What an unbelievable month! Talk about staying in the fire fight. It started with Lorena’s mother having one major surgery that turned into three major surgeries over three weeks. Lorena’s dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and needed a biopsy. That same week Lorena’s dad suffered heart failure and was put in CCU at the VA. So we had one parent in one hospital inZephyrhills and the other in another in Tampa. Lorena’s job with the school system came to an end so she is without employment. We spent countless hours on the road back and forth to Tampa, Dade City, and Zephyrhillscaring for her parents, sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and the hospice house. Lorena’s father had a heart cath that revealed the damage was irreversible and his heart was dying. They sent him home and gave him weeks to months to live. He was then admitted to the hospice house. We brought him home on his birthday, he and his wife him share the same birthday, he had a major attack and had to be sent back to hospice on his birthday. Lorena and I spent the night at the hospice house with him and the next day he went home to be with Jesus. That is the short version.
Staying in the Fire Fight!
In that same time frame we had a major city wide outreach at City on a Hill Church and saw the Lord do amazing things including gathering our largest crowd to date, seeing lives changed, souls saved, and captives set free. Just before the event, the very morning we had a thunder and lightning storm like we haven’t seen in a long while. I had a choice stay in the fire fight or retreat. I chose to stay in the fire fight. I prayed and placed it in the hands of God. As I shared earlier we had more people at this event on a rainy gloomy day than on Easter Sunday! Glory to God! Out of the woods right? I was planning to start a new series after the outreach the following Sunday but Tuesday in prayer the Lord spoke to my heart and asked me to share a message called Moments. Moments is a very intimate look into my life and the life of my father. It takes us on a journey with three parallel stories, the Prodigal Son from Luke 15, my dad’s life and untimely death, and my personal testimony. Needless to say it is very taxing emotionally, physically, and spiritually to preach. But God asked me to change my plans and and I figure the only way I have been staying in the fire fight this long in this church planting journey is choosing His plans over mine so I complied. Little did I know that Saturday night Lorena’s dad would be passing away. Talk about a major shock. Now I was about to revisit, share and explore the life and death of my own father less that 12 hours after losing my father-in-law with my wife in attendance! I didn’t know how I was going to do it!! I knew I had to stay in the fire fight and be obedient. I knew I had heard from God. I knew it was what His plans were for COAH. So by God’s grace I preached Moments and we saw some pretty miraculous things happen in the lives of many. When I finished I was completely exhausted and we were leaving directly following church to spend time with family. That evening I was hit with another unexpected attack. When I tried to go to sleep I ended up having an anxiety attack. I have suffered with panic and anxiety in the past and I hadn’t really struggled a whole lot in recent times however, Sunday night I found myself right on the edge of an attack. My mind began to race, I couldn’t calm down, luckily my best friend was there to talk me through it. He understands because he himself deals with similar issues. Just having him there by God’s grace helped me to stay in the fire fight. The attack lasted only 10 minutes and I was able to return to sleep quicker than I have in the past. Of course anyone who knows about panic and anxiety knows that after an attack anticipatory anxiety kicks in waiting for the next attack so it is a struggle.
I found myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained. It is in those times you have to stay in the fire fight and refuse to retreat or surrender any territory to your enemy. I clung to Psalm 121, 73:25-26, 23, and 116:15. This week I have a short week. in the words of Jerry Reed’s song, “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there..” We have dad’s viewing Thursday , dad’s funeral Friday, dad’s interment Friday, I have a wedding rehearsal Friday, and a wedding Saturday and we kick off a new series GIFTED on Sunday. How am I going to make it? By staying in the fire fight. I won’t lie I was tempted to just sit back and be overwhelmed. I was tempted to look at the giant and say he is too big. I was tempted to look at the mountain and say it is too tall. However, I have always said, “If anybody can do it let them do it. Give me the task that few if no one can or wants to do. The greater the challenge the greater glory for God.” You can’t snatch victory from the jaws of defeat if you don’t stay in the fire fight. You can’t win the battle if you retreat you must stay in the fire fight. You can’t strike into the heart of darkness and expect no resistance. You can’t win a city for Jesus staying on the porch you got to stay in the fire fight. How? Prayer and lots of it, the love, support, and prayers of an amazing church family, family and friends, the power of the Holy Spirit, the grace of God, the blood of Christ, and the Word of God. That is how I stay in the fire fight. I reminded of a song by Clint Brown it says , ” Lord I praise! Lord I glorify your name. And if the sun says I won’t rise, or dark clouds fill my skies. Lord just know that I will always give you praise. And when troubles on the way. I will always say, no matter come what may. I always give you praise.” This past month has been unbelievable, however God has been even more amazing! Stay in the fire fight. Be encouraged!