I did not plan on sending this out until I got the official job offer but something inside told me not to delay.
Psalm 56:3- When I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You (Amp)
Romans 8:28- And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them
Job 42:2- 2 "I know that you can do all things;
I have made reference to letting go of the past several times in my devotionals. Still, I cannot help but wonder where my life would be today if I never had adrenal fatigue. Of course, I do not know the answer and can only speculate about “what might have been”. What is certain is that things would be very much different today. There is no doubt that it has made me a better person on the inside but outside of that would I ever actually end up better off as a result of it? I am just beginning to see that the answer just might be “yes” after all.
My friend Susan (www.susiemc.wordpress.com) wrote in part on her blog :” If we fully trust in Him, then we can be confident of the WAY He is directing us, we can trust that He is TRUTH, and He not only sees the big picture, but He has His BEST design in mind for our lives.” She also quoted a friend that said that faith is trusting in advance what only makes sense in reverse. How could an energy crash and a full year of unemployment followed by being stuck in a dead end job possibly be the “best design” for my life? I’ll do my best to be brief but yes it is starting to make sense (in reverse). I applied for several bank jobs and financial analyst positions near the end of my time at Clemson and saw nothing work out. Given the current financial crisis, it is now clear that those jobs would not be a very attractive option. I still had my BS in Accounting in which I could fall back. Those of you who know me well can tell on any given day simply by looking at me whether I am feeling well, sick or somewhere in between. In a job interview, the candidate is under a microscope and it was not difficult for hiring managers to see that something was wrong. I’m sure that I lost a few good chances of employment with CPA firms simply because I looked bad physically and appeared depressed as well. What did I miss by being rejected? I missed a job in which I was not particularly interested and exactly what I went for my MBA to avoid. For a quarter of the year, I would have been working 12 hour days plus additional time spent at work on Saturday or even Sunday. Even if one’s adrenal glands are strong, that type of work for an extended period of time is bad for anybody’s health.
If not for the illness, I probably never would have moved to Alabama and although my current job/outside environment is not God’s best for me, working for the State may turn out to be the one path toward the ideal situation at this time. I recently interviewed for a more challenging position in which I am actually using my degree but is still relatively low stress and requires no overtime. The hiring manager at the Birmingham taxpayer center approved me as a new hire but the current hiring freeze presents more obstacles than normal. There is no timeline for my start date or even a guarantee that it will go through but God is bigger than all of the circumstances working against me. Waiting for me in Birmingham are a great group of Christian friends, many of whom share my interest in running and are comparable to me in terms of ability.
To my readers in Montgomery : I have been blessed to know every one of you and can specifically remember points in which you have lifted my spirits. If nothing else, I will keep in touch through this ministry. A few of my readers have suggested that I should be a consultant in the field of natural health. If that is a door that God opens in the future, I will take it. I know first-hand how it feels physically and emotionally to experience the symptoms of this disease and be told that your lab tests are normal. I know the strain that can be put on families and friends of people struggling with this disease. I can not only sympathize but say “I’ve been there and there is a way out.” No amount of schooling can ever teach anything like that.
In the past, people have made empty promises to help me find a job but I must remember that they are not my source. God is our source. When you turn on the computer and go to , you see that almost every day, some company is announcing job cuts. At one point, my current job was no longer secure and I faced the prospect of job hunting with no relevant experience again in a recession. I know that it is easy to slip into fear but I challenge you to meditate on the Word that reminds us 365 times to be not afraid but full of faith. I admit that I could be handling this job situation better than I am. Negative thoughts are what plague me quite often. I once quoted Murphy’s Law but was immediately corrected by: “God’s Law- when it does go wrong, He can make it right.” If you are one of the unlucky ones that lost your job in this economy, as difficult as it sounds, stay strong and trust in the Lord. Have faith that in due time, something better will come through. God is sovereign and if it is His will that you find your dream job in 2009, even a full blown economic depression cannot thwart His plan. Sometimes, seemingly impossible circumstances are when God is about to do something awesome and His glory is revealed. When that happens, there is no shortage of praise to God but can we maintain an attitude of faith and praise Him during those seemingly impossible circumstances?
Message #25- Don’t let the enemy steal your joy
John 10:10- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Romans 8:37- Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors [a]and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us (Amp)
I recently had a toothache and needed a root canal. When I told somebody about it, the reaction was as if it was a tragedy. While I appreciated the sympathy, I did respond that this really was not that big of a deal. Yes, the left side of my mouth was sore for a few days before and immediately after I saw the dentist but that’s better than my entire body. It had no impact on the chemicals regulating my mood and energy level. In fact, my recent half marathon was run when I had a toothache. A couple of weeks later, I went down with a bacterial infection. That one did sap my energy but had little impact on my mood and I did not let it get me down. In other words, it would take a lot more than that to steal my joy. Instead, it allowed me to be thankful that I had access to professionals who were able to fix the problems, antibiotics to knock out the infection and Ibuprofen to reduce the pain. I may not have the exact details but I recall a while back, Joel Osteen categorized issues into “5 minute problems, 5 day problems and 5 month problems.” A 5 minute problem would be getting stuck in a minor traffic jam or long line. A 5 day problem would be a root canal, the flu or an exam week/projects due. An example of a 5 month problem would be a serious injury or surgery in which a full recovery is a near-certainty. I would never downplay or make light of a 5 month problem but even that situation as described above will not be an issue in the next half of the year. Too many times, even strong Christians lose their cool over these 5 day or even 5 minute problems that will be gone by the end of the day or end of the week. I did handle the root canal and bacterial infection well but I am not completely blameless on this issue. Do you ever wake up feeling good and praise God then when you can’t immediately find your car keys and get stuck in traffic, it sets the tone for the morning? In addition to the root canal, my chronic fatigue symptoms flared up again in the days before the big race because of a mineral deficiency that arose as a result of my history of sluggish adrenals. When that does happen, it’s okay for me to feel depressed because the chemical imbalances are not my fault. However, it is not okay for me to feel discouraged and walk around defeated. Over the past year and a half, 90 % of the time, I recognize the cause of the flare up early and can fix it by taking a pill or not taking one thus returning me to my normal energetic self by the end of the week or even sooner. Instead of feeling discouraged, I should take the opportunity to be thankful that I am so well in tune with my body that I can minimize the duration and severity of the pain during the setback. I must recognize it as a 5 day problem or sometimes even a 1-2 day problem and must never succumb to fear of another full-blown relapse. As most of you know, I not only produced on race day, I smashed my personal record with a time of 1:36:16 (7:21/mile) and set my sights on greater achievements in the near-future.I could go on and on about everything that the enemy seeks to steal, kill or destroy but the one thing that I feel is the most dangerous is the stealing our joy. As followers of Christ, we must spread His light to a world that is in large part, lost. Yet, the enemy is a liar and uses all of these setbacks or inconveniences in an effort to dull our enthusiasm for the Gospel. Don’t let him do it. The energy crash of 2005 and both rounds of job hunting do not fall into the category of a 5 day or even a 5 month problem. I will not sugar coat it. It was and is extremely difficult especially for someone as young and active as I am. However, even that does not give me an excuse to walk around defeated. To my new readers, I believe that there is a way out of any form of chronic fatigue and depression due to chemical imbalances and by His stripes we are healed. My achievements with this physical body have been greater than anyone thought possible, myself included. Regardless of whether you have chemical imbalances or some other thorn that is unrelated, Jesus did not go to the cross and conquer death to see believers walk around discouraged and defeated. By His Love, we claim a victory that is more precious than anything we can possibly imagine. When a leader of an army goes to war, emerges victorious and reaps the reward, he is a conqueror and that’s exactly what we are. The only difference is that the real battle has already been fought and won on our behalf. The enemy has already been defeated and no amount of suffering and affliction can separate us from Christ’s love.
Ephesians 6:11- Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
James 4:7- Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Hebrews 10:35-36- So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
As I write this message, my heart is extremely heavy. The following messages were posted on Cure Zone, an online discussion forum for various health problems:
“I can't even go into a grocery store without suffering for a whole day afterwards with severe exhaustion and brain fog and depression. I seriously cannot live like this any more. I'm almost 21 years old now, and this has been going on since I was 17. Every day is a battle. Every day is another day of loneliness. Every day I am unable to do anything that requires energy. I cannot work out. I cannot hang out with people. I cannot play tennis. I cannot dance. I cannot be silly and hyper.”
This one is even more heart breaking:
“I have developed a severe, suicidal depression, can't sleep at all (sleeping pills are useless.) I really have no hope at all. “
In both of these cases, the enemy has pushed them so far that in their warped point of view, they actually believe that they would be better off dead. Referring to that as a tragedy would be a serious understatement. For the record, I can relate to the first post because there were some days in which it was a struggle to get out of bed and go to the store but that only described me at my absolute worst and those periods did not last nearly as long as posted above. As for the second post, I never felt anything close to depth of pain that would drive one to consider suicide.
The first emotion that I feel after reading something like this is compassion, of course. You need not be a Christian to feel empathy toward someone who has appeared to have given up hope but what we as believers know is that we have an Intercessor who not only cares but also experienced the pain of this world to a degree that most of us cannot even comprehend on the cross. In another instance, the Word says that Jesus wept when he saw that Lazarus had been buried in a tomb (John 11:35). That is the shortest verse in the Bible but it is also one of the most profound. Here, Jesus knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead but when He saw the pain and anguish among people who loved him, Jesus was still overwhelmed with sadness. That should tell you something about how He feels when you are facing the physical and emotional pain in a trial.
The second emotion that I feel is helplessness. I posted the URL for my website on the forum and later sent private messages to those who posted the above items. I have yet to receive a reply from either of those two individuals and do not know what else I can do. I wish that there was a magic pill that I could recommend for everybody that is a “cure all” for any pain no matter what the nature of the chemical imbalances. I cannot do that. Even the best doctors in the field need a comprehensive diagnostic test to determine what will help, what will hurt and what will be ineffective. What I can do is expose common problems in mainstream medicine, which offer an explanation as to why standard tests are often inconclusive and why common treatments are ineffective. I can also help link others to professionals who are qualified to make decisions regarding how to target and ultimately correct the imbalances. Perhaps, it is #2 on my Mission Statement that is the key. Suffering patients must truly believe that their condition can improve or else they are unlikely to seek new treatments and if they have resigned themselves to a miserable life, they may be less receptive to the message of hope in Christ.
If those two people had the same diagnostic tests as I, the degree of imbalances would make me appear perfectly healthy by comparison even back in 2006. You may hear from various sources that you cannot even come close to your former energy level and to simply accept chronic fatigue and depression for life. A common response to my site is: “I don’t believe it.” Words can’t describe how sad that makes me feel. Since I have posted links to my training log and race results, you would have to be blind to doubt that my recovery was real and I certainly would not know so much about the disease and treatments if I had not been through it. Others have beaten this disease through other means so if the hair test protocol does not work for you, hope is not lost by any means. My recovery has been improbable but nothing is impossible with God (Matt 19:26)
In order to defend oneself against the enemy’s attacks, I have found that it is vital to meditate on the Word. I cannot promise you that this action alone will have any impact on your symptoms but it will cause the enemy to flee from you. After you put on the full armor of God, when you hear that you will have to live out your life with crippling depression and fatigue due to chemical imbalances, you will recognize it as a lie from the depths of hell and deflect the attack. Yes, I heard that garbage too and the source was a so called mental health expert. Even in my darkest days, I knew deep inside that God had something better for me and He has something better for you too (Jer 29:11). When my physical body told me that I was over the hill at the age of 20 and had debilitating fatigue at the age of 25, it looked bleak on the surface but a major reason why I am doing as well as I am is that I did not listen to what anyone else said and did not give up on the truth that I knew deep inside. Again, my heart breaks for those two individuals mentioned above. I do not know their names but God knows all about Cure Zone and for whom I am praying. My rock bottom period in my mid 20s was quite deep and everything imaginable was going wrong so I know firsthand to never throw away trust in the Lord and yes this applies to those who are hurting worse than I ever was as well. I admit that in early-mid 2006, part of me wanted to throw in the towel but I think that I am living proof that perseverance pays off.
Again, I cannot recommend a “cure all” for broken physical bodies because similar symptoms may have very different causes and thus require different treatments. That said, even the lab has been surprised by how well my numbers have come into balance so God is active in my healing. I can recommend one solution for a broken spirit and the solution is Jesus. You may be overwhelmed by anguish over failures in your personal life or have been through some type of tragedy. There are too many causes of a broken spirit to list here but in this case, there is a “cure all” and that is following Jesus Christ as your Lord. I have probably tried over 100 different pills, some of which were quite potent, at various times over the years. Some made me feel better while some were ineffective or even caused my symptoms to worsen but Jesus offers a different type of powerful healing that is deeper and more meaningful than the strongest pills that I have taken. I may have felt that I cannot get through a day without certain pills but Jesus is whom I truly cannot live without.
Here's a YouTube video emphasizing the point of never giving up:
Now, I would like to draw a parallel with financial debt and salvation. I recall seeing something similar to this on a leaflet a few years ago. Suppose that you had a $500 bill due and were unable to pay it. Then someone that you do not know stepped in and paid your debt with no conditions of repayment. Of course, you would be grateful. Now, suppose that your debt is $50,000 or more and it was also forgiven. In this case, your level of gratitude would be even greater. What Jesus did to forgive our debts is priceless. It is my hope and prayer that this message will somehow reach people that have heard the Gospel but do not know Jesus that they may gain a new perspective of the degree of His love.
Message #28- new beginnings
Acts 17:26- From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
1 Thessalonians 5:18- give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Luke 5:37- And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
The weekend of May 8th-10th was a great one for me. I set a new marathon PR with a time of 3:43:22 and arrived home to find a letter that was not a rejection in my mailbox. In Message #24, I wrote of a new job that was still not certain to go through but felt moved by the Spirit to write it anyway. After a 6 month saga in which my status alternated from no/yes/probably/maybe more times than I care to count, I was informed that I am moving to Birmingham, Alabama. It has been 4 years since my graduation from business school and as of now, I am satisfied with where I am in life. I will try to be brief about how I got to this point. Running has been a big part of who I am for more than half of my life and only now do I feel that I am truly using it for the kingdom of God but it amazes me how He has used it to chart my path. In the Fall of 1999, my journey took me to Wheeling Jesuit University, a small Division 2 school in West Virginia. If WJU had not recruited me so heavily for track and had not awarded me a significant academic scholarship, I probably would have chosen another university. As most of you know, I was an abject failure as a college athlete but 2 important developments would spring from this disappointment. First, I knew that such a sudden drop off in performance at 20-21 years old was not normal no matter what anyone else said so I began researching thyroid disease. I learned much of what I have written in the Flaws of Traditional Medicine about 7-8 years ago in college. Second, when seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord, I met an older student who led an underground Bible study on campus and read the Word cover to cover for the first time in 2002. Because most big name MBA programs require work experience and I had little interest in working for a CPA firm, my options for graduate school were limited. Clemson was an easy choice because of its strong academic reputation and location. Although I held my own in the classroom, my overall academic experience was a disappointment and the aftermath was infinitely more painful. Perhaps I would have done better at VA Tech or Auburn but I still believe that God wanted me at Clemson. It would be 2 years of significant spiritual growth and close friendships with a campus ministry known as the Navigators. It was there that I first began writing commentaries on the Bible and studying it at a deeper level. Only after that point could I begin applying it to my health situation in late 2006. A full year after graduation, I lived in GreenvilleSC and saw my job search going nowhere and I remained undiagnosed despite having been to a “top doc” in mainstream medicine. Signs were clear that I should move to a new city and my parents supported my decision. I felt drawn to Birmingham for quite some time and chose to settle there because of the low unemployment rate, the prospect of getting a diagnosis in mainstream medicine (I was not yet sold on the hair test protocol) and the fact that the running club offered opportunities to make connections and was a fit for all ability levels (I could do very little running at the time).
Now, how did everything work out? If I had done a saliva test instead of a blood test in mainstream medicine, it likely would have revealed moderate adrenal fatigue and the only mainstream treatment is cortical steroids. I now know that this could have been disastrous for someone with my body chemistry so I needed to stay in SC just long enough to give the hair test protocol a try and I think my race results show that it has been the best solution. However, if I did not declare my intention to move to AL regardless of my job status, I do not think that I would have been hired as a State employee because it is so difficult to move from government to the private sector especially if you are looking to relocate. Lastly, it is unlikely that I would have gotten my new job if I was not already a State employee. Budget cuts forced a hiring freeze but I was an exception because the additional cost of my employment elsewhere would be minimal. Now, it is clear that everything fits together (Romans 8:28).
I do not necessarily feel that it is a good thing overall for so many people to leave their childhood hometowns but if you have a heart after God and seek to discern His will, you will not make a mistake when it comes to a life altering decision such as college or where to live. I had simply hoped to use my time in Montgomery to get back on my feet as far as my health then get a better job in Birmingham within the next 12 months. It turned out that I would be there for almost 3 years and for a time, my frustrations mounted. Finding friends proved to be difficult in a city in which most people marry young. To put it mildly, my job situation was less than desirable also. I once thought this period was nothing more than a holding pattern and a waste of my time. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The feedback that I have received indicates that my messages have gotten better over the past year so indeed this has been a fertile environment for my growth in Christ. Some of my most encouraging subscribers are co-workers that I met in the midst of this work environment and I have added 10 of my friends from Montgomery to my distribution list. These friendships would not have developed into long-term contacts if I had gotten to Birmingham when I had hoped in 2007. Please do not look upon any stage of your life as a waste. Even if there were times in which you made some bad choices, it is not a waste but an opportunity to see how much you have grown and to encourage others not to fall into the same traps. Yes, I had my share of heartache in WV, SC and AL but met lifelong friends and people who were instrumental in my growth as a Christian in each of these states. It would take too long to single out everyone but you know who you are and I will always appreciate you even if we are not currently in close contact.
The part about giving thanks in all circumstances, including chronic fatigue and unemployment, is still difficult for me to accept but I cannot argue with the Word of God. I have high hopes that this new job will be the ideal situation for me at the present time, maybe even for the rest of my career. As I have demonstrated, I probably would not be where I am today if all of the events that I wrote of did not take place. Some of you may be in circumstances that you do not understand and I sure did not understand mine. I do now. God has the best designs in mind for our lives. We don't see it but that's what faith is all about (Hebrews 11:1). Every time I get a new subscriber or thank you note, I know that I have not suffered in vain. Will I ever make a living in the field of natural health? That's in God's hands and I'll let Him take care of it if it is the best design for me down the road.
The Word is full of examples of new beginnings but none is more significant than the Resurrection. Now, imagine if the apostles had preached the Gospel in a pre-Resurrection mindset with a focus on sin offerings, circumcision and "clean and unclean food." Where would Christianity be today? This is an extreme example but in some instances, under new circumstances, it becomes even more important to change wrong attitudes and actions. When some of you were young in your faith, perhaps you held on to certain sins even after you became a Christian but at some point, it became more important than ever to leave it behind. As for me, I don't want to hold on to my frustrations any longer in this better environment. My prayer request is that the Lord will continue to speak to me and allow me to carry on this ministry under new circumstances as my health problems continue to fade from relevance. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Message #29- value to God vs. the world
Jeremiah 1:5-Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
Romans 12:4-5-4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
I hate job interviews. There, I said it. I could rant for 2 whole pages but this is not the forum to do so. The good news is that I should not have to go through the process for a very long time. I did have an interview for another position just before the offer and performed poorly. One question that really tripped me was when I was asked to describe my greatest accomplishment at my current job. After some hesitation and stumbling, I gave a one line answer and was immediately asked if there was anything more that I could add. In my previous job, with very few exceptions, the only accomplishments possible are avoidance of keying errors. Even if most of your reports are error free, it is not very impressive when you are being considered for a postion with more challenges and responsibilities. In the NFL, the holder of field goals is a job is usually held by the back up or third string quarterback who is deemed to be either too inexperienced or lacking in talent to perform in a role that requires greater skill. Even if he handles every single snap, it won't impress scouts who are looking for a starting quaterback for next season.
When I was in high school in the late '90s, I brought home almost all A's on every report card and was a Varsity athlete for 3 years. I got my share of recognition for my accomplishments but was never satisfied unless I was #1 at everything in which I set my mind. Yes, I believe strongly in giving your best effort to honor God but back then, it was all about me and how I could look good compared to my peers. Needless to say, I was unhappy quite often when I did not live up to my own unrealistic expectations. In the eyes of employers, I have accomplished very little in the 4 years since graduating from Clemson's MBA program in 2005.
Now let's add God's perspective to this situation. Although I was raised in church and considered myself a Christian, I really did not have much of a relationship with the Lord until college and it showed in my outlook on life. If the dean of admissions had asked me to talk about my greatest accomplishments in high school, I would have given a very strong answer to that question and could have talked for several minutes. Now, suppose someone had asked me about the greatest thing that I had done in my service to the Lord during that time of "high achievement," my answer would have been far more hesitant and much weaker that the one that I gave in that job interview. My focus is now on how I can best glorify God but I think I can safely say that in His eyes, I have done more that I can be proud of in the past 2 1/2 years than at any other time in my life.
You may be told by the world that you are too inexperienced or worse, lack the talent to ever perform important duties in the workplace but that is not how God sees you. In His eyes, all of you have superstar potential and posess a wide variety of spiritual gifts. Mine seems to be encouragement (unknown to me until recently) but others may be gifted in teaching/preaching or the music ministry. Maybe some of you are young in the faith and are unsure of what value you may have to the Lord, I encourage you to keep following the Lord with all your heart because you too have superstar potential and your gifts will be revealed and may eventually multiply (Matthew 25:16) while others who waste their gifts may see them taken away. All members of the body of Christ, with their spiritual gifts working together to glorify God, can produce tremendous achievements for the Kingdom. All of you were also created for a purpose in this life and whatever that may be, whether large or small from the world's perspective, do not ever think of it as insignificant. As I wrote in my last message, there may be periods of time in which you feel that circumstances may be preventing you from realizing that purpose. Again, please do not consider it a waste because quite often, it is God's design.
Relating back to the earlier sports analogy, all NFL quarterbacks, including Hall of Famers, make poor decisions on the field from time to time. If you look at the stat sheets, many of these Hall of Famers had entire seasons in which their performance was sub-par and some were even benched at times during their careers. I will admit that in my walk with God, I have had a couple of sub-par years and come to think of it, when it comes to reaching God's standards, we all fall short all the time (Romans 3:23). If a player does not perform up to standard in the games, he often sees his role reduced, is put on the bench or even released from the terms of the contract because his team does not feel that it is worthwhile to keep him around. This is 180 degrees apart from how God sees you. Despite all of our mistakes, God will never revoke the new covenant of salvation through faith in Jesus. We will never be "benched" or told that we cannot perform a vital role for the Kingdom because of our record of sinfulness. I want all of my readers to get a revelation today that yes, you can become the "superstar" that God has called you to be. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Message #30- fellowship with God
James 4:8- Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Matthew 11:30- 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
May of 2009 was a very good month for me but it was also quite hectic. The move required 3 consecutive weekend trips from Birmingham to Montgomery (round trip of about 160 miles), scheduling a moving company on short notice for items that I could not carry alone, many hours of cleaning and tying up other loose ends. The first of these 3 trips was the week after my marathon in North Dakota. The typical weekend day included rising at dawn to run followed by a 75 minute drive. Much of the rest of the day was spent removing my unwanted items, carrying heavy boxes (my physical strength is still not up to par) and traveling across town to take care of other unfinished business in Montgomery. By mid-afternoon on each of those Saturdays, I became exhausted and my body basically said “Enough” and crashed out. Fortunately, I did feel better after napping for a couple of hours.
I did make it to church each of these 3 weeks but outside of that, I had little fellowship with God as my mind was elsewhere during the moving process. Then, during the next week, I read several chapters of the Old Testament and followed it up with about an hour of solid quiet/prayer time. At the end of it, I really got the sense that the Lord was communicating clearly to me and saying just how much He enjoyed our time together. My closest friends are spread out across the country and it is unfortunate that we do not get to see each as often as I would like. In today’s mobile society, we see that is the case quite often. You may feel that you have taken those friendships for granted to a large extent when you lived in the same city but really see it as a treat when you do get together now or even receive a call. With God, it is always a treat to hear from one of His children and it may well be an even greater treat the more often you talk with Him through prayer or reading the Word. I do not know where all of you are in your walk with the Lord but I have been asked what has made the greatest difference in my attitude/worldview and the answer is reading the Bible. In 2002, at a time in which I rarely, if ever read the Word, I opened up Genesis 1 and read straight through to the end of Revelation over a period of about 8 months. For those of you that have never done that before, I highly recommend that you do so. If you are dedicated to regular reading, you will know the Word perhaps better than I and may feel led to share it with others. If you think that you lack what it takes to do something like that, think again because I have been there too. The Word is full of examples of God using seemingly ordinary people to do amazing things and it would take too long to list them. There is no reason why you cannot do something great yourself. Consider your shortcomings from the world’s perspective and ask yourself if there is any obstacle that God cannot overcome.
Once, I allowed myself to be impressed with my knowledge of the location of various races across the country and paces per mile for many marathon times. I soon felt as if the Lord was gently reminding me, “If only you knew the Word that well.” If you want the Lord to do something amazing through you, get to know Him intimately. The move was just one example in which I allowed worldly cares or annoying errands get the best of me. Sometimes, when tasks take longer than expected and my Type A personality takes over, my attitude can suffer and I think to myself: “It’s been a busy day. I just can’t afford to spend much time with the Lord.” Actually, I cannot afford not to do so. Several years ago, when I was involved with the Navigators at Clemson, one particular message about giving God “prime time” really hit home. The speaker was a phD candidate who regularly stayed up until 1 AM studying. He reported that whenever he read the Word for 15 minutes before bed time, his day was not very productive. When he devoted more time in the middle of the day, he was amazed by how his increase in productivity. Some people may see following Christ as a burden or a cost but nothing can be further from the truth. I have considered where I would be if I was not a Christian through this long and painful ordeal of battling chemical imbalances. The answer is that I probably would have tried illicit drugs and been addicted immediately because of my low dopamine level. The true burden is being a slave to sin and if you draw close to God and let Him change your heart, those sinful desires, whatever they may be will fade away.
Here's a You Tube video that illustrates fellowship with God.
Message # 31 (Jehovah Rapha- God our healer)
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
67Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. …for I am the LORD, who heals you."
My heart has been a bit heavy recently as I have had contact with several people suffering from chronic fatigue. In every case, the patient has experienced much of what I have been through. Some of my contacts have not progressed as quickly as they had hoped and others have shown some improvement but have hit a plateau and remain far below their former energy levels. I am pleased to report that in my latest 5K race, I came within 14 seconds of my best ever with a time of 19:27 (6:14/mile). At last, I am within reach of my PR at a distance in which I competed in high school. However, keep in mind that it has taken 3 years of treatment and lots of ups, downs and plateaus to reach this point. My last medical report revealed room for much improvement and I expect ups and downs until I get to balance.
I serve a big God who can do whatever He wants to do and however He wants to do it. Among Jesus’ recorded miracles, He healed people by laying His hands on them, simply speaking the word and yes, spitting on a face. The latter really doesn’t make much sense to us. Why would Jesus spit on somebody’s face when he could have just as easily healed him without doing so? In my view, this passage in Mark’s gospel contains several important lessons including trust, patience and completion of a work. The blind man most likely had heard wonderful stories about Jesus and the first thing this man does is spit on his face, hardly a friendly gesture. At first, the man could see but his vision was badly blurred and it was not until Jesus touched him a second time that everything became clear. What stands out to me is that Jesus began a good work and saw it through to completion (Phil 1:6). Throughout most of 2007, I was doing a lot better than the previous year and was able to function at my job but if you knew me well during that time, it would not surprise you to learn that I was battling health problems. If you have been praying for a miracle recovery and are frustrated by hitting a plateau, I have been right there with you and all I can say is that God’s healing does not stop at the halfway point. Consider the paralytics. They surely did not need a cane to walk after Jesus was finished healing them. It may have multiple “touches” but in the end, the blind man could see with 20/20 vision. The same principles apply to your career and your relationships. Perhaps an important relationship has improved from its lowest point but it is still not where it needs to be. God will see it through to the end. In many circumstances, God’s way of doing things makes no sense to us at the time but His ways are infinitely higher (Is. 55:9). I can bet that being spit on made no sense to the blind man but Jesus’ unconventional way of healing him certainly worked out well.
Is there any connection between Jesus healing a blind man by spitting on his eyes and Jesus being spit on himself on the way to the cross? I'll leave that to theologians. I will say that first, it underscores the fact that Jesus went through many of the same painful emotions that we do. He too felt abandoned by the Father on the cross (Matt 27:46). Second, seeing Jesus tortured, beaten and crucified certainly made no sense to His disciples. However, after the Resurrection, their "eyes were opened" and the healing that we receive from our sins is infinitely more meaningful than healing from sickness.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites had been exhausted and dehydrated from the day's journey and had seemingly reached a point in which they could not go on. They came to a lake only to find that the water was too bitter to drink. It appeared that they were done for until a "piece of wood "was used to make it sweet. A commentary stated that this was the first appearance of Jehovah Rapha- God our Healer. That being the case, I am betting that there is indeed a connection between this "piece of wood" and the cross. You may be reading this and reflecting on your own life and whether you are a subscriber,or an anonymous reader, you may recall a time in which you, like the Israealites, felt like you could not go on any further but then found Jesus, who took on the bitterness in your heart and made it sweet. To those readers who do not know Jesus, He can do the same for you. Whoever drink the water of Jesus will never thirst and become a spring welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).
Message #32-stepping out in faith
Galatians 6:4-5 (Message)- Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
Ephesians 2:10- For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I don’t deny it. I have a competitive streak. For the most part, it is either internal or healthy competition with, not against my training partners. However, I admit that there have been times when I have crossed the line to being envious of other people’s gifts and have felt that there were certain things that for various reasons, I simply could not do. That is a very poor quality as a Christian.
A major theme of the movie Facing the Giants, which is one of my favorites, is to honor God by doing your best and leaving the results up to Him. In an impassioned speech to his players, the coach says that if we win, we praise Him and if we lose, we praise Him. In a sub-plot, the kicker struggles with self-doubt at various times during the movie and once bemoans the fact that God made him “so small and weak” and questions it. His father replies that it is to show how mighty He is. I can certainly relate. First, I have never been known for my physical strength even before the energy crash. Before I truly knew the Lord, I based my entire self-worth on my performance in the classroom and on the track and was competitive to the point of it being unhealthy. Self doubt and feelings of being second-rate or inferior plagued my thought life continuously. I cannot begin to say just how wrong it was to have that type of attitude. When it comes to spiritual gifts and the Kingdom of God, sure some of us are stronger in certain areas than others but we must never sell ourselves short. I seem to be gifted when it comes to encouragement and writing is primary tool used to get the Lord’s message out. I may not be as strong in other areas but does that mean that I cannot be used in those areas to further the Gospel? Absolutely not! For example, I am not the greatest public speaker and although I am friendlier when symptom free, my personality is still a little on the introverted side. I am certainly not called to be a preacher but that certainly does not mean that I cannot participate in Outreaches or share the Gospel with others. I have shared my testimony in the form of a speech on a few occasions when I felt that the Lord had led me to do so. It was never something that I felt comfortable doing but my message was always very well received. I have found that when you take a step out in faith and go “outside your comfort zone,” it is then that your blessings will multiply.
In a previous message, I stated that all of you have superstar potential regardless of your past record of sinfulness. I stand by that assertion but neglected to mention an admonition and I now state it as clearly as I can. Don’t waste it! Consider what happened to the man who buried his one talent (Matt 25:25). I have been familiar with that parable for a long time but the fact that the servant offered the excuse that he was afraid only recently hit me on a deeper level. Because he remained in his comfort zone, he did not earn any interest on his talent and ended up losing it to the man with the ten. The Bible is full of example of people that had been called by the Lord to do great things but in almost all cases, they expressed deep reservations at first. The one that stands out the most to me is Moses. He too was “slow of speech” and felt “second rate” and “inferior” and seemingly lacking in any type of leadership quality. Now compare Moses’ actions early in the Book of Exodus with Deuteronomy and consider the wonderful transformation. I want to challenge all of my readers that if you feel that the Lord is leading you to do something that you may find uncomfortable, the Word says 365 time "do not be afraid." Step out in faith and do it without hesitation. Then, He will take you places that you never dreamed possible.
Message #33- a few words on prayer
James 5:16-16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
1 Thess. 5:17-Pray without ceasing
-Psalm 37:4- Delight yourself in the LORD
Like most people in their early teens, I tried to convince my parents to allow me to do certain things that were against their wishes. Whether I got my way or not, I now realize that doing those things was not in my best interest. Now that I am older and wiser, I seek their advice whenever I face an important decision and we rarely disagree about the best course of action. I recently heard a parallel on that went something to this effect: Prayer is not an exercise in which you try to convince your Heavenly Father to do something that He does not want to do. Rather, it is a direct line of communication with God that should result in your desires being lined up with His.
It is unfortunate that passages such as “ask and he shall receive” have been misinterpreted to the warped idea that God is some type of Genie or Santa Claus that will grant any wish that is asked of him and people feel that they have somehow been let down when it does not happen. In the movie Bruce Almighty, God answered “yes” to every prayer and those of you that have seen the movie know that it did not turn out so well. True, God did tell King Solomon that He would grant any wish but I would wager that He knew his heart and knew that his answer would be wisdom. As I wrote in Message #17, there may be situations in which you are free to penetrate doors that have been closed by God. It could be a job and/or move to a new city that is not the right fit for you despite a higher salary or an unhealthy relationship that is not in your best interest. You may “get your own way” and God turns a “permanently locked door” into a “closed door that can be pried open.” If you do “force open” one of those closed doors, be prepared to face the consequences.
Now, with all of that said, when used appropriately, prayer is both extremely effective and an under-utilized means of fellowship with God. Anyone who does not pray without ceasing does not fully utilize this tremendous opportunity for fellowship with the Lord. I recall hearing on the radio some type of scientific study that concluded that God truly does answer prayer. If you believe the Bible, you know that the study was completely unnecessary as there are numerous examples in the Word of answered prayers. There are also examples of instances in which God answered only after prayers were offered for others. Job was restored after he prayed for his friends (Job 42:10). From my perspective, I feel especially close to God after this action. When you do so, I encourage you to not only lift them up regarding needs that you are aware of but also lift up everyone in their sphere of influence that will have an impact on their lives. I have found that in some cases, the may reveal to you needs of that person that they had not mentioned.
God not only has our best interests at heart, he is also omniscient and is thus never wrong about what is best for you, yes even when it looks ugly on the surface. Anyone that has read my entire website knows that I have studied relentlessly when it comes to chemical imbalances but I’ve had combinations that my doctor has not seen before and had to get on my knees and cry out in hopes that the cause and solution to my symptoms will be revealed. In the Gospels, Jesus is always perfectly willing to heal people in need but often, it is only after they humble themselves to ask for it. In Message #11, I compared our dependence on God to that of a newborn on a mother’s milk. When I humble myself to that degree, God has yet to let me down.
You may be reading this and given thought to your Ask yourself, when you pray to God, what is your motive? Are you seeking personal glory or are you looking to glorify Him? How is your attitude? Are you truly seeking to discern His will or do you seek to have your wishes granted? Do you have a rebellious mindset commonly found among adolescents or do you humble yourself like a little child?.
Final disclaimer: This message is in no way intended as an attack or stereotype of teenagers. 85% of people that make decisions for Christ do so before turning 20. Teenagers are the ones that need our prayers the most.
Message #34- Anxiety, resignation and the Bible
1 Peter 5:7- Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you
Matthew 6:34-Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself
Mark 4:18-19- Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful
I have written extensively about my fatigue and depression but not so much about anxiety, which had been nearly as debilitating. The Bible is very clear on this subject. There is absolutely no reason for it. Yet, there were times in which I had panic attacks for no apparent reason and had to lie down for an hour or two. I found out later that the cause was a severe deficiency in the neurotransmitter GABA. The panic attacks were in direct opposition to what the Bible says and something in which I had little to no control. To me, this proves that it is not God's plan for you to live with symptoms of chemical imbalances. I have said this many times but some of my readers may need to hear this again. Despite my anger issues during my rock bottom period, my salvation was secure but Jesus did not go to the cross and conquer sin and death for us to have unyielding misery in this life. That's right, if your chemical imbalances are severe, unyielding misery is the only outcome until you receive healing. Of course, support networks are important but certain imbalances will cause you to feel depressed even if circumstances are good. I still maintain that no matter how bad you feel, there is something out there that will help and my prayer is that all of you will be healed regardless of whether you take my path or not.
Three years prior to the energy crash, I went through a stressful time after my former doctor took me off the thyroid medication too quickly. I experienced fatigue, depression and worse, brain fog during an important semester. I needed a good score on the GMAT (grad school entrance) and at least prevent my GPA from falling too far or else I would be rejected by most good schools and if my symptoms were not relieved, I would be a failure at that level. I had good reasons to be worried but I did have faith. The end of Matthew 6 was some of my favorite reading. When the pressure was on, God allowed me to pull myself together. I finished the semester with a 3.55 GPA and scored 50 points higher than necessary on the GMAT to get into Clemson and I got the reprieve from my symptoms that I needed to get my MBA. The Word tells us to number our days aright (Psalm 90:12), to be anxious for nothing and to never throw away our confident trust in the Lord no matter what happens (Heb 10:35). Just how much of our valuable days are wasted on needless worry, time that could be better invested in the Word or at prayer? Yes, count me as guilty on this count as well. In my view, there is an attitude as a Christian that is worse than chronic anxiety and that is resignation to failure and I believe that worry could lead you down the road toward resignation if your fears are occasionally realized. Recently, one of my friends, who is not a Christian, told me that realistically, I "will probably have these medical issues all my life." I FLAT OUT REFUSE TO BELIEVE THAT NO MATTER WHAT! Based on recent events, that sentiment is by no means blindly optimistic. Every day this month has been virtually free of symptoms. At one point, I was taking upwards of 10 pills to manage my condition. Today, I am down to 4 and set a new personal record in the 10K with a time of 41:43 (6:43 for 6.2 miles)
My friend Megan, who was recently healed from adrenal dysfunction, posted on Facebook something to this effect: I don't like when people say "it is what it is," because it diminishes all hope and hope is what drives us as a nation. Well said. I could have said that I hate this chronic fatigue, depression and anxiety but it is what it is. Indeed, I have had contact with people who are on the verge of giving up and that breaks my heart. You may have an issue in your life or that of someone that you love, be it a medical problem or something unrelated that you rightly feel has not been right for a long time. True, some of us need serenity to accept what we cannot change but I would wager that we can change is more than we realize and we must seize those opportunities. I exhort you to delight in the Lord and have faith that it will be set right in due time and I pray that you will never succumb to needless worry, fear or resignation to failure.
Message #35- A singles perspective of the Holiday season
Luke 2:11- Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord.
Isaiah 40:31(Amp)-But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
Psalm 139:8- If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
John 3:16- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life
This is a time of year when we hear songs such as "Joy to the World" and "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" but I know that for many of you, this time of year is anything but joyful. I admit that some negative thoughts crept into my mind as well. Those of you that have struggled with chemical imbalances know the strain that it can put on important relationships. I've had several subscribers confide in me that they are either facing those issues now or have in the recent past. In many cases, there is a lot of ignorance about the nature of these conditions and people simply do not understand that you cannot choose to be happy in spite of it even if external circumstances are favorable. Even those closest to me did not understand that point until recently. For this reason, I made the decision to put off any serious dating until I at least had it well controlled. It was the right decision given the entire scope of my situation but for others, it may not be so. For anyone reading this that may be dealing with relationship issues as a result of imbalances, I want you to know that I curse any negative assumptions that arise from ignorance. I pray for supernatural healing and until then, in the name of Jesus, I speak a spirit of understanding as well as unconditional love and loyalty into that relationship. As of now, I have my condition very well controlled (praise God). Still, as many of you realize, being single this time of year can be difficult emotionally. I do get along well with my extended family but without that special someone, I feel alone. I know that some of you have been hurt in the past and this time of year could bring those feeling to the surface. I may not be able to relate to how you feel but I can say that thiat attitude is all wrong.
Message #40- connective tissues and fellowship
John 14:6- Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
Isaiah 53:5- He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed
Ephesians 4:16- 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
In February and March of this year, I traveled to Nashville to receive prolotherapy treatments for acute pain in the Achilles tendon and lingering soreness from an old hip/groin injury that did not heal properly due to my imbalances. Upon examination, the doctor determined that the pain was due to damaged connective tissues and found numerous trigger points that very sensitive to moderate pressure. To illustrate the damage, consider frayed wire or the attached picture of a rope that is nearly split in two. I received several injections of a special solution directly into the sensitive areas. The pain from this procedure was roughly on the scale of a root canal at the dentist. Despite the fact that I groaned and winced, the doctor showed no hesitation because he knew the short-term discomfort would be well worth it in the end. Because of my relatively low level of pain prior to the treatment, I was healed after 2 visits but severe cases require more extensive care.
Now, I want my readers to consider “connective tissue” in a different way. Because of our sin, the connective tissues that bound us together with God the Father were not just badly damaged but severed completely. In a previous message, I compared our separation from God to a ravine that is impossible to clear with our own effort but the cross is the bridge that we take to reach the other side. In a similar sense, you could say that human efforts to save ourselves could be analogous to applying an Elmer’s Glue stick to a thick rope that has been cut in two. While it is necessary to endure pain to heal the body’s connective tissue damage, to say that the process by which our connection to God was restored was extremely painful would be a major understatement. I saw the Passion of the Christ in 2004 with a friend from Clemson and we agreed that there was nothing that we could say afterwards. Years later, I am still at a loss for words. Relating back to the scope of prolotherapy treatment, depending on the severity of the case, less extensive “treatments” such as animal sacrifices or other “sin offerings” in the old covenant did not work out for the best. I am of the belief that we inherited original sin at birth. Jesus shed His blood and died for the young child who throws a fit after not getting his/her own way as well as for the adult who believed and repented after years of living in sin. As much as I believe that by His stripes we are healed from our diseases, it is FAR too small of a thing in which to place your hope in an eternal perspective.
Pain from my hip/groin injury had spread to my lower abdomen. Tight hamstrings can cause pain in your knees. There are numerous other examples of pain in various parts of the body caused by weakness in a seemingly unrelated area. Those of you who have suffered from adrenal disease know that you are more likely to struggle with depression, brain fog, thyroid disease and blood sugar issues. It is all inter-related. In the same way, Christians who may struggle with a weakness in one area can see it “spill over” to many other parts of your life. Because of this, it is vital for individual Christians to “connect” themselves with a strong support network of other members of the body of Christ. Encouragement, teaching and correction are three key spiritual areas are of utmost importance in fellowship. You may be stronger in certain areas than others but if you connect yourself with people in a manner that will expose you to a wide variety of spiritual gifts, it will inspire you to grow as well. I still struggle with low self-esteem from time to time so it is important that I am fed a steady diet of encouragement. However, if I miss out of fellowship with people gifted in teaching, my ministry will suffer. Also, as important as it is to have people as “cheerleaders” for me, I am most grateful when a person corrects me when I do wrong that I may avoid it in the future. In conclusion, as much as I am amazed by what my physical body is able to do when healthy; the impact on the Kingdom is infinitely more profound when you are connected to the Father through the Son and are connected with other members of the Body.
Message #41- Spiritual warfare and Protection
Prior to my last half marathon in Nashville, my prayer was that I would best glorify God regardless of the outcome even if it meant that I do not perform as well as I would have liked. That’s a real sign of spiritual maturity even if I say so myself. I felt like I was in great shape a week prior to race day yet I endured one of the worst races of my life. However, I feel like God really taught me some important points so I hope this message will be worth it.
Ephesians 6:11- Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes
John 3:16- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 5:8- 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Nearly 4 years after the diagnosis, I still must make adjustments to my formula periodically to prevent a relapse. Fortunately, my bad days occur less frequently nowadays and when they do, the symptoms are less severe. I have competed in 16 road races over the past 2 years with amazingly good luck regarding my condition on race day. No matter how much I had been struggling in the week leading up to the race, I felt strong when it mattered most and performed well almost every time. Last month, I hit a rough patch starting just 2 days prior to the race and eventually realized that I needed to be taking a supplement for low serotonin. Without it, I was both unprotected and unprepared for the rigors of 13.1 miles of running on the hilly streets of Nashville but still finished safely. Later that evening, I was watching a documentary on the History channel about ancient warriors armed with swords powerful enough to cut through some very thick objects. Yet, when these weapons struck a shield or body armor, they barely made a dent. It was determined that the Spartans were the greatest of the ancient warriors because of their defenses including a large protective shield.
In this life, we face a powerful adversary who hates us. The question of Satan’s attacks is not a matter of if but when. Depending on your relationship with the Lord, your armor and shield may be large and nearly impenetrable or small and weak with numerous holes. What can you do to improve your defenses? I see 4 key things: get to church, pray, read the Bible and have fellowship with other Christians. As my readers know, I was hit with vicious attacks on multiple fronts in 2005. While my frustrations mounted, I was not doing those 4 key things on a regular basis if at all. Thus, I was left wide open and defenseless against the enemy’s ruthless tactics. The attacks continued after I rededicated myself to the Lord in July 2006 but I have been much better able to block the blows. Even Christians who feel as if they do almost everything right can still be vulnerable. Sometimes the deadly weapon may strike the armor but the force of the blow is so strong that it knocks the warrior to the ground. How we respond when this occurs is of utmost importance in our Christian walk. Like most people, I find that I more vulnerable to temptation when frustrated over certain unmet needs. When that happens, many people feel ashamed to go to God in prayer until a certain period of time passes because of feelings of unworthiness. Well, I am of the belief that we are more sinful than we realize even in our so called “good” periods and therefore we are never worthy. So go to God in prayer anyway. As Toby Mac says, “Get back up. You’re going to shine again. You may be knocked down but not out forever.” I assure you that the Holy Spirit is there to lend a hand when you are down but it’s up to you to take it.
Nobody’s defense is completely impenetrable for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of the God. This condition leaves the enemy with a prime opportunity to strike a killing blow by hitting us in an unprotected area. In the Old Testament, Israel lost battles and suffered severe casualties when they were without God’s protection. Since we are all sinners and the wages for sin is death, we have all been hit in an unprotected area but the good news is that Jesus took those killing blows for us on Calvary. Like I said in a previous message, we are conquerors through His precious blood and the battle has already been fought and won on our behalf. To illustrate just how lopsided our victory is, consider a football game that pitted the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints against an average middle school team. No contest!
Message #42- Approval
1 Sam 16:7- ... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart
-Luke 9:26- If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
-Matthew 28:19- Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
-Luke 17:3- So watch yourselves.
A message about approval of the world versus God could ruffle a few feathers but the Lord placed this message on my heart several months ago and I feel that I should not delay this one any longer. My tone is different from the usual good news and encouragement. I expect that this one will be best suited for young people so if you know any teenagers who need to hear this, feel free to forward it.
I have struggled with this one to a degree since high school cross-country. When you are the top runner on your team, everybody else looks up to you and even athletes from rival schools will seek your friendship. If you are number 3 or 4, that’s not the case and you may find yourself looking to earn the respect of more talented athletes. Now, 12 years later, I have been working hard to beat my high school personal records at the shorter distances. Thus far, I have come frustratingly close in the 5K (less than 5 seconds/mile) and subsequent efforts have been slightly slower. What will happen if/when I beat that time? Yes, I will get more respect from the running community. I will get more visitors to my blog and maybe some people will be more inspired by my testimony but from an eternal perspective, will it matter one bit if my best time was 18:59 or 19:13? Maybe some of you have other lofty goals in which you will gain more recognition if your achieve them. I’m not suggesting for a second that you should give up because it is not important but I do ask you to step back and consider just how important it will be in the Kingdom of Heaven . How about focusing on something that is truly of utmost importance? How about helping win souls for Christ?
I really don’t have any fear about sharing my testimony with other believers even if I don’t know them well and I have stepped out of my comfort zone to speak about it on a few occasions. However, I confess that in the past I have downplayed my faith when in the company of non-believers because of my fear of rejection. I’ve repented of this and urge anyone else to do the same. True, most of my messages have been about the “good news” but I am trying to reach a target audience, some of whom have had chronic health issues for many years and are on the verge of giving up hope. They need milk, not solid food that represents harder teaching.
A recent survey showed a disturbingly high percentage of Americans believe that what’s right and wrong depends primarily on one’s culture and background. Even if you do believe in moral absolutes, the relativism in America is bound to have an impact. My small group leader told a story about someone who said “Yes, I love Jesus but I am not real open about my faith because I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ people.” Just take a look above and see just how contrary that attitude is to the Word. I suppose that “those people” are evangelists who tell non-believers to stop living a sinful lifestyle or they will go to hell. In my view, that is the wrong approach. I tend to focus on God’s grace and the relationship with Jesus with those who need milk. If the new believer is sincere, it will not be long until the Holy Spirit convicts them of their sinful lifestyle. Even those who did not become believers have said that they appreciate me “reaching out.” If you think your personality is not suited for this sort of thing, think again. One of the quietest girls that I knew at Clemson was also the most fearless when it came to sharing the Gospel. If you are afraid of the response that you’ll get, look up Voice of the Martyrs and read about the persecution that Middle Eastern Christians face. That will put it into perspective. The worst that I’ve experienced is some weird looks and a few sarcastic remarks. Big deal!
When it comes to those who have been in the church for years and are caught in a pattern of sinful behavior, I feel that the approach should be different than it is when reaching out to a non-believer. My view is that the person in question should never be exposed to public shame nor should the friendship be cut off immediately. Love them and pray for them but it is even more important that they be told gently but in no uncertain terms that their actions are wrong/contrary to the Word. That's exactly how I would want to be treated. Also, be quick to forgive and accept them if they repent. Now, the more difficult question is what to do with those who harden their hearts and refuse to repent. In the early church, there was a situation in which members had relations with their step parents, refused to repent and preached that they are covered by the blood. The apostle Paul responded by suggesting that immoral brothers be expelled and any relationship ended until they repent. In my view, this action should only be taken in extreme circumstances and even then, continue to pray. You can still love them but great care must be taken to prevent enabling or allowing them to drag others or yourself down. You are rejecting the actions/attitidue, not the person. Yes, they may be hurt by the correction and it could strain the friendship. However, consider the possibility of this person making serious mistakes that alter the course of his/her life and knowing that you could have helped prevent them from going further down that road. I welcome any comments on this subject.
Message #43- Influence on the world
Proverbs 16:23-24- A wise man's heart guides his mouth,
Message #46- Complacency and grumbling
Exodus 17:3-The people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"
Deuteronomy 8:11-12,14- But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
Revelation 2:5- Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.
At the age of 30, I really feel that I have made it. I’ve got a pretty good job and some real good friends. The city of Birmingham, Alabama is a perfect fit for me and for the first time in almost 12 years, I am healthy and no longer dependent on pills. The very fact that I am even alive is a cause for celebration. Some of the treatments that I received in mainstream medicine were actually called “malpractice” by other physicians. I am aware of two people from my hometown that did not make it through their 20s. Both struggled with clinical depression and turned to illegal drugs for relief. If I had tried that poison even once, I would have been hopelessly addicted.
Now that I am healed, I praise God but at some point, I can see myself saying “Okay, now what? Where do I go from here?” Of course, there is still that one major missing piece in my life and the enemy has really stepped up the attack on that front in recent months. Still, I have resolved NOT to grumble or complain about not having a girlfriend and am depending on people to call me out if I do. Even more importantly, now that the Lord has delivered on what I wanted most for so many years, I must never become complacent. This will NOT be the apex of my spiritual journey. After the Lord delivered Israel from slavery and oppression in Egypt, it was not long until the grumbling began. They even went as far as to say that they were better off in slavery.
Tragically, we see many examples of celebrities that were raised in Christian homes that literally sell their souls for fame and fortune. Today, they have all sorts of legal problems and emotional distress. I could rant for a whole page about how America is obsessed with people who are extremely talented in one area and are otherwise moronic but that’s another subject. Chances are these people did not turn into scum bags overnight. It’s a slow fade in which people may not even realize what is happening because they are so swept up by the fame.
I do not have any illusions of gaining fame by writing a number one best seller but I could see myself becoming well known and respected locally in the Christian community. My accountability will never be higher and I can expect the enemy’s attacks will become more devious so I must always remain on guard against the slow fade. Here’s an example of what happens far too often:
A man is devout Christian who does all the right things (church, Bible, prayer, fellowship, etc.). He has a good and comfortable life but is slowly becoming just a little arrogant. His time in prayer and Bible reading diminish over time. One Sunday morning, he wakes up and does not feel like going to church. No big deal, right? Soon, it begins to occur with increasing regularity. Later, he starts dating an unbeliever and trades in his Christian values for Hollywood values. Sadly, I have seen this very thing happen more than once. Happiness may come for a season but in the end, it cost them dearly. Now, as for the related subject of stagnation, many of you have been saved for upwards of ten years. Most likely, you have grown strong and wise in the faith. Sanctification has taken place and you are showing the signs of a born again Christian but odds are, the enthusiasm that you had in your first year as a believer has waned a bit. Above all, do not let your guard down for the slow fade could begin as simple stagnation that develops into regression. As for me, I feel that overall I am a stronger Christian than before the energy crash in 2005 that led me to rock bottom but I confess that in the area of Bible reading and note taking, I am not as strong as when I was with the Navigators at Clemson. Here’s an outline to prevent stagnation and the slow fade:
1. Stay humble- when you feel invincible or simply too comfortable, you are setting yourself up for a fall. You are a child of God and as dependent of Him as a newborn is on his/her mother.
2. Accountability partners- surround yourself in fellowship with good influences that are willing to call you out if you start heading down the wrong path. A true friend would rather risk offending you than see you pay dearly for living in opposition to God’s will.
3. Change your routine- instead of simply reading a few random chapters of Scripture in the evening; try a detailed study of a New Testament letter or a book from one of your favorite Christian authors.
4. Seek new opportunities to serve- I genuinely enjoy writing these messages and when you serve God in areas most suitable for you, it will not even feel like work at all.
Quick note on the future of this ministry:
-As long as the Lord lays these messages on my heart, I will keep writing.
-Now that I am healed, there will be less talk about chemical imbalances and my messages will be less self-centered.
-I have about 50 subscribers, which are mostly close friends from Clemson, Montgomery and Birmingham plus a few others who found my site randomly. I’d like to grow my ministry and expand it to those that I don’t know as well.
-The good news and encouragement will still come out but the focus could shift more towards teaching and Christian living.
Message #47- Holiness of God
Acknowledgment: Thanks to my small group leaders Kevin and Jenny Swindall for the inspiration of this one
Ezekiel- 1:27-28- I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
Matthew 17:2,5- There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!
Exodus 20:7- You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name
God. When you hear His name spoken or see it on a page, what does it mean to you? Does it evoke overwhelming feelings of reverence and awe not to mention a depth of love that my words cannot even begin to express or is it just another empty 3 letter word? For most Americans, I'm afraid that the true answer is closer to the latter option largely because He has been devalued so much in our culture. The above Scripture verses are just 2 of the times in which our Heavenly Father revealed Himself in His glory. Take a minute or two to meditate on those Scriptures then picture yourself alone with God in all His glory and consider how you would react. One person in my group stated that she would feel so ashamed at herself because of her sinful nature. Indeed she does have a point. After all, the prophet Isaiah said "Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5) and our righteousness is but rags in the eyes of the Lord (Isaiah 64:6). However, it is my view that because the Son paid the penalty that we deserve, the "woe is me" reaction is no longer appropriate. How would I react? I'd probably fall prostrate and worship with every ounce of energy. Our sins may be beyond disgusting and filthy but we are made beautiful when we are covered by the precious blood of Jesus.
Now, on to the rant, which is the increasing misuse of the Lord's holy name in America. If you politely say that you would appreciate it if they would stop doing it, you can expect a sarcastic and condescending reply. The word "vain" has been defined as "lacking in worth" or "empty" so when the Lord's name is misused, it is devaluing the to the worth of an empty box that will be thrown in the trash. To me, that is more offensive than the f-word because it shamelessly breaks one of the 10 Commandments. It seems that these days, we cannot sit through a movie produced by Hollywood without hearing our Lord's holy name being used as a curse word several times. I want to single out the movie Sea Biscuit. Even though it was a good story, my opinion of the film was really soured by the constant cursing. My friend Payton went as far to suggest that any such movie be boycotted altogether. I initially thought that to be extreme until he brought up the fact that I would not stand to see a film that cursed my family name and attached profanity to it so why should I stand for the same disrespect of my Heavenly Father? That's the end of the rant. In closing, I want to ask y'all to once again consider God in all His glory and holiness with the knowledge that since you know His Son as your Savior, you will hear the Heavenly Father say to you: "Well done my good and faithful servant" and just imagine how that will make you feel when you get to Heaven.
Here's a video to emphasize the awe factor:
Message #48- Priorities
Exodus 20:3- You shall have no other gods before me.
Matthew 13:44- The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Luke 14:26- If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple
God comes first. Family/friends are next then everything else must take a back seat. Too many people know where their priorities belong yet do not act according. I’m just as guilty as the next person on this count. When I trained at 60 miles/wk, I devoted about 8 hours to training plus additional time online blogging on the subject. If I was to count the time I spent with the Lord, it did not always add up as it should. Over the next few weeks, we will see people paint their faces in support of their favorite team and become animated after every big play on the field. I really do not see anything wrong with that but it sure would be nice if they displayed the same passion and enthusiasm for the Lord as their “love” for their football team.
During the summer, while
Colorado , I was
listening to a Christian
radio program about family relationships that took an
unexpected turn. We all know that football and other hobbies can become
sort of god for some people but can your family become your god? The
guest on the show answered in the affirmative and suggested that if that
case, you could never recover from a tragic event (May God forbid that from happening to anyone!).
I agreed with
his assessment because there are many verses in the Gospels that support
point of view that it is wrong to put family before God. I find it
somewhat difficult to relate to people whose conversations frequently
their children and significant other simply because I am not yet at that
of life. What I am writing could be very unpopular so please do not get
me wrong. I think that it is wonderful that people love their families
much even to the point that they share details that many people would
to be insignificant. However, it sure would be nice if they were as
interested in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they are about
about their families. Jesus
break down any social barrier including age differences and lack of
interests. To put things into perspective, God knows the
number of hairs of your head so there is no detail about you the God
His love for you dwarfs that of anyone on this Earth. I challenge you
to know God on a deeper level and if you ask people that have truly put
God first; I
guarantee that you will
find few if any that will tell you that it was not worth it. What sticks out in Matt 13:44 is that the man joyfully gave up everything.
Okay, suggesting that you should “hate” your family is one of the most controversial and misinterpreted verses in all of Scripture. It also seems to be contradictory as well since the Lord clearly says that no disciple can hate his brother or else he has no fellowship with the Lord. Surely, no Christians can promote malice towards their family members so why would Jesus choose that word? I thought that perhaps the Greek word might simply mean “love less” or "indifference" but no, the word miseo literally means “hate.” Most commentaries suggest that softening the word hate is the proper interpretation. I have addressed that but would like to present a different point of view. I’m no theologian but it is my interpretation that Jesus did not use the word “hate” in reference to people but rather an attitude that may exist among family that can hold Christians back from true discipleship. If any of my readers grew up in an environment that was hostile toward Christianity and you experienced friction as a result of your decision, I would like to hear from you. Fortunately, in America , the practice of shunning family members is relatively rare. However, if you travel to the Middle East where apostasy from Islam can be punishable by death, you will find that Christian converts may be faced with the choice of the security of a good relationship with their Muslim families or possible martyrdom and the high probability of having no earthly means by which to support themselves in isolation. In that case, it is completely appropriate to hate those attitudes and practices. I am sure that there are some Middle Eastern people that choose not to acknowledge their belief in Jesus because of such fears. I really cannot say that I fault them but the Word is very clear on that subject. If you disown Jesus here on Earth, he will disown you before the Father in Heaven. Now, consider those whose love for the Lord is so great that they are willing to risk martyrdom and willing to give up all of their possessions and if need be, even their relationships with family. If you were to ask them if it was worth it, I’ll bet that the answer would be an enthusiastic “yes!” Those people are my heroes. More information on this subject can be found on the website:
My last challenge is to imagine a yardstick with the first 1/16 of an inch shaded red. The 1/16 of 1 inch represents your time in this world while the rest represents eternity. Are you living with an eternal perspective in this life?
Warning: This Voice of the Martyrs video is graphic.