Positive Thinking

Colossians 3 verse 2

It is a little after 5 a.m. here in Colorado.  I have been up since 3:30.  Why?  Because of Celiac Disease again.  Over the last week I have been going through another Cachexia episode.  I’ve bottomed out again and I’m back at 135 pounds.  It doesn’t feel good…at all.

You know what though?  I’m down in my office typing this post and this disease is not stopping me!  The reason for that is that I have had so many consecutive days of suffering (every day since 1-6-12) that God has trained me to keep my mind in the right place.  Otherwise, quite simply, I would lose my mind suffering this crazy disease!

People talk a lot about positive thinking, but that can only get you so far.  It might work for a little while to think about a vacation you want to go on, or something else you are working towards, but that won’t sustain you when real trouble comes knocking at your door.  When your life is flipped upside down and body slammed and you are left crumpled on the floor.

I rise up in victory because my mind is not on earthly things.  Everything here is broken and temporary.  Through my suffering the Lord has trained me to push through suffering and completely fix my eyes on Him.  If I don’t, then the suffering can get the best of me.

Without the Holy Spirit I wouldn’t have the proper power to fight this.  Through the Holy Spirit, God gives me absolutely everything I need to be victorious over the dragon that is Celiac Disease.  I can slay him with a single blow and just keep moving on.  Does he rise up and attack me again?  Yep, we fight everyday.  Sometimes he gets some pretty good licks in, but every day, no matter what, I win, and I have that victory through the blood of Jesus!

What struggles or suffering are you dealing with today?  Did you start your day like me in pain right after you opened your eyes?  Give it to God today!  Fix your eyes on Jesus who suffered so horrifically for our salvation.  Give Him your pain.  Give Him your trials.  He will carry them for you.  He longs to comfort you and give you peace.

Be encouraged and take heart, Jesus is alive!

Bless you all!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:2-3

 

A Man of Sorrows

Psalm 19

In Isaiah 53:5 the prophet Isaiah prophesies about the coming Messiah:

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”

I want to focus on this one verse for a moment.  Think about Jesus.  Think about what the ancient Romans did to Him when they beat Him with lashed whips with sharp stones embedded in the leather.  It wasn’t just a whip.  It would grab a hold of the flesh and tear with every strike!  Think about how they sunk a crown of thorns into his head.  Those were not little thorns either.  They were huge 3 to 4 inch spikes!  Think about how they drove thick metal spikes through His hands and feet to hang Him on a cross, which was a death reserved for criminals.  Jesus was despised and rejected by men.  The account of His death is even recorded in ancient Roman documents, and He died like that for us.  For you, for me, for everyone!

He was also a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.  That seems strange, doesn’t it?  Why would the Son of God be sad and suffering?  Wouldn’t He have the joy and power of God inside and be happy all the time?  Not quite, let me explain.

Jesus felt sorrow because of what He saw on the earth.  The sin, the hurt, the disease, the hatred, and the rebellion against God.  He had sorrow because He cares for us deeply.

Sometimes the things in this world are extremely depressing and they cause deep sorrow.  We have watched for years here in America as one mass shooting after another has happened in some of the most vulnerable and unthinkable places.  We see people in other countries suffering not even having access to clean water.  We see homeless on our streets.  The sorrowful list goes on.

Those types of things should bring sorrow because through that we can impact change!  I live in America, born and raised.  It is not lost on me that not everyone in the world gets to enjoy the things I do here.  It bothers me that some people are born into situations that seem impossible to overcome while others are born into freedom and peace.  Why was I born smack in the middle of the U.S.A. and not in the middle of the Congo?  My soul could have just as easily been given to another family.

All I know is that God has a plan for each one of us, we are all made in His image, and He wants us to help each other!  All the suffering I see makes me feel the same sorrow because I have the same Holy Spirit inside of me that Jesus does.

What are we supposed to do with that sorrow though?  Just sit around feeling depressed doing nothing about it?  No, not at all!  We get up, form ministries, and start serving the Lord and doing the exact same things He did while He was on earth.  We serve, we give our time, we give our money, we pray, and we reach out to a hurting world!

Godly sorrow leads to great positive change and justice!  It also leads to repentance.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow leads to death.  See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.  At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

2 Corinthians 7:10-11

Jesus didn’t walk this earth oblivious to the pain around Him.  No, He embraced it.  He was a man familiar with suffering.  Not just His Own, but ours too.  He took our suffering into Himself and He experienced it fully.  He also took all of our sins upon Himself and experienced death and hell for us, so we don’t have to!

“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

John 19:30

Just like Jesus, I will not just sit around.  I will not ignore the plight of those that are suffering.  We are commanded by God to love people.  That is the entire point of the Bible.  God is love.  He wants us to love!

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

1 John 4:16

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:16-18

This is not about guilt trips.  This is about love.  If you feel that sorrow and you want to do something about it, cruise over to my Great Ministries page, and take a look at how Jesus is moving in power through His followers still today!  They are all financially accountable ministries my wife and I support.

Christian sorrow should not be taboo at all like it is in many churches.  Do we have joy in the Holy Spirit?  Of course we do!  That will always be there flowing inside of us like a mighty river.  We also feel the Lord’s sorrow at times, so use it for His glory and help people like He did.

God bless you all!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus speaking in Matthew 11:28-30

Sunset (2) 12-8-16

 

 

Suffering All Kinds of Grief

Buffalo_Winter_Storm_2017

Good Morning on this fine Saturday!  I hope this finds you enjoying a restful and peaceful start to your weekend.  If your life is like mine, then I know you were very busy this week and you most definitely need a break.  I’m sure I said, “give me a break!” more than a few times…and you probably did too!

Grief, trials, and trouble.  We all experience it.  Some of you are dealing with disease, chronic illness, and injury, and I understand that this weekend might not be restful for you.  It might be painful and hard and you might even feel like giving up.  Please don’t!  There is hope, and I want to share why.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease on January 6, 2012 and it changed my life forever.  At that time my small intestine was so badly damaged that I only weighed 128 pounds, and I am 6 foot 1 inch tall.  I was starving to death from the inside because my own body was attacking me.  I thought I had cancer.  I didn’t know it yet, but the wheat I had grown up eating was killing me.

I suffered terribly the first 4 years of the disease.  I was vomiting and having diarrhea at the same time day and night.  I excreted intestinal tissue.  I couldn’t stand up straight due to the pain in my small intestine.  My wife had to hold my arm as I walked and I could only eat a few bites of rice and drink some water.  That was the first few months of the disease, but that wasn’t the worst of it.  For 4 years I would be knocked to my knees with debilitating gut pain every day.  The only relief I could get was when I would kneel by the stairs and bend forward until my forehead touched the third step.  I would stay like that for hours until the pain subsided.  The doctor called it “dumping syndrome” and he told me honestly they don’t know why it happens to Celiacs.  The disease weakened my muscles and bones, and it has taken all this time just to get to 140 pounds.  My normal pre-Celiac healthy weight was around 160 to 165 pounds.  The doc said I was the worst case of Celiac he had ever seen, but I also exhibited the best healing from where I was.  Praise God!  He said I was lucky to even be at 140 pounds after what I suffered.

There is no cure for Celiac Disease.  The only treatment is a completely gluten free lifestyle.  Gluten is the name for the protein “gliadin” that is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.  Less than 1% of us have immune systems that cannot tolerate gluten.  Celiac Disease is not just an allergy.  It is an auto immune disorder, and classified as a chronic illness.  If I eat gluten, then my body will respond by attacking my small intestine and destroying the intestinal lining.  The disease specifically attacks the villi, which are the tiny hair like structures in the lining that are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food we eat.  Yes, Celiac Disease can kill people if left untreated.  Unfortunately, people with Celiac usually suffer on average for 10 years before they are correctly diagnosed.  That has to change.

We immediately changed out our entire pantry after my diagnosis, but my wife and I had a long road ahead of us.  I found out I can also not eat dairy, soy, eggs, coconut, and especially oats.  I can’t have NSAIDS either.  Of course the way I discovered I couldn’t have those things anymore was through eating them and violently throwing up, and going through the whole process of my body detoxing itself over and over until I figured it out.  On 4-28-2012 I suffered anaphylactic shock from eating an oat bread sandwich that was supposedly “gluten free.”  It was not gluten free because oats are not gluten free.  During digestion oats break down into a similar protein as gliadin, and can cause an even more severe reaction than wheat.  I stopped breathing that day, and Jesus saved me with a mighty miracle!  That story is in my book One Man’s Very Strange Supernatural Life.

It has been 6 years, 7 months, and 11 days since my diagnosis, and I am much stronger now.  I turned 40 this summer.  It has been a deeply painful and glorious journey through my suffering.  I know what it is like to truly be carried by the Lord now.  I was so ill in the beginning of the disease that I became like an old man, and I was only 33 at the time.  My wife had to help me get dressed, walk, and eat.  I was in a horrible state and I believed I was going to die.  I felt that I was laid out in the dust of the earth and I was done.  The Lord had other plans.

That is where hope comes in.  Jesus is alive and He loves you!  Yes, we have to suffer here on this earth because of sin (which I can expand on later), and we will all go through trials, but we can be victorious over every single one of them through Jesus!  Jesus gave me my breath back that day in 2012, so that I could tell the world about Him and what He has done for me.  He wants to do the same for you!

Yes, sometimes God heals miraculously.  In college (back in 1996-2000), I had a friend who was a champion wrestler.  His knee was injured during a match and the docs told him he would need surgery.  I led a Bible study at that time, so all the brothers and I laid hands on his knee one night and prayed for his healing.  He went in for surgery that week, but the doctors said his knee was healed and he didn’t need surgery anymore.  It was incredible!  That friend has been a Pastor since college.  Other times God heals naturally over time, and I’m not just talking physical wounds either.  Come to Him.  Give Him your disease, your illness, and your troubles, and you will see how He makes beauty from ashes.

I posted the picture of the bison because it has deep meaning for me.  The disease left me with very little options for food, but one of the best things that came out of this trial was free range bison meat!  I must do a plug here.  The best company on earth for bison meat is Wild Idea Buffalo Company out of South Dakota!  They are doing everything right when it comes to the land and the animals.  Their bison are 100% free range feeding on the natural prairie, they don’t eat grains, and they are not finished on GMO corn.  If I eat animals that eat grains and GMOs, I will have an auto immune reaction.  The family of Wild Idea are true conservationists in every sense of the word.  I feel connected to the land and the beautiful bison that provide my life sustaining protein source, and I praise God for caring for me so well!

I love that picture because bison are rugged and tough animals that can withstand the brutal trials of nature.  When I look at them standing out there in the cold it reminds me to stand strong in Jesus.  To set my face like flint against this disease and give the fight to Him!  I would not be able to fight this disease like I do in victory and power on my own.  I think the Apostle Peter says it better in his letter 1 Peter.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:3-7

Amen Brother Peter, amen!  Remember, this is not our eternity.  Everything here is temporary, even our pain and suffering.  There is peace, healing, and forgiveness in Jesus.  He can and will not only heal your wounds, but also your hearts.  He wants to carry your burdens and set you free, and there is no condemnation in Him (Romans 8:1).

I am praying for all those who are suffering today.  You are not forgotten!  If you need prayer or need to talk, I am here for you.  Don’t ever forget how much God loves you!

Bless you all!