Choices

I have been in this thing for a while. I have had the Holy Ghost for 20 years, this year, and never regret one moment of it. While I am an Apostolic Pentecostal, the older I get, I find that there are some majorly differing opinions on many issues among Apostolic churches. We do agree on (some sort of) holiness standard, the Oneness of God, Acts 2:38 as the plan of salvation, but something else has crept in, sadly.

I go back and forth on how I feel about material outside of Pentecost. We do have many Apostolic authors that write on a slew of different topics, which makes me question why someone would go outside of doctrinal boundaries to read non-Apostolic material. But then again, I have/do. Definitely not on doctrine though. But all that aside, now, and I believe that outsourcing is one of the major reasons for this, you have doctrines creeping into the church (2 Timothy 3) and leading people astray. Here are some of the doctrines I have seen in some of the churches:

  1. Hallowing of Hell
  2. Prosperity
  3. Easy believism
  4. Name it and claim it
  5. Guaranteed healing
  6. Generational curses

Along with some of these very damaging doctrines slipping into the churches, it seems there is a lack of holiness, both inward and outward. Nowadays, it seems among ministerial circles (the younger ones) discussing standards is a VERY bad thing. It is almost impossible to even talk about it. You have churches that are focusing on programs more than advancing the kingdom. These would be the “liberals” for lack of a better word.

But the other side of the coin doesn’t really make up at all for this. The “conservative” side of Pentecost is definitely not without its problems. I haven’t seen a lot of these false doctrines or lack of standards come in, but I have seen a very ugly spirit:

  1. You’re not holy enough (looking)
  2. Our camp is the only camp – I’ve literally heard a radio commercial for a conservative Apostolic evangelist claiming that the “First Apostolic church in (city) is being born,” while they have a complete established work in this country.
  3. Pastors abusing their authority
  4. The other side is losing everything
  5. Control/dictatorship

Now, before we go any further, ALLLLLLLLLLLLL people groups on this planet have drama. All of them split off when they get upset, as this isn’t just for religious folk.

Justifying not being a part of God’s kingdom because of drama isn’t legitimate. Paul and Barnabas couldn’t get along, so they separated from each other. So even in the Bible, there was drama. I could go into a lot on that but won’t.

I hear the complaints of saints, both young and old. I hear a lot of people, including myself, say: “I remember when…” And we all talk like those days are over. And like I said before, people groups are drama.

It comes down to a choice. Do I go the way of the liberals or the conservatives? Neither is wrong (in my opinion) foundationally. But the attitudes and slander from both sides get tiring.

I go to an independent Apostolic Pentecostal church. We are not “conservative independents” and we aren’t “charismatic” either. I’ve heard people say that our church doesn’t have standards, preaches trinity (LOL) steals saints, etc. None of which is true, but since we don’t subscribe to a certain organization, we are out in limbo. When people leave their local churches that are in an organization, they usually stop by our church, because of the disconnect. In all honesty, the reason I ended up at my church 5 years ago, was for that very reason.

Be Glorious!

There are two portions of Scripture that have been on my mind quite a bit lately. The first is 1 Samuel 4:21:

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

The Bible says that Ichabod means: the glory is departed. The Hebrew word for Icabod is אִי־כָבוֹד and has a definition of: having no glory, inglorious.

What a name to be named. Poor Ichabod, named after such a tragic event. The Philistines captured the Ark and this was the response in grieving of the mother over the loss of the presence of God. She created a memorial for when the presence of God left them. What a sobering situation. I never want to grow complacent about God’s glory.

The other portion of Scripture is found in Revelation 3:1:

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Sardis was a booming city, claimed to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Sardis translates to “the red ones.” It is believed to be the first city in Asia Minor to be converted to Christianity under the ministry of John. Sardis was also believed the first city to revolt against Christianity, the first to lay in its ruins and now is churchless and has no ministry. Very sad.

Jesus told the church of Sardis that they have the reputation of being alive, but in reality, they are dead. Very very dead. They somehow gave the impression that they were lively and had the Spirit of God in their land. (I remember something about having a form of godliness and denying the power thereof?) Jesus goes on to say that they need to strengthen the things that remain. They were good on doctrine, but they were dead. I love doctrine. Anyone who knows me, painstakingly knows that I love our doctrine, ie the doctrine of the Bible. I will do anything to keep the doctrine. But what good would that be if I only love doctrine, and never experience the power and things of God? This is the situation the Sardis church found themselves in.

I find it interesting that Jesus said to strengthen that which remains. I take that as, they had doctrine, but it wasn’t strong. They had the right things, but they were weak and lose.

Verse 4 says that some remain clothed in white. There was a remnant that hadn’t gotten their garments spotted by the world. When I first read that, it broke my heart. Could you imagine being in a church that claims to be Apostolic, but the Holy Ghost isn’t anywhere to be found?

How do these connect?

It seems like I have two separate thoughts going on here, and I do. Let me try to wrangle them together to make some sort of sense.

The Goal

Our goal as Christians is to get to heaven and take everyone we can with us. (Matthew 28:19) How can we do this if we are fighting over standards or allowing false doctrine to come in? As people of the Name and holding the Truth of God’s Word, we have a charge to go unto all nations preaching and baptizing them in the Name of Jesus. The two components to have revival are:

  1. Unity
  2. Truth

Outside of that, we have no accord. Inside of that lies right doctrine, fellowship, right living (righteousness), etc.

I hope to encourage you today, that if you find yourself in a church situation where you aren’t “good” enough for the churches around you, that we have an obligation to our lost and our saints. We must have the glory of God in our churches. We must have unity among the True body of Christ. I don’t care what organization you do or don’t belong to, these are Scriptural truths that we MUST adhere to. Let me never be found labeled  Ichabod. Let me never be found among the church of Sardis.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:5

We are closer now than ever to the return of Jesus Christ. This is no time to give up what remains, but we must strengthen what remains.

Principles

As time moves forward, and the Lord tarries, the more and more “open-mindedness” is increasing. People these days can talk themselves out of anything. They can run through rabbit trails to justify anything and everything, leaving all rational reasoning behind. And the Church is certainly not exempt from this. But the Lord has been dealing with me in the area of principality. The definition of principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or a chain of reasoning.

I tend to be a wordsmith and an amateur at that. But, I digress. The definition states that it is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation of a system. Obviously, it says that, you just read it. But that is the portion of the definition I love. FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH. Fundamental is “of central importance.” Can you see where I am going with this?

Many people today like to say “well, I feel…” and then you can insert anything at the end of that sentence that has anything to do with a difference of opinion. Let me give an example. “I don’t feel like I need to go to church to be a good person” or “I don’t feel like God cares about the way I look on the outside.” I literally can not handle a sentence that begins with “I feel” or “I don’t feel.” The problem in those sentences is I. That leads to a very narrow and narcissistic view on anything that would follow. What it comes down to, the things of God are not contingent on how I feel about them. They aren’t contingent on my feelings, my thoughts, my opinions or how well it fits into my agenda. They aren’t contingent on my loved one’s status with God (saved, not saved, believer, atheist.) But what the things of God are contingent on is principle.

As of late, I have heard many Apostolic’s and former Apostolic’s using these sentences. I’ve watched many leave the faith over things that they couldn’t feel this way or that way over. Or they feel that certain things aren’t necessary anymore, even though a couple of years ago the preached them. They use excuses like, the Bible doesn’t say that in black and white. Or, God won’t send me to hell over not wearing a skirt. Or, the Bible doesn’t say you have to wear skirts, everyone wore dresses back then.

The list goes on and on. But it’s time to keep the main thing the main thing. People can ask every question, foolish questions, sincere questions, and at times, the answers aren’t always comfortable. “Can I go to heaven if I don’t get baptized?” That isn’t a comfortable question. “Why did God take my child?” That is a very uncomfortable question. To answer either of those, you would have to base your answer on principle. Consider the following verse.

Isaiah 28:10 – For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

A precept is a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought. Other words for precept are command, ordinance, oracle, injunction.

We are given precepts and lines all over the Word of God. Here is an example: The Bible does not say that you can’t smoke Camel cigarettes. But as Christians, Apostolic ones at least, we believe smoking cigarettes is wrong. Why? The Bible doesn’t say its wrong. Well, you are correct, but it does say that our body is a temple of the Holy Ghost and that it doesn’t even belong to me (1 Corinthians 6:19.) So the precept is that our body belongs to God and is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and the line is that I don’t damage my body with cigarettes. God gives the precept, and He gives us the power and authority to draw the line, and He HONORS the line.

Consider Moses. He had to go up Mt. Sinai to get the commandments from God, and God told him to draw a barrier so that the people wouldn’t follow him up the mountain.

Exodus 19:23 – And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.

God told Moses to draw bounds (lines). God did not tell Moses where to draw the lines, He just told him to draw them. So Moses did. And God honored those lines. That’s the same way for us. We are His servants.

Lines aren’t placed to keep people in, they are placed to keep the enemy out. Lines aren’t placed to hinder people, or to keep us from “living life,” they are placed to keep up set apart and unblemished from this world. It is up to the pastor to place lines, that has been God’s fundamental truth since the beginning. When you don’t understand the importance of precepts and lines, and how they are unmovable, then you will be easily swayed by the voices of this world and the enemy. Draw your lines, and keep those lines! Because God is.

Music Ministry

I read an article recently that has bothered me. I have tried to not write about it but I am going to have to. The article was entitled There Is No Such Thing As A Music Minister. 

To understand that music ministry is, in fact, a ministry, let us define ministry/minister:

Minister – Properly, a chief servant; hence, an agent appointed to transact or manage business under the authority of another; in which sense, it is a word of very extensive application.

Ministry – Agency; service; aid; interposition; instrumentality. Ecclesiastical function; agency or service of a minister of the gospel or clergyman in the modern church, or of priests, apostles, and evangelists in the ancient. Acts 1. Rom.12. 2 Tim.4. Num.4.

Both of these definitions come from AV1611.com (KJV Dictionary.)

To further define ministry, we turn to the Bible. For this instance, I am using 2 Timothy 4:5 (which is referenced in the KJV dictionary)

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

The word for ministry in Greek is διακονίαν, transliterated to diakonia. In which Bro. Strongs defines as:

  1. service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others

  2. of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men

    1. of the office of Moses

    2. of the office of the apostles and its administration

    3. of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.

  3. the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities

  4. the office of the deacon in the church

  5. the service of those who prepare and present food

Ok. I really don’t even feel like I have to go any further, but I will. Not only am I an Apostolic preacher, and apologetic, but I am also a musician. I play the organ and sing every service our church has. Not only do I play the organ, and sing, but I also play the piano. So I feel that I have somewhat of a platform to speak on.

The first thing I want to make clear is this: Ministry is service. To be a minister is to be a servant. The pastor of a church is a servant to the people of the church. The children’s minister is a servant to the children. Servanthood is the first and foremost characteristic of a minister. In all the above definitions, service is the common denominator. If you wash the toilets at church, YOU are a minister. If you turn on the lights and mow the lawn, you are a minister. So, by default, music is a ministry. I am not sure about your church, but at my church, not one musician is paid. We all do it out of service to the Lord and to our church. The posts that are referred to in this post go on to say that apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teachers are the only true ministers (Ephesians 4).

We pray, we lead, we exhort, we talk, we sing, we praise, we worship, we serve, so who decided that those things aren’t ministry? You can quote scriptures and divide them up until you can’t find anything true, but that doesn’t mean that you are right. The kicker in the post is this line:

If you are a musician or singer, do not try to perfect the saints, build up the body, or minister.  It isn’t your job.  Your job is to praise the Lord by singing/playing, and that is all.

Let’s consider these verses:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. (Ephesians 5:18-19)

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. (Acts 16:25, 26)

If a singer is only supposed to sing and not perfect the saints or build up the body, then why did Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18 tell you to? Paul said just as much as you admonish one another in all wisdom, sing! He even equates being filled with the Holy Ghost and singing as the opposite of drunkenness and debauchery. So, music MINISTER, keep ministering!

Encourage WHO?

We live in a very tough world. Some would say worse than any other time, some would disagree. But one thing is for sure, it can be hard to adult at times. I see many saints allowing the enemy to wear them out. It isn’t necessarily big strikes against the saints, but he will use situations and people to plum wear you out, keeping you busy and your mind off of the prize. 

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. Daniel 7:25

I am guilty of this as well, so I preach to the choir! The attack is real, and sometimes it feels so heavy, and you can’t get a break, but take courage! Consider David:

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6

David was greatly distressed! They wanted to kill him! But when all falls apart, you have to encourage yourself. As easy as it is for me to type that out, it is much harder to apply it. Over the past couple of years, I have found myself greatly distressed, trying to get through life without losing my breath. I run and run the race, and at times it feels like the finish line keeps getting moved miles and miles away. But that is when you have to encourage yourself in God. How do you encourage yourself you say? I am so glad you asked! 

  1. Read His Word! Read His Word! Read His Word!
  2. Talk about His Word!
  3. Pray

Anytime someone tells me that they have been going through a hard time, and they feel defeated, I always ask “how much time are you spending in His Word?” 99% of time time, the answer is “not as much time as I should.”

We have to be in the Word, daily. If you want to hear from God, read His Word. If you need an answer to something, read His Word. It seems as Christians, that we spend less time in our “religious book” than other religions do, and that is saddening. We have to know it, we have to read it, we have to talk about it, we have to proclaim it.

I head a saying one time: “Make prayer your first response, not your last resort.” I would add “Make His Word your first response, not your last resort.” There is nothing that can take the place of God’s Word in your life. It is alive, it can and will speak to you about your situation and comfort you in your trouble.

I don’t buy into the whole Prosperity Gospel. I do not buy into the fact that once you become a Christian, everything is right in the world. No! Have you ever opened a Bible? We are promised peace and joy, but the presence of peace and joy doesn’t mean we have it all together. That doctrine only makes YOU feel bad when something goes wrong as if you didn’t have enough faith, and now you’re punished. Our promise is that IN the turmoil, we have peace and joy. THAT is much more admirable than just getting a free pass from the problems of this world. God gives us tools in His Word to combat the enemy. So today, as you go through this life and deal with the troubles of this world, encourage yourself in God’s Word. 

Fearless

I am giving it a good effort on blogging more. My blog doesn’t necessarily have a theme, it’s more of a look into what is going on in my head. Which should worry some people.

I last wrote about MS. It turns out, after my wife had her lumbar puncture, that the tests came back negative for MS. For this, we rejoice. But that still leaves us with “what is going on?” I hate seeing her in such an awful place. But she remains faithful to God, and we both know that God is going to do something through it. We are ready for what He wants to do.

Sirius-ly?

I was listening to a radio program in my car on the way home from work yesterday called “Speaking the Truth.” It is on the Family Talk radio station on Sirius XM. I had never really listened to it because I can’t stand the speaker’s voice. But yesterday for some reason, I didn’t change it. Actually I know the reason. Here it is!

She was discussing the verse found in John 14:16, 17:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

What I came in on was her saying that this verse is the promise of the Holy Ghost (She used Spirit). She said that somehow this verse represents the trinity. You the Son praying to the Father to send the Spirit. Three separate persons. She didn’t say how this represents the trinity, she just said somehow it does, like she doesn’t know how.

I just don’t get it. You have this archaic doctrine started primarily by Constantine and what later became the Catholic church. How they came up with the trinity and introduction of the Universal (that is what Catholic means) church just blows my mind. The majority of Christianity, that is evangelical and non-liturgical, abhor most of Catholic doctrine. Christians don’t pray to Mary, don’t confess to priests, do not believe in transubstantiation, deny the office of the Pope, etc., but the one thing they take from them is the doctrine of the trinity. Why is everything else wrong with their doctrine, but that is acceptable to keep? I have never understood that.

Just in case you are reading this and do not know what the aforementioned scripture is saying, I will tell you. Jesus told His followers that He had to go away to prepare a place for us. In that, He informed them that He will no longer be with them, but HE (Jesus) will be in them. So, if Jesus says that it is HE that will be in them and that HE is sending the Comforter, then simple arithmetic would incline anyone to understand that the Comforter must be Jesus! But what about Jesus praying to the Father? So glad you asked! Jesus, before any introduction of trinitarian doctrine, was known as the “God-man.” That is because He is both God and man at the same time. His (God’s) SONship, is the part that is man, according to the flesh. The Spirit in Him is God or for this cause, the Father. The Bible says that God is a spirit, and no man hath seen him at any time (John 4:12). I really do believe that the Oneness of God is a revelation, and at times I get a little discouraged because it isn’t the mainstream belief and people have it so ingrained in them that you must believe something orthodox. But, people do eventually get the revelation. One thing I find funny, a lot of trinitarians don’t actually believe in the trinity, they believe in Oneness, but call it the trinity. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. 

The one thing I find it hard to wrap my mind around is that trinitarians proclaim that the trinity is so vast and complex that it is beyond human understanding. Anyone who has any understanding of Scripture would remember what Romans 1:20 says:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

That is pretty sobering. His Godhead is fully understood from the creation of the world, and because it is fully understood, you do not have an excuse to understand that God is One. What is more sobering is the fact that it says His power and Godhead are clearly understood. That nullifies the trinitarian doctrine. God is One. Period. That’s pretty easy to wrap your mind around. I could go on and on about the Oneness of God, but the point of the post was just to address what this woman said on the radio program and the fallacy of that thinking. I hope I have educated someone somewhat. If you feel that the trinitarian doctrine may not be Truth, then ask God to show you the Truth. He will. The word says to ask for wisdom and He gives it. 

Many Scars

Life is insane. I told my wife the other day that I thought that the older you get the weirder life gets. I think back at things over the past 5 to 10 years and things are just odd. Things happen to people you would never guess it would happen to. People die you thought would be around forever. You think you know someone and you don’t. This list goes on.

Back Pain

This all started when my wife and I moved back from the hurricane ravaged Panama City. I had started a grooming shop in the local town we had settled into, and she was given a job as a manager at a local department store. At first, it wasn’t too bad. But she came home every day complaining of back pain. It grew worse and worse, and we chocked it up to standing on concrete all day and a pulled muscle. She went through some agonizing pain to which she wasn’t even able to move, and eventually it got better.

Doctors, and more doctors

One day, about 3 months ago, she went to the doctors and her doctor ordered physical therapy due to some upper back pain and shoulder pain. She went to about 5 or 6 sessions only to realize that it was making the pain worse, and per her physical therapist, she ceased physical therapy. After going back to the doctor, and getting a referral to a spine surgeon, many ER visits and debilitating pain, she finally received an MRI. When she went into the spine surgeon’s office, he informed her that her issues were not bulging discs pressing on nerves as they thought. He told her that there are two kinds of nerve issues: surgical and disease. And she didn’t have the surgical kind of nerve issues. He informed her later that it is definitely disease. Disease. DISEASE.

He told her that she is showing symptoms to a couple different neurological diseases, one including multiple sclerosis. Up until this point, our lives were pretty normal. This changed a lot.

Over the next couple days, my wife dives into studying the disease. Not WebMD or Wikipedia, but the actual MS Society’s webpage and first hand accounts with people with MS. The surgeon seemed more convinced that it was MS than the other diseases, but it takes a battery of tests and MRI’s to actually determine that, so we were gearing up for our journey through this together.

Emotions

To say we were emotional is an understatement. The day she came back from the doctor, she wasn’t really too informative on what he had said. She didn’t want me to worry. I understand that and don’t fault her at all. She did let me know very gently. At first I wasn’t too cognitive of the severity of the situation. I was just kind of stunned and wandering in my thoughts. What did this mean? Will my wife be paralyzed? It wasn’t until the next day that it really hit me. My wife is really good at hiding her emotions from me, especially in instances like this. She only does it so I don’t get more sad or worry. I understand that. But I wasn’t able to hide it. We cried. We prayed. We accepted what God had allowed as our journey, knowing that He would do something through this. What it is, I don’t know. But with out sickness, how can you know He is a healer.

Cliché

Before we ever told a single person, I told my wife that I knew it would happen. Granted it usually comes out of the kindness of someone’s heart, but it’s kind of like when someone dies, people try to say the right thing, and after a while, it just gets annoying or old. Now, where this hits with me is doctrine. Go figure, eh? The first thing that was said when I told someone about this situation was: “Don’t claim it!” Now, I do understand the intentions, but I know that nothing comes to me if it hasn’t went through the hands of God first. We aren’t guaranteed physical spontaneous healing. I believe God heals that way. I also believe He uses things to bring people back to God and to show Himself through our weakness.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

This verse doesn’t say that my infirmities are automatically taken away. It says that in those infirmities, I take pleasure, because when I am weak God is strong. It goes with that whole denying yourself thing. NO narrative of any Scripture is about us getting the glory. It is all about His glory.

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:11-13

This should go without explanation. But again, people forget these verses exist I guess. A self-absorbed doctrine would forget they exist.

I do get afraid that my adamancy against name it and claim it/blab it and grab it will come off as faithless. Nay nay. I believe that God is a healer. I know He can heal my wife. I know He will heal my wife, but until that healing comes, this is where we are. Consider the following:

And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,

And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse 

She had the issue of blood for 12 years! But her situation made her desperate. How many lessons in 12 years did she learn about life, herself, and God. I am assuming she had some sort of faith in order to seek out the Messiah for healing.

When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.

For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.

And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. Mark 5:25-29

She sought out Jesus Christ. She went searching for her Healer, and said if I can but touch his clothes! Her faith in God is what healed her. We have faith. God is going to do something.

Where the road leads

Where will the road lead us from here? I do not know. We haven’t gotten an official diagnosis yet, but soon, October 21, we will know if it is for sure MS. I titled this “Many Scars” because multiple sclerosis translates to many scars. The scars form on your brain and spine and are called lesions. From the MRI’s she has many on her spine and one on her brain. This would lend to the primary progressive multiple sclerosis, being the worst. But I do believe God is going to do something. What, when and where, I do not know. But whatever it may be, I know that it is only going to bring glory to His Name. We are adjusting to the way life is with this at the moment, but with treatment, have the hope that some things will be easier to live with and do. But until then, we pray. We pray and pray.

Bitter Waters

Marah-Desert-image-1010x1024
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? James 3:11

I am the worst when it comes to keeping up with a blog. But I mostly use it to get out my frustrations, or thoughts, that are bigger than social media. Or I just don’t want to cast my pearls before… swine. Life has a funny way of speeding you up and slowing you down. And sometimes, when you think you’ve attained a certain mountain, you’re kicked all the way down the mountain to the deepest pit you can imagine. Sounds great huh. So much for positive thinking! 🙂 Anyway, I decided that I was going to write a blog about this past year. Well, what has happened since the last time I posted in JANUARY OF 2019! The worst, I told you. If you don’t like reading, then you probably should skip over this post.

Ancestry

Around March of 2018, my wife bought an ancestry DNA kit. It came in the mail, and she was very excited. She spit in the tube (kinda weird) and sent it off. After what seemed like an eternity, she was able to see the results of who her father is (VERY long story behind that, but I will save that for another time). We finally received the results and it was exactly who (through other family members) thought it was. It wasn’t who she thought prior was her father, but this was the second option. She was able to get into contact with the man listed as her father, and began building a relationship with him via phone. Other people from her family knew this man prior to my wife being born, so we went forward with their great opinion of his reputation and decided to move to where he lived. One, we didn’t like where we lived (Southern Illinois) and two, she had always longed for a dad, and the man she thought was her dad died when she was 2, so I wasn’t going to stand in the way. We went carefully, prayerfully, and moved to Panama City, Florida, in May of 2018.

Churchish

I have been raised in and around church my whole life. I am Apostolic from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I guess I either missed something along the way or didn’t get taught it, but it did lead to major heartbreak and bitterness. I told some friends at the church we were attending that we would be moving to Florida soon, we just didn’t have a date yet. One of the friends asked if I had asked our pastor if it were okay to move. I responded with, “ask?” He informed me that there are people that don’t even buy a house before they ask him. This was the first time I had ever heard of this. I have moved, I have talked about with my pastor before, but I never knew to ask for permission. I told the friend that I hadn’t said anything to him yet because we didn’t know a date, and even in one day, things can change. So, with that conversation in the back of my mind, I messaged my pastor (we will call him PW) and told him that we were making plans to move. He said “are you kidding me?” I responded with “no.” His response was “give me a call when you get time.” I had time right then and called him. He asked me why were wanted to move. That was the only question. There wasn’t a “when” or a “where?” When I told him the reason, I became silent and listened to him rip me up one side and the other for 30 minutes and it ended with him hanging up on me. I never said a word. I listened. 

The next day, I messaged him and said that I didn’t want to leave on bad terms or with him mad at me. He then immediately called me and asked me if I thought he was tough on me. I responded with yes. He then informed me that he wasn’t even mad, to which I said “I’d really hate to see you mad.” After he hung up on me, I felt horrible. I didn’t really understand what was even going on. He told me that I didn’t need his permission, but I should have talked to him about it. I agreed and told him that I was going to once we had a plan, because we weren’t even sure if we could do it. Anyway, back to the second call. I had asked him if he would recommend a church where we were going and he told me he would not. He asked me “what would I tell the man of God there? I don’t have anything good to say about you.” This was a hard blow. I was involved in the church, paid my tithes, went to everything I could, went to PEAK conference as a chaperone, prayed, went to extra events and services at other churches, and I didn’t understand why he had no good thing to say about me. Until this point, this man acted like he was my best friend. He would call me and talk to me on the phone for over an hour at a time, pouring into me scripture and encouragement. This second call didn’t end with that low blow. No, he went on to tell me that my wife was rebellious, and she is rebellious because of me. (Us moving was apparently rebellion.) My wife had missed quite a bit of church because we had an infant, and lived 35 minutes from the church. Wednesday night church started at 7:30 and would be out after 9, sometimes 9:30 and we had to drive 40 minutes home, and Sunday started at 6 but would get out at 9 or so and it was too much for our infant. Long story short, we were both rebellious and he told us that if Jesus comes back, we won’t be going, and that this move will end in disaster (keep that fresh in your mind.) He never asked when or anything. He was done. So off we went to Florida.

Fast forward to October of 2018. We woke up one Monday with the idea that there may be a tropical storm brewing in the gulf. We lived less than half a mile from St. Andrew’s Bay in Panama City, and as this storm started developing we decided that we needed to evacuate because we had a 2 year old and didn’t want to chance anything at all, and it would give us a chance to see family that we hadn’t seen since May, which was way too long for me. We left on Monday night, with the intention of coming back on Friday. I called my work and told them and they didn’t even know a hurricane was coming. 

We got to Illinois on Tuesday morning. Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made land fall. We watched the hurricane on FOX News, only to see coverage of Panama City Beach, not of Panama City. We thought this strange, especially since we lived in the City side. Come to find out, the reason that there was no coverage of the city was that they were hit so bad that they couldn’t get any signals or anything to go out of the storm. Over the next couple days we were told that our town house was gone and we had nothing to return to. So we started making plans to stay. 

Through the grape vine, I got wind that the unnamed pastor that told us we weren’t rapture ready was telling everyone that his prophecy of our Florida move ending in disaster had came true. And also, that my wife is my pastor. He tells people that apparently on a regular basis. 

When we left for Florida, up until now, not one person has asked about us or called or anything. Which is fine, I don’t really care, and it makes it easier, but my thought is they know why we left, like so many others leave. 

I haven’t named the pastor, and some people, if anyone reads this, can figure out who the pastor is and what church. That’s fine if you do, fine if you don’t. So many Pentecostals will jump at the opportunity to say to not speak poorly of the anointed. I’m not going to go there with anyone. As much scripture there is for not speaking against God’s anointed (and in this case, that term is used very loosely) there is also as many scriptures about not ruling over God’s heritage and marking those that cause division. That is a debate that I don’t really feel is applicable here. Now that that is out of the way. 

I don’t believe in going around and telling people’s business or gossiping, but this entire post is about this event happening in my life. I am still Apostolic, and I know that just because someone is a pastor they aren’t perfect. I know many good people who have been hurt by unbiblical teaching and dictatorship. By the way, when a pastor says they aren’t a dictator, usually that means they really are in the form of narcissism.

The above encounter left me very bitter and confused. This man had shown interest in helping me grow my ministry. This man poured into me on a number of occasions. This man put me behind his pulpit to exhort. This man asked me to be in certain things. My respect for him was one I hadn’t really personally given a man of God, and I think the reason that I revered him so much was because he took time for me and acted like he was my friend. This was no small church. 200 or so members, and 100 additional children were bussed in on Sunday mornings. The services were hot, God moved in ways I haven’t experienced anywhere else. There was drama, of course, but I wasn’t there for that. My wife and I had visited OFTEN on a regular basis for 2 years prior to going there because they had people our age, married, that we could hang out with, as our other church didn’t. After the 2 phone conversations, I had told my brother in law, who was my previous pastor, and is now currently my pastor, what happened only to find out horrendous things. 

I received a phone call from the aforementioned pastor (PW) randomly one day. He was informing me that he had talked to my brother in law (PM) about another person that was bouncing between the two churches. He said that I had been brought up in the conversation and was talked about pretty harshly. After the proverbial lashing had happened, my brother in law told me how that conversation really went down. For the sake of my energy and time, it wasn’t good. It was more damage, and wood added to the fire. 

To The Bones

I had put so much faith and hope in this man, that when he failed, I was left wondering if God really was in Apostolic preachers anymore. I know that Apostolic doctrine is right, so I wasn’t interested in going to another kind of church, I just didn’t know if I could trust anyone else again. I questioned my ministry and my calling. I questioned if I was a reprobate or if God could even hear me. I was very wounded. And then came the question of how to get rid of the bitterness and distrust. I knew the scripture is against bitterness. 

But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Proverbs 5:4

I had tried so hard and put so much effort into doing what was right only to be let down. How could I trust anyone. 

Well, to their demise, they lost a lot of good people from their church. I had taken a friend to church that wasn’t Apostolic. He had went with me quite a few times and the Lord was moving on him. The pastors (PW) daughter thought he was good looking and wanted to get in contact with him. Well I knew better and I didn’t get her in contact with him but since he was tagged in some things on social media, it wasn’t too hard to get his info. She did. And she sent him vial snaps on Snapchat, things a Christian should never send. Later, she was a part of almost ruining a new converts marriage after being caught making out with the husband during our Easter drama practices. The pastor never did anything about it, tried to cover it up, and literally lost every minister on his platform except for two young ministers. I say that to say: don’t be a hypocrite! 

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7

I don’t glory in the fact that this happened on any end. But I did come out stronger. I came out stronger in who I am in Christ, what the Bible says regarding abuse of power, and knowing that the Lord can keep you even when you are confused and groping in the darkness. My confidence in the ministry is being restored, with caution. But I will say this, no one under the sun can ever tell any human that they are going to hell. Yes, the word says certain things will send you there, but no one is allowed to tell me that my soul will be in hell for moving to another town. No body has that authority and scripture never gives anyone the authority to send someone to hell. 

Bitterness held me bound. Bound to doubt. Bound to pain. Bound to hopelessness. But God got me through it. If you are struggling with bitterness from a church hurt or any other thing, God can get you through it. It seems it isn’t overnight, but it will happen and He will restore to you the joy of your salvation!

OCD

I have an issue with wanting to be organized, trying to be, and then, in the end, I am completely unorganized because I can’t get to a place of satisfaction of organization. With that being said, I have a blog with hardly any posts haha. I start out wanting to blog and then not following through. But here I am, trying again. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Here we are.

The year of 2018 will go down in the books as one of the most eventful years yet. So many things changed and happened that are forever stepping stones to a better us. I plan (fingers crossed) on extensively writing some posts about these events this week.

Life Verse

I am not one of those Charesmatic-ee people that believes everyone has a life verse or anything like that. But the verse featured on my blog, along with the title, is my life. Time after time, God trades me my heaviness for a garment of praise and makes somethubg beautiful out of my circumstance. But it seems, the older I get, the longer it takes for the great exchange to take place. I live in this war between dealing with the pain, anxiety and heartache, and the realization that it could always be so much worse. Which leads to guilt and shame. This is a daily struggle.

But today I feel defeated, and at best, deflated. I don’t know if anyone will ever understand, and in my woe is me state, I don’t feel that anyone cares. I love my family, my baby girl and my wife. But there are so many things surrounding us that keeps me chained to the beast called anxiety. I get tired of thinking about it so I’m sure people are tired of hearing about it. I am supposed to be a faith filled Christian. I am supposed to be a strong dad and a leader for my family. I am really at the end of my rope. I have reached out and only to find emptiness. I’ve reached out to ministers and friends asking for prayer, to no avail. I was telling my wife that I find it so weird that when I go to the altar, no one will pray with me. Why do I care? She said it was really weird, but it has happened my whole life. When I reached out at one of my lowest points, I was told to get on medicine, among other things. I went to the doctor and he wanted to medicate me. When I told him no, I was visibly treated differently. Where do I go from here? I literally feel completely lost.

But there is hope. I cling on to God’s word and some how I make it another day. I just wish these days were a little more joyous.

A Baby Changes Everything

I am very behind on posting. We didn’t have a computer for a while, and I refuse to type on my iPad keyboard. It is just too tiny. I always want to blog more, but never do, but I am really working on changing that.

We found out last March, just at a year ago, that we were expecting and would be due in the beginning of November. We were very excited about that because we knew we wanted at least one child, and we didn’t want to wait long, as we are both getting long in the tooth. Just kidding, but we did start out later than most people do in Pentecost, so we didn’t want to wait much longer. Everyone asked if we were “trying” and our answer was that we weren’t preventing.

The pregnancy started out scary. A couple weeks after we found out, Leah had a massive blood clot, which scared us both. We found out that was nothing and the baby was healthy. Then a little while later she went through a couple days of not being able to feel the baby. But we found that it was ok. They hooked her up to a baby heart monitor, and there she was just beating away. Leah was very sick the entire pregnancy. I cleaned up beyond my share of vomit. We both wanted a girl so bad. And found out at 16 weeks that we were going to have a little girl. We wrestled with names for what seemed like days, which was probably one. We decided on Peytlee. A mixture of Peyton and Leah. But we couldn’t figure out a middle name, and we finally came up with Shay. Peytlee Shay.

Our due date comes and goes, and the doctor decides she wants to induce Leah. Her policy is that on the first pregnancy, she doesn’t induce before 42 weeks. A baby is supposed to be born at 40 weeks. Because of the impending Thanksgiving holiday, she decides that she will induce at exactly 41 weeks. We were excited about this, because our baby would be here for Thanksgiving.

We go into the hospital on November 14 at 8pm. We went out to eat before trying to kill time because we were so excited that we would have a baby by morning possibly. We both prayed a lot that day because we were both scared and Leah had just watched her sister have a baby 5 days before, so she was extra freaked out. We walked around the mall, and then finally went to the hospital. We both woke up at 6am that morning because we knew that that was the day our baby would be on her way.

We settle in to the hospital. They hook her up to all kinds of monitors and make her get in a gown. We had our own hand made hospital gown that she had received from a friend at the baby shower. She was glowing. We were so excited, and I was so afraid. I had prayed and prayed that nothing would happen to either of them. I knew God had a plan and had this in His hands.

They finally induce her. When they checked her dilation, it hurt her so much. Our nurse for the night was very young and very quiet. This was difficult for me because I need to know why it hurt, why she’s acting like this, I need to know everything and she just didn’t offer enough information. After a couple hours, the medicine works. She starts having contractions. But they weren’t your normal come and go contractions, it was just one big contaction that didn’t let up. I didn’t like seeing her in this much pain.

The night was so long. The baby’s heart rate continually dropped and they moved Leah in every position imaginable to get the baby off of the umbilical chord. Finally, after contracting for a while they ask Leah if she wants the epidural. We were told for 9 months that she couldn’t have the epidural until she had dilated to a 5, and she was only at a 2. Leah said yes, so we left the room and they gave her the epidural.

When we came back in she was resting and a little loopy. We had some fun with her, but the morning finally came and our doctor came in. The doctor broke her waters, only to find that she was meconium. That is when the baby uses the bathroom in the womb, which is common for a post term baby. The doctor at this time says that Leah is going to have to have an ASAP cesarean. They prep her for surgery and off we go.

We arrive at the OR and they take Leah in. I have to stay behind until she is all ready. What was probably 10 minutes seemed like an eternity. I didn’t like leaving her for that long. But they finally open the doors and let me in. It looks like something you’d see in a magazine or a movie. Exactly the way it is portrayed. Big lights and computers and people covered in OR suits. Facemasks. They take me to her head and have me sit by her. Her arms are tied down and a big curtain is right below her neck. It felt like an eternity to get the baby out. But she finally got out and they took her over to the baby table which was in our view. I was praying the whole time because it really freaked me out. I have a hard time with anything medical.

They usually have you to come over and look at the baby. But they were taking a long time. They stepped in front of her blocking our view of her, and I just knew something was wrong. They didn’t do a good enough job and I saw them pick up her arm and drop it completely limp. I heard them call for NICU respiratory and I just knew something had happened. So I began to plead the blood of Jesus over our baby. Finally they step aside after what seemed like years, and say that I can take a picture of her. They told us that because she was meconium that she wouldn’t cry when she was born so we never got to hear her. They taker her off to the NICU and we go to recovery.

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The tube next to her is an intubation tube.

 

While we are in recovery, the NICU doctor comes in and tells us that our baby suffered a brain injury during birth and would be flown immediately to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Of course, like any parent, we thought the worst and just kinda sat there stunned. We hadn’t had any sleep, Leah was medicated and exhausted, and we really just didn’t know what to ask or think or do. We were kind of talking to the nurses and they picked up on our confusion at this doctor. Because he was foreign, and English wasn’t his first language, we were misinformed. The nurse said that because she didn’t breathe for a while after birth, there is a chance that she could have brain damage. They would take her to SLCH and decide what to do from there because the hospital we were at didn’t have the capabilities to handle what could be in our near future.

While we were in the recovery room, they came and asked if I wanted to come to the NICU to see the baby. Of course I did. They told me to wash my hands for 3 minutes, which seemed like forever. I could see her the entire time I was washing my hands. I couldn’t wait to get over there to her. I finally was able to get to her and she had a CPAP attached to her and tubes everywhere. I just wanted to hold her so bad. I was staring at her crying when the nurse came over and started talking about her and congratulating me. She was doing this little stretch thing that until the nurse pointed it out, I didn’t know wasn’t normal. The nurse said that she keeps doing this and it is why they want to send her to SLCH. She was having seizures. So when the nurse walked away, I laid my hand on little tiny body and began to pray. I was sobbing and speaking in tongues. We had went through so much to get this far for her to have seizures and/or brain damage. I honestly didn’t know what to do but pray. I certainly didn’t know what to say in English. Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. I knew that through His Spirit, the perfect will of God would be done. I also knew that all things work for the good of them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. I didn’t care who heard me or what they thought. This was my baby. My promise. She would live!

I left and went back to the room where Leah had been set up. The doctors said that it would be about 30 minutes for the helicopter to get there, and that it would be about an hour for them to get her set up for transportation. They decided to let Leah go into the NICU to see Peytlee before she was airlifted to SLCH. They roll Leah into the NICU and hand her Peytlee. We were finally all together. We were a little family. Leah and I, exhausted and lost, cried.

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The helicopter people arrived. I watched Peytlee the entire time that Leah held her. I didn’t want Leah to see her having those seizures. The helicopter nurses said that it would take about an hour to get her loaded and ready to go, and they would bring her by Leah’s room before she left.

They came by the room where some of the family was and our baby was in a little plastic box on a tiny little gurney. I kept my eyes are her the entire time. They finally wheeled her away and that was when I really broke down. About 10 minutes later, I could hear a helicopter and I turned around and the helicopter for SLCH was right above our room, we could see it.

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Shortly after she left in the helicopter, I left too. They got there in about 30 minutes and called me. I wasn’t even out of our town yet. They said that she did great in the helicopter and that she didn’t have any more seizures.

The next 2 hours as I drove to St. Louis seemed like an all day trip. My exhaustion finally started to catch up with me and I had to pull over and walk around to wake back up. My sister met me at the hospital to see the baby. She was in St. Louis already at her fiancés house. I was so scared and nervous to see her. But I just had to get in that room.

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This was her when I walked in. I immediately turned on the camera so Leah could see her and we stared at her and cried. Leah wanted so bad to be with her, which made things even more difficult. I hated being with out her.

The nodes attached to her head are to monitor her for seizures. The thing on her hand is where her IV is.

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The next couple hours felt like days and days. We didn’t know if Leah was going to be able to come right away. After having a C-section, there are things the doctor wants you to do before you can leave, and those things to Leah seemed impossible. But she did it. She finally got to come the next night. After a grueling 2 hour drive she finally made it.

We spent a week in that hospital. It was a week of hell. They poked and prodded Peytlee, and as new parents, it was awful. We were set on breastfeeding Peytlee, but SLCH isn’t a hospital that really cares if you breastfeed or not, they just care if your baby lives or not. It made it difficult for Leah. We had already missed so much with her, holding her when she was born, doing skin to skin contact, all these things, and we weren’t going to budge on this one.

We went through a lot with the doctors at the hospital. But she was getting better and better. They put her through this hypothermic treatment that takes 72 hours to cool her core temperature to 92 degrees. After the 72 hours, they take 24 hours to warm her up slowly back to 98 degrees. Then after she is warmed up, they take her to do an MRI to see if she has any brain damage. The entire time she was “cooling” she was on morphine. We couldn’t do anything but hold her hand.

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She was born on a Tuesday, which is when they started the treatment. She went for her MRI on a Saturday, which means we had to wait until Monday to get the results back. The results came back that she didn’t have any brain damage at all!

Monday night they put us in a family room at the hospital to try to adjust to having a baby and see how she would do away from the NICU and the babies and nurses. We didn’t sleep one wink that night. The nurse came in every so often, and we couldn’t leave her alone in the crib, so we stayed up all night. Right before this all happened, they had taken her off of all the IV’s except the glucose drip, that they moved from her belly button to her hand. That process took them over an hour and a half and when we got back in the room, her had had been punctured over 40 times to drain fluid. We were pretty upset over that.

They had her weighed in at 8.2 when she arrived at SLCH. She was weighed at birth at 7.14 and when they told us that she had to weigh her arrival weight before she could leave, we asked how in the world did they get 8.2. That is such a big leap from the 30 minutes before she arrived at weighing 7.14. They told us that it was because she was weighed with the helicopter gear on. Knowing that wasn’t her true weight, they kept telling us that she had to weigh that before they would allow her to leave.

Tuesday morning rolled around and we decided that we wanted to go home. Leah was afraid to go home because they weren’t wanting us to go home and she was afraid that something would go wrong and we may not be ready. I told her that I would tell them that we want to go home, but they are going to make us feel absolutely horrible. I told her to expect the worst. So, we told them we were going home, and they tried to guilt trip us into staying including being responsible for the $20,000 hospital stay bill. They asked us to stay one more night and we said that we would talk about it. We did, and decided that we were leaving on that day. The doctor was furious and said that in the 25 years of being a doctor, not one single person had went against his medical advice. I said, well we are. He left in a huff, and came back in a little while later and said that he really didn’t want us to be responsible for a $20,000 medical bill that they would go a head and release us. Leah had called our pastor, which is her brother, and told her the situation, and he prayed about it, had peace and said that it is up to her, that she is the mother. I had peace about it, and even though that doctor told us that we would be spending Thanksgiving in the PICU because she would be dehydrated, we believed the report of the Lord. So, they started the discharge process, and we waited on pins and needles to leave. We couldn’t wait to get home!

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This was her going home outfit. We were so proud and couldn’t wait to leave. We told everyone we were coming home.

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The first time Leah held Peytlee

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The first time I held Peytlee

Peytlee has been to SLCH for an MRI and they took one look at her and decided she didn’t need an MRI, that she was perfect. She has surpassed all her milestones and impressed every doctor she has seen. When God does a work, He does it right. There is no guestwork in His medical practice. To God be all of the glory for healing our baby girl.

We found out when we were discharged that Peytlee didn’t breathe for 6 minutes after life and that they tried to intubate her at 4 minutes and it was unsuccessful. Her blood was very acidic which caused worry, and usually happens when no oxygen is present. But she came out gold!