Friday, July 20, 2012

Fire Proof

I was preparing a message on the power of the tongue and how what we say makes a difference.  When preparing to speak or write something, I often visualize myself speaking those words first.  I saw myself in front of a group of people saying, “Our tongue is like fire, contained the tongue is very useful.  We use fire to cook with or heat our homes.  If the tongue is uncontained, like fire it is unstable.  Fire destroys things…”
     As I spoke those words, uncontrollable grief came over me.  I began to think about all of the people I personally knew who lost their life in a fire.  The memories still haunt me, when I was awaken early one morning by the sound of a father’s voice.  My friend’s father was a stout person he had muscle upon muscle.  On that morning his voice was as loud as his muscles were big. The sound of his voice pierces my soul to this day.  I could hear his voice over all of the sirens and commotion, as he fought restraints yelling, “NO! NO!” All he could do was sit there and watch the flames engulf the house and life of his son here on earth.
     As a Christian, I struggle with the cliché, “Favor is not fair.”  It’s not so much that I don’t believe that statement to be true; it is more in the haughtiness in which it is often delivered.  As Christians are we to take the blessings of God and shove them in the face of the less fortunate, as if to say “These blessings are only reserved for the privileged ones of God.”  Would telling my friend’s father the reason I was alive and his son was no longer on this earth is because “Favor isn’t fair?”  God forbid!
    Every time I saw my friend’s father, I would be overwhelmed with guilt.  I actually felt guilty that I was still alive.  I couldn’t stand seeing him in so much grief and when he saw me I was a reminder to him that he would never see his son on this earth again.  Then one day God dealt with me on this subject. 
     First, to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord.  My friend was not lost he is in heaven.  Everyone goes to heaven, but God reminded me that not everyone gets to stay.  It is a difficult thing for the human mind to comprehend, but just as loving parent always loves their child, God will always love you.  In order to stay in heaven you must accept His son, Jesus Christ.
     Second, grief is caused by separation.  The relationships we build on earth with other people were never meant to replace the relationship each of us is to have with God.  We were created to be in relationship, however there is a place in our heart that cannot be satisfied with anything else, but the presence of God.  Some people look for it in new relationships and get involved with people they have no business being with.  Some try to wash the pain away with alcohol or drugs, only to find out that when the substance runs it’s course the pain is still there and the situation is more complicated by mistakes made while our mind was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
      Thirdly, God dealt with me about purpose.  He began to formulate the actual purpose of favor.  I began to think about all of the near death experiences I faced in my life.  I am a sign and a wonder for Him.  The mandate that is upon my life is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And give hope to a hurt and dying world.  The money and all the material things that God has blessed me with is for one purpose, to spread His love.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

That Awkward Moment When...

That Awkward Moment When
Photo taken while in Pittsburgh, Pa.
     I was about 5 years old; I did not fully understand diabetes. I thought the only reason I had to take shots, go to the doctor, get blood drawn and eat a different diet was because I was a boy. My sister, Dawn did not have to do these things, but she was a girl. My female cousins did not have to do these things but they were girls too. Once I realized that I was different due to my pancreas not producing insulin, I had questions. 

“Why was I being punished?”

 “What did I do wrong to deserve this?”

 “What could I do to fix it, what punishment could I serve to make this go away?”

     At age 5, I learned a very valuable lesson. My family found out I was diabetic at the age of 2. My mother awoke in the middle of the night realizing something was more wrong than just an upper respiratory infection. My parents rushed me to the hospital to find out that I was in the early stages of a diabetic coma. My mother, who did not want to pursue a career in the medical field because she didn’t want to give shots, was told she now had to give her 2 year old son a shot in order to keep him alive. 

     Seeing her son hooked up to all those machines, unconscious was enough to rock any young mother’s world. Now she had to face one of her biggest fears head on. During these times there were no cell phones to send out a mass email or text to have everyone pray. There wasn’t an Internet, or Facebook for people to send encouraging messages. My father still had to go to work with worry on his mind, not knowing the minute-by-minute updates of his son’s condition or progress. These were the days that if you didn’t go to work you didn’t have a job, and you definitely wouldn’t get paid.

     My mother, with tears in her eyes, was sitting in my room at the hospital reflecting on all that had happened. I was in a room shared with another little girl. My mother had been so engulfed with what was going on in my world she never really even noticed her. The girl’s mother was sitting there and asks my mother, “Do you want to trade disease?”

     “What?” was my mother’s response? As she proceeded to wipe the tears from her face and dry her eyes, the woman tells her to consider herself lucky. Her daughter was quadriplegic. She couldn’t walk, feed herself or verbally communicate. It was that awkward moment where you want to hold on to the grief of your own circumstance, but realize you are sitting next to someone who has it worse than you. My mother’s obvious answer was “No.”

      I learned some valuable principles as a young child when my mother shared this story with me.

  1. You can search high and low and there is always someone who is better off than you and there is someone worse off than you. So while you may not be in the situation you want to be in, your situation could always be worse. Make the most of your situation and be thankful for what you can do and stop complaining about what you can’t do. 
  2.  Help those who are less fortunate than you. What you make happen for others, God will make happen for you. While it may be difficult at times, be an encouragement to someone else. 
  3.  You condition does not have to define or confine you. There is a boy who is my son’s age who is in a motorized wheel chair. He has been at every high school football game that I can remember. He doesn’t communicate verbally, can’t feed himself or control his bodily functions. However every time the football team takes the field that young man gets excited. When I see him it encourages and reminds me to enjoy life and make the most of it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

10 Practical Things to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

People don’t usually wake up and say, “Today looks like a great day to utterly fail.” Tragedy and bad news are not usually preceded by an alarm that sounds to let us know that they are on the way. How do we recover when life lands its best punch right between our eyes? Following are 10 keys that I used to get through the struggles in my life.

Get Up. Never getting knocked down is not the mark of a true champion. The mark of a true victor is getting up after being knocked down. You drive fear in your adversary’s heart when you get up after being hit by their best punch.  

Dress up. If you are reading this and you are still in you bedtime clothes and it’s lunchtime, stop reading and change clothes. Dress like the people dress in the field you want to work. See yourself in the position.

 Follow your passions. If you always wanted to learn to play the piano, now is the time to pursue that passion. Get your degree in something you like to do. Get certified, trained or educated in activities you enjoy. Don’t just sit and do nothing.

 You are able. Focus on what you can accomplish, not on what you no longer can perform.

Surround yourself with enablers. Now is not the time to be around people who tell you, “I know someone with you same condition and they died in three days.” While this may be true for that person, this does not have to be your testimony. People who feel bad for you will not make your situation better. There is a fine line between compassion and pity. You are not a victim but a victor.

Set small goals to help you reach your larger goal. In order to complete a marathon, you must be able to go the first mile. Each step that you complete will give you a sense of accomplishment and will be the building blocks for your ultimate success.

Reward yourself. When you accomplish a feat, regardless of its size, celebrate. Find creative ways to reward yourself. Do something as simple as giving yourself a certificate to memorialize your accomplishment.

 Dream big. Why do you think most kids are so happy? Because no one has told them that they couldn’t, yet. Why did you stop dreaming? Don’t let past hurts, failures and experiences stop you from your purpose position and place.

Be thankful. Be thankful for what you have and stop complaining about what you don’t posses. Don’t worry about the one that got away, appreciate the ones that stayed.

 Have Fun. Life is too short to stay miserable. While your situation may not be ideal, make the most of it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Walking In Your Garden

     There are no words that can adequately describe the feeling I had, the first time the doctor told me, “Your blood sugars are normal” I couldn’t wait to test out my new pancreas. For the first time that I can remember, I was able to drink regular soda, not diet. I was able to eat cake and pie with no change in my blood sugar level.

    I was 2 years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. The only life I knew up until that time was what I wasn’t allowed to eat. While all of the other children ate popsicles, cake or candy, my treat was celery with peanut butter or cream cheese. The discipline of a diabetic diet was not where I experienced the most freedom. I experienced the most freedom in my day-to-day living activities. I did not realize how much bondage I was in by doing all of the activities that I had to partake in just to be “normal.”

      I no longer had to wait to eat. Or stop an activity to eat. When I decide to eat a meal I no longer have to count the carbohydrate exchanges and adjust an insulin pump. I no longer had to watch the clock and get home to do a dialysis treatment. I no longer suffered from low vision. So I have a driver’s license and can go where I need to go. These were freedoms that my mind could not entertain while I was faced with the obstacles of blindness, kidney failure and diabetes.

   Sometimes we get so caught up with what we are experiencing, we miss the promise. Each one of us has a right to be free. Some of us are bound to debt, so we are in bondage to a job we don’t like. So to numb the pain we drown our sorrows in drugs, alcoholism, spending money we don’t have, or sex. The words of our naysayers ring in our ears. Someone we trusted violated that trust by destroying our self-esteem and they’re condemning words haunt you to this day. “You’ll never make it”, “You’re a failure”, “Nobody’s ever going to love you.”

   Let me remind you that “You can and you will overcome”. I know this because God did it for me. He is not a respecter of people and what He does for one He will do for another. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, God told our adversary the devil that He was going to send His son. God desires a relationship with you so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice. He wants you to walk in the garden with Him again. Come join Him and experience a freedom that you never knew existed. I did, and let me tell you, it’s incredible.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Never Let Them See You Flinch

Photo of our Pug G taken by Nate Freeman
“Don’t flinch,” those were the words I heard after I decided that I was tired of being sick and tired. I had gone through two surgeries in three months pertaining to kidney failure and dialysis treatment. The initial procedure was to place a stint in my neck so I could be hooked up to the hemodialysis machine. On two different occasions my blood pressure reached fatal extremes. I would have to sit still for three to four hours three times a week, just to rid my body of the toxins that my kidneys were no longer filtering. Those types of treatments left me completely drained. I was told that some people stay on those types of treatments for years. There are no words that could adequately describe how terrible I felt.

      I requested to have Peritoneal Dialysis. During this type of treatment, 3 liters of fluid was pumped into my abdominal cavity. The fluid acted like a magnet and filtered toxins out of my body similar to my kidneys. The main issue with this treatment was that I had to do the treatments 4 times a day, everyday. And I had trouble keeping food down.

      One day I decided that enough was enough. I made up my mind that no matter what happened, I was going to trust God, do what the doctors said to do and encourage others. I believe that what you make happen for others, God will make happen for you. Every time the church doors were open we were there. During the day I would go with Bob Louth to the hospitals to visit and pray with people. Often times on my way to church, I would have to pull off to the side of the road, because I couldn’t keep anything down. I would check myself, make sure nothing got on my clothes, wipe my mouth and stay true to my word. I wasn’t going to let sickness see me flinch. Don’t look at what you can’t do; instead look at what you are able to do. Stick to it. And never let them see you flinch.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Photo:  Israel
Taken by Nate Freeman

There comes a time in our lives that we must take personal inventory.  Just as a business manager takes inventory of the items in the store, we need to take an account of how we are spending our time, our words and our money.


Time is one of our greatest commodities.  I have been guilty of saying, “I didn’t have enough time…” Then one day I was reminded that everyone is allotted the same 24 hours in a day.  It doesn’t matter if you live in the U.S. or in the nation of Nepal; there are still only 24 hours in a day.  The success of reaching our goals and desires rests on how we decide to utilize our time.  In the current state of our economy, everyone is looking for a way to increase his or her bottom line.    You are not going to increase your bottom line if you spent more time talking about how bad the economy is, than you are doing something about it.  Get educated.  Find a better job.  Start a business.  Learn new ways of spending less money on the same products you normally buy. 


Our words are important and what we say matters.  Our words are the foundation on which our destiny is built.  I don’t know anyone who complained his or her way to a miracle or blessing.  It often is better to say nothing than it is to open our mouth and curse our future.   How we respond to adversity will determine our success through it.  When pressure is applied to a tube of toothpaste, we expect toothpaste.  What is coming out of your tube when pressure is applied?  The Bible tells us that out of the abundance of the heart our mouth speaks.  The manufacturer puts toothpaste in the tube that is why we expect toothpaste to come out.  When we allow hurt, pain, envy, jealousy and rage to enter our heart, we should not be surprised what come out of our mouth.  Only God can heal those hurts, but we must stand guard.


Money can be like the three states of matter.  As a solid, it is there when you need it.   We put water in the freezer to become ice, so that when we need it it becomes a liquid so we can use it.  It is like putting money in the bank.  We also need money to be liquid so that we can use it to pay bills, buy clothes and live.  As a gas money is there one moment and gone the next.   We need to remain good stewards over our money and remember not to despise our day of small beginnings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Don't Get Dissed

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Original Author Unknown

We have a choice to make when faced with life challenges.  We can choose to enjoy life despite those challenges or we can allow life to dictate our mood and keep us down.  I choose to make the most of my situation.  We should not focus on what we cannot do but rather focus on the things we can do.  Then we need to do those things with a spirit of excellence, passion, and fervency.   

There are three things we need to avoid when dealing with life challenges and possessing a victorious life.

Discouragement – The biggest battle we face is the battle that goes on in our mind.  Hopefully no one wakes up in the morning and says, “Let me see how miserable I can be today?”  When going through kidney failure the toughest step that I had to make was to overcome the pain that riddled my body and decide that I was going to make the most of my day.  Discouragement would try to mask itself differently everyday.  I had to learn how to encourage myself.  Well meaning medical staff would make comments that would make a grown man want to give up and die.  People who didn’t understand what we were facing would make unrealistic demands of us.  Or there were days that my body just couldn’t handle another day of pain.  Thank God for a supportive wife and my son Trey who wouldn’t let me quit. 

Disconnected -- Another area you need to be aware of is disconnecting your self from society and from those who really can help you be victorious.  After I decided that I wasn’t going to let kidney failure keep me from living my life at the moment.  I would volunteer to go to the hospital and visit people.  I would encourage them that they could make it.  Every morning I had to overcome the desire just to lie in bed and bury my head under the blanket.  I would literally force myself to leave the house.  I couldn’t do all of the things I used to do, but I could do something.  I volunteered, served and walked as if I were already healed.  This was before I experienced the greatest miracle of my life.

Dismissed –Stop dismissing yourself from your purpose in life.  Why do adults stop dreaming?  There is neither vision too big nor task too cumbersome for God to perfect in your life.  We tend to settle for less than what God has for us.  If your dream is to start a franchise, seek the counsel of someone who has succeeded at doing it.  Don’t get your advice from people who never owned a franchise.  They can’t help you do anything but dismiss your aspirations.