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2009-10 Verse and Message 

Message #1- Our timeframe vs. God’s timeframe.

Psalm 90:4-For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by.

Isaiah 55:9-As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

 

As of this writing, I am a 27 year old male who should be in his prime, living life to the fullest.  I am 4 ½ years removed from finishing undergrad with a 3.8 GPA.  Despite overcoming a myriad of health problems on my way to earning an advanced degree, I am working a job that is best suited for an entry-level candidate with a marginal academic record.  I earn about 75% of what I am worth and until very recently I was stuck in that job because there was no way that I could handle the stress that comes with a better paying job because of continued health setbacks.  Even now, my job prospects are not bright because I lack specific industry experience.  Still, my life as I described it is infinitely better than it was at the age of 25. At that time, I was unemployed and not even able to work the job that I now hold because I was nearly bedridden from thyroid disease and adrenal exhaustion in addition to frequent panic attacks.  I may have to wait until after I turn 30 years old to get to where I want to be but if I have to wait on God, so be it.  From our point of view, it seems as if God is slow to answer our prayers. The reason for this is that our timeframe is not on the same level as God’s.   His ways are infinitely higher than our ways and His thoughts are infinitely higher than our thoughts.  The difference is so great that we cannot even begin to comprehend it.  In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter whether things began to be set right at age 26 and not at age 24?   Consider Abraham.  God promised him that he would be the father of a great nation with descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky.  Yet, he had to wait until he was 99 years old and his wife was 90 years old before a son was conceived.  God still had great plans for Abraham’s descendants all through those years.  In truth, did it really matter for nation of Israel if Sarah had conceived at 30 instead of 90?  Moses still would have led them through the desert and their ultimate destination was the Promised Land.  In terms of my career, its success will be determined more by the job that I have at age 57, not age 27.  As far as my health, I feel much better at age 27 than I did at age 25.  Not many people can say that.  Who knows?  Maybe I will not age normally and will still be running road races well past middle age and feel better at 55 than I did at 25.

  Message #2- appearances vs. reality

1 Samuel 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.

John 7:24- Look beneath the surface to make a correct judgment.

Psalm 18:2-The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.

This message is dedicated to those suffering from a “hidden” problem that may actually be debilitating.  I have clearly described what happens to a person with adrenal exhaustion in the Symptoms List and have not sugar coated or downplayed the effects.  However, as I stated earlier, you can function fairly well unless your case is extremely severe and you will probably appear normal to almost everyone you encounter. With the exception of my Bible study group, my best friend and one other student who noticed my decreased energy and difference in behavior, few if anyone suspected that I had any serious health problems.  At Clemson, I simply had to settle for Bs in several classes that I normally would have aced.  If you are in a similar situation, it could lead your professors or your boss at work to the erroneous conclusion that your motivation and level of effort have simply decreased.  Such a circumstance has the potential to increase the emotional pain associated with failure to achieve your goals.  If you insist that something is wrong, you may hear: “You look okay to me.  It’s all in your head.”

   Despite previous failures and some nagging pre-existing injuries that unbeknownst to me were related to the thyroid medication, I tried out for the college team one last time in the Spring semester of my sophomore year because I loved competitive running.  Much of the time, I was unable to do the team workouts and was called names that were insulting and vulgar.  More recently, I found the entry-level job market to be extremely difficult and the length of time since graduation played a role in several of my rejections.  When I mentioned how long I had been out of work, some people groaned and immediately became less friendly.  In each case, I was written off as lazy and unmotivated, which is a very common occurrence to people is suffering from adrenal fatigue.  However, nothing can be further from the truth.  Lazy people simply do not develop adrenal fatigue and those who have the disease will attest that it takes every ounce of energy to do what you can.

  I do not intend this message to be negative at all.  I do want to challenge you not to assume the worst about people but to believe the best even if their circumstances seem a bit questionable on the surface.  I promise you that if you show some compassion, the person who may be suffering will not forget your kindness.  I once read a story of a teenage boy who simply sat in his seat during praise and worship and would sometimes doze off during the pastor’s sermon.  On the surface, he would never be seen as a person of sincere faith.  The truth is that he was suffering from a life-threatening illness.  Just imagine how much energy it took just to get out of bed and go to church at all.  Take comfort in knowing that the Lord always knows your heart and knows the truth of what you are going through.  I had a couple of experiences in which I could feel how much God was hurting as a result of my physical and emotional pain. In one such intense experience, for a split second, I felt a depth of emotional pain that paled in comparison with anything that I had ever felt. The Lord is your rock and your deliverer with a plan to pull you through a difficult situation.  Again, I will not downplay the pain of the trial itself but as I will explain in a later message, I guarantee that when you emerge victorious, you will be amazed by your spiritual growth.  If God is for you, who can dare oppose you.

 

Message #3- letting go of the past

Isaiah 43:18-19- "Forget the former things;
       do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
       Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
       I am making a way in the wilderness
       and streams in the wasteland.

In most translations that I have read, verse 19 is in the present tense rather than the future. The Word does not say “I will do a new thing next month or next year” but “I am doing a new thing” right at this very second.  My interpretation is that it is an ongoing process that never stops no matter how bleak the circumstances appear.  It sure looked bleak for me when I was unemployed and nearly bed-ridden several months after graduation but even then, God was in the process of preparing a way out of that nightmare. If not for the illness, I would have made a higher GPA in graduate school, would not have found the job market to be so difficult and would probably be earning about $10,000 more annually.  I cannot focus on that or else I will not perceive the blessings that the Lord is bestowing upon me right now.   The Lord has been working with me in letting go of the past but it's not easy.  I've always had a very good memory, which is not always a good thing for my spiritual life.  There are plenty of things that I have experienced and wrongs that I have done that would best be forgotten.  This leads me to the next verses.

Hebrews 10:17Then he says, “I will never again remember
      their sins and lawless deeds.”

Romans 8:1- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

   I shared these 2 verses at a retreat about 3 years ago and a sister in Christ from Georgia Tech pulled me aside and thanked me.  I'm usually pretty good about forgiving others but anyone who knows me well will attest that I am still awfully hard on myself when it comes to my own shortcomings.  I feel that this problem is more common in the Christian community than many people realize.  We need to quit beating ourselves up and dwelling on what God has already forgotten.

Random thought:

The flip side of this issue is that I do not forget a kindness and do not take goodness for granted. For those of you reading this message that I have not spoken to since undergrad, I assure you that your goodness towards me will never be forgotten.

Message #4-faith that moves mountains

Mark 9:23- Everything is possible for him who believes.

Mark  11:33-34- I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

 

   In the middle of August 2007, I experienced a few days that were essentially free of any symptoms.  From June ’05-mid August ’07, I had varying degrees of symptoms but zero days in which I could have declared myself healthy.  Unfortunately, I could not maintain that perfect health because of my extreme sensitivity to tyrosine (one of my supplements to boost adrenaline) and was disappointed when another formula did not work.  Still, the few days of perfect health prove that there is a formula out there that will work for me and it is only a matter of time before I am 100% once and for all.   I know that I am very close. (Indeed I was close.  All I needed to do was add more Vitamin C with the tyrosine)  Every setback means that I do more research and my knowledge of this disease is far greater than it was even a couple of months ago, which means I can help more people down the road.   It has crossed my mind that the best I can hope for is to manage this disease and feel “pretty good” on “most days.”  I cannot fall for that trap because I can’t believe that is God’s will for my life (John 10:10) and keep telling myself that yes, I will beat this disease.  Once I do beat this disease (As of the launching of this site, I declare victory over it) Yes, I will be successful in my career.  Yes, I will be successful and in my relationships.

     Adjusting my formula is nothing new for me.  Towards the end of my time at Clemson, I had to make an adjustment every few weeks or have to stay in bed 12+ hours/day if I made no adjustment or adjusted my dosage in the wrong direction.  That in itself was very stressful.  On top of that, try studying for a Master’s degree in which a 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.  That’s quite a steep mountain.  Through it all, I never allowed myself to entertain the possibility of failure because I had faith that God would somehow provide a means for me to get through it.  Without a doubt, there was divine intervention and I am deeply thankful for those who prayed for me.  Y’all know who you are.   Even years later, I still believe that God is still using you to play a part in working a miracle in my life.   I have not posted my actual lab results here because the interpretation is quite complex and almost impossible to understand without strong knowledge of the subject. Just to provide an idea, the neurotransmitter that had the greatest effect on cognitive function, energy and mental focus was less than 50% of the low end of the optimal range.  That was just one of several factors that hurt my academic and athletic performance.  Anyone who has seen my tissue and neurotransmitter tests together and was able to understand their meaning would have given me absolutely ZERO chance of being able to handle the stress of graduate school.  Don’t praise me for graduating.  Praise God.  I never really entertained the idea of falling short of the 3.0 GPA.  In the same way, I must never allow myself to entertain the thought that I will not beat this disease and that my health will prevent me from achieving what I described at the end of the first paragraph.  I recently read something online that changed my perspective a bit.  It is not about me at all.  It is not about “faith in my faith.”  It is not about what I believe in but rather who I believe in.  It is through Him that all things are possible and it is through Him that I can do all things(Phil 4:13). 

Message #5- Reaching out to others

Matthew 25:40- The king will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me

1 John 4:8- Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

      A few years ago, I was eating at a fast food restaurant when I observed a boy who appeared to be about 10 years old.  He was going from table to table selling boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to raise money for his father’s major medical expenses.  If I am not mistaken, the father was in need of a kidney transplant.  I could have taken the low road and left the restaurant before I was approached.  Instead, I took the middle road like most people and bought a box for $5 because I was too ashamed to refuse.  I was mad at myself later in the day.  I vow that if I am ever in that situation again, I will make a large donation (whatever I feel called to give), tell the boy to keep the doughnuts and offer any encouragement that I can.  When I was unemployed and lacked any health insurance, my anti-depressants cost more than $200/month at the highest dosage.  Although I did not gain any significant benefit from the drugs, the results could have been disastrous if I had to stop taking them suddenly because of an inability to pay.  If not for the support of my loving parents, I too would have been begging for money. 

I was near rock bottom just before I got the diagnosis that would lead me on a path toward recovery.  I e-mailed a couple of my “strong Christian” former classmates just prior to leaving for Alabama and explained in detail what I had been going through and asked about a Bible study group.  Prior to my energy crash, I would have simply responded: “Sorry to hear about all of this.  I will pray for you but I’m not in a study now.”  I expected at least a similar reply but got no word back.  No grudges.  It may have been part of God’s plan to get me to Alabama.  If you are ever contacted by someone that is going through a very difficult time, here is the high road:  First, thank the person for sharing and tell them that it means a lot that you would trust me with this. Second, give a lengthy and encouraging response back.  Third, take the message to an intercessory prayer session at your church and perhaps ask for additional clarification of what is going on before actually doing so.  Fourth, invite the person to worship with you at your church and come to lunch with your friends. You never know what kind of seed you will plant if you take the high road.  When I contacted Susan McCullum shortly after we met at a running club in Birmingham, she did exactly what I just described above.  She has continued to be a dear sister in Christ after I got the job in Montgomery.  Spiritually, I would not be where I am now if we had not met.

If any students and teachers are reading this message, you have a great opportunity to take a stand against bullying or reach out to those who may have a history of rejection by their peers.  If you see somebody sitting in the cafeteria alone, do you pay it little mind because you are with your clique or do you invite that person to join you?  I once heard a story of a so-called “geek” who was carrying an armload of books.  Somebody knocked the books out and scattered them all around the road but another person helped pick up the books and invited the boy to play a game of football with his friends.  The boy later revealed that he was carrying so many books because he wanted to save his mother the trouble of cleaning out his locker after he had committed suicide.  This story has a happy ending.  After the football game, this so-called “geek” made new friends and did not go through with suicide.  Through the years, most of my close friends did not fit in with any particular clique for varying reasons.  In the end, they all turned out to be extremely loyal and never “turned their back” whenever things went downhill in my life.

Message #6- Faith and Prayer in Action

Proverbs 3:5-8-Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

2 Kings 20:5-6- I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you.  On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.  I will add fifteen years to your life.

The first key point from Proverbs that I see is the benefit of an active prayer life. I once read from a reliable source that students who pray frequently have significantly stronger immune systems than those who do not.  I’d be willing to bet that the same holds true for working adults.  I have also read that the survival rate among people with life-threatening illnesses is statistically higher among people of faith.  A prophet had just told King Hezekiah that he would not recover from his illness but God answered the prayer.  Yes, it is clearly evident that I had the Lord’s protection even when my health was declining.  More often than not, I would get very sick when I came home for breaks. My parents would become very worried and my mother once said something to the effect of “How can I send you back to school like THIS!!?” Yet, when I truly had to be healthy enough to handle a demanding course load, I was almost always healthy enough to attend class. I often began to feel a bit better after only a day back on campus. I may not have had much energy but I never once succumbed to a viral infection during a major exam week. More than once, I was in horrible shape about a month before finals week but always managed to pull together when it mattered.  Praise God. As far as my current situation, if I had gone undiagnosed for another year, I almost certainly would have developed numerous chronic diseases.  Indeed, my blood sugar ratio was well below the diabetic trend threshold. I have no doubt that my prayers and prayers of others have helped lead me to the proper treatment.

 A second key point from Proverbs is to “lean not on your own understanding.”  I have spent countless hours researching my medical condition and have gained considerable knowledge but I once had to surrender all of it to the Lord in order to progress toward a long-term solution.  I had a list of about 5-6 formulas that could possibly work for a long-period of time.  In every case, I felt well for a day or two after trying the new formula but it did not work for an extended period of time.  Finally, I had exhausted seemingly every combination that could help.  I got on my knees and asked God for a miracle.  The answer was the addition of the amino acid taurine, from which I had previously had a negative reaction.  My body chemistry had changed and I could now tolerate it.  The Lord was simply waiting on me to trust Him to find the “magic formula”

Message #7- Life to the full-

John 10:10- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I come that they may have life and have it to full.

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

Mark 2:11-12- He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.

This message is dedicated to those of you with an issue that is “getting better” but is not resolved.  In early Spring of 2007, I leveled off at 90% health and seemingly had no hope of further improvement.  I still felt as if I was carrying weights on my legs, albeit not as heavy as last year.  In order to feel 90%, I needed to take a precise amount of adrenal glandular substance every day.  If I took one too many pills or one too few, I would feel no better than when I first showed up at the doctor’s office.  Although I did not have any days of perfect health, I was fortunate that the “precise amount” stayed constant and did not fluctuate as it did when I was in school. This phenomenon was caused by several deficient neurotransmitters, which required my treatment plan to go in another direction. 

When I hit my first of many rough patches, someone who loves me suggested that perhaps I should leave well enough alone and not address the low neurotransmitters.  My response: “Absolutely not!”  At 90%, I could run up to 10 miles at a time and had respectable times in the 5K and 10K (still much slower than my best). I still had some chronic pain, was locked in to taking precise amounts every day and doubted my ability to handle the stress of a better job. Does that sound that “plans to prosper me and not to harm me and hope for a bright future?”  Absolutely not!  There is a school of thought even among some in the Christian community that sickness is actually a blessing.  I vehemently disagree!  Scripture says that when Jesus saw and cured the sick, many were oppressed by the devil or demonic spirits (the farthest thing from a blessing).  Did Jesus ever tell the crippled or the blind, “Sorry man, it is not God’s will for you to be healed. Accept your infirmities as a blessing.”  Did the paralytic in Mark’s gospel require a cane or even walk with a slight limp after Jesus had finished healing him?  Did the blind beggar have cataracts in his eyes or any blurred vision after he had been healed by Jesus?  No, the restoration did not end at 90% recovery. Everybody was restored back to 100% and yes, you too can be restored 100% regardless of your issue.  God wants you to be rich, which is defined as “an abundant supply.”  Of course, we will not all become multi-millionaires who get into the shape of a professional athlete but it is not too much to ask to avoid chronic pain and having to live paycheck to paycheck without fear of bankruptcy due to unexpected expenses.

Message 8-Perseverance I

Hebrews 10:23,35-36: Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.  Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord no matter what happens.  Remember the great reward it brings you!  Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will.  Then you will receive all that He has promised.

Proverbs 16:3-Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

     I originally wrote this verse in late December 2006 at a time when my body was capable of steady running for the first time in eighteen months. I had been making rapid progress and felt 80-85% of my former energy level.  Not surprisingly, I was extremely upbeat at the start of the New Year and wrote: “2007 will be a big year for me and I have faith that it will be the year in which God takes me places that I could never have imagined.”  My two goals were to get 100% healthy once and for all and get a better paying job that is suitable for my skills and education.  As it turned out, 2007 was not quite the roller coaster that was 2004 and the first half of 2005 but it was by no means a smooth journey.  I became uneasy about the frequency of physical setbacks that proved to be nearly as painful emotionally.  However, I am now 50-60 seconds faster per mile at every distance from 5K (3.1 miles) to half-marathon (13.1 miles) than I was when I was so upbeat coming into 2007.  I have gone from feeling as if I had weights attached to my legs to a constant current of energy flowing through my body.  Lab tests also indicate that this is not as good as I can feel in the near-future.

The job search did not go well at all. Although I aced three different skills assessments tests given by corporate recruiters (16-21 points above average), I was told that my current job duties do not count as “real experience” and since I have been out of school for so long, my prospects may even be slightly worse than a new “entry-level” graduate.  My only way to advance is to take 2 classes in order to become eligible and to study effectively for the CPA exam, which will open my options in both the public and private sector.

 In the end, the setbacks only strengthened my resolve and my trust in the Lord.  Right now, some of you may have a need in your life that has gone unmet for a significant period of time but hold on to your faith, don't underestimate the power of prayer and the reward will be great.  God can always be trusted to keep his promise.  Some of you may be in the midst of a personal tragedy or crisis and all I can say is to remain strong through the pain for God is faithful and will bless you more than you were blessed in the past (Job 42:10).  One last point that I would like to make is a challenge to give God “prime time” rather than 15 minutes before bed.  I predict an increase in your productivity.

Message #9- Grace is sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:9- My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power will rest upon me.

1 Corinthians 15:10- But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I but the grace of God was with me. 

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

Some well meaning friends of mine have quoted the first verse and suggested that this condition could be a life-long thorn that may never fully “go away.” As long as I remain faithful, the reward in heaven will be greater than I can possibly imagine.  I will agree with the second part but disagree with the first part. The exact nature of Paul’s thorn is not completely clear but because of the biochemical nature of my condition, I do not believe that it falls into the same category.  If my body and brain chemistry were both in balance, I could “pick myself up,” and end up being happy and successful even if I sustained a serious physical injury or illness unrelated to this trial (may God forbid that).  As I explained in the FAQ section, improved circumstances may improve your emotional outlook but do not fully take away the feelings of depression.  Even if you become a millionaire overnight, low levels of serotonin and dopamine will prevent feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and cause persistent low moods. The same is true is cases of mineral ratio imbalances. There is no way around such feelings.  Again, that sure sounds nothing like a “plan to prosper” or “life to the full”    Still, much can be learned from that Scripture.  First, I have not sugar-coated this illness or downplayed its negative effects.  I acknowledge some impediments to my success in certain areas of life but point out what I have been able to achieve in spite of it.  There is nothing wrong with feeling good about your accomplishments that were achieved through hard work but always remember, God gets the glory.  As far as this trial’s effect on my faith, I declare myself a victor. Although my body is still weak, my spirit has never been stronger that it is now. I finished reading Genesis through Revelation shortly after I turned 22 years old and it was not long until I had much to contribute in Bible studies with the Navigators at Clemson. I do not wish to seem too proud but there is no way that I could have possibly written these types of messages before the energy crash.  I must say that it is always a joy to grow in Christ no matter what the cost. Joy and pain are by no means mutually exclusive.  My joy was close to its zenith after I broke 2 min 15 sec. for the first time in the half-mile and the same was true after I finished my first half-marathon.  Yet, in both instances, the pain was nearly excruciating.  I did not pass out but I did have to lie down for a few minutes because I could barely move.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  In the same way, we must joyfully take on what is necessary to grow closer to God and trust Him to provide.  I wish that I didn’t have to go through this illness and “drink the bitter cup” but as Christ himself said “Let the Father’s will be done, not mine.” In the end,  Yes, I will beat this disease.  Yes, I will be successful in my career. Yes, I will meet the right girl when the time is right.  I encourage those of you who are struggling with negative thoughts to speak words of life and you will see much of it come to pass.  

Message #10- Fear not!

Matthew 8:24-26

Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.

“The disciples went and woke him saying, ‘Lord, save us. We’re going to drown.

He replied, you of little faith, why are you so afraid?  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm.

 

"Fear not."  "Do not be afraid."  "Do not let your heart be troubled."  Just how often do we read this in the Word?  It is no coincidence that the answer is 365, one for every day of the year.

In many of those situations, fear was an appropriate emotion under normal circumstances.  At no time was that truer than when a sudden storm arose and the disciples were sure that they were going to drown.

 

Yes, I put a lot of trust in the Lord in graduate school when I had to adjust my Adrenal Boost every 3 weeks and alternated between sub-5:30 mile shape and being barely functional because I had taken 1 too many or too few pills.  As I wrote in Message #6, I was never “too sick” to be fairly effective in my studies during major exam weeks.  I never had much fear of drowning (abject failure) while in school.  However, I was less confident about what would happen to me after I finished school.  Then, my worst fears were realized shortly after graduation when I couldn’t find a formula that did any good and the blood test was inconclusive.  Note: (If that happened midway through the Master's program, I would have certainly failed out. God protected me in His own way.) After seeing 4 doctors and taking heavy anti-depressants, I was still unemployed and not feeling much better physically or emotionally. I was still actively seeking a job at the time because certain people thought that the illness was all in my head and that a challenging job would be the best cure. (If I had landed a high stress job or even a lower stress position during that period, there is no way that I could have managed it and probably would have ended up fired.)  Lack of relevant work experience is certainly preferable to one negative job experience in the eyes of employers so all of those rejections were actually God’s protection.

When I first wrote this message in early 2007, I felt “pretty good” (90% of former energy level) about 85% of the time but just like that storm, setbacks occurred with no warning.  I did have a more extended rough patch in the summer of ’07 but most of them were corrected with a tiny adjustment in my treatment and I felt as well as I did before the setback within 2-4 days.  It is an understatement to say that I am a nervous wreck when I suffer a setback.  I am plagued by chronic fears of another long-term relapse at an inopportune time such as starting a new job.  In reality, another major relapse is less likely now that I have been diagnosed and am under the direction of a healthcare professional. Again my past hurts my present outlook (Isaiah 43:18-19). I suppose such fears are normal and parallel those of others that have been through a long-term illness.  However, verse 26 clearly states that it is not God’s will for us to live in such fear.  I recall seeing a television program years ago about people that had "inoperable" cancer that went into spontaneous remission.  Sometimes the cancer returned only to disappear yet again.  Needless to say, their faith was extremely inspirational.  So if you are one of those that struggle with any type of persistent fear, remember the awesome power displayed in verse 26 that we have on our side that can calm any storm inside of your body or mind.

 

Message #11- Dependence on God-

Matthew 18:4-Whoever humbles himself like a child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I went out of town just before Mother’s Day in 2007 to visit my sister, her new daughter and 2 year old son.  The baby girl, Lindsay  was then about a month old and completely dependent on her mother to sustain her.  When I saw how well the two children were loved and cared for, I came to appreciate my parents even more.  I admire my sister as well as all good parents who truly love their children and would do anything for them.  We, as children of God need to acknowledge that we are just as dependent on our Heavenly Father as a one month old child is on his/her mother.  How much more can the Lord provide for us with His perfect nature?   

   A few years from now, I can picture a toddler who excitedly greets her mother and father after they return home from a long day at work and cannot bear to be separated from her parents for days at a time.  We need to have a similar attitude about talking with God.  I challenge you to carve out a period of time during every day and devote it to prayer and the reading of God’s Word.  I predict that it will not be long before you will feel a sense that a day without some type of communication with our Heavenly Father will seem empty in many ways.  Just like the toddler who runs into his/her mother’s arms after being separated for most of the day, we must eagerly await our time to spend with the Lord.

Among the many names for our Lord, one of my favorites is the Hebrew translation, El Shaddai.

-El (almighty God) Shaddai (all-sufficiency).  Shad is translated breast which supplies with all sufficiency as in feeding a newborn.

One of the most important things that I have learned through this trial is to acknowledge my own dependence of God.  More than once in periods of trial and error, it seemed as if I could not find any combination of pills that would help me for an extended period of time.  Only when I let go and trusted God alone rather than my understanding of body chemistry, I “found” a formula that helped.

Message #12-Praising God in difficult situations

As some of you know, I participated in the Seaside Half-marathon in March of ‘07.  After a strong start, I hit the wall between mile 9 and mile 10 and walk/jogged the final 5K and finished in 1:59:37 (9:08 pace when hoping for sub-9).  Although my overall pace was not as fast as I hoped, I did achieve my modest goal of finishing in less than 2 hours.  Not long after returning home however, I couldn’t care less about my time as I was blessed just to finish safely.   

  I got home to find lab results in the mail that indicated that both my thyroid and adrenal glands are overactive, which surely hurt me in the race. Then, my heart grew heavy when I learned of a runner who had convulsions during the race and died 2 days later.  My doctor instructed me to take pills that will slow my system down and bring my mineral levels back into balance.  The problem is that I need to take at least a small dose of something that will stimulate my adrenal glands or I will be overwhelmed by fatigue and depression and may not be able to perform my job duties.  When I told this to the doc, he was initially puzzled but suggested that a neurotransmitter test may reveal something abnormal.  I will pursue other options in Birmingham if this test is inconclusive. (On race day, I had 8 neurotransmitter imbalances, including 5 that were not even close to normal in addition to thyroid and adrenal imbalances!) I will feel at least “okay” if I take a low dose of adrenal substance and until I get the results of the new test, I will do what I must.  NO FEAR! This will not be another year-long nightmare.

How have I been able to achieve all of this in spite of the circumstances?  I have no doubt that a Higher Power is actively at work in my life.  There can be no other explanation.  It’s already a miracle but I have faith that God will finish what has begun and pull me up from feeling 90% healthy to 100%

Exodus 15:2-The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God and I will praise Him.

Exodus 16:3 (shortly after the parting of the Red Sea)- “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us into the desert to starve this entire assembly to death.

Flashback 2004-05:  Just how good I felt when I had the Adrenal Boost precisely in balance is difficult to describe in words and it will be a few months before I reach that level again. Was my heart full of praise?  You bet it was.  A few days later when I could barely drag myself to class, my attitude toward God was not the same.   Indeed, I was in pretty bad shape spiritually when nothing went right for a year.

Bottom line: We should not be in a relationship with the Lord just because of what He can do for us but rather because of who He is.  Our circumstances may change but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Message #13- Perseverance II

Philippians 4:19- And my God will liberally supply ([a]fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:20 (Amplified) Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]--

If you had told me in the middle of 2006 that I would soon be working a steady and stable job, I would have been very pleased.  Also, if you had simply told me that I could run a few days a week without feeling completely exhausted, I would have been pleased.  At that time, my highest hope was to get to the point in which I am “comparable” to my old self on the days when I was symptom-free.  In retrospect, I am not sure if I truly believed that to be possible because I was “light years” away from that point when I showed up at the doctor’s office.  When I first wrote this verse and message, I was about 95% of where I was before the crash so I figured “why not set my sights higher than comparable to my old self?”  Was everything great in my life before the energy crash?  No way.  I was socially insecure and somewhat of a loner.  I did not expect the path from 95% to 100% to be smooth or even a steady uphill climb.  Indeed, it has been quite rocky and there were periods in which the “downhill portion” was longer than the “uphill portion” However, when God is “the path,” I can’t go wrong. If you had told me in 2006 that I could maintain an 8:15 pace per mile over a 13.1 mile half-marathon with a stronger second half, I would not have believed it because I never had that much endurance.  After all, my best event when I was in competition was the half-mile.  Now, I am preparing for a full 26.2 mile marathon and am capable of finishing in less than 4 hours.  God has already done incredible things for me so why should the blessings “level off” once I get completely back to where I had been physically?  I have faith that my progress in my career and relationships will be just as great.  I intend to be stronger in every area of my life

Message #14- Your value to God and others-

Psalm 139:13-14: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.  I know that full well. 

Matthew 5:14-You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Back in 2001, during one of my low points while on thyroid medication, I spoke at a religious retreat to a group of 20-30 college aged Christians.  I discussed in detail my history of rejection by my peers when I was growing up and later spoke about my chronic foot pain (which turned out to be related to my thyroid medication).  This limited my ability to exercise and thus contributed to my feelings of depression because I could not naturally boost my deficient neurotransmitters without running. (Other types of exercise provided a fraction of the benefit of running).  Then, I shifted my focus to how much I value my friendships.  I said that a smiling face felt like the light of Christ shining before me while words of encouragement felt like God’s loving arms around my shoulder.  Such people did much to turn around what was once an extremely negative attitude.  I also expressed regret that I could not be “like Christ for others” and said that I wished that people appreciated me as much as I appreciate them.  Finally, I closed with a message of hope for my future and trust in God.

I do not remember everything that I said that day but my speech was very well received. I could see that several people had tears in their eyes when I had finished talking.  Still, at the time, there was a critical flaw in my thinking.  True, I am much quieter in a group when I do not feel well.  I’ve been told that I have a nice smile but you won’t see it very often when I feel depressed  I felt that I had little or no value to God or others because the enemy got into my head that I was worthless.  Through the years, the Lord used several people to teach me that nothing could be further from the truth.  We may see ourselves as broken by disease, depression, sin, financial problems, rejection, etc but the One who knit us together sees us as whole and complete by the grace of Christ Jesus.  Especially if you have biochemical imbalances, please do NOT beat yourself up too much if you feel that your attitude about your situation is not the best.  Your biochemical imbalances do indeed influence your tendency for negative thoughts.  God understands.  Although I have spent countless hours researching this condition, the One who knit me together knows far more about what is going on in your body and mind than I ever will. Understand also that whatever you may be going through as far as physical and emotional pain, you are precious in the eyes of the Lord from your mother’s womb to your deathbed.

My mother told me that whenever I was obviously unhappy or depressed, she would automatically feel the same emotions.  For any mothers that are reading this message, I know you feel the same way about your children.  Take comfort in knowing that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us in the same manner.  I have no doubt that whenever we are sad or depressed, God feels the same way. As I described in Message 2, God allowed me to feel the depths of His hurting as a result of my physical and emotional pain and it was nothing like I had ever felt.

Message #15-

Luke 22:42- “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Job 38:2-  Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?

Romans 5:3-4- Not only so, but we[a] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Hebrews 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

 

            One of the recurring themes of my website is that life long chronic pain that is depressive in nature is not God’s plan for your life.  I continue to stand by that assertion.  However, I do not deny the Word that states that temporary suffering is indeed part of God’s plan because it builds character.  There is little doubt that this trial has made me a better person and a better Christian.  Still, I find myself asking the Lord, “Why does it have to be so hard?” or “Isn’t there some easier way, can’t this cup pass from me?”  I’m sure this sounds a lot like others who have had long-term illnesses.  The Father’s will, must be done even if we don’t understand it.  After all, His ways are higher.

            I did not include my Timeline and Symptoms List to evoke sympathy.  I consider myself one of the lucky ones.  Even though the disease was mismanaged for more than 7 years, I was still quite productive with the exception of the 12 month period after graduation.  Most people with moderate or severe adrenal exhaustion never recover (just like Jessica in the Typical scenario) simply because the disease is not properly treated.  Furthermore, they usually get worse with age and end up taking several prescription drugs because adrenal disease is often the underlying cause of so many diseases. I’d say that a half-marathon at 8:15 pace is well on the way to “recovery.” The doctor told me that he has seen a few patients with more severe imbalances than I had but has never had anyone with as many sensitivities and complexities as I have.  He also said that it took him 2 years of formal study to understand some of the things that I learned through independent research and trial and error (not bragging, may God get the glory). This leads me to believe that I have been chosen by God to get the word out about recovery from this condition.  Now is the time to post my story on various health message boards. Again, if I can beat this, anybody can!

            Now, what about the people that truly do have an incurable and/or terminal disease or a crippling condition that does not, in itself, cause biochemical imbalances associated with depression?  I saw a video in church about a married man in his 30s with small children, dying of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It nearly brought tears to my eyes.  How can his death and his family’s pain work together for good?  Of course, I do not have an answer to that question.  I understand it about as well as a typical kindergartener could understand advanced calculus.  We may see changes in health, finances, etc but Jesus Christ is the one constant that never has and never will change.

Message #16-

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

2 Timothy 4:7- I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful

            As some of you have heard, I competed in my first marathon last weekend. Despite a recent setback, I achieved my goal of finishing in less than 4 hours (9:00 pace for 26.2 miles).  We have all heard the clichés from motivational books that life is a marathon and not a sprint but it could not be truer.  At this point in my life, I am a bit behind where I want to be but there is still plenty of time to regain that lost ground that the enemy has stolen (see message #1 on timing).  The same holds true for anyone else.  Regardless of whether you have been held back by bad choices or unforeseen circumstances that were beyond your control, there is always time to get back up, get back in the race and make up some lost ground even if you feel that it’s too late because you are too old. 

            As for me, 2005 was the year that I fell on my face.  I knew that I had some type of problem with my adrenal glands because I had almost all of the symptoms and supplements provided temporary relief.  Yet, I remained undiagnosed and thus improperly treated.  I was also unemployed and visibly sick/depressed on my job interviews.  Despite my best efforts to explain it, nobody had a clue about the nature of my chemical imbalances so I did not get the type of support and encouragement that I needed so badly.  I was heavily drugged with antidepressants and met with a quack psychologist while showing at best, mild improvement.  Real improvement began when I got diagnosed, moved to Alabama, recommitted myself to Christ and accepted a low-stress job all in the month of July 2006.  I had high hopes that 2007 would be the year that everything would come together.  Although much progress has been made, I am still waiting for a better job and am still waiting for the medical report that shows a clean bill of health but my faith is still strong (Hebrews 11:1).

            Now, on to another issue that I have had (not so much now but in the past):  I have offered people kindness and friendship but often, it is not reciprocated and likely unappreciated.  I’ll bet that all of you have faced this issue at some point.  As an example, suppose that a girlfriend continually promised me that we would go out on a date but when the time came, she would usually cancel at the last minute.  Needless to say, that relationship would not last long.  Now, just imagine if God had the same attitude about us.  The Lord knows that when I balanced work, 2 classes, continued research on my health and marathon training, I promised myself to carve out a significant block of time to spend in prayer and/or in the Word during the week.  I did not always follow through.  Yet, God will never cut off our access to Him no matter how long we go without talking.  As for unreciprocated kindness, imagine how Christ feels.  He paid the ultimate price for our sins and commanded us to love one another unconditionally just as He loves us.  Yet, the world has, in large part, rejected his message and teaching.  I challenge you to continue to show kindness to people who do not seem to appreciate it just as God has done for us.  You never know how they may react in the future.  I know of someone who had once rejected Jesus and frequently used illegal drugs.  God never abandoned him or and he is a strong Christian today.  How does all of this relate to running a marathon?  The process of change in people and spiritual maturation is often not over in the timeframe of a sprint but a marathon.  There are times in which that process is as painfully slow as those first few miles yet God will not give up on us nor should we give up on each other.

Message #17- Open and closed doors

Revelation 3:7-8- What he opens, no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.  I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know you have little strength yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

As far as I am concerned, this topic falls under 5 different categories:

1. Doors locked by God that can never be opened no matter how long you wait or how much force is applied in an attempt to break through to the other side

2. Permanently locked doors that can be pried open with sufficient force or effort

3. Temporarily locked doors designed to build your hope and character and/or to protect you from something that you are unprepared to face.

4. Current openings that are not shut by God but will not remain open for an indefinite period of time if the opportunity is not seized.

5. Permanently open doors

      As for me, it has been category 1 rather than category 2 that has been the norm.  It doesn’t matter how hard I bang or use tools designed for break-ins, I will never make a dent.  The Lord knows that I have a bit of a stubborn streak and a tendency to want to do things my own way.  Sure, it hurts when I very much want to do something especially if it seems that it will not hinder my growth as a Christian.  God cares enough to protect me from having options that will result in negative consequences or other options that may not be intrinsically wrong but will not produce as much fruit as others.  The Word is full of examples of people who were able to and did pry open the wrong doors.  It did not work out so well for them.  As just one example, I believe that the option of working in upstate South Carolina fell into category one.  Yes, I would have pried open a closed door of a good job offer if I had to chance.  My health problems would have made success impossible and there are a number of dear friends that I never would have met had I stayed.  At the beginning of 2006, I did not want to leave.  As the year progressed however, even as my relationship with God became angry and increasingly distant, the signs were getting clearer that it was time to move.  It would take too long to list all of the signs but I did experience a short-lived recovery in energy that began just after I crossed into Alabama when I made an initial trip to look for cheap housing.

Category 3 is where I am right now.  It has been nearly 2 years since my initial adrenal exhaustion diagnosis and more than one year since the neurotransmitter deficiencies were identified.  Some days, I feel great but still get discouraging setbacks far more often than I would like. Please pray that my next medical report will clearly show the best path from where I am now.  I have wanted a new job for almost a year but have faced numerous roadblocks and must admit that at times my frustration has gotten the better of me.  If anyone is in a similar situation, God does not want you to simply “sit around” waiting for the door to open but to live out every day (Psalm 90:12) and make the best of your situation whatever it is.  The one door that will never be shut in our faces as long as we live is the door of salvation which is open just as wide at the age of 60 as it is at the age of 6 and it doesn’t matter how many doors that you pried open against the will of God or how many open doors that you allowed to close by your inaction. You are redeemed by His precious blood.

            As a disclaimer, I realize that I have addressed my health problems in almost every message thus far.  I will continue to include reports if I feel that they fit with a word that I have from God but have prayed that it will no longer dominate my thoughts even when I face a painful setback.  This is not about looking good to others or even about me at all.  Here is a link for an inspiring YouTube Video: The reason is Him.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HgrTg0QbKIE&feature=related

 

Message #18- Power of the tongue

Proverbs 18:21- 21Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it

Matthew 9:29- 29Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"

 

            On one level, the first verse applies to relationships with others.  Everyone on my e-mail list has given me much needed encouragement during difficult times and there are some specific words that I will remember as long as I live.   On the flip side, negative words can and do strain, or worse, destroy important relationships on all levels.  Many people also interpret this verse as applicable to your thought life.  I tend to agree.  After all, negative or self-deprecating words would not be spoken about oneself or to others if the person had a more positive mindset.

In the movie, Facing the Giants, the kicker once said that he knew that he would miss before he even kicked the ball.  His father replied:  “Your actions will always follow your beliefs.  If you accept defeat, then that’s what you’ll get.” 

During a difficult semester at Clemson, I thought about what would happen if the supplements that I had been taking at the time lost their effectiveness and shared those feelings with my closest friends.  When they did indeed stop working a month after graduation, every disaster that I predicted came true.  When I thought that it could not get any worse, it did.  If I had been more hopeful about my future, it would not have altered the numerous imbalances in my body chemistry.  Would everything have worked out well after graduation if I was optimistic?  Not a chance.  However, I do believe that the valley would not have been as long and deep as it was.  To my credit, I did refuse to believe the quack psychologist who told me that I would never regain my energy and would face life-long chronic fatigue and depression.  If I had bought into that garbage, I may never have pursued other alternative medicine sources.  I would still be taking heavy anti-depressants while lacking the energy to lead anything other than a sedentary lifestyle.  Even a sedentary lifestyle would leave me exhausted on many days.

In Matthew, chapter 9, Jesus asked a blind man if he believed that he could be healed.  The blind man responded that he did believe that Jesus had the power to heal him.  Just stop and think.  What if the blind man had said that he did not believe that Jesus had the power to heal him? 

Some people out there want relationships to be healed or to recover from a serious illness but do not believe that it is possible.  Others want a better job but do not believe it is possible because they lack education and experience.  Others want to succeed in school but do not believe it is possible because they doubt their ability to handle college level courses.  I am sure that there are even some people out there who are hesitant to accept Christ because they are under the delusion that because their sins are too grave it is not possible for them to be forgiven.  It bears repeating that if you accept defeat, that’s what you’ll get.

Message  #19-faith that heals you

Hebrews 11:1-Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Mark 5:34-Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.

      Your faith has healed you.  Your faith has made you well.  How many times do we read this in the gospels?  It is my contention that faith is indeed a necessary condition to receive divine healing.  I find it thought provoking that the Word says that Jesus could not perform many miracles in his hometown of Nazareth and was “amazed by their lack of faith” (Mark 6). Did Jesus lack the power for the miraculous acts that he performed elsewhere?  Certainly not. However, as I implied in my last message, I tend to believe that if the afflicted person lacks the faith to believe that Jesus is indeed able to heal them, they cannot receive the healing (Matthew 9:29).  I am sure that it hurt tremendously that so many people in his own hometown did not believe in Him.  I do not want anyone to misinterpret this.  I am not suggesting in any way that people of faith do not experience physical illness and possibly periods of depression.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like to have such a debilitating condition for 12 years (I was mostly productive for 7 out the 8 years that I was misdiagnosed).  The woman described in the gospel had no doubt that if she could only touch His cloak, she would be healed.  What inspiring faith she showed after so much suffering!  Yes, God does permit certain infirmities to build character and to make his power strong in a person’s weakness but I stand by my assertion that a lifetime of major depression is never God’s will for anyone’s life (John 10:10). 

I have posted messages on health message boards such as Cure Zone as well as other forums.  Some of the things that I have read would cause heartache for anyone.  For example, people have been fatigued and depressed for more than 20 years and have “tried everything” and listed everything that they have taken. Nothing helped for an extended period of time.  For this reason, they do not believe that there is anything out there that can help and have resigned themselves to defeat.  Even sadder is that it seems that neither I nor anyone else can help them if they insist on continuing the failed treatments or worse do nothing at all.  I have taken pills for blood sugar imbalances, anxiety, depression, thyroid and adrenal disease, all of which are interrelated and have robbed me of energy.  However, even I have not “tried everything” or for that matter even close to everything that is out there.  Yes, I have wasted a pretty penny on supplements that did not work and tests that were inconclusive. It was hard to remain upbeat especially when the chemical imbalances influenced my tendency for negative thoughts but if you consider where I am now, I have no doubt that my faith has healed me.

Several people that have posted messages stating that they suffer from chronic depression that “cannot be fixed” seem to have one thing in common, which is an absence of faith.  Many of those people also post messages to the effect of: If God is so good, why is my life so terrible?  I will not condemn them for that attitude because I nearly fell into that trap myself until God got my attention 2 years ago.  Even now, the enemy continues to attack me with occasional physical setbacks to weaken my faith and create fear but I have the weapon of the Word at my disposal that says 365 times not to be afraid.  FDR once said that the only thing that we have to fear as a nation is fear itself.  That’s a good word for any Christian as well.

God has never stopped working on my behalf and He never will stop even though there are times when I cannot see it because it is not clearly evident at the time because of a setback.  I have considered some of my old medical reports and cannot believe that I did as well in school as I did.  I was not supposed to finish my MBA but I did.  I was not supposed to regain my energy and vitality but I have.  I certainly was not supposed to run a marathon in less than 4 hours but I did.

For those not on my e-mail list who have stumbled across this page:  Consider what would have happened if the woman described in the gospel allowed Jesus to walk by without touching His cloak.  Suppose that Jesus is walking through town and there are 2 people on the side of the street about a mile apart.  Both are in desperate need of healing.  One simply sits there with his/her head down in defeat and the other cries out asking for a miracle.  Which one is more likely to receive the healing?  Which one are you?    

 

Message 20-faith vs. doubt

James 1:6-8-But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Matthew 19:26- With God all things are possible.

I feel that the double mindedness that is written of in James is unfortunately quite common in the Christian community.  Suppose that you had a rough week and you wake up early on Sunday morning dwelling on your recent frustrations.  Negative thoughts may spill over to conversations with your family and friends up until you walk in the door at your church.  Then, after you open the door, somebody asks you how you are doing and without a second thought, you say “I am blessed.”  You may mention some sort of difficulty but say with confidence that “God will bring me through it.”  You take in every word during worship and believe it wholeheartedly.   Then after you eat lunch, an old friend calls you on the phone and you are reminded of your troubles and go right back to the negativity.  I admit my guilt in this area.  Is it holding me back from receiving from the Lord?  It certainly does not help (remember the power of the tongue). 

Peter got the Word from Jesus to “Come” (Matt.14:29) out onto the water.  Excitedly, he took a few steps but it was not long before he truly was “tossed by the wind.” He probably thought to himself: “This is impossible.”  He considered the wind and the waves, succumbed to fear and only then did he begin to sink.  Of course, none of us will literally walk on water as Jesus did but this Scripture can be read on another level.  As followers of Jesus, we have the capacity to do extraordinary things that may appear to be impossible.   If you have a great desire in your heart and you are sure that it is within the will of God, do not let anyone tell you that “it may not be possible.”  Instead, speak the Word from Matthew 19:26 and do not allow difficult or “stormy” circumstances to cause double-mindedness and break your resolve.  Peter does deserve credit for at least coming out and taking a few steps on the water, something that he had never dreamed of doing.  I am sure that there are plenty of people that are very good Christians who have some desires to do some great things for the Lord such as starting a Bible study group, other types of ministry or a mission trip.  However, many simply do not “take those first steps” and brush it off as “not my gift.”  Others may take those steps but falter when faced with difficult circumstances that are not legitimate roadblocks that truly are an answer of “no.” I challenge myself and everyone who reads this to cast off your self-doubt and double-mindedness.  Think of one of your accomplishments, however small in the eyes of the world, that you once thought to be impossible and believe that God has already set a plan in motion for you to receive all that He has promised.

Message #21- A Christian perspective of rejection-

Galatians 3:26- You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus

Isaiah 41:9- I took you from the ends of the earth,
       from its farthest corners I called you.
       I said, 'You are my servant';
       I have chosen you and have not rejected you

   I have a long history of rejection by my peers (less in recent years than in the past) and have been rejected more than 20 times in 2 rounds of job interviews.  Let me say that in the case of a job or relationships with others, it never gets much easier to take.  Regarding this latest job rejection, people who were both younger and less educated than I had gotten job offers in a prior year.  For those who do not know, I battled improperly treated chemical imbalances that impacted my concentration and memory recall yet still managed a respectable 3.3 GPA in Clemson’s MBA program (I had things going on that my doc had never seen before).  I won’t get too detailed about the difficulties in my current job (it would take too long) but suffice it to say that it is no longer secure and I felt a sense of urgency to get this job.  Although I have set personal records at every distance longer than 5 km in 2008, my chemistry is still not fully balanced.  Symptoms still flare up about once or twice a month, which impact my energy, mood and mental focus.  Needless to say, I have struggled at times with mundane tasks and feel that a moderate challenge would be for the best.  I don’t deny it.  I am angry and hurt by this rejection and it could be months before I even get another interview.  I’m hardly alone.  I can’t think of any other time in my life when so many people that I know are suffering through various trials.

            Okay, enough with the self-pity.  Let’s try to put this into perspective.  I have written in a previous devotional that Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins yet much of the world today rejects His message.  Religious leaders of the day not only did not want to hear it but were so offended that they wanted Him dead.  One example that really stands out to me was an instance in which Jesus performed a healing miracle and was accused of using the power of demons (Mark 3:22).  Here, the teachers of the law (Jesus’ own people) witnessed what cannot possibly be mistaken for something other than a miraculous act of God yet associated it with the devil.  I cannot imagine a lower blow and how much it had to tear Him up inside. 

              You may be rejected by the world and I will not say that it doesn’t hurt tremendously.  You will have painful trials and life will not be a smooth road.  Is there any good news to this message?  Yes, indeed.  Accept God’s Son as your Lord and Savior and you will never be rejected by Him.  Your job duties and experience don’t matter and you will never be told that you are simply not the right fit for this organization (my least favorite explanation for rejection).  In God’s eyes, we all have gifts and talents that may not be appreciated by the world but are truly indispensable (Romans 12:4).  You will not be rejected by God regardless of whether you work at Wal-Mart or on Wall Street.  It doesn’t matter what color your skin is nor does it matter where you’re from, how you talk, your athletic ability, your body shape or your degree of extroversion.  We are all one united people in Christ and that can never change no matter what divisions or barriers exist in the world.

Message #22- November 2008

Romans 3:23- 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 5:8- 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luke 15:10- 10In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

 

As many of you know, I was involved with the Navigators during my time at Clemson.  The time with the Navigators was one of several factors that brought my faith to a new level.  At least once a year, a few of us shared the Gospel and Bridge to Life with random people on campus while I and several others stayed behind to pray.  From what I heard, most listened respectfully but did not share anything profound or express any interest in becoming a Christian.  If you have shared the Gospel with similar results, do not be discouraged.  You may have planted a seed that may lay dormant then bloom months or years later without your knowledge.

Relating to the divide between us and God,  Susie Mc, a dear sister in Christ from Birmingham wrote this on her blog a few weeks ago (www.susiemc.wordpress.com):

 

Before Jesus, there was an incredible chasm between us and God.  There wasn't a way to cross to the other side. Now, we have Jesus as that Bridge to God.  Without Him, we would fall into the ravine, with no hope after this life, or the opportunity to experience true life in this world.  There have been many fine teachers, preachers, apostles, and prophets.....but none could carry us across the divide.  Only by the Blood of the Ultimate Sacrifice "the only way," are we able to have a perfect link to God.  Jesus stands in the gap for us.

 

 One sad story that I heard was that of an older man who had a job on campus.  When my friends from the Navigators shared the Gospel with him, he responded that he had been a Christian and was raised in church but somewhere down the line he had messed up and felt that God did not want him back.   To this, my friend responded that no matter how badly you “messed up,” God always “wants you back” and Jesus would not have gone to the cross if God did not want you back.  In my experience, I have met very few if any sincere Christians who condone sin and have bought into the lie that God is just fine with everything that you do.  On the contrary many people beat themselves up unnecessarily (see Message 3 for a related message) and “don’t see how they can be forgiven.”  What does the Word say on this subject?  The shepherd rejoiced when just one of his hundred lost sheep was found (Luke 15:5) When the prodigal son returned home in shame, his father threw him a party and killed the fatted calf (Luke 15:23).  In the same way, our Heavenly Father also rejoices whenever one lost soul is found (Luke 15:10).

The Bible is full of great examples of men and women of faith (Hebrews 11) but every one of them sinned somewhere down the line and Romans 3:23 and 5:8 applies to them just as much as it applies to everyone else.  They too needed a Redeemer to pay the price for their transgressions.  Our best efforts to clear the ravine on our own without taking the bridge would be like trying to long jump a 100 foot long cliff when nobody has even gone 30 ft.  No matter how hard you try, you will fall woefully short.

  You may have surfed on this website in a similar state of mind as the man I wrote of at Clemson.  Whether you have faced personal tragedy and/or anguish over sins that you committed, I tell you that Jesus loves you and encourage you to “let it go” today for you have a Bridge to Life and a Reason to start anew and the reason is Jesus.

Others may have re-dedicated themselves to Christ but feel unworthy to be involved in any type of ministry because of their “sinful past.”  If that is accurate, we would all be disqualified.  Consider the apostle Paul before he became Paul and imagine if he considered himself unworthy to preach the Gospel because he once persecuted the Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99ZGO6r9pCw

 

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HgrTg0QbKIE&feature=related

 

(I’ve posted the link for the second video before but it fits better with this message.  I’ve watched it at least a dozen times and still get lumps in my throat.)

 

Message #23-

Numbers 14:11- The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?

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Isaiah 58:11 The LORD will guide you always;
       he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
       and will strengthen your frame.
       You will be like a well-watered garden,
       like a spring whose waters never fail.

            2008 has been a tough year for many Americans.  A recent poll stated that 70% have been negatively affected by the economic recession.  I am not an exception. As was the case in the last few months of ’07, I experienced lengthy periods of freedom from symptoms of fatigue and depression. Because my body chemistry was never in balance, it should not be a surprise that I endured several discouraging flare ups at inopportune times, which caused me some pretty serious difficulties at work.  As for the new job search, I found the market to be so tough that I could not even get interviews despite the fact that I had enhanced my candidacy by taking 2 relevant courses in the winter.  I hate to admit it but the cumulative effects of these frustrations have taken a toll.  There is no real anger at God but my enthusiasm is not what it was at the end of 2006 when my recovery was far faster than I or my doctor expected.

  When the Passion of the Christ came to theaters in the Spring of 2004, I was under heavy stress while finishing my first year of graduate school and feeling increasingly uneasy about my future.  At the time, I had not been diagnosed but knew that I had adrenal fatigue because I had all of the symptoms and an Adrenal Booster supplement brought temporary relief.  My studies were becoming increasingly difficult and I struggled to keep my GPA above the 3.0 required for an advanced degree.  However, when I walked out of the theater, fighting back tears, it seemed as if all of my problems seemed so insignificant that I had absolutely no right to complain at all.  

Our society is largely based on the concept of “what have you done for me lately?”  Yes, my symptoms will flare up from on occasion until I am fully balanced or at least close to it but I have been delivered from a lifetime of chronic fatigue and depression and have been given the opportunity to use my knowledge to improve the lives of others. Jesus, in the ultimate act of love, went through indescribable pain to pay the debt of my sins.  Sometimes, in the midst of trials or a period of navigation through a desert, what the Lord had done for you in the past may seem less relevant in your life.  However, as I have written earlier, our relationship with Christ should not be based on what He can do for us but the very nature of who He is.  Some of you may have initially come to Christ or renewed your commitment in the midst of awful circumstances.  Now ask yourself, in the days after you dedicated yourself to Christ, how much did those awful circumstances matter to you?  Now, you may be facing a different type of trial and the preoccupation with your problems has caused you to grumble and complain. If this applies to you, consider the journey of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.  Because of the constant grumbling against the Lord even after there was no doubt that by His hand, they had been delivered from slavery, the journey took 40 years.  Only Joshua and Caleb would enter.  As I have written earlier, I am not one to downplay or sugarcoat the pain of a trial if indeed it is a serious matter but I can see some parallels between my journey and that of the Israelites.  I admit that I have been guilty of complaining about my current situation.  Even if it is not holding me back, it certainly is not helping anything.  If you are going through a sort of holding pattern in which there seems to be no relief in sight for your trial, I encourage you to trust in the Lord to be your guide for the Word says that your needs will be satisfied you will be strengthened and flourish by a spring of blessings that will never fail.