getting as my trials continue. Honestly, I celebrate daily what God is doing in me, through me and for me. Even with great heartache I’ve always found many reasons to smile.

Nights are usually the worse because I just can’t hold it in any longer. Everyday reveals one more limitation my health has created. Combine my new griefs with my exhausting journey and it creates a river of tears. While it does make me feel like a baby I know each tear brings a level of healing. In fact, I believe God created every tear to cleanse our heart and soul. To keep things from building up and holding us back. Fortunately, tears are temporary as there will be no more tears in Heaven.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4

 

 

I’m No Longer That Guy

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I used to be someone you could call on anytime and any place in life. I would drop what I was doing. I would listen with full compassion. I would discern your greatest needs with the help from God above. And, I would always provide a ministry of presence when necessary for your comfort through the deepest, darkest moments of your life.

While I hate to admit it I’m no longer able to fully be that guy. Nerve pain for me is like kryptonite to Superman draining all my once had special powers. Don’t get me wrong I realize anything I once could do was because of Jesus’ super powers. But, I’ve been that kind of minister for so long it’s like grieving a death. Honestly, my heartache is not for me, but all the people I care deeply about in this life.

I used to be able to visit as many as 25-30 people per week that were in crisis. I’ve preached three funerals in a week before a few times. I used to spend all night if necessary just helping someone find peace with Jesus. But, now the slightest crisis or conversation almost shuts me mentally and physically down. Nerve pain literally surges through every part of my body with just the thought of these things.

I’ve done more in a week over two plus years ago than I’ve ever done in the past two years combined. It’s hard to accept your new normal, but at some point you have to accept the cold hard truth. I’m learning, I’m grieving, I’m trying, and I’m doing all I can to trust Jesus through it all. Everything has a season and I know He knows best.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 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 3:1-11

Take My Life Lord

Jesus on the cross

Today was my first Sunday back preaching in twenty one days. I knew it would be an emotional return. Not just because it takes my whole heart, but I knew my nerve pain would be totally unpredictable. Of course, the night I needed rest the most was nothing short of a nightmare. But, I anticipated satan would do anything he could to cripple me further.

This morning I basically drank the equivalent of six cups of coffee just to break the haze my morning meds produce. Even still I couldn’t mask the internal chaos going on inside of me. Honestly, it’s never easy to uncontrollably sob in front of volumes of people. But, I couldn’t let that vulnerability keep me from teaching God’s word. In fact, I’m sure I left no doubt to any hearers that this pastor is still a complete mess.

Now, while I stayed very uncomfortable inside my own skin I knew transparency was critical. How can I expect others to take their mask off if I refuse to pull off mine. I wondered what people would think when I seemed so broken. I especially wondered what my own children would think seeing their dad demonstrate such brokenness.

Then, I just prayed that God would use my brokenness as a platform to demonstrate His power. I gave all I had to give because Jesus Christ gave all He could give for my soul. I can rest well knowing that possibly my willing sacrifice led someone to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice on that cross for them and sinners like me.

“ This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
1 John 3:16

 

From Chaos To Contentment

Lightning In A BottleFor the first time in ages my nerve pain has been manageable for nearly 3 days. What that means is I don’t have to constantly feel like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. It’s no surprise the main medication helping me is used to help prevent seizures. I’m now close to taking the maximum dose prescribed and I realize apart from God things won’t stay the same for long.

I’ve been saying forever to my doctor I’ve felt like I’ve had many neurological seizures. In a matter of seconds my entire body can be surging from feet to face with nerve pain. Valium by my bedside has saved me from many emergency room visits. After nearly 2 1/2 years I’ve finally started learning somewhat how to proactively stay on top of my outburst. Things can easily be triggered by just conversation, sounds, lack of proper rest, and almost any kind of stress. Honestly, I try not to dwell on what the future holds for me.

I still live with many limitations, constant lower body pain, and even struggle to put on my own socks and shoes. However, I’m actually happy and content. I know what it feels like to feel much worse and wish you weren’t even awake. I’m now grateful for anything I can do instead of just focus on what I can’t do. I’m still striving daily for improvement and I believe God can heal me. However, I’m beyond thankful for every quality moment and good day. Of course, it’s always easier to say you’re content in your stronger moments.

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13

Update 2/14/18

I’ve now officially had 2 back to back “Good” days compared to my normal. I’m still having to spend hours per day in a hot tub. But, the increased morning dose of my Neurontin is really keeping the normally out of control nerve pain in check. Unfortunately, the moment I try to get behind a steering wheel or sit in any normal chair I’m hit with extreme discomfort. It’s so hard to feel normal when your body is so far from normal shape. But, I’m grateful for every ounce of relief God gives me!

For the past couple weeks I’ve been dealing with some really odd and random itching. Areas of extreme redness will show up suddenly on my arm or leg and then in just hours not be there. I don’t know what to trace my itching to. The only supplements I’m taking that I never took before is high levels of Calcium and Magnesium. I’m trying to take note of certain patterns to discover the root of my itching. Sadly, my high dosage of Neurontin daily really affects so much of my life. My ability to think clearly, mood swings, and just an overall buzz. But, it works for me in a way nothing else has in the past.

I can easily see why so many people dealing with nonstop pain have turned to anything they could find to get relief. However, what you choose to put into your system could take all of your life away. I pray that I never have to take anything constantly that does not allow me to still know what’s going on  around me. I pray daily for others who deal with chronic pain and the many levels of suffering associated with this battle.

I Don’t Feel In Love Anymore

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The longer you’ve been married the more sense this will make. This applies to any married couple beyond the honeymoon stage. We all know marriage is a lot more than candle light dinners and love at first sight. But, most of us don’t realize this truth until we’re married. In fact, the first morning you wake up together may scare you depending on the severity of your bed head. Let me speak frankly to those who think that marriage can only work if you still “feel” in love.

I’ve officiated a lot of weddings. And, I’ve been happily married for over 20 years myself. Every successful marriage I know is rallied around one thing “mutual commitment.” It’s not just about feelings that are subject to change. It’s about two people choosing to love each other for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, as long as they both shall live.

If your perspective of a great marriage is only based on feelings alone you’re in for a very rude awakening. In fact, one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high is people are more led by their gut than the commitment they made before God and family. Most married people look for a way out of their marriage instead of how to work through their differences.

So, please understand that marriage takes commitment, work, and is way more than following your ever changing feelings. Therefore, if you hope to still be married fifty years later then you need to choose to truly be committed to being the best marriage partner you can be for life. The decisions you make each day will determine whether you see a happily ever after.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:7-9

 

Hope Is Such A Big Word

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Many of you know I’ve spent a lot of long days and nights in lots of pain. So many that in my human mind I felt like that might never change. After all I’ve tried everything in hopes of some relief. Countless physical therapy sessions, several pain shots, surgery, a spinal cord stimulator, a trial Rhizotomy, massages, a million different meds, and lots of daily prayers. I really felt it was time that I accept my condition and quit hoping I would ever feel better.

Recently, I’ve really cranked up my prayer life. As well as I know hundreds that have been praying for me. This morning I woke up in a lot of pain. In fact, I doubted that I would even get out the bed for the day. When my first of several alarms went off I took my normal medication along with an increased dose of my nerve pain med.

Maybe an hour had passed by after swallowing my medication. Then, suddenly I felt most of my pain just melting away. I started walking all throughout the house praising God while listening to Christian music on the radio. Then, after drinking some coffee to take away the medication produced fog I was able to sit for several hours and just study God’s word.

After 5 hours of constant relief I had not felt in likely a year I headed outside to walk. I just kept walking and walking. While I knew all my pain was not gone for good it no longer mattered. Because in the course of just one day God had breathed back into my heart HOPE. A word I was afraid I would never associate with my health ever again this side of Heaven.

Now, even as I write this my legs are throbbing and my body is weary. But, I’ve been reminded who is still in control. All it takes is one touch of the Master’s hand. God had recently impressed upon my heart the need to pray boldly and believing Him for my miracle. Today will always be remembered as a miracle day when God showed He can even when I can’t. Thank you Jesus for moments that restore our faith and hope in You.

“ 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.”
Jeremiah 29:11

How To Fight With Your Spouse

One of the biggest breakdowns in a lot of relationships is not knowing how to communicate or resolve conflict. I’m trying to help some of you before Valentine’s Day and beyond. Just some flowers and candy won’t fix this issue.

Craig Crosby

couple_fightingYou name it and we’ve fought about it. Finances, house chores, children, pets, he said, she said, and everything else in between. I honestly believe that any married couple that says they don’t fight is either still on their honeymoon or just never sees one another. In the course of any day there is bound to be something that could come between us. I’ve concluded that the only thing that has changed after sixteen years of marriage is we’ve learned how to fight better than we did in the early years. Here are some things I’ve learned help you with your marriage battles.

#1 Learn how to SHUT UP. I used to think that if I had the final word then I won the battle. Actually this just leads to a bigger hole, more careless words, and resolves absolutely nothing. One of the best things to do when you find…

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Dear Craig, I’m Sorry

Man Praying

Son, I know you woke up today very optimistic. Just hoping you might get some potential relief from your Rhizotomy. Instead, after today’s trial injection you only walked away with greater discomfort. Not one minute today have you felt any moment of relief. However, you patiently hoped that would change with each hour that passed.

I hope you digested into your heart what I spoke to you earlier while you were out walking. I know you just want to cry a river as you feel you might throw up any minute just from your grief. But, I need you to know I’ve still got all of this in my hands. Sure, it doesn’t make a bit of sense from your viewpoint. Sure, you’re absolutely exhausted from this 29 month old roller coaster of pain. But, I’ve still got a grand plan that is not bound by what man can or cannot do.

So, consider all you’ve seen me do in the past. All the miracles, healing, and hope I’ve brought to otherwise hopeless situations. That’s exactly what I’m gonna do for you if you’ll just keep believing in Me. When I’m done with you this will be one of the greatest God stories ever. A story that can’t be accredited to any human effort. A story that will only bring glory to my name. So, be still, believe Big, and watch me do immeasurably more than you can ever dream or imagine!

Love, Jesus

“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

 

Rhizotomy Trial #1

Well Monday morning I will get my first of two Rhizotomy trials. They will put me out briefly then shoot something in there to put certain nerves asleep. Doctor says the trial works for maybe 6-8 hours. They are looking to see if I get 50 percent or more relief before doing the real thing. Some have said the trial did nothing for them, but the Rhizotomy work wonders. And others say the trial gave them such relief for a day and then the actual Rhizotomy helped for 1 1/2 years.

I really believe I’m a great candidate for this procedure because I deal predominantly with nerve pain. And this procedure is all about temporarily killing certain nerves that will eventually grow back.

I feel optimistic and that hope is in front of me. I’m told the real thing can be rather painfully at first, but still worth the relief. Of course, I’m also awaiting the approval of my stimulator battery being surgically replaced with one that is fully MRI friendly.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for all You have done, are doing, and will do. I give you this night, this week, and my entire future. Have your way in my life. And, please show up in a big way for your glory!

Real & Raw Take 1002

Praise You In The Storm

I’m so tired of living a life of recovery. I’m so tired of feeling this pain. I can’t just live in the tub. It’s just so hard for me to believe that I still can’t lay down like a normal human being. The moment I do I feel like someone has planted something in my back that just desperately needs to come out.

How could I go through such a brutal surgery and only be worse than before? It’s as if the pressure on my nerve from my L5 S1 disc is still there. And now on top of that pain I have constant discomfort from the new disc, screws, and stimulator within me.

My counselor just called and I look forward to seeing him this coming Thursday. All I can do is keep processing the pain. I can’t fight with it or deny how I feel. I have reached a greater level of coping. But, I’ve found one of the biggest things is to just be honest. It does no good to pretend to be alright when you know you’re not. Confession is healing!

“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

That One Spot

Spinal Cord Stimulator II

I’ve not preached for the second Sunday in a row due to the recent intensity of my nerve pain. I’ve now missed a total of 9 Sundays all due to one spot. Whether it be after surgery, the implant of my stimulator, or just not being able to keep my pain under control. All my issues flow out of just one spot in my lower back.

Even after 29 months of trying to recover that one spot still hurts the same as before. In fact, I still can’t even touch that spot without it hurting. It limits my ability to drive, sit, or lay down without terrible discomfort. That one spot still puts major pressure on my nerves. And it wreaks havoc throughout my entire nervous system. It causes itching, aching, and produces a lot of tearful moments.

It’s amazing how just one spot, issue, or circumstance can affect our lives in so many ways. I believe in this life there will always be something that seeks to wreck our lives and steal our joy. It may take time for us to work through our pain and suffering. But, ultimately we have to take our eyes off the spot or the pain and keep them on Jesus. Only then can we go on living out our God given purpose. And in ways we can’t always see God wants to use that one spot or pain in our lives to accomplish His greater will through us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
Hebrews 12:1-3

 

876 Days And Counting

 

Bionic Pastor Pre Surgery

I still remember thinking I was experiencing a midlife crisis. After all I was always told “growing old ain’t for sissies.” But, now I understand that I’m just daily battling with this awful thing called chronic pain. I can’t believe I’ve dealt with this at ages 40, 41, 42, and soon to be 43. While my wisdom has greatly increased my health has drastically decreased.

Here I am again at midnight just trying to ease the pain. My legs are literally vibrating with nerve pain. My lower back has been aching for hours. And my chest has been flooded with anxiety associated with it all. For hours I’ve had enough meds in me that would put any average soul fast asleep. But, now I’m having to take a Valium and pray my nerves settle down soon.

It’s now been approximately 876 days since my major slip and fall occurred. I won’t call it an accident because God only make appointments. But, life has never been the same since that day. The pain has been constant. The days and nights have been long. The lessons learned have been many.

I wouldn’t wish this ongoing pain on anyone. Yes, I always recognize things could be worse. I thank God daily for His constant mercy, grace, and strength. But, this battle has been constant and only God knows whether I will deal with this the rest of this short life. I know for sure that one day it will all come to an end.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Revelation 21:4

 

Don’t Just Wait On God

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I’m laying in a hot tub again waiting on the pain to die down. Same story line and just another day of nerve pain running wild throughout my body. I have high expectations of what God is doing and is going to do. Not just because I’ve prayed relentlessly, but I continue to play my part. What does that mean you ask?

Too often people pray prayers for God to do something while they do nothing. For example, you can’t just pray to lose weight, but you’ve got to eat smarter. You can’t just pray for God to bless your marriage, but you need to seek to be a blessing in your marriage. I can’t just pray for God to heal my body yet do nothing the doctor tells me could help.

Everyday I pray for my healing. But, what heightens my expectations is I’m doing my part. I stay away from things that might trigger unnecessary pain. I seek to do daily exercises that can strengthen my body. I make wise decisions concerning my health to the best of my ability. Therefore, I’m not just talking about my faith, but I’m living it out. My confidence grows because I’m playing my part and I know God will always play His part.

“How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.”
James 2:20-24

Exhausted From Fighting

Depressed Man Sitting On Top Of Hands

After a long period of time fighting through pain you just become exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually you feel like you’re running on empty. These moments become critical because you are most vulnerable. You don’t want to quit trying, but it’s just so hard to keep going. This is actually the time you most need to push forward.

I’m very familiar with how this exhaustion gets into your head. I’m living in that season. But, even scarier is when you start losing faith that things can even change. You feel like your efforts are meaningless and the signs of improvement are nowhere to be found. That’s exactly what satan wants you to think in hopes that you will just give up. Then, he plans to totally make your life irrelevant.

My friend this is when you must put all your faith in God’s life changing ability. You must keep doing all you can do while trusting God for all you can’t do. Choose to get up, take the next right step, and trust God for the miracle. Don’t let the feelings in your gut determine your faith in an All Powerful God. Believe in your heart that God will carry you through this season. Don’t give up. Don’t quit believing!

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

Are You Being Tested?

Uphill ClimbGod must have some BIG plans ahead for me. I bet I can’t even fathom what lies ahead on the other side of this fiery trial. Don’t get me wrong I’ve faced many seasons of adversity in the past. But, none of it ever held a candle to the nonstop torment in the present season. I’m obviously headed towards territory the devil doesn’t want touched and doesn’t plan to release.

I remember well a saying we used to have in our high school weight room. It read, “No pain, no gain.” I’m believe that is a great biblical truth. Any great God led mission will bring with it great adversity. There will be pain, setbacks, sacrifices, and even moments you want to quit. In fact, I truly believe that is the reason for all of the enemy’s attacks.

So, just because you’re dealing with nonstop adversity doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path. It very well could indicate just the opposite. It could mean that God has Big plans and satan will stop at nothing to turn you around. It could mean that you’re gonna have to seek God’s face more than ever before if you’re to move any further. My friend, don’t be afraid of the battle. Be afraid of missing what God has ahead for you. Grab your Bible, drop to your knees, and stand firm in your faith.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:8-11

Doctor Update 2/9/18

One, my surgeon says he does recommend getting my Stimulator battery replaced with one that is totally MRI friendly. So, an order has been written and we’ll have to wait on insurance approval for this surgical replacement. Unfortunately, the new battery is bigger than my present one so it will be more invasive than I hoped to replace it.

Two, my doctor has increased  my daily Neurontin (Nerve Pain Med) from 2800mg daily to 3600mg daily. I will now be taking the maximum dose he ever prescribes. But, there is no doubt my nerve pain is totally out of control. Sadly, this will lead me to having an even foggier mind until I get used to the new dosage.

Finally, he was very pleased to hear that I’m now taking the following supplements daily. Turmeric, Calcium, Magnesium High Absorption, Magnesium Citrate, Calcium, Vitamin B100 complex, Potassium, Super Veggie Greens, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. And he suggested I add B12 to this list.

Overall, the visit accomplished everything I could hope at this point. Was called in really early because my doctor had an emergency surgery. So, I’m gonna try and rest this weary body.

Earlier my pain specialist office called with some good news. An opening has become available for me to get my first Rhizotomy Trial this Monday February 12th instead of February 19th as originally planned. On both trial times they will put certain target nerves temporarily to sleep to see if  that gives me 50 percent or more relief in a 6-8 hour period. I’m thankful for every door God opened today!

Something To Cheer About

Sometimes you find yourself desperate to hear something positive. Especially when the pain runs so deep. When your strength is almost gone. When your sleep is constantly interrupted. When you’re constantly left with more questions than answers. Just to find something to celebrate can really lift your spirit.

Well, today I have much to cheer about. My doctor told me he knew I was doing all the right things towards my recovery. That actually made me smile since my efforts are constant. God has also granted me favor in getting the further medical treatment I need moving forward. At this point, any door God opens is so appreciated.

I actually feel very relieved within. I can see God’s hand at work. I can feel God’s peace within which helps settles my nerves. Just knowing I’m on the right track gives me confidence moving forward. Today God answered many prayers just by giving me some good news. Just by giving me opportunities today that could lead to greater hope tomorrow.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22

Real & Raw Take 1001

I get so discouraged at night. Especially when my body gets pounded with pain. I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but every time I’m surprised by it’s intensity. Every part of me hurts outside and especially inside. The pain presently has me so nauseous and sick to my stomach.

For those on here that are dealing with nonstop pain that throttles you to the core, I understand. You feel like it won’t ever stop. You would give anything to be out of your misery. You wonder just how much longer you can hold on. You’re so let down as you feel your hope is fading.

The periodic moments of some relief tease your mind. You want to believe your worse days are behind you. Then, bam you’re slammed out of nowhere by that old familiar pain. All I can tell you is hold on. Hold on to the hand of the only one that can hold you together.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

It Steals My Joy

I’m back in the tub just hoping once again for some relief. I’ve only been out of the bed since 3pm. I was only out of the house for 3 hours for some pool therapy. But, it just doesn’t take much for my back to quickly get into a bind. I simply can’t drive or sit in any position long. Even laying down I spent hours with my legs just throbbing. It drains me, hurts me, and rips the joy out of my life. It leaves me just trying to catch my breath and settle my nerves.

Tomorrow I go back to see my primary doctor. We will discuss whether I should get my present stimulator battery surgically replaced with a battery that is totally MRI friendly. We will also evaluate what can be done to better manage my pain and my nerves. Honestly, I’m just praying for any relief that could improve my quality of life. I feel like no one around me has any answers or hopeful suggestions.

I’m exhausted from this journey. I’m tired of even having to explain what I can’t understand myself. I feel like a prisoner inside my own body. I’m trying with all my might to just be still and let God be God. But, the pain just tears you down after awhile and leaves you begging for relief. I know God is fighting for me, but I also know I’m in a constant fight. The enemy is doing his best to totally discourage, depress and destroy me. I’m totally having to trust Jesus with my life.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

Waking Up Afraid

Turkey-VulturesFor so long all my days have felt much the same. And much to my surprise they are only getting harder. I wake up with fear seeking to grip my soul. I can’t imagine what I would feel like if I was faithless. I would have long ago given up and fallen apart. I can totally understand why those without faith completely crumble under such distress. I’ve felt one step away myself for longer than I care to admit.

I realize many look to me to be their a rock. But, life has revealed more than ever that I’m just a man holding on to the rock of ages. My legs are barely underneath me before I even get out the bed. In fact, it’s all I can do to get out the bed. My depression deepens as my body keeps failing me. Pain shoots through my body with every move or step. Often, I feel I’m just having a bad dream and I long to wake up from this nightmare. I wake up afraid desperate to hear words of hope and see some sign of improvement.

The first thing I do now is reach for my bible which sits beside my bed. Only in God’s word do I find any sign of certainty. Only in God’s word do I find truth that will never change in the midst of my ever changing circumstance. Only in God’s word do I find hope beyond the fear that circles over me like a bunch of hungry buzzards. Only in God’s word do I find reason to hold on and to be assured of who is still holding on to me.

(Psalm 55) 1 Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! 2 Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. 4 My heart pounds in my chest. 5 Fear and trembling overwhelm me and I can’t stop shaking. 16 But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. 17 Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. 18 He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me. 22 Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

I Hate How I Feel, BUT

Jesus MY GOD MY GOD
If I’m honest, I totally hate the way I feel from sun up to sun down. Why? Because there is never a moment I’m not feeling uncomfortable. My nerve pain literally drives me crazy and escalate by even the slightest of sounds or movements. I can’t think of anything I’m really able to enjoy. I can’t think of many things I can actually do because of my health issues. BUT I still believe God wants to use this platform in so many ways.
 
Moment by moment, I’m feeling compelled to give God full control of all I just simply can’t control. I’m having to free fall into the arms of Jesus like never before. I hate the constant aching and hurting, but I love to see God at work in my life. Taking my faith deeper than it’s ever gone. Preparing me so that I can handle anything life throws my way. Drawing me closer into a relationship with Him instead of me just having a works based religion.
 
What God is taking me through will benefit so many others I deal with in ministry for years to come. I can now better understand those depressed. I know what’s it’s like to feel sick all the time and like life is passing you by. I know what it’s like to just feel so sick day after day that you really don’t care to see anybody or do anything. But, I also know the platform it gives you if you seize the opportunity. You see it’s in your pain that you grow the most and that God actually expands your opportunities to testify to His greatness. 
 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

When You’re Not Healthy

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Running back Marcus Lattimore said a mouthful when he said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Yep, when you reach a place you’ve never been before you quickly realize your humanity. Sure, you can try to ignore it, but your present condition will keep confronting you with the truth. You may think your invincible, but one major unhealthy season will prove otherwise. And if you don’t make the necessary changes to deal with your health issues things will only move from bad to worse.

It’s taken me nearly twenty nine months to fully realize my condition. I’ve tried to work harder to no avail. I’ve tried to just ignore the pain, but that’s proven impossible. I’ve tried to pray more than ever before. And, while prayer does change things my present health condition still demands that I change some things.

For the longest time the only changes being made were forced. For example, if you literally can’t get out of bed you can’t go anywhere. For over 2 years I’ve been limited just because of my many limitations. But, now I’m having to be proactive in making changes that are critical if I plan to do anything. I’ve got to make rest a huge daily priority. I’ve got to apply any healthy habits I can into my everyday life. I’ve got to say goodbye to what I used to be able to do and embrace my present reality. I’ve got to say a strong no to things I just can’t handle presently. I’ve got to say a strong yes to that which could contribute to a brighter tomorrow. When you aren’t healthy you must determine what needs to go and what needs to stay if you hope to be the healthiest you possible.

“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

Jesus said, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:37

My Best, Worst Day

Beautiful Day

All I can say about today is GLORY TO GOD. I was finally able to add some medication that has taken the edge off my nerve pain. I’m still living with a level 5 out of 10 pain at all times, but it’s way better than it was before. It’s amazing how we often have to be taken to the extreme before we can appreciate the normal. For me it’s just been day and after day of relentless, extreme pain. It was literally sucking the life out of me. It was all I could do to sleep soundly or even have the strength to get out of the bed.

Therefore, today is my best, worst day in awhile. While I pray that even my present pain will not be my long term reality, I’m so grateful for some relief. My heart has not raced one time today. I’ve not broken down emotionally even once today. I was actually able to enjoy some quality time with my youngest son who went with me to do some pool therapy. I even got to use my struggles to encourage someone else going through similar struggles.

Today was my first day of taking several new natural supplements that I’m hoping can help my body heal. My body is so exhausted, bruised, and broken from such high levels of never pain over the past 10 days. I’m believing the combo of continued therapy, healthy supplements, quality rest, and steady prayer will lead to brighter days. But, today I’m thankful for the best, worst day I’ve had in some time.

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

Do You Feel Hopeless?

I was asked a very meaningful question earlier. “Knowing what doctors have told you the future might hold due to your health. Do you feel hopeless moving forward?” Tearfully I said, “Absolutely not! Because my hope doesn’t rest on what doctors say. And I honestly believe I’m dealing with purposeful pain. Meaning I don’t see my situation as an accident. I might not like how I feel, but I just don’t believe in accidents.”

I believe in God’s hands everything serves a purpose. The only way it wouldn’t serve purposeful is if I were to waste the opportunity it brings. I can’t deny it’s humbling me daily. I can’t deny it’s showing me life through a totally different viewpoint. I can’t deny that while it’s keeping me from many things it’s linking me to others who battle pain daily themselves. Not to mention that it’s testing my faith so that it might grow.

You see, my hope rest in knowing that nothing takes God but surprise. His plans aren’t limited by our accidents, but they are determined by His appointments. I know God has a plan for all the madness. That even in suffering greater things are accomplished. So, I’m not looking forward feeling hopeless, but instead asking God to fully accomplish His purpose through my pain.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
1 Peter 4:12-13

We’re All Afraid Of Something

Whether we like to admit it or not we all have things we fear. And, I’m not just talking about snakes, spiders, and the dark. I’m talking deep concerns like what now, what next, and what else could go wrong. These fears are only fueled more as social media bombards us with news that unsettles our souls. The more you hear and read the more you worry about what might happen next.

I’ll be quick to admit that my health concerns alone have frightened me to my core. The longer my issues exist the more I wonder what this might mean for the future. Will I suffer the rest of my life? Could things even get worse? How will this further affect my family? Will I ever get back to enjoying life and not just thinking about my pain? I could pile at least another 100 “What If” scenarios. But, for the sake of my sanity I’ve got to give it all up to God.

Was God not in control before this happened to me? Is God not still in control despite what has happened to me? As the old song goes, “For the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley. When things go wrong, He’ll make them right. And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times. The God of the day, is still God in the night.”

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us;”
Psalm 46:1-2, 10-11

Taste And See

It’s amazing how you can feel in such a wilderness, yet feel God’s presence so strongly at the same time. I’m afraid it’s because it’s only during our feelings of desperation that we realize our total dependence.

Regardless of the discomfort, I’m finding my way closer to God’s heart. Even in pain I feel greater peace, comfort, and purpose. My eyes, ears, & heart are more open than ever.

I’ve learned that we must tune totally into God’s radio station to clearly hear His voice. You can’t keep doing things your way and expect His full blessing. You have to surrender! Not just sometimes, but all the time.

Trust me, once you get a full taste of God’s greater ways you won’t ever want to go back to the old ways of living. I would rather walk through Hell with God any day over walking one day without His presence.

My flesh may be failing, but my spirit is being renewed by the minute. Don’t fear the rain, but humbly fear the One who made the rain. #FaithWalking #HopeIsRising

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

Glad My Dad Is A Pastor

DadDue to my health I didn’t preach today. However, earlier I made another determined choice to get up and get out of bed. I drove 30 miles away so that I could do physical therapy in a pool and then soak in a therapy pool. I knew it would bring me some relief. However, I didn’t make it 5 minutes from my house before I emotionally crashed and just had to call my dad. Thankfully he was out of church and able to receive my call. Dads been a pastor to others my entire life, but this time especially I needed him to be my pastor.

It didn’t take but a few moments for him to realize I could hardly speak a word. All I could say was, I’m barely hanging on and beyond emotionally distraught. I confessed that my prayers were only whispers as my strength to carry on becomes lower and lower. I was so desperate for someone to hear my cries, calm my fears, and pray God’s mercy over me. An hour later thanks to prayer and medication I’m back to at least a stable minded state.

I called my dad back on the way home to let him know God had once again settled my soul. We both agreed to the fact that most pastors don’t have pastors. But, praise God I do I just happen to call him dad. He was there when I needed him most and God answered both of our prayers. I thank God for my dad and that he was able to pastor this pastor.

“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.”
Proverbs 4:20-22

In A Heavyweight Battle

Boxing Match

For the first time in my life I’m dealing with something I can’t just rest away. I can’t just wait and expect it to go away. When I go to sleep it’s still there with me. When I wake up it’s still here with me. I would give anything for a new body. Even after 9 1/2 hours of tossing and turning sleep it’s still with me.

Nerve pain continues to run through both hands down through both feet. The itching never goes away and my energy is gone before my feet ever hit the floor. The greatest of pains is how deep it’s gotten into my head and heart. Mentally I’m fried just from the longevity of this unpredictable journey. In my heart I’m just so discouraged as my issues have stolen much of my joy.

But, deep within I know I’m in the biggest spiritual battle of my life. One that I can’t just win by sleeping longer or trying harder. One I can’t just win relying on doctors or medications. I’ve got to stay on my knees in prayer. I’ve got to rely on the promises found in God’s word. I’ve got to have faith like I’ve never had before that God will make a way where there seems to be no way. I’ve got to remember that I’m not just anybody, but I’m a spiritually reborn child of the Most High. I’ve got to remember that I’m not on the bench, but I’m in God’s workshop as He reshapes me for His greater purposes. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, but it’s where I’m at every minute of my life right now.

“He must become greater and greater. I must become less and less.”
John 3:30

Trusting God For The Victory

Victory In The Cross

I hope you don’t mind my honesty through this journey. It would be dishonest to only share the good and not the bad. Lately most moments have just felt bad. It’s just been a series of setbacks, suffering, and confusion. I’m back in the tub just trying to get my nerves to settle and me possibly motivated to go for a walk. If this is how my body is gonna feel in the winter months months every year I made need to go live in the Bahamas.

Right now I know in my heart I’m on a slippery slope. I don’t have much of an appetite. I just want to go back to sleep after 12 hours in the bed. And I just find it harder and harder to get motivated to do anything. Even as I write this I’m hoping to coach myself forward.

It feels like I’m in a deep hole, but I can still see the light. I’m not sitting around crying or just feeling sorry for myself. I’m just trying to keep believing in God’s unlimited ability in the midst of my inability. I know this for sure: God is writing a story that in the end only He can take credit for the victory.

(Romans 8:35-39)(NLT) Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,p neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God Shorten My Days

Sun Up Sun Down

Last night, I went to sleep at 1am and I’m just fully waking up at 1pm. While my night was anything but uneventful I’m constantly asking God to shorten my days. Why? Because right now most minutes feel like hours and some hours feel like days. Even during my sleep I often feel my heart throbbing and it just feels difficult to breath. Constantly I’m toss, turning, and changing position just hoping for some relief. Even now I have to take deep, intentional breaths just trying to settle myself down.

Don’t worry about anything life threatening as both my heart rate and blood pressure appear fine. The anxiety level within me is like a wave that you can only ride on a surfboard. Fortunately, this is not totally unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve been riding this unpredictable wave so long that I can do so in my sleep. It’s never comfortable, enjoyable, or something I would ever want in my life. But, it’s life as I know it in this present season and valley.

One of my coping approaches is to do everything I can to shorten my days. To sleep as long as possible and to get to bed before my pain escalates any further. While I have dealt with many depressing moments it’s not depression that makes me not want to see too many hours of daylight. Trust me, I’ve got plenty to live for and look forward to in this life. I’m just trying to holding on to Jesus, remain faithful, and allow God to use this seemingly unbearable time of my life for His glory. You just learn after awhile that you can only take so much and need to be very methodical in how you use your energy. So, once again I will ask God to shorten my day, but to have His way fully in my life from sun up to sun down!

(Psalm 143)(NLT) “Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die. Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me.Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.”

In The Wilderness

God Help UsI’ve been in the bed the past 12 hours in a somewhat sleeping state. Had to sit up in the bed and sleep due to something continuing make my heart feel like it’s racing. Anytime I check my heart rate or blood pressure both are fine. All this morning my legs and my chest have been vibrating continuously. I had already turned my stimulator down a couple days ago, but I just turned it off to see if I’m just being over stimulated. You just never quite know what’s the root of your issue when dealing my level of nerve pain.

A new appointment with my doctor/surgeon has been made for Friday, February 9th. Instead of just going with a CT scan my doctor wants to discuss what’s best for me. As it stands right now I can’t get any MRI of my lower back unless I get my present implanted stimulator battery removed or traded out for another more MRI friendly battery. This is definitely a big issue all the way around. Whether now or later I will need a full MRI to determine any further surgery necessary. I’m simply open to whatever it takes for me to become the healthiest I can be.

Man the setbacks just keep pouring my way. I was clearly told before I got that particular stimulator it was totally “MRI Friendly.” And, I was hoping there would be no more cutting on me for at least 7 years once that battery needed to be replaced. I honestly can’t tell you these days what my greatest issues are coming from. The stimulator, the surgery, the medications, my nerve pain, or my anxiety. I’m afraid everyone of these things play a part in my health situation for good or bad.

I have to just keep praying and walking by faith. Because it’s like I’m in the wilderness and can only see the next God led step in front of me. There is a lot of trial and error going on. As well as you often feel like you’re having to play your own doctor, which is not a good feeling. But, I’m just continuing to put my life in the hands of the Greatest Physician.

“And we know God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

What If I Were Lost?

InadequateI’m sure many think I’m just complaining all the time. That I’m just struggling like everybody does and can’t handle much. But, I can assure you that being in my painful body is pure torcher. I’m dealing with head to toe pain that just won’t let up. Discomforting sensations have constantly run through my entire nervous system for so long I can’t remember what it’s like to feel normal.

God just brought a deep question to my mind. What if I were spiritually lost? What if I was trying to deal with this ongoing pain without the assurance of hope found only in Jesus? Where would I turn and how would I cope? Considering the fact that even with Jesus I feel just one step away from collapsing or giving up? I don’t want to, but maybe I need to consider the multitudes of lost souls living throughout this world.

Pondering this question can’t help but elevate my compassion for lost souls everywhere. Souls that have no anchor when their health fails. Souls that have no hope beyond this life without Jesus. I’m compelled to do and say everything I can in hopes of reaching as many as possible. Our bodies will give way and this world will continue to disappoint. But, once we know Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord nothing can steal our forever hope. No one can snatch us out of God’s loving hands of constant protection. May we all open our eyes to the lost surrounding us knowing that life without Jesus simply isn’t livable.

“When Jesus 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 9:36-38

The Anchor Holds

Anchor Of My Soul

As I sit in this tub for physical relief I’m not able to run from my emotional distress. As we all know you could leave the country and your feelings would still be with you. It’s hard when all your energy to fight is gone. When you’ve had nothing but countless hours to think about your struggle and ponder what it might mean for the future.

I guess the good news is my strength has long been gone. Yet, Jesus keeps carrying me leaving just one set of footprints behind. No, my faith hasn’t left me, but my strength has been long gone. I’m somewhere I’ve never been before. Because no matter what I can’t run or hide from my biggest issues.

My greatest fear is not losing some job or position. My greatest fear is not whether others see how weak I really am. My greatest fear is to not be found faithful through all the suffering. I’m doing everything I can to hold on to Jesus for dear life. In fact, if my little hand was not in God’s Big hand I would definitely fall apart.

The days are getting longer. The nights are getting harder. I’m at that point where I’ve tried every other lifeline but they’ve all disappointed me deeply. Only my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has remained a steady anchor through this furious storm. I guess I can truly testify now that the anchor does hold in spite of the storm.

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”
Hebrews 6:19

Dealing With My Nerves

On My NervesI’ve learned how to cope with most of my greatest issues. I usually know when to take it easy. I know when to elevate my legs to calm my back pain. I know when I simply need a healthy walk. I know when I need to phone a friend or family member. But, I just can’t predict when anxiety might grab me with it’s painful claws.

I’m trying so hard to proactively deal with my nerve pain. I take my necessary meds like clock work. Almost every step of my life is planned around my limitations. But, anxiety continues to sneak up behind me. For a couple hours now my heart has felt it might jump out my chest. Yet neither my heart rate or blood pressure has been high when checked.

If you’re familiar with this battle you know that anxiety produces anxiety. Especially when it’s pouring from the deepest parts of you. Especially when you can’t pinpoint its root or know what might elevate it next. The worst part about my nerve damage is I can become a nervous wreck in less than a minute. This makes me feel guarded and overwhelmed so much. All I can keep doing is casting all my anxiety on Jesus.

“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

Pain Changes You

Back PainYou would think by now I would be used to it. But, I’m afraid there is no totally getting used to dealing with pain that constantly interrupts your life. It’s with you when you wake up. It’s with you when you leave your house. It’s with you when you sit up, lay down, and go to bed. Extreme pain changes life and changes you.

One, you no longer take things for granted. What before you may have seen as a burden you consider a blessing. Things you once assumed would always be are now seen as total gifts from God. While you grieve what has changed you thank God for everything that has not.

Two, you now sincerely identify with others pain. You no longer see others through just human eyes, but understanding that only your pain could reveal. You find yourself not being quick to judge anyone. Why? Because you know how pain can change someone’s entire life.

Three, you know your desperate need for God’s healing hand. You may have prayed before, but now you beg God to take over you life circumstances. It’s a great thing to be closer to God. And, it’s where we should have been all along. However, it took all that pain to get us seeking God with all of our heart.

Now, your pain may be different from mine. But, I truly understand how ongoing pain disrupts your life. I know it will either leave you bitter or better. I know it causes you to question many things. I know it will either feel wasted or prove useful. And the difference it makes will be very dependent upon the choices you make. I pray God comforts your soul, guides your every thought, and keeps you believing in Him.

“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

God Is Making Me Over

Potter & Clay

I know deep in my heart that I must officially say goodbye to the old me. Gone are the days that I can live as a daily oncall chaplain. Gone are the days that I can go play baseball or basketball with my boys. Gone are the days that I can go out with my wife and know my pain won’t potentially ruin our date. Gone are the days without dominating nerve pain. At least that is my present reality.

As I continue to grieve this reality I’m constantly trying to discover my new normal. Instead of focusing on what I can’t do I’m looking for what I can. I’m also believing that God is using all of this pain to readjust my sights for His present will. God wants me to live in the here and now with all I have to offer and been through. It’s not that my life will take on less value, but I believe I will be shown newer ways to love God and people.

I’m simply allowing the potter to mold me into whoever and whatever He sees best. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the old me, but it’s time to embrace the new me. I wholeheartedly believe that through all my past and present heartache God is making me over.

(Isaiah 64:8)(NIV) Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

(Jeremiah 18:1-5)(NLT) The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.

Honesty Is Healthy And Purposeful

Mask Off 1I periodically go see a professional counselor and make sure I process my pain honestly with those I feel I can trust. The truth is not everyone can be trusted with your honesty. Someone who doesn’t know your heart can be very quick to judge your heart. However, we all need a safe place to share our burdens, fears, failures, and pains. Confession may not fix everything, but it’s still healthy to process your toxic emotions.

I’ll be the first to admit that even in most of my writings readers only get the edited version. Not everyone can handle hearing the preacher say that he is going through Hell. That just about every minute of my life I’m uncomfortable and in pain. That if I didn’t have faith in God and love for others I would be doped up day and night. That its simply all I can do to get out of the bed each day. And that my misery is wearing me down daily.

That said, I know someone reading this right now needs to know they aren’t alone in their suffering. That someone does understand how ongoing pain can be paralyzing and life altering. That it saddens your heart how your struggle affects your loved ones and your ability to live out your hopes and dreams. Trust me, I understand how it feels to constantly pray while feeling nothing is changing.

My encouragement to you is don’t give up hope. Keep praying, keep the faith and keep sharing your journey with others. Those who are meant to understand will. Those meant to be encouraged will be through your honesty and faith. Know that what you’re going through in Christ is never the end of your story. It’s just a chapter in your God story that’s not over yet.

(Philippians 1:6)(NLT) 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 2:13)(NLT) For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Let Faith Arise

Recovery Pic

Still no sleep as I lie here itching from the constant vibrations of nerve pain throughout my body. There seems to be only two states of living for me. Either thinking the worst is behind me or absolute misery. The unpredictable misery drives me insane. I would pay any amount of money to get rid of this madness. I would endure any level of treatment, surgery or discipline if I knew it had a chance at giving me relief.

But, time has led me to believe that most of this can only come out through prayer. And only God knows His will for my life. I do fully trust in God’s will. I just want to do what I can and be faithful every step of the way. I’ve had so many God moments during this journey. And, I’ve had countless Hell moments.

Father God, I continue to give you this pain. Continue to use it all for my growth and your glory. Continue to give me the necessary strength and comfort to carry on. And keep giving me the faith to trust You beyond what I feel or see at the moment.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Afraid Of The “What If”

WorriedWell I’m back in the tub seemingly the only place I can find some relief. To say I’m exhausted is an understatement. My body has been throbbing constantly since 3am this morning and it’s past 3pm now. I can barely even stand up on my on two legs. How I preached two Sunday services today is a miracle from above. And I’m deeply afraid of when it might be my last for awhile.

Honestly, Sunday preaching is all I can do anymore these days. But, even that has long become more and more unbearable. If all I was doing was reading some message notes I could be fine. But, I can’t preach a message without connecting my whole heart to it. And when you mix that level of heart with my shot nervous system preaching is like having a baby each week. You carry it all throughout the week and then deliver it on Sundays.

Don’t get me wrong I love to make a difference in people’s lives. But, my gas gauge of energy is reaching deep into my reserved tank. I’m forced to ponder “What If” I run totally out of energy? “What If” I get any worse than I already am? “What If” my body just totally crashes on me? Guess what, “What If” I told you all these things have already happened.

Every moment of every day is just a grind. Just to get up and show up takes every ounce of strength I have left. Just to keep moving forward with hopeful expectation is tough knowing nothing else can be done by man to bring healing. “What If” I told you I’ve been dealing with the “What Ifs”for so long it’s become a way of life.

I know I need a miracle. I wake up knowing I must stare my “What if’s” in the face. Even though I can’t control what happens next every fiber of me wishes I could. Therefore I’ve just got to put the anxiety, fear, and “What Ifs” in God’s hands. But, by the grace of God I would be consumed with my “What Ifs” every night and day.

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

3 Traits Of A Great Caregiver

2014 FallWhile making it through anything difficult your support system is always critical. I know I would not be near as sane or strong without mine. My support system is a collective group of family, friends, and of course Jesus. But, while imperfect I believe my wife is the absolute perfect caregiver when it comes to helping someone battle through ongoing pain, suffering, and depression. I would like to share how she helps me as it might help someone else know how they can better support their loved one.

One, she doesn’t make me feel any worse. Meaning she recognizes that I’m doing everything I can to get better. She recognizes I’m in a very tough season. She recognizes that I already feel overwhelmed and she does her best not to throw on me any unnecessary burdens that could cause me to further crumble.

Two, she seeks to understand my struggle. Now, no one can fully understand something they’ve not personally experienced. But, my wife is very considerate of things she knows are beyond my limits. She helps me avoid things that have proven to set me back in my recovery. She understands that chronic pain is unpredictable and she has learned to expect the unexpected. If I can’t do something or go somewhere she understands it’s due to my present condition. She is a great listener and therefore a very understanding caregiver. She never makes me feel bad about a limitation I can’t control.

Three, she embodies patience. She realizes healing takes time. When I’m at my worst she gives me the greatest grace. She has never said in 28 months of recovery “I’m tired of you being sick.You need to hurry up and get better soon or I’m leaving.” Instead, she is patiently loving “for better or worse.” This kind of patience allows a very sick person the time and room necessary for healing.

Now, I could go on and on about how my wife supports me. But, the main theme is she seeks to love me forward not push me back. She seeks to unconditionally love me in an understanding way. And she understands that just her prayers and presence by my side does wonders for my healing.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Still Broken, But Encouraged

Broken And Spilled Out

My pain had been very bearable and my soul at peace for close to 36 hours. So, I was excited to get out the house and ride with my parents to Cracker Barrel. I had not one sign that would indicate my body was about to crash. However, I was very uncomfortable trying to sit in a straight sitting chair at the restaurant. Then, boom my nervous system completely wrecked within and I new deep inside the tears would soon follow.

I walked away from the table because I really didn’t want my parents or kids to see me break down again. I went outside and walked throughout the parking lot to stretch my body. As tears rolled down my face I realized I had actually made some progress. I have truly learned how to praise God in the storm. I held both hands high in the air and said, “God I know you have a purpose for all my suffering. Please bless and encourage many more lives through my pain.”

Honestly, I meant every word I prayed. I feel God with me and I know God is doing a great work through me. If I didn’t feel this way I might not ever get out of bed. But, it’s such a blessing to be used by God. It might not always be comfortable, but if it leads to God’s will it’s worth every bit of anguish. So, while my spirit reveals often my brokenness, God has brought a steady peace to my heart that I’m right where He wants me to be for now. I’m simply broken and spilled out for Jesus.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
James 1:12

100 people reached

It Feels Better Off My Chest

Off My Chest

Today has been a step forward within me. I’m a big believer that confession is the beginning of healing. Yes, my body still aches. Yes my pain is still blinding and unpredictable. But, personally recognizing the demon of depression has lifted some heaviness off of my chest and shoulders.

It may not fix everything, but honesty paves the way for realness. Realness with yourself and others. It positions you for hopeful encouragement and accountability for dealing with your present reality. I took a long walk earlier. I have given God my every heartache and thanked Him for continuing to carry me on His shoulders.

I must say that I’m not really worried about the future. I’ve just been fighting for control in the present. So, I had to once again surrender control to the only One who is in control. Because when the fight is too big for you it must be given to our Great Big God. There is always a peace that comes with putting things totally in God’s hands and trusting in His greater plan!

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

I Know I’m Depressed

Depressed

Maybe it’s been the case for some time. Maybe I’ve just been in denial. But, I can no longer deny what is obvious to me every day God allows me to wake up. I am actively battling this thing called depression. The following definition by Merriam Webster defines how I feel. “ Depression is a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness.” Now, I left out the part that said, “and sometimes suicidal tendencies.” Why? Because I’m not personally struggling with having reason to live for, but I am struggling with living from sun up to sun down.

I think the reason I’ve not totally considered myself depressed before now is simple. I thought depression meant you never get out of bed and you cry all the time. Now, I am in the bed a lot. And I have shed plenty of tears over the past twenty-eight months of battling extreme nerve pain. But, I still choose to get up every day hoping things will change with my health. I don’t walk around feeling sorry for myself every second. However, I do feel extreme sadness over how my health affects my ability to help my family and so many others. I do grieve over all I can’t do that I used to love to do. I look forward to going to sleep at night because it’s the only time I won’t be in pain thanks to medication. I have major difficulty staying focused on anything during the day because of my pain. And, the more doctors confirm the severity of my nerve damage the more I’m forced to accept my life altering disability. Now, I’ve concluded that the following is the only reason I’ve been able to walk through depression with some joy and hope.

One, I do take medication that is necessary to at least keep my nerve pain manageable. Secondly, I do believe my present season of life to be very purposeful in God’s hands. Three, I choose daily to let God use my struggles to encourage others in their struggles. Next, I keep meditating on the Word of God so that I can chase away the many lies of the devil. Finally, I don’t let what doctors tell me define me. I’m no longer living in denial. But, I am believing God is using my trial to refine me, strengthen me, and take my faith deeper than it’s ever gone before.

Therefore, I can now say that I am dealing with depression, but with God’s help I’m walking through the flames towards a brighter tomorrow. Being depressed does not mean you have a lack of faith, but it does mean you need to cling to your faith more than ever before.

(Isaiah 43:1-3) “But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”

 

 

The Biggest Storm Of My Life

Storm-at-the-beacon

What I’m about to say I know many of you can relate. Personally I’m in the biggest storm of my life. I’m extremely miserable about 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time I’m asleep. My body feels like it’s burning from the inside out. It still appears that someone has gone inside my nervous system breaker box and rearranged every wire wrong.

I really thought by now the worst days would be behind me. Instead, I’m having to hold on to Jesus’ hand for dear life. The waves around me are constantly crashing over my head. I keep telling my wife I just don’t know how much more I can take. This storm has gotten me physically, emotionally, and mentally sick. Honestly, the level of vibrating pain sensations leave me often feeling like I could throw up any minute. Sorry if this sounds exaggerated, but it’s truly how I feel most days.

Even still, I know Jesus is in the boat with me. I know He is close to my broken heart. I know He is giving me the strength to carry on. I know He alone is holding me together. And, I know at any moment He could calm this storm in a heartbeat. But, for reasons beyond my full comprehension this storm continues to wreck my body while only Jesus calms my soul.

(Matthew 8:23-27) “Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Will You Be Faithful Even When It Hurts

Asher Playing Ben10

Written: 1/23/18

I’m back in the tub and honestly my back feels like I just had surgery yesterday. It physically hurts so bad in the surgical area in a way I’ve not felt in quite sometime. I really don’t know what to do to improve things. This level of pain just sucks the air and life out of you. You can’t ignore it if you tried.

Earlier I took my 7yr old to Wendy’s. We held hands and he led out our prayer of blessing as usual. He poured out his heart of thanksgiving. He thanked God for his good day and for his daddy day. He even thanked God for helping his daddy feel better so he could have a great daddy day. Then, he asked could I play a game with him when we got back home.

So, I tried my best to sit at the table like a normal human being. My body aching from head to toe. My son just thrilled that I’m trying to play Ben10 with him whatever that is about. I simply rolled the dice each turn and let him tell me what to do next. Finally, I said “daddy can’t finish this game.” He said, “I know your back hurts really bad. It’s ok if you go get in the bath.” You could tell he’s seen this scenario many times unfortunately.

The only thing I can muster good right now is I know this is developing my perseverance, faith and character. If I didn’t believe Jesus was with me I would have long ago gone crazy. I would have long ago given up. Because I’ve had countless painful days with no sign of hope this side of Heaven. I’m trying to fight the good fight. I’m trying to keep the faith. And I’m trying to let God display His glory through my pain. I’m hoping this can be said at the end of my life.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4/7-8

My Cross, God’s Stage

Your Struggle God's Platform

Well, I just slept almost 3 hours according to my Fitbit. My body did end up crashing and my meds just couldn’t keep things under control for the first time in 5 days. But, I’m happy to say that after I took a muscle relaxer to knock me out by the grace of God alone I didn’t have to take a Valium.

I literally slept with a Valium in my hand for awhile as my body has just been full of Electric current. If I hear even the slightest sound my body jumps and my heart starts racing. It makes me a totally different person. That’s why I call it a neurological seizure because it happens so fast. I’ve just learned how to recognize the signs quicker.

Praise God, I’m much better than I was hours ago. But, just sitting up in my bed now both legs are literally vibrating within with nerve pain. Hopefully once I take my nighttime meds I can sleep through the night. For now, this is my cross to bear and God’s stage to work!

“ 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 JUST DON’T KNOW

Written: January 21st, 2018 (PM)

I always hate to admit it, but my body still can’t handle a full day of anything. I have been absolutely thrilled today to celebrate all God has done in just 4 years of Refuge Church’s existence. However, most of my spine can’t even be touched it’s so sore and painful. My lower body feels like I’ve been climbing the highest mountain and was kicked every step of the way. Don’t worry, I have taken the good medicine that should have me knocked out cold eventually.

But, I have to tell you that I wonder often what the future holds. I’ve been told twice in the past year alone by one doctor that I’m officially disabled due to nerve damage. Yes, I can still walk, talk and I’m not about to die. But, this nerve issue just isn’t going away based on anything man can do. In fact, eventually I will likely need more surgery to fuse the discs above my recent fusion. Therefore, all I can seek to do is contain things with medication, my stimulator, and daily regiment.

Now, I can tell you that being told at almost 43 years of age you’re gonna potentially be disabled the rest of your life is very hard to swallow. In fact, at times it’s hard to say it out loud and not just start crying your eyes out. But, I can tell you that I’m doing everything I can to not live with a disabled mindset. God keeps putting it on my heart that despite my inabilities I can rest fully in His unlimited abilites.

Presently, I feel all I have to offer is my mind and heart to God. Fortunately those two things have only gotten stronger in recent days. However, my back and body have proven to disappoint me time and time again. So, I’ve decided that all I can do is what I’ve done the past almost 43 years. I’ve got to trust God even when I don’t understand, don’t know how, and don’t know what lies ahead. Because worrying about these things changes nothing but my stress level. I don’t have a clue what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

He Will Never Leave Or Fail

Written: January 21st, 2018

Today has been another God made day. This makes the 4th day in a row that my meds have kept my nerve pain under control. However, I’ve been back in the hot tub for over two hours and counting. But, I’m not complaining because it’s easing the pain in my legs and lower back. While I might not be able to do all I wish I could do I’m thankful for what I can do. It seems God has to allow us to reach our worst condition so we can appreciate the better conditions. One thing I know for sure: God has never failed me before. So, I’m gonna keep trusting Him the rest of the way. I guess He really does stay true to His promises!

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

GOD OF MIRACLES

1 21 18

It’s 4am Sunday, January 21, 2018 and my aching body has me back in the hot tub. My medication has actually been keeping my nerve pain bearable for 3 days straight. I just simply have issues that apart from a miracle just won’t be healing this side of heaven. But, I believe in miracles because I recognize many today.

You see, it was 6 years ago God put heavy on my heart a calling to start a church called Refuge in Walterboro, SC. A church that would do anything short of sin to reach the over 30,000 unchurched & lost folks throughout Colleton County. A church where everybody is somebody. Where you can always come as you are, but never leave the same.

In April 2013 my wife and I stepped out on faith and rented out the Colleton County Recreation Center on Sunday nights. We setup for worship and childcare trusting God to do a great work. Several months later we still only had a handful of people. I remember my wife lovingly saying, “You know if this doesn’t work out it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.” I remember another dear friend as he saw my fatigue and disappointment saying, “Please know I will do anything to help this mission go forward. Just don’t quit this area needs this church.” So, we kept plugging along faithfully with expectant faith.

Four years ago in January 2014 we launched Sunday worship. From that point forward we’ve never looked back. Sunday services have been full of people desperate for Jesus. Every single week to this day we’ve seen life changing miracles that most never dreamed possible.

We’ve seen the prisoner, addict, suicidal, shattered, hopeless, helpless, broken, and most desperate find a church family where they can belong. We’ve seen many give their lives to Jesus. Hundreds have walked through the doors.

We’ve now held worship in four different places from a picnic shelter, meeting room, gymnasium, and now in a business center. We’re now the largest weekly “attended” church in the area after four years of seeing God do miracles.

There has never been a Sunday not well attended. We have two identical Sunday services 9:15 and 11am at 203 Eddie Chasteen Dr, Walterboro, SC. And while we will see a few hundred today I know the best is yet to come. What really blows my mind is when I realize all God has done without me and despite me. Knowing I’ve been in rehab for most of the past four years and barely able to even make Sundays to preach. It only confirms the miracles to me. GOD IS GREAT, GOD IS FAITHFUL, GOD IS ABLE, and GOD IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED.

So, even in your pain don’t doubt God’s ability. Continue to seek Him, serve Him, and honor Him. And I promise you He will bless your socks off with His abilities amidst your inabilities. You can count on miracles beyond what you can see!

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

“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. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

 

I Reflect At Night

Written: January 19th, 2018 pm

Often it’s not until I totally slow down and lay down that I’m forced to reflect. So much goes through my mind and rest on my heart. I believe most of us are our own worst critics. However, I definitely believe we need to have a daily time of personal reflection to keep life in the right perspective. But, we need the right tool to see the truthful perspective.

Some seek to compare themselves to others. Some consider what others might think of them. Some say they can do whatever they want and don’t care what anybody thinks of them. But, the best perspective is to only care about what God thinks about you and your life’s direction.

To know God’s will we must open God’s word. To experience God’s will we must obey God’s word. We must believe in God and His ageless words found in scripture. We must meditate on them day and night. For without daily digesting who God is and what He wants we can guarantee we’re headed in the wrong direction.

“I meditate on your age-old regulations; O Lord, they comfort me.
I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord; therefore I obey your instructions. This is how I spend my life: obeying your commandments.”
Psalm 119:52,55-56

Tormented In The Night

Written: January 19th, 2018

All night Satan has tormented me in my sleep. I’ve woken up basically every hour with my heart pounding. Each time I’ve had to sit up in the bed and just keep taking deep breaths. I’m pretty sure I’ve freaked my wife a few times as I wasn’t sure myself what to do at first fighting to just breathe and being half asleep.

No doubt in my mind that I had too many nighttime meds in my system. And I will adjust now that I’ve got some added help for my nerve pain throughout the day. But, we all know if it’s not one thing it’s another.

Thank God I’ve learned that if you just keep praying persistently believing in Jesus name that old devil doesn’t stand a chance. And eventually he has to leave the scene because he is no match for the Mighty name of Jesus! So as a believer don’t ever think you are helpless because Jesus will always be there with and for you. Just call on His Name and cast all your cares on the Lord. Because many things can only come out through prayer!

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

We All Need Somebody

 

Written: January 18th, 2018

Today has been a very special day. It’s going to sound minor, but I’m thrilled that I’ve not had to take a Valium all day long. My doctor has increased my meds in hopes of keeping the edge off of my nerve pain. And it appears to be working. Today is the first day in 7 days I’ve not needed to take a Valium.

Tomorrow I head to see my Christian counselor for like the 20th time in the past year. I’ve been long overdue for another visit. During our times together I get a lot off my chest. Things I really don’t want to burden those I love with anymore. I’m open, I’m honest and I find that to always be the beginning of my healing.

My counselor is great because he doesn’t try to fix me. Nor, does he treat me like I’m crazy because I’m grieving through my present health issues. He just listens and shares encouraging words of truth when necessary. I always leave better than I walked into his office. Even if I spend the entire hour crying my eyes out it’s still such a relief to have a safe place to share, be human, and be loved no matter what I say.

These venues are not easy to come by for most of us. In fact, for the longest time I felt like as a pastor I shouldn’t need a counselor. Then I grew wiser and realized that I might need one even more than some others. I’m often not just carrying my own cross, but in my heart the hardships of hundreds. God made one thing very clear to me at the beginning of this year. You can’t keep pouring from an empty cup. You’ve got to have others pouring into you if you hope to keep pouring into others.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Anxiety Can’t Just Be Ignored

Anxious Thinking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve now approached exactly 28 months since nerve pain took over my body. Yet, even after surgery, a spinal cord stimulator, countless shots, daily therapy and a continued increase in medications I feel back to square one. Today, I’ve experienced another crash, burn and cry session. I’ve now had to take Valium on top of my other meds the past six days straight. I know that something has to change very soon.

By the grace of God I don’t take even one daily narcotic. But, my nerve pain meds have pretty much increased every few months. It’s unreal how quickly my nerves are still triggered and my body wrecked daily. While this might not be one’s normal cause of anxiety I can’t deny the anxiety it keeps creating. And that’s with me having a strong faith and peace with God.

Thank God I go to my doctor tomorrow. I’m having to admit to myself that once again my anxiety meds must be increased soon otherwise I will end up in a crazy house. If you battle daily with uncontrollable anxiety that overtakes you I totally understand. You can’t just tell yourself to calm down and always pray it away. If you need the medication you need the medication! Yet, you should never stop praying!

I’m just a firm believer that medications don’t solve everything. However, God has given man wisdom on how to deal with some of the symptoms. So, recognize where you are and take your health concerns very seriously. Do what you need to do to get better, but still rely fully on God for your actual healing and lasting peace.

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Use The Platform God Gives You

Platform

Woke up today feeling better than yesterday so far and the hot tub is at least soothing me some. I’ve definitely discovered over time that my nerve pain is just so easily triggered. It doesn’t take much critical or deep conversation for things to switch into high gear. Then shortly after that I can hardly do or bear anything.

My nerve pain can escalate in less than a minute without a moments notice. For this reason I’ve had to drastically limit my exposure to critical care situations. I used to counsel, comfort, preach countless funerals and visit people all the time. But, those days changed nearly two years ago when severe nerve pain entered my life.

It took me awhile to grieve what I can’t do because I love being with people and helping them through life’s most difficult seasons. I would rather Pastor someone than preach any day because it’s something I love to do. Hopefully one day my health issues change and the severe neuropathy within me settles down.

Until then, I will use whatever platform God allows. Whether that be praying, posting on social media, writing articles for the paper, or helping others feel better equipped to do God’s work.

We can’t always dictate what happens in our lives. All we can determine is how we respond to it. I’m personally choosing to glorify God no matter where life finds me. There is always a God window in front of us.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13

Give Us Childlike Faith

 

Asher Praying

Earlier my 7yr old and I got down on our knees to pray together. He asked me to pray first so I followed his request. First, I reminded him how awesome it is that we can come to God with anything. He shook his head yes in a way I knew he believed every word I was telling him with absolutely no uncertainty. Then, I led out our prayer time together.

Then, I observed firsthand what it looks like to have true childlike faith when approaching our Heavenly Father. He was kneeling like he was at the feet of a King. His hands were folded as if he were aligning them with Heaven. His eyes were shut so he could completely get a clear connection with God. His prayers were so intense that I felt like he was leading me in a prayer clinic.

Then he prayed the following words in Jesus mighty name. He said, “Dear God, Please be with all the people who need you. Please help my daddy’s back feel much better. Thank you for the peace you give us. And thank you for the hope you give us to believe in You.”

Little did he know that his daddy needed to hear about that hope and every word he spoke. He had no idea that his daddy feels like he is physically, emotionally and mentally on the verge of falling apart. Yet, he reminded me why we pray and how prayer changes things. I thank God for reminding me that He is there and always cares.

“Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7

It’s Not About Me

Back in my favorite most relieving spot the hot tub. Man on man does God continue to affirm that my present struggle has such purpose. I may not like how I feel, but it creates a straight bridge of understanding to so many hearts. Many others can identify with my pain and sorrow.

Today it took everything I had to get out of bed. My legs have felt like they could pop all day. By the second worship service I felt like I could collapse midway through. Even while I was preaching I was begging God to carry me and carry out His will through me.

While standing in front of two services full of people I felt so vulnerable. Part of me just wanted to run off stage and hide. You just feel so bad when you’re not feeling healthy in your own skin. But, I’m starting to believe God speaks loudest through obvious broken vessels.

All I could do was ask God to work despite my feelings of weakness. The last thing I want to do is get in God’s way. I keep waiting for the moment when my nerve pain makes me completely fall apart while preaching. It’s one of my greatest fears that I might literally have to abruptly leave service because my nerve pain shuts me totally down.

By the grace of God alone it’s never happened publicly and I pray it never does. I just keep asking God to help me get over my pride of being afraid of who might see what and what they might think. God is definitely using this thorn in my flesh to make clear that He is the only One with superpowers.

“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

Feeling Misunderstood Hurts

Written: Jan 13th, 2018

Earlier I was in the middle of a simple conversation with my boys. Next thing I know I feel my nerve pain flooding throughout my body. It’s in that moment I know I need to cease conversation immediately and exit the room as soon as possible. Why? Because the moment my nerve pain takes over my body I will have little control over my emotional processing or mouth. The old me would have worked tirelessly to explain my condition. But, I’ve discovered that in most cases it will only further confirm that most just don’t understand.

So, I got in my car and headed home leaving everyone else at another family gathering that I hated to miss. I left away heartbroken, embarrassed, and definitely misunderstood. I cried most of the way home as I’ve felt this way so many times. I’ve concluded that if you look healthy people can’t believe you’re so sick. And, that unless someone has been in your specific battle they just can’t relate or understand. They mean nothing personal by their lack of understanding.

But, we each long to be understood and comforted. When we already feel like we’re on the edge of a bridge about to tumble down we need every bit of encouragement we can find. Praise God for a wife that did understand the urgency of my condition. She didn’t hesitate by saying, “Don’t worry about what other people might think. Do what’s best for you I know you wouldn’t leave if you didn’t feel so bad.” Just that little bit of understanding love helped me do what was necessary to settle my nerve pain.

The greatest thing you can do for someone going through a tough time you can’t totally understand is to love them with as much grace and encouragement as possible. In the process, you will lift their spirit instead of only crushing more of their heart.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Ephesians 4:29

Another Raw & Real Moment

Written: Jan 12, 2018 (Late Night)

Please don’t take a word I’m about to share as whining or just wanting attention. What I’m about to write is just for my own sanity, healing and hoping to let someone else not feel so alone in their journey. Extreme pain for too long takes you to a very dark place. It’s like you’re stuck in some kind of torcher chamber.

Inside those walls you feel so alone, helpless, and miserable. You would give anything for someone to set you free from the misery and pain. But, you look around and see no one with a key and who you believe really hears your cries for help.

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to unbearable pain. My body feels so broken and my spirit has been so discouraged even now. I can’t even imagine going through such torment without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I do believe I would be high as a kite or drunk as I can be right now without Jesus stabilizing me. Or maybe I would ponder taking my life if this is going to continue.

I warned you this would be raw and real. One can have great faith and still be in a great battle. I feel like satan just keeps saying, “Now, what? What are you gonna do now Mr Believer that thinks God is so good?” Well, I’m gonna keep believing, keep walking in obedience and keep trusting Jesus every step of the way.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Frozen In Time

Written: Jan 12th, 2018

One thing about chronic illness is it’s hard to separate your days from nights. Every hour feels like a day and everyday feels like forever. You feel like life is standing still and often like it’s passing by without you. Everyday feels the same as your pain leaves you feeling like a prisoner in your own body.

You have to determine everyday to look for the positive amidst the painful. You have to believe that nothing takes God by surprise. Therefore, whether orchestrated or allowed by God, He has a plan for your present life. Just because life has changed doesn’t mean God is done with you. In fact, many times you are led to believe He is doing even a greater work during this time.

Yes you always have moments you feel like a newborn baby crying for it’s way. Yes it’s not the most enjoyable moments of your life. But, believing God is at work preparing you for an even grander plan is comforting. Believing that God is presently at work is a game changer. You might not like how you often feel, but you’re encouraged that God can even use you while you feel frozen in time.

“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

THANK YOU GOD FOR MY SUFFERING

Jesus on the cross

I’ve reached a point I never thought I could or would. I’m beginning to thank God for my pain. Even as nerve pain continues to radiate through my body I just can’t deny what I’m sensing and seeing. God is using my pain for my good, the good of others, and for His glory. Once you see God using even your deepest pain it’s hard to not celebrate what God is doing. I still don’t like any of it, but I’m finding so much joy in the midst of it.

Personally, my prayer life is reaching a height never before possible. I find myself living in constant pursuit of God not just when I need something, but because I know He is still at work. I’ve become so much more aware of His presence and I’m learning what it means to truly have peace even beyond your circumstance. God is drawing me closer as I’m learning to release total control of my life to Him. In fact, I’m learning how to trust that God is totally in control.

On top of the richness God is bringing within me He is doing such a great work around me. My struggle keeps creating a bridge of opportunity. One, I’m able to display to others that God can and will hold us together even in the midst of utter chaos. Two, I’m able to identify with the struggles of those around me in a way I could not before. And, finally I’m hearing testimony after testimony of how God is using my pain to encourage others in the midst of their pain.

How can I not celebrate the good God is doing? Even when things feel so bad I find such joy in knowing that God is working miracles. I’m finally learning what it means to take joy in your trials because you know that God is developing you and others through it. Let’s just admit it that apart from crisis most of us never find our way to the foot of the cross. Thank you God for allowing me to suffer in a way that can bring you such glory. Thank you for all You have done, are doing, and will do despite the suffering we face in this world.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.”                         (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Living Without My Full Legs

Ball And Chain

It’s been well over a year since I’ve ever gotten an ounce of sleep without medication. Even still I’m thankful for rest any way I can get it. It’s my only chance at recharging and possibly healing. Asleep is the only time I’m totally without pain and some level of discomfort. Everyday I’m learning how to live without being at full strength and without my legs fully underneath me.

Anytime I get out of the bed I hit the floor with extreme heaviness in my legs. Even if I sleep eight or more hours I will feel like I’ve got weights tied to my ankles due to my nerve pain. God always gives me a reason to get up and the strength to get out the bed. Most days feel like eternity and like I’m dragging an extra person behind me. Therefore I try to shorten my days as much as possible.

Now, I honestly don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I don’t spend countless hours saying, Why God? But, I do ask God daily to help me not waste the platform he has given me. The struggle He has given me helps me identify with others who struggle. The struggle He has given me helps me to have greater compassion and grace towards others. The struggle He has given me keeps me driven to my knees and realizing I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.

No matter what you’re going through there is always a reason. It may be the consequence of your sinful disobedience. But, it may be something God has allowed to grow you and reveal His greatness.

“ As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
John 9:1-3