Is Pain from the Devil or From God? Excerpt from Holy Crap

Below is a quick paragraph from Chapter 1 of my book about pain in life and where it comes from.

“Something important I want to make sure you understand before you continue reading is my perspective on the cause of sickness and on dealing with pain. I know there are at least two sides to why pain happens in life. There is a camp that believes sickness is purely a direct attack from satan that is not a part of the natural order of our existence on this earth, while others believe that God allows things to happen to teach us life lessons that we would never learn without them. This book is not to try to help you decide whether pain and sickness is directly a demonic attack or if it’s God allowing a necessary season of teaching.
The only fact I want you to realize, no matter what theological standpoint you come from, is that, if you don’t learn from the crap of life, it becomes purely a game of survival and not growth.”

When you are sick you don’t really care where it came from, you just want it to end.

Today, think of someone going through a struggle of some kind and reach out to them. Maybe say a prayer for them or just text them and let them know you are there. The other key is don’t get offended if they push you away or don’t respond at all. People going through pain react in all kinds of ways that may not make sense. Keep loving them and be available.

Keep Calm and Shut Your Pie Hole

Keep Calm Pie Hole
From Chapter 13 – The Do’s and Don’ts

“One thing that is important to do with someone going through pain is just to spend time with them without talking about what they are going through.”

I have an entire chapter where I discuss what TO say and do and the things NOT to say or do with someone going through pain. Before I got sick I didn’t realize the power of having a totally unrelated conversation with someone could be so refreshing and actually help me get my mind off of the situation I was in. We don’t need to have all the right answers for people in pain and just by reaching out and offering to connect, you can have a greater positive impact than you could imagine.

If you have someone you know going through something painful it may be time to reach out to him or her and not attempt to psychologically deduce what is going on or ask 400 questions about their situation. When you actually DON’T ask them about all the details of where they are in life I am fairly sure you will pleasantly shock them. Just being there for people can be more than 1,000 words could ever say.

Have a great night and week!

A Moment of Transparency with the Holy Crap Book

I really can’t believe that my book is coming out on June 7th. It has been such an incredibly long and arduous journey getting my thoughts out of my head and into a manuscript. It has taken me 7 years to write and get my book to a publisher and the whole time I was sick was only 5 years.

Now that I am finished with the first phase of getting a finalized manuscript to the publisher I am thinking about what my book could mean to people who read it, good AND bad. I have had to come to grips with the fact that some people are not going to like what I have to say maybe because it is not at their literary level or it is too simple (for those people who want a deep theological discussion, which it is not) or that I strike a nerve in people and their relationship with God by talking about something that really hurts. I have ALWAYS said that if you don’t want to be criticized then don’t put yourself into the public eye. The problem with that philosophy for me is that my story, and what I felt like I learned through it, is more important to share with people who are lost in their hurt with no where to turn than for me to worry about public scrutiny.

Many people may think that I am completely secure in who I am because I joke a lot, talk a lot and like to be the center of attention all the time. I am telling you that there is a real struggle inside when thinking of dealing with hurtful words thrown at me when I am pouring out my heart in a book like Holy Crap. I know that God has been and is my strength but it is still something I know I will deal with as long as people are reading my book and giving feedback.

I guess this blog is a micro version of what my book will be for those who read it; transparent thoughts to help people relate to what I have been through and even currently go through. If God was big enough to get me through the hardest season of my life then He will be able to carry me through this next phase of the story.

Holy Crap! It’s almost time to share my story with the world! I pray that my book will bring healing where there has been hurt and hope where there has been despair. Thanks for coming along on the journey with me!

Pre-Thanksgiving Book Snippet for your reading pleasure….Good things about being Sick

This is another section of my book I wanted to post before the thanksgiving craziness of tomorrow! Enjoy!

God designed the church body to lift one another up and be there for one another. I started something amazing with my Facebook account that I know completely came from God. I take a day of the week and update my status with asking for prayer requests that I will lift up during that day. It is amazing, the number of people who respond to me and ask for me to pray for them. I also encourage them to post testimonies about what God did through prayer to help encourage those still with a prayer request. I do not consider myself someone who knows everything about terminal disease or being sick for many years. I actually feel blessed that I could have a few years of pain to experience the things I did so I can somewhat relate to people of all walks of life who have some sort of crap going on in their lives. I was sick just long enough to have the “we don’t know what else we can do” conversations with the doctor, have a major test done on my body and be sent home to wait for the results hoping it wasn’t cancer. I was sick just long enough to have the privilege of spending some time at the Arthritis Clinic in the Remicade room, hearing so many heart-breaking stories.

I consider my experiences to be wonderful opportunities to have a peek into the lives of people who were dealing with life-altering disease and to encourage me in a new way to pray for them and believe for God’s best for them. I have let the pain I went through be a catalyst, of sorts, to help me understand how to pray and to have a heart that goes out to every person who has a serious need in their lives. If you don’t know Jesus as your best friend, then you really need to have that connection in your life to get a full grasp of what I am saying. This is more than just having “good and positive thoughts” about a person. It is doing something in the spiritual realm to lift a person’s needs before a God who will always be there to listen and to help you use your difficult circumstances for a greater good than just getting through the inevitable pain in life.

Holy Crap Moment:
Being a “strong” person, and just keeping good and positive 
thoughts going will not make real change in your life and probably won’t be enough to bring you through really tough times. When you have a relationship with Jesus though, you change from just trying to survive by your positive mental outlook alone, to now having a deeply personal connection to God, and it’s His love for you and His power at work in you, making real and lasting change.

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of Holy Crap – Change Challenges

This excerpt from my book is one of the “change challenges” that I encourage readers to do. Enjoy!

2nd “Change Challenge”:  Have an attitude of gratefulness

Think about this statement: gratefulness provides an atmosphere for change.  This was another one of those principles which I didn’t understand until about 4 years into my sickness.  If you haven’t noticed, I am trying to set you up for greatness.  I want you to be able to read the pages of this book and learn from my mistakes.  I am not saying I did everything wrong, the past few years, but I did enough things wrong to maybe help you be further along than I was in my pain.
There is a great example of thankfulness in the book of Luke in the Bible about ten lepers (outcasts with a terrible skin disease)Luke 17:11-19 (NCV)    11 While Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, He was going through the area between Samaria and Galilee. As He came into a small town, ten men who had a skin disease met Him there. They did not come close to Jesus but called to Him, “Jesus! Master! Have mercy on us!”
When Jesus saw the men, He said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As the ten men were going, they were healed. When one of them saw that he was healed, he went back to Jesus, praising God in a loud voice.     Then He bowed down at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. (And this man was a Samaritan.)  Jesus said, “Weren’t ten men healed? Where are the other nine? Is this Samaritan the only one who came back to thank God?” Then Jesus said to him, “Stand up and go on your way. You were healed because you believed.”

Did you read those verses correctly? There were ten lepers who had an incredibly terrible skin disease and were outcasts to society. It says that nine went on their merry way, yet only ONE came back to actually thank Jesus for what He did!  This portion of scripture always floors me with the contrast of gratefulness and ungratefulness, all in the same section of scripture.  The one made the effort to go back to where Jesus was to thank Him, but the others so quickly forgot that, not only were they healed but an amazing lifestyle change had just been given to them.

I believe gratefulness is a key element in making it through a rough time in your life.  It takes the sting out of a painful situation by focusing on what you DO have instead of being concerned with what you DON’T have.

One Doctor Down, A Whole Lot More to GO (excerpt from my book “Holy Crap”)

Below is an excerpt from my book I am working on today. I can remember this day like it was yesterday and the pain like it was last night. Praying today for all of those going through a painful situation in their lives.

I remember the day when I came to the end of my care with Dr. Goldstein, my ophthalmologist. Our youth were getting ready to go on a missions trip to Brazil. It had been planned and arranged for many months by Yolanda and my youth staff, I had done the recruitment for it, and I had every intention of leading the students on it. But at the doctor’s office, he told me that there was nothing else that he could do for me, and he sent me home. I knew that I was not going to be able to go on the missions trip with my students because of the condition of my eye. I lay on the bed with Yolanda and just looked at her and asked what was going to happen to me? It was one of the darkest hours of my life.

Holy Crap Moment

            If you are in a place of despair with something going on in your life, please know that Jesus cares for you; don’t give up.
Even as I type this section, I am praying for your hope to be sustained as you read these words. See. There IS someone
praying for you in your situation and believing you are going to make it!!

I knew that people were praying for me, but I couldn’t even pray for myself. All those years in Royal Rangers at church (Christian Boy Scouts), all the years on the Bible Quiz team, all those Wednesday nights growing up in high school and leading worship for the youth group, four and a half years earning two Bible college degrees, ten years and four churches of leading youth ministry, and I couldn’t even say the name of Jesus. As I think back, that is probably a harder realization than even the pain I was going through at that point. All those years of doing “good Jesus stuff,” and I couldn’t even say His name. You may ask, “Brian, why are you telling me this? I thought this was a book to show me that all I need to say is “Jesus” and everything is taken care of.” I am not discounting the power of the name of Jesus, but I am saying that I realized from my pain, during those years, that I didn’t really know who Jesus was. I could read about him, sing about him, and even preach about him but I didn’t know him.

Holy Crap book Update!

The first draft of my book is done and I am having my second meeting with my editor next week! I was thinking about the timing and how long it took me to finish the first draft of my book and realized that it took me as long to finish writing my book as the five years I was sick. At first I thought, “what a slacker!” But then I was talking with my wife about all of the things going on in the world and that this book is in God’s timing and really happening at a perfect time.

I will keep everyone updated on the final timing of everything and when it will be available. I am thinking of doing an ebook release first just to get it out there and then prayerfully getting a publishing house to pick it up. I am just trusting that God will get it into the hands of the right people to have the highest level of effectiveness. Please be praying with me that my book will be a tool that God can use for His glory in the lives of people ready to give up or who think they can’t trust God anymore.