Message #50- Promises of God
Psalm 145:13- Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises
Praise the LORD, my soul,
1 Cor 15:58-
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain
Ephesians 3:20- Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
I am in the midst of a remarkable comeback from a mini-relapse. As my family will attest, I was not in good shape over Christmas and New Year’s. Just 6 weeks after receiving a very discouraging medical report, I came within 5 seconds per mile of my fastest half marathon ever (7:10 pace for 13.1 miles on 2/13/11). I must admit that I was hurting badly during the relapse not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. What hurt the most was the fact that I had a brief period of freedom from all pills and felt that I was led to believe that the healing had manifested itself in my body when in reality it did not. I doubted that I would ever be healed in the life but thanks to support from close friends, I had a revelation. God has chosen me to be an instrument of healing and encouragement but I am facing an adversary who is continually trying to shut me up. God has clearly placed all 50 of these messages on my heart. All I have to do is type it and He would not put these words of healing on my heart if they were not true. If any of my readers have been faithful through a long trial and experienced disappointment, God did NOT lie to you and all of the promises of the Bible still ring true.
The purpose of my upcoming book is fourfold:
It doesn’t mean that you are mentally deranged or have psychological problems but it can prevent you from getting any enjoyment and enthusiasm out of life. That’s in direct contrast the promises of God and why I am so insistent that it’s not His plan for anyone to live out life in that state.
Doctors will not be easily swayed but I’ve presented a strong case for natural medicine and my race results don’t lie.
I have read heart breaking stories from other people suffering and hope that they will consider my case history and see that nothing is impossible with God and they too can regain what the enemy has stolen and have life overflowing with blessings.
From an eternal perspective, healing in physical body is too small of a cause. It is my prayer that non-Christians will consider the role that my faith has played in the healing process and get the revelation that there must be more to it than they previously thought.
I have done everything in my power to fix my body chemistry and have completed “crazy” hard workouts to reach my goal times but there was some selfish ambition involved. Friends have told me that a book could have a greater impact on more people than my current expectations. What I have outlined above is far more important than qualifying for a certain prestigious race in Boston. Amazing things can happen when you truly give all your labor to God and just as the Word says, the effects can be greater than you can possibly imagine in your wildest dreams. In all you do, give yourself fully to God and let the blessings flow to you and those you encounter.
Message #51- perspective on jealousy and envy
Proverbs 14:30- A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones.
Galatians 6:4- Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
Mark 10:31- But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Romans 8:28- And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
Over the past several years, I have heard from Facebook that many of my friends and acquaintances from college seemingly have everything together. In many cases, they had a good job within a month or two of graduation, fell in love in college or shortly thereafter and are living the “American dream.” If they have faced any type of trial, they certainly would not want to trade places with me. Many of these Facebook friends are indeed fine people who have worked hard to achieve success in life. Although I am happy for them, in some cases, emotions of envy and jealousy were present. Envy is defined as “the feeling of displeasure produced by hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.” I am sure that this is a common problem especially for people in their 30s or younger. I repent of these feelings and urge others to do the same. My justification was that I had every right to be jealous and even angry. Much of my 20-something experience was stolen from me and I know that if I never had any significant chemical imbalances, I would likely be living the “American dream” as well. I had to overcome so many obstacles just to graduate and then even more to get a decent job. Therefore, I deserve it just as much as anyone else if not more so. There is no guarantee that I will get everything that I ever wanted or deserve out of this life but let’s take a look beyond it. If I was to ultimately get what I deserve, it would be eternal separation from God but thanks to His Son, I now have His grace, which is something that I can never earn with any amount of hard work or determination. There will be many people who seem to be very important from a worldly perspective but they will be among the least important in the kingdom of Heaven. Scripture says that in order to be great for the kingdom, we need to humble ourselves before God like a child (Matt 18:4). God is not concerned about the size of your home, the number of people on your friends list or even how many people read your blog. I seem to have a skill for the written word while others may be gifted in other ways that the world may not value as highly but are extremely important to God. Everyone can be proud of their work for the Kingdom and there must be no envy about someone else who may have a ministry that reaches a larger audience. So therefore, do not be concerned about other’s success even if you feel that they are less deserving. Humble yourself before God while continuing to love and serve Him and joyfully wait for His blessings to flow your way. Feelings of envy can also be indicative of a lack of faith that God truly has the best design in mind for your life and will cause everything to work together for good. God may arrange events in a way that we would never choose because He has greater knowledge of our needs and will allow us to serve a higher purpose.
Message #52- roots
Luke 8:13- Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
Isaiah 40:31- Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength;
Mark 2:17- On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners
It seems as if we live in a society in which we seek instant gratification as well as immediate relief from all of our problems. The biggest disadvantage to alternative medicine is that it is not a quick fix. It may be several months before you feel significant benefits. Also, it involves more than simply popping pills every day. I have also tweaked my diet, reduced my stress level and maintain a log of workouts which includes when I change my formula. As some of you will attest, there were times in which I had no choice but to seek immediate symptom relief. I was more concerned about functioning at work or school than training for a marathon. Despite some success relying on quick fixes, my numbers remained stubbornly out of balance until I found the long-term solution that resulted in gradual improvement. I see a number of parallels with our walk with God. When I present the Gospel, I never find anyone that does not acknowledge imperfections. Thus, the disease of a sinful nature is always an agreed upon diagnosis. Whether or not they accept the “proper treatment” for their sinful nature is another matter. While there may be several effective ways of treating a disease in the physical body, there is no alternative to the “great physician” that is our Lord Jesus Christ. I have heard beautiful testimonials from people that have struggled with substance abuse for years then never experienced another craving for drugs or alcohol after accepting Jesus but those cases are the exception rather than the rule. Relating back to alternative medicine, many patients give up on the plan far too early when they realize the length of time and level of commitment required. I fear that too many people look to Christ as a quick fix for all of their problems. They may become discouraged, or worse give up when their sinful desires do not immediately fade away or pain from an emotional trauma continues to rear its ugly head. That represents seed on rocky ground. Sometimes pastors talk about how large numbers of people make decisions for Christ following a Sunday message. Praise God for that but I often wonder just how many truly are on fertile ground and can yield a 100 fold crop. Following Christ involves more than simply showing up for church on Sunday morning and observing certain regulations. It is a daily commitment that requires consistent actions such as Bible reading, prayer and fellowship. A man at my gym recently asked me what it takes to reach my level of fitness. If I did not train regularly, I would be a middle of the pack runner at local races. True, I do have some natural talent when it comes to running but there is a limit to how fast I can go. When it comes to following Christ, I could never have an online ministry if I limited my time with God to one hour on Sunday mornings. As far as potential for growth, the sky is the limit for all Christians.
Message #53- Persevereance #3
Deuteronomy 7:22- And the Lord your God will clear out those nations before you, little by little; you may not consume them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase among you.
Philippians 1:6- being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
Romans 7:15- I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
1 Corinthians 9:25- All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
We see in the Gospels many instances in which men and women of faith were instantly healed from crippling diseases after many years of suffering. Indeed I have heard wonderful testimonials of people who were miraculously healed from various diseases with no explanation from the medical community. Praise God. Still, sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me and why I relapsed after a short period of freedom from all pills while in other cases, the healing manifested itself more quickly. Those of you that have seen my training log know that my bad days are often not isolated occurrences. I have had weeks or even an entire month or two in which it seems that I am going backwards in the healing process but with steady training, I continue to set personal records after age 30. I recently befriended a new runner named Stephen who is in the midst of an inspiring weight loss journey. He reports that he still struggles with binging on occasion despite full knowledge of its ill-effects and has had multiple weeks in which he regained upwards of 10 lbs. However, he has never failed to get back on track and has lost more than 250 lbs. since making the decision to get healthy. His blog can be viewed at www.whoatemyblog.com
If you have been a Christian for several years or more, you can recognize that the sanctification process is ongoing. Not only do you reject the “glamour” of sin, you find it flat out repulsive under normal circumstances. Yet, when faced with frustrating situations, you face a vicious cycle of sin that you profess to hate followed by self-condemnation. I am right there with you and so was the apostle Paul, who even went as far as to call himself a “wretched man.” If anyone begins to evangelize me by asking if I pass the “good person” test, my response would be no. Apostles and saints fail that test and I am no different in that respect. I am nothing more than a repentant sinner who loves the Lord and is saved by His grace.
I do not know where I would be today if my symptoms stopped permanently in college or graduate school but if the process had ended before 2007, this website would not exist and I would have no chance of a book deal to bring glory to God. At one point, I needed 10 different pills to function at a high level. The imbalances faded one by one until now, I only need one such pill. Joyce Meyer says that it is better to be set at liberty in one area at a time so that we can recognize that our freedom is truly a gift from God, not something that we can make happen in our own strength.
Most recovering addicts say that they relapsed several times before finally getting clean. If you feel stuck in any type of bondage, whether it be an illness, a chemical dependency or a sin that you profess to hate, please do not lose heart and do not accept it as your lot in life. You may reach a point in which you feel deliverance is impossible without the grace of God. That may in fact be true but I do not feel that waiting on the Lord is synonymous with inaction. With the armor of God as your protection, keep fighting the good fight and the Lord will continually work on your behalf even though you may not realize it at the time. You may face some steep hills in the race of life, some of which may break your resolve and leave you bent over in serious pain but if you get back up and keep pushing, you can still finish strong and the eternal prize is worth infinitely more than any trophy that I may win in this life.
Message #54- Prayer and action
1 John 3:18- Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth
James 2:15-17-Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Matthew 25:40- The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Recovery from any type of chronic illness requires an act of God. That may seem daunting but He has acted before and will certainly act again. So, what exactly does it mean to simply trust God in that area and let Him take control? In my view, it does not mean ignoring your circumstances, accepting your “fate” or taking no significant action in hopes that God will show up to solve everything. God will show up but sometimes we need to show our faith in Him with our actions. In the Old Testament, when the Israelites were being pursued by the Egyptians, the Red Sea did not part until they actually stepped out into the water.
If a person is diagnosed with cancer, they can and should have faith that God will heal them but it certainly is not a wise decision to refuse the chemo and make no significant lifestyle changes. In the same way, if a community is devastated by a tornado or hurricane, of course we should pray for the victims but nobody advocates doing nothing to help rebuild or leaving victims without basic supplies. In the same way, suggesting inaction in the face of chemical imbalances or continuing failed treatments of the past makes no sense.
I was actually discouraged from doing the research that led to the Flaws of Traditional Medicine Section and my friend Cindi was told to simply pray harder to make it go away. Such advice is well intentioned but badly misguided. If you have an unmet need, please do not think that it is because you have not prayed enough or properly articulated your thoughts to God. The answer will come in His time and the Holy Spirit will intercede with words that we cannot express (Rom 8:26). When it comes to fighting chemical imbalances which could have severe consequences if left alone, my basic outline is as follows: 1) work with a doctor who is flexible with a treatment plan, 2) pray for discernment of the proper course of action, 3) continue to actively seek a solution but don’t panic if you hit a roadblock, 4) recognize that God is the source of your healing. Pills are only a tool used in the healing process. God is my healer. On more than one occasion, I came to the realization that I tried everything in my power to fix the situation but failed. However, when I recognized that an act of God was needed, improvement was swift. My body still required some type of treatment. Failure to take any pills for an extended period of time left me injured and badly unbalanced.
In the movie Patch Adams, it was suggested that we may not win the fight in treating every disease in the physical body and when it comes to diseases unrelated to my condition, I concede that is true. However, if you treat the person, it is guaranteed that you will win. I also agree with the sentiment that the disease of indifference is one of the most ignored conditions among us. When I was bullied as a kid, yes it hurt to endure verbal and physical abuse. That said, those who hung around with the bullies but simply laughed along or ignored me altogether hurt nearly as much especially if they were in a position in which they could have done something about it. When it comes to relationships, despicable actions such as adultery as well as physical and verbal abuse are rightfully condemned but an indifferent attitude over an extended period of time will likely have the same result. We see many commands about what not to do in the Bible but even more about the good that we fail to do. Jesus spent much of his Earthly ministry addressing that subject. I am sure that there are some people who show up at church every Sunday as part of their religious duty yet it seems to make no difference in how they treat their brothers and sisters. If you have no love in your heart, you cannot know God because God is love. However, when you truly enter into a personal relationship with His Son, I can guarantee that your self-willed heart of stone will be taken out and replaced with a God-willed heart of love and compassion (Ezek 36:26).
John 8:32- Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Acts 9:18- Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
Hebrews 12:1- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us
My summer of 2011 was marred by extremely unstable body chemistry. Some days I felt great with seemingly limitless energy. I crushed my personal record for 10K with a time of 40:28 (6:30 pace for 6.22 miles) without the benefit of competition or a rest the previous day. Other days were nothing more than a grim “survival mode” in which my sole hope was to simply get through the day at work. Some of my bad days were characterized by abnormal fatigue, low grade depression and an apathetic blah feeling while others were filled with anxiety and restlessness. The most frustrating and baffling thing about all this was that I would flip from one extreme to the other literally overnight despite having made no changes to my formula or training regimen. For some time, despite my strong knowledge of body chemistry, I had no explanation for this extreme instability. Eventually, after some desperation prayers, it dawned on me that it could be related to a blood sugar imbalance. It seemed as though I needed more pills on the days following consumption of sugared drinks so I have vowed to cut them out of my diet entirely. It’s still too soon to say whether or not this is the key to getting near balance but early signs are promising.
How does this relate to walking with the Lord? I believe that many of my readers are in some type of battle in which they are being held back by the enemy from doing everything that the Lord has called them to do. The solution is easier than they realize yet something has blinded them, preventing them from realizing what it is that is holding them back. In the name of Jesus, I command those scales to fall from your eyes. I have attributed my instability to many complex factors but it is possible that something as simple as the occasional poor food or drink choice was the main cause of chemical instability, which robbed me of my health, bred discouragement and weakened my enthusiasm for the Gospel. Despite the lies of the enemy, which I hate to admit, I entertained, I still insist that God does not want anyone to live like I described above. For others, something just as simple could be holding you back. It could be a sinful habit, a negative influence, an area of unbelief, feelings of inadequacy or simply put, your relationship with the Lord is not where it needs to be. To my anonymous readers, maybe you have never truly had a real relationship with the Lord. Perhaps you have tried numerous self-help methods but you still have not found the answers or freedom from your burden that you desire. Maybe you have had a relationship with the Lord but somewhere down the road, you were deceived and blinded by the lies of the enemy. If you do give your life to the Lord, you will find an answer that is far simpler than any worldly suggestion yet the results are far more powerful both in this life and for eternity.
Message #56- Don’t give up
Hebrews 10:35- So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
John 11:43-When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
Revelation 3:8- See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Have I ever felt like giving up? That’s a question that I have been asked several times. As much as this may disappoint my readers, the answer is a resounding YES. While this site represents my hope for the future, my running blog is more of a snapshot of day to day life with chemical imbalances and instability. If you were to look at some of my entries from July and August of this year, you will find some rather disturbing and worrisome posts in which I explained the toll that it took when I repeatedly flipped from one extreme to the other literally overnight. Please do not put me on a pedestal just because I can write well. I am nothing more than a wretched sinner saved by grace and I have struggled with doubt and double mindedness at times just like you. However, in the end, I have always chosen not to lose heart and to continue the fight. Last weekend, my perseverance was rewarded with another personal record in the half marathon of 1:31:02, an average pace of 6:57 for 13.1 miles. The sovereign authority over my healing belongs to God. Regardless of what the medical report says and what others may tell me about my prognosis, I believe that I can be fully healed in Jesus’ name unless I get a definitive word from God that tells me otherwise.
We see in the Gospels many instances in which Jesus says “your faith has made you well” and “according to your faith, it will be done for you.” Indeed, Jesus performed few miracles in his hometown of Nazareth because the people were lacking in faith. However, there are also instances both in this life and in the Word in which people appeared to have lost faith yet God stepped in to teach an important lesson. I once heard a testimony of a man who was on his way to drive his car off a cliff but got stuck in Church of the Highlands traffic and was directed to the church parking lot. He had completely given up hope on his life and was all set to end it all but God stepped in to show that no matter how bleak your circumstances may appear, He has the final say about the outcome. Did this man completely lose faith? It certainly appeared so based on his plans when he started his car but my answer is to that question is no. Nobody forced him to actually enter the church. He could have stayed in the parking lot until traffic thinned out and proceeded with his original plan. The Word also says that even faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. In this case, he acted on that small amount of faith to enter the church building where he was receptive to the life giving message from the pastor as well the love that others showed him while he was there. Another example is that of Lazarus. He had been dead for days and his family appeared to have given up yet he was raised any way. After Jesus had been crucified and put in the tomb, do you think that the disciples expected Him to rise on the 3rd day? So that goes to show you that even if all the natural or worldly signs say “it’s over” or “you have lost,” God has the final say. True, there may really be times in which God’s answer is a firm “no,” in which case, you do need to move forward but until then, continue to believe. I know that a few of you are having problems with important relationships and I urge you not to give up on it even if all signs seem to say that it’s over. It could be a provision or a job that you need. I received a rejection letter for the job that I ultimately got 3 months later. Doctors did not know what to do about my medical issues and so called “mental health experts” told me that I was unlikely to recover. I said this in the beginning but it bears repeating: God has the final authority. That said, it still requires faith to receive His grace, mercy and healing.
Message #57- stay on offense
Ephesians 6:10-11- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes
Romans 8:37- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Proverbs 16:3- Commit your actions to the Lord,
During football season, coaches have a specific game plan for defeating their opponents. Sometimes, when facing a superstar player, coaches remark that they cannot expect to shut him down entirely. They can only hope to contain him and sometimes design defensive schemes in which they concede small gains while protecting against big ones. Such a strategy is rarely effective. The “prevent defense” specifically protects against the long pass play and most analysts agree that it is more effective in preventing you from winning because it leaves you defenseless against running plays and short-medium range passing. When it comes to spiritual warfare against the enemy, the same principles apply. If you succumb to the enemy and accept defeat in one area of life, it will not stop there but spread all over. I have written earlier about an effective defense against his ruthless attacks. I suggested four key actions as strong defense mechanisms: 1) get to church, 2) read the Bible, 3) prayer and 4) fellowship. I stand by all of that but have now considered another angle: a strong offense, which is reflected in your mindset as well as your actions. I am sure that many of my readers do all 4 of these things on a regular basis yet they are still willing to concede defeat in at least one area. That’s all wrong. According to the Word, we are more than conquerors by the blood of Jesus. The war is over and we have already won. The American Heritage dictionary defines the word conquer as follows: to defeat or subdue by force or to gain or secure control by force of arms. Jesus did not shed His blood on the cross for our sins to see us defeated in any way shape or form. How do you think He feels when we concede defeat? Do you always act as though you are a conqueror? I admit that in some instances, I do not. Low self-esteem has begun to creep back into my mind recently. Do I contain it by limiting my social interactions or worse, concede defeat by isolating myself? Doing so will impact not only how I live my life but also affect my future relationships and it will even impact how I present the Gospel. I went on offense at Bible study by writing down some hateful words that were spoken to me on a card then threw it in the fire. I declare in the name of Jesus that those words of hatred have no power over me.
Several years ago, many people suggested that it was not a big deal when I lacked the energy to run and suggested that I should either let it go completely or at least downplay its importance. I’ve treated my symptoms aggressively because I refused to give in on that issue and am now reaping the reward. I may still have mineral imbalances but my neurotransmitter deficiencies are almost completely gone. I have made many friends, which have provided more avenues to spread my message and hope to continue to inspire others as I press on toward my goals.
If you know what you want in an area of life whether it is a goal in health/fitness, career/finance or marriage/family, seek God’s guidance first. You may lose some battles along the way. Is it a legitimate roadblock as part of God’s design to redirect your path or just another petty attack by the enemy? That answer will become clear with prayerful discernment. I really cannot explain how I know the difference. I just know. After seeking God, go after what you want with all you’ve got and do not concede anything without prayerful consideration.
I know of a couple of people that have been through cancer treatment. Suppose that the doctor suggested that the treatment should be conservative. The plan would be to limit the treatment to maybe one or two sessions per year with no definitive end to it. The hope would be that the cancer will remain contained to one area of the body and the patient can manage to live with it. That makes no sense at all and neither does accepting defeat in one area in hopes of containing the enemy. There is nothing that you have done to earn the title of conqueror. Jesus won all the territory for you so don’t give the enemy even an inch or he’ll want more and more.
Message # 58
Colossians 2:11- When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature.
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Matthew 5:6- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled
1 Cor 10:13-No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it
How can I describe what’s involved in “cutting away” our sinful nature in a manner that can be understood by the world? First, the word “cut” correctly implies a violent and painful action. Surgery comes to mind and I suppose that it will suffice as an analogy for now. I have never had any major surgeries but I have had a couple of tooth extractions. In one case 2 years ago, the infection was so severe that I developed a fever of 102 degrees with swelling on the left side of my face. Now, imagine if my entire body and every vital organ was in the same condition. Tragically, in our fallen world, we see young people stricken with deadly diseases. If you were to visit them on their deathbeds, you would see that they bear little resemblance to the person that had been so full of vitality before the disease became apparent. That should give you a picture of the pervasiveness of our sinful nature and how damaging it is to live with it. Thanks to Jesus, we do not have to live with it nor are we bound by the Old covenant, which demanded perfection but it would be a gross understatement to say that the price He paid was high. Our Savior had to be beaten beyond recognition then nailed to a cross because of our sinful nature.
I have written about self-condemnation many times and I must distinguish it from Godly sorrow. Self-condemnation often refers to what you may have done years ago but still think about even though you have long since repented. This is always from the enemy and the Word says your sins will be remembered no more (Heb 8:12). Godly sorrow on the other hand is a good thing because it leads to repentance or changed behavior. Some people may confess their sins but have no intention of changing their behavior. I do not believe that is valid. A college acquaintance simply replied that “you won’t go to Hell for that,” in response to correction. I concede that in most cases, he was right in his suggestion that his actions would not lead to damnation but his lack of repentance might. Truly saved and sanctified Christians have a strong desire for righteousness and quick repentance from sin. Everyone will still mess up from time to time but sin should be an isolated occurrence, not a lifestyle pattern. If you are a person who tolerates and accepts sin in your life on the basis the Christ paid it all on the cross, I urge you to re-think your perspective. Tolerance for sin may become greater over time while repentance fades away. Only God can judge a person’s heart but in such cases, is the commitment to Christ genuine at all?
Jesus spoke in hyperbole in His suggestion to cut off hands and pluck out eyes to prove two points. First, he demonstrates that the seriousness of sin. From the Old Testament through today and beyond, God has always hated sin and that hatred has not and will not change. God will provide a way out but the solution is not always easy or painless. If necessary, “radical” actions should be taken to avoid anything that may lead to sin. If you have a problem with porn, consider ditching your internet connection. If you have a tendency to drink too much at parties, don’t even have one beer. All of this being said, I truly believe that if you continue to serve Jesus with a sincere and contrite heart, by His grace, you will be set free from the sin that so easily entangles you and your desire for righteousness will be fulfilled.
In closing, here is an uplifting video about what the cross has done.
Message #59- advancing the gospel
Philippians 1:12- Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
2 Tim 1:16- May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains.
2 Tim 4:7- I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
“I am sorry that you had to go through all that.” I hear that quite often, almost always from non-believers, after they view this website. I do not like to hear it because what has happened to me has helped advance the gospel. The focus of the rest of my life will be geared toward that objective. No, I do not have the life that I envisioned for myself when I entered Clemson’s MBA program in 2003. Although I was a Christian at the time, my life goals had nothing to do with expanding the gospel. Have I ever felt bitter about what happened? Regrettably, the answer is yes. Have I ever felt like giving up when I flipped from crippling anxiety to debilitating fatigue overnight? You bet I have. Now, consider the apostle Paul and what he had to suffer to advance the gospel. The man was shipwrecked, lashed, imprisoned and severely beaten multiple times before his martyrdom. I am sure that many times, he too felt like quitting but he had encouragement from others. Has anyone heard of Onesiphorus? I did not think so. We know almost nothing about him from the Bible, only that he was a dear friend and encourager of the man who wrote much of the New Testament. I have considered the possibility that if not for Onesiphorus, many of Paul’s letters never would have been written. I too have been blessed to have encouraging friends and without them, this ministry would no longer exist. Those to whom this applies know who they are:
You put your arm around me as you prayed for me aloud for several minutes
You provided an ear to listen when I needed to vent.
You greeted me with a big smile and hug when I came and did the same when I left.
You fed me a steady diet and support and encouragement.
You have shown undying loyalty and friendship for several years.
I have received e-mails from people from Canada, Europe and Australia as well as from all over the U.S. My running blog, which contains a link to this site, averages between 400-500 hits per month. The stats page shows that about 30% of my page views come from outside the U.S. My 2nd and 3rd largest fan bases are Russia and Germany. I can bet that some of them have at least learned of the gospel as a result. To those who have been there for me, may the Lord richly bless you. Y’all have also helped advance the gospel through your support. Everyone has a platform. For some people, it may be larger than for others. Do not focus on that but rather do your creative best (Gal 6:4). If you are faithful in “small matters” such as providing a Godly example to those you encounter, more opportunities will be given to you (Luke 19:17). When I leave this world, I want to leave something behind that will continue to be a blessing and a source of inspiration to others. If I am successful as a Christian writer, I can do just that. Again, you do not need to be a preacher or even a blogger to spread the gospel. If you train your children or others in the ways of the faith so that they can be a blessing to others, you leave a legacy that will carry on. Some people have been insensitive about my issues and it hurt so I want to discourage making light of things that really are a big deal in this life. However, I will say that none of my broken dreams will matter in 100 years. Imagine going up to Heaven and talking with the apostle Paul. If you said to him: “Man, you really suffered some nasty persecution. I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that.” How do you think he’d respond? He’d shrug his shoulders and say “Nah. Those were momentary light afflictions (2 Cor 4:17).”
Message #60- Response to unkind words:
Matthew 19:26- Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
John 5:44- How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Romans 12:2- Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Proverbs 29:25- Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
Most of the comments that I have received about this site and my running blog are overwhelmingly positive but I have experienced some people on an online forum recently who were critical of me. They viewed my workout schedules and in disbelief suggested that I overstated the severity of my symptoms for the purpose of self-promotion. Others disputed my claim of a breakthrough healing. I was called “full of crap” and was told that my posts make people “want to vomit.” Initial feelings of hurt and anger have evolved into pity and sadness over the lack of faith displayed by my critics. I repeat that my recovery has been improbable but nothing is impossible. My last race was a half marathon in 1:28:12 (6:44 pace for 13.1). I give all the glory to God and my performance is merely evidence of His work in me.
You may be envious of others who can post random thoughts on Facebook yet receive scores of likes and comments. Then you post something that you think is really profound and get little to nothing in response to it. I am guilty of that and I repent of such feelings and urge others to do the same. I also let go of any animosity toward my critics. If you know where you stand with the Lord, why are you so concerned about praise from men or women?
High school and college students know that in order to fit in, they had better talk a certain way, dress a certain way and behave a certain way or risk being thought of as an outcast. In his book Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow writes: “What’s the point of being normal? That sounds so average to me and I know that I was created for much more than average.” Well said Tim. Romans 12:1-2 spells out clearly that if we want to be true disciples, we must not conform to the patterns, views, thoughts and actions of this world. Does anyone want to be “average” in the kingdom of Heaven? I didn’t think so. In the Gospels, we see that many people chose not to become disciples because they were too concerned with the things of this world and seemed more interested in following the crowd than Jesus. If you are stuck with one foot in the world and one foot following Christ, you will never have a close walk with Him (no pun intended).
Thanks to reality TV shows and the rising tide of moral relativism, there are very few things that are truly shocking nowadays. If you want to stand out or go against the grain of societal norms, rebel through obedience to God’s commandments. Also, try going above and beyond what it is merely expected in helping others in need. I predict that you will be abundantly blessed as a result.
If you have a mission from God that can impact the lives of many, you can expect an adversary that will be constantly trying to shut you up. Don’t listen to it and don’t give up on your cause. When Jesus walked the Earth, not everybody spoke well of Him. He was accused of being a drunkard and a friend to “sinners” and tax collectors and foreknew that many would reject Him yet it did not dissuade Him from His mission. Now, 2 millennia later, little has changed. I’m sure that many of you have seen some of the things that staunch atheists post online because you don’t have to look too far to find it. During his free time, Tim Tebow often visits and prays with sick children yet others suggest that being a Christian “does not make Tebow a good person but it does guarantee that he is stupid.” Such vile comments seemed to anger me more than Tebow himself. Again, feelings of anger should be replaced with pity and sadness for the Word says to pray for those who persecute you so that they may know the Lord, repent and be saved. As Americans, any “persecution” is usually limited to unkind words. In the Middle East, martyrdom is frequent. Keep that in mind if you are ever insulted because of your faith.
Message #61- Holy Spirit 1
Message #62- Holy Spirit 2
Acts 19:2, 11-12- 2-Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 11-12- God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left
John 16:7- But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you
Acts 1:5- For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11- 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[a] his Spirit who lives in you
How does it feel to move away from friends and family? If you include college, I have lived in 5 different cities, which is pretty much the norm in today’s mobile society. In each case, the move was the right decision but it always hurt to leave friends and family behind. During these goodbyes, we assured each other that the relationship is important, vow to keep in touch and be “with each other in Spirit.” I am pretty good about keeping in touch with those who are dear to me but no matter how often we text, e-mail or call, it’s not nearly as good as seeing each other in the flesh on a regular basis. For years, that’s pretty much what I thought of the Holy Spirit. Jesus took his rightful place by the Father but as promised, He would not leave us alone to fend for ourselves. I always knew that the Holy Spirit was real but I thought of “it” as merely a “consolation gift” that was but a shadow of the real thing and did not have nearly the same power as the Father and Son. That is NOT what the Bible says. It is actually for our benefit that Jesus went to the Father so He could send the Holy Spirit and the Word says that we will do even greater than He has (John 14:12).
As I said in my last devotional, the Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity and of the same essence as the Father and Son. That’s right, this is a real person that you can get to know just like the Son; this is not some mystical cosmic force in the world. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is alive in each one of His followers. Indeed the apostles performed many miraculous signs throughout the book of Acts. Peter simply allowed his shadow to pass and Paul merely touched a few handkerchiefs. Again, if you think that this sort of thing does not happen today because the apostolic age has ended, think again. My friend J.D. who has been on mission trips to Africa tells me that he has seen a man literally on his deathbed from advanced A.I.D.S. He recovered and received a clean bill of health with no explanation from the doctors. I truly believe that we will see more miraculous healings here in America if we came to know the Holy Spirit. God is able and still in the business of miracles. I had a life changing experience on 12/10/11 and at 31 years old, I am in the best shape of my life. I only need one pill right now and it is only for preventative maintenance every few days.
Most Bible scholars believe that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in John 14-16 at the table during the last Supper. It was one of the last things that Jesus said before He was arrested so we should surely take notice just as we have about the breaking of the bread. How did the disciples respond to the talk about going to the Father? I can imagine a lot of blank stares and confusion. It is indeed written that there was questions among them such as “What does he mean by that?” Even after the resurrection, they still did not fully grasp what was meant by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus went to the Father in Acts 1, just stop and think about the range of emotions felt by the disciples over the previous 7 weeks. Having felt the anguish of His death to the unspeakable joy of His resurrection to seeing Him being taken in a cloud to the Father, their reaction was to simply stare at the sky speechless. There is no record of any words being spoken and I imagine that there were no words to capture how they felt. I’m sure they thought that they would miss Jesus terribly for the rest of their lives but it seems clear that upon receiving the Holy Spirit, those emotions quickly vanished. After all, they had just received the same essence of the Father and Son in Spirit form. What is most telling about the power of the Holy Spirit is that the same men who turned and ran less than 2 months earlier now had the courage to present the Gospel to all of the Earth in the face of massive persecution.
Psalm 103:2-3- Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases
Matthew 7:21- Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven
1 Cor 2:14-The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit
Most people that have had adrenal fatigue are in survival mode. Every day is little more than a grim battle to stay afloat. Meanwhile, I am a 4 time marathoner and getting faster after the age of 30. Those who actually believe my story cannot help but wonder what's so different that enables me to be doing so well. One of my friends, who is not a Christian, told me that he has considered the possibility that my "religious beliefs" are a key factor. While he is right that I do have a Higher Power at work inside me, referring to it as any kind of "religious belief" completely misses the point.
Now, for any new readers that I may have, let me try to explain this as clearly as I can. In addition to a strict diet that allows very little room for sugar, caffeine or alcohol, I will take supplements when necessary to keep my body chemistry in relative balance. Second, I am extremely well in tune with my body. If I cannot handle a certain pace in training and have not done anything hard in the last 2 days, something is clearly wrong. Third, I believe that through the Holy Spirit, I am better able to discern the proper course of action when I realize that something is wrong. According to Spirit Home, "spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter." Through consistent prayer, worship, study of the Word and fellowship, the direction that you seek will continue to become clearer. Lots of ideas cross my mind when I am hurting and I have, in moments of panic, taken the wrong pill before a race, which went very badly. However, in due time, there is that one idea that sticks in my mind and keeps growing that is the right solution. Yes, I still have the occasional rough stretch but because of this gift of discernment, I am able to reduce both its duration and severity.
Scripture tells us that simply having a "religious belief" is not enough and I will say with certainty that it alone will not help you in the area of discernment. Indeed, there are many false disciples that have a good record of church attendance who appear to be doing the right things yet they do not truly know the Lord and their actions are not rooted in the love of Christ. Remember also that the Lord does not merely judge your actions, he sees your heart and knows your motives. A person who is truly selfless will be judged much more favorably that one who did all that "good" work for recognition or awards. Get to know the Lord, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and anything that the world has to offer will pale in comparison to what God has for you.
2 Tim 3:16- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Rev 22:19- And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book
Galatians 6:1- Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
I once heard a story about one of our nation’s founding fathers whose name escapes me that I found both disturbing and relevant for today. This man supposedly read his Bible regularly but crossed out or cut out the verses that either did not fit his worldview or simply did not want to obey. While I am quite sure that none of my readers would go that far, if you make the conscious decision that you will not live by certain commandments, tell me what the difference is. Either way, you will be denied part of God’s blessing and could hurt others as well.
If you were to ask most Christians, myself included, about their favorite Scripture verses, they would most likely respond with the ones that address God’s plan to prosper you, all the good He can do for you and how He causes everything to work together for good. I see nothing wrong with that at all and I often meditate on such verses as well. However, if you were to ask them how often they think about the verses that deal with issues such as self-control, envy, forgiveness, and helping the needy, you will usually find that knowledge in those areas is lacking. One of the criticisms that I face is that my way of thinking is too absolutist or that I believe that I am always right. My response is that there are no provisos in God’s commandments. For example it does not say to forgive others unless you have been badly hurt in the past. It does not say that it is okay to be envious of others if you have suffered misfortune or have been mistreated. I could go on and on but the same reasoning applies to every command. I may not always correctly interpret Scripture and I know that I am not always right but at its core, the Word of God is.
Now, for what could be a little touchy: I’m sure that some of you know people who claim to be Christians who may accept what Jesus did on the cross. Also, they readily agree with the message of hope for the future. However, there are one of more areas of their lives that are blatantly in opposition to the Word and they have no shame about posting it online and sharing it with the world. If you truly care about that person, you ought to be grieved about it especially if it could present a danger to themselves or others. How to address it? I can think of 3 wrong ways to do it that could be dangerous or hurtful. 1.) simply ignore it and continue to enable that person. 2.) cut off the friendship without explanation. 3.) correct them in a manner that it overly critical, insensitive or self-righteous.
#1 is probably the worst option. There is a risk that you could be corrupted by bad company (1 Cor 15). If that does not happen, how would it feel to watch them face life-altering consequences for their actions knowing that you never talked to them about it? #2 is self-explanatory. It will certainly cause hurt feelings and again, there is not much chance of seeing changes if the subject is not even addressed. #3 presents a better chance of changes but could cause feelings of defensiveness, hurt and negative thoughts about other Christians. If you are led by the Spirit to address the subject, do it in a manner that centers around the love of Christ, how much you love and care about them and that they are better than what they have shown. It’s fine to use Scripture to prove your point and if they are offended by the Word and will not accept correction, I would question the sincerity of their commitment to Christ. Bottom line, get to the person’s heart so that their actions will follow suit. What do y’all think?
Phil 1:6- being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Proverbs 3:5-6- Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight
Isaiah 40:31- 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
As many of you know, I suffered a nasty relapse over the summer that was brought on by a severe intolerance to sugar (fructose). It progressed to the point in which I could not even eat certain fruits or breads without becoming depressed, fatigued and abnormally sore. After all these years, it does not get any easier emotionally. In fact, this one probably hurt the most because I fell so far. Within a day of receiving the Holy Spirit last December, I began to improve and eventually had to quit my last remaining pill. During workouts, I could not believe how fast I was going with so little effort and set personal records by wide margins in the full and half marathon.
I’ve been told by others that I am trying too hard to fix this on my own and I admit that they have a point. I resorted to extreme and potentially unhealthy dietary restrictions but I felt that I had little choice. I would have had a lot more to worry about than bad races if this sugar intolerance progressed much further. If I could, I would trade my running talent for merely “general good health.” In the end the extreme diet proved to be unnecessary. A simple pill resolved my fructose intolerance and allowed me to tolerate needed supplements for my thyroid and adrenals. Though the world may see it differently, having to take pills does not cheapen God’s healing power. All that matters is that I am feeling better. How this will all play out still remains to be seen but I do not want this or any other disease to define me again.
Just before the worst of the relapse hit, an amazing brother in Christ named Chris got a revelation through the Holy Spirit that in the supernatural, “elastic bands are holding me back” and also preventing some people from seeing into my heart. He assured me that I was doing it right in the natural but God would cut off the bands like a skilled surgeon in a manner that causes as little pain as possible. In the end, I would be wowed by the freedom. For the record, he did not even know about my blogs.
Although the revelation did much to keep me going, I found it difficult to accept that God was minimizing the pain especially on my worst days. I now believe that my stubbornness may have held me back. Crazy hard training got me very close to my goals but not quite there at most distances and I was so dead set against taking pills that I had to go through that rough season to get to this one. I must have faith that the freedom that I experienced earlier in the year is just a taste of what is to come but I have had to wait a very long time at least from my point of view. I want to close with a quote from a sermon that I heard from Elevation Church in North Carolina: “What may seem to be a pointless and potentially dangerous waiting room could be God’s most productive work room.”
Genesis 15:6- Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Hebrews 11:1- Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see
John 20:29-Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
Romans 8:25- But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently
With that being said, we have the promise from God that it will not be this way forever. I also believe that I have been given supernatural strength to fight through the pain brought on by imbalances. Back in 2010 after I came off Lithium, my thyroid shot so far out of control that you would have thought I would be bed-ridden based on my medical report. Instead, I went on to finish the Huntsville Marathon in 3:43 (26.2 miles @ 8:30 pace) and have since improved to 3:21 (7:42 pace).
My dear friend and precious sister in Christ, Jenny Swindall wrote a book entitled Freedom From Depression (jennyswindall.com). I was particularly inspired by Chapter 3- Reintroduce Hope: "Biblical Hope as we have talked about, is maintaining a positive expectation, never giving up but moving toward our God given goals-even when the outcome of those goals is present only in our hearts." In my case, I have lost track of the number of times that it appeared that I was getting it all together only to be disappointed time after time. My God-given goal is to set others on a path toward better health by sharing my story in a book while integrating Scripture and commentary. Surely, it would have a much greater impact if I end up in balance and as expected, am able to do things that I've never been able to do in the past. It's been a long wait but Joseph waited 15 years and Abraham waited 25 years so I must be in pretty good company.
Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness was repeated 3 times in the New Testament so I decided to study it further. Romans 4 provides a good answer. He did not waver in unbelief but was strengthened in faith being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised (Rom 4:20-21- paraphrased). I've never had any doubt that God is able to heal me but I have struggled with unbelief that He may not be willing. 2013 has been my worst year symptom wise since at least 2008. I've had worse medical reports in the recent past yet functioned better during those periods. Perhaps my unbelief led me to rely too much on my natural strength, which was doomed to fail me. The time is now to repent of the unbelief.
Mark 2:17- On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
-Matthew13:7- Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.
-Hebrews 12:1- Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us
As many of you know, 2013 was not a good year for me. For most of the year, my body was rejecting key nutrients intended to get my body in balance. I have since learned that the liver is the central processing unit for vitamins, minerals and probably synthetic medications. I have a long history of prescription drug use as well as heavy use of dietary supplements so it would not be a surprise to learn that my liver was cluttered with toxins and that congestion interfered with the processing of key minerals. So as a last ditch effort, I went through a weekend detox program just before New Year's Day that included a fast and several cleansing drinks. If I could not process the key supplements, I would have certainly slipped back into adrenal exhaustion with little-no hope of recovery. In the end, the detox was tough but manageable and I have seen a big improvement in my tolerance for the pills as well as my overall health.
Y'all know what's coming now. It's time to apply this to the faith. I've mentioned 4 key "treatments" to maintain the health of the soul:
-get to church
-read the Bible
Take inventory and consider some of the toxins that you have in your soul that may be limiting the effectiveness of the above treatments. It could be unhealthy companionship, bad habits, a grudge, or unrepentant sin. Whatever the toxin, I will guarantee that it will hinder your growth as a Christian even if you are consistent with all 4 activities. Especially when it comes to unrepentant sin, your soul may arrive at a place in which it rejects the treatments. Suppose that your pastor is preaching a message about a certain sin that you have no intention of stopping. Chances are that you will become dismissive or even defensive to the point that you no longer wish to hear the Word. Another possibility is that you do not associate with people who tell you lovingly that you need to repent. One of the major consequences of sin is that it grieves the Holy Spirit. If someone that you care about is suffering grief, you will comfort them. If you were the one that caused it, I'm betting that you will feel terrible and apologize multiple times. Now, stop and consider the Holy Spirit and who it is that you grieve with your sins.
Well, it's time to throw off anything that hinders your growth. I recognize that it is easier said than done. The detox protocol caused me a headache, a trace of nausea and lots of diarrhea but it revealed that I had a lot of congestion and toxins in my liver. Often, it is not until you get better that you realize how much the imbalances were holding you back and the same holds true when cleansing spiritual toxins. I went through detox as a last resort but if I continue to have success, I will recommend it as the FIRST thing to do before starting a natural health plan. Too often, people turn to Jesus only as a last resort when He should be your first response.
Hebrews 5:13-14- Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
James 5:16- 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
Matthew 13:8- Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
I’ve done several liver detoxes this year with the hope of solving my problems with chemical sensitivity. One of the effects has been the removal of toxic metals such excessive copper and cadmium out of my organs and into the tissues before being finally removed altogether. Overall, 2014 has been better than the previous year but I remain well below my standards of performance. I am not aware of any major exposure to heavy metals but it is a fact of life that in our environment, you will be exposed to trace amounts of toxins. A healthy person should easily eliminate them through the skin, liver or kidneys before it becomes problematic. However, because of my history of adrenal fatigue, I was not in a position to do so and the trace amounts of toxins accumulated in the organs. When they were finally released, I experienced unpleasant symptoms such as breakouts, nausea, diarrhea and of course fatigue. Surprisingly, use of liver and kidney supplements actually worsened the fatigue probably because they accelerated the removal of the toxins to a pace that overwhelmed my system’s ability to eliminate on its own. Allowing the detox to proceed naturally with regular cleanses was the best choice.
We live in a fallen world and are all exposed to spiritual toxins from a young age. Any attempts at self-help or self-improvement will fall short. Jesus is the only way to truly remove those toxins. Sure we all slip up and do things that we “don’t want to” (Rom 7:24) but as sanctified Christians, we should reject the glamour of sin and refuse to be mastered by it. That’s where you should be if you claim to have been a Christian for several years. That said, when reaching out to unbelievers or “baby” Christians, we must not look down on them because of their faults. Rather, we should let the Holy Spirit convict them and thus “let the detox proceed at its own pace” or it could become too uncomfortable. If actions are not rooted in the love for the Lord, the changes may not be sustainable. Suppose that I encountered my current small group at the age of 19 or 20. Maybe on some level, I would have admired their devotion but the discussions would have been way over my head and at best, I would have judged them to be weird and certainly would not have been a regular. Most likely, I would not have come back after a single visit.
As the Holy Spirit continues to penetrate deeper into your heart, certain things may be uncovered and brought to the surface causing “aches and pains.” Actions that you never regarded as sinful are now called into question and it is common that old “friendships” that are toxic to your soul must be cut off no matter how much you enjoyed their company in the past. I don’t have much experience with break ups but I can see how it can cause heartache even when you know it is the right thing to do. I’ve never smoked but have heard that while your body begins to repair the damage within hours of quitting, you actually feel worse for the next few weeks even though you are actually getting healthier all the time. The same holds true when giving up the sin that had held you for so long.
One last point that I would like to address is confessing your sins as part of the detox program. In my view, it is always a good idea to talk to your pastor. No matter what you have done, you will not be condemned as long as you are truly repentant. The same should be true if somebody looks up to you as an accountability partner. Thank the person for trusting you enough to share their shortcomings and continue to encourage them.
My friend Adam recently prayed over me that these devotionals and my memory of Scripture verses is “just the beginning.” While I do a good amount of reading and studying, I waste too much time watching the same movies and YouTube videos. God has gifted me with the ability to retain knowledge especially when numbers are involved. Imagine if I knew the Word as well as my favorite movies.
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.
1 Peter 5:8- Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Philippians 2:12- Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling
Hebrews 10:24-25- And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching
It was a sad day for me when I turned in my uniform because adrenal disease had progressed to the point in which I could no longer run competitively. Most of my inner circle advised me to let it go and focus on the positives. After all, I was still an A-student with a bright future and loved by friends and family. While I certainly do advocate being thankful and “counting your blessings,” I need to share a strong caution. We are facing an enemy with an insatiable desire to steal, kill and destroy. Yes, there are doors that God will shut for your benefit and/or protection but I knew in my heart that at least in my case, running was not one of them. With prayerful discernment, I believe that you can recognize the difference between a door closed by God and theft by the enemy. Unless you are sure that it is a locked door, DO NOT accept defeat in any area of life, EVER! Suppose that a thief stole maybe $10 per week from your checking account and you let him get away with it. Odds are that he will be emboldened and go for $20 next week and so on. Let me quickly break down the stages of Adrenal Fatigue:
Stage 1- A little irritable under stress but otherwise asymptomatic
Stage 2- Performance begins to decline. Need stimulants to function at a high level. Close friends may be concerned but you appear healthy on the surface.
Stage 3- Significant decline. Visibly sick. Often have trouble holding a job.
Stage 4- Totally disabled. Bedridden.
The enemy was not content with simply taking away my ability to compete in college. If I had allowed it, he would have taken pretty much everything from my job to my relationships and even my life itself. As the disease progressed, my exercise capacity continued to diminish. Grades started slipping and I was obviously unwell in job interviews. Thus, my once bright employment prospects faded. I did not answer my phone on my worst days because I simply want to be left alone. I have spoken to several people who have gone through a painful divorce or break up as a result of this disease.
Now, on to the parallels. When it comes to weapons at our disposal that I have referenced many times (church, Bible, prayer, fellowship), I find that it is fellowship that is most underestimated. When I felt like giving up, my friend Chris who has the gift of prophecy, told me repeatedly to keep searching because eventually I would “find the key” but I would have to “go off the beaten path” to find it. The key turned out to be a liver cleanse and an obscure mineral called molybdenum to bind excess copper.
Based on personal observations, I have found that “falling in with the wrong crowd” is quite often the culprit for people who backslide away from God. Like the progression of adrenal fatigue, it’s a slow fade. One of my friends likened it to drifting in the ocean. You don’t even realize it is happening but several hours pass and you realize that you are a hundred yards down the beach. I don’t know much about Justin Beiber or his music but I do recall hearing that when he was 15 or 16, he referenced his Christian faith many times in a book. Now, 3-4 years later, Beiber is a known pot smoker who smiled in his mug shot as he was arrested for DUI. Some people with adrenal fatigue deteriorate faster than others but many can and do stay productive in Stage 2 for several years. I managed to do so in one of the worst environments for the adrenals: College. Nobody goes from simply “a little irritable” to totally disabled overnight. Nobody goes from a faithful follower of Christ to a pleasure seeking hedonist overnight either. It is unfortunate that a single sinful choice can have life-altering consequences so don’t even give the enemy an opening to attack. I test my body regularly to ensure that my health remains on the right track in the natural. When it comes to spiritual health, I find that it is Godly companionship that is most effective in keeping yourself accountable and prevents you from drifting away. Stay on the narrow road.