Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Soon, very soon

February 26, 2008

Soon, very soon, I hope to catch you up on life. I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging, but hope to get back in the midst of things very soon.

Oh, That’s Common Sense (Then Why Doesn’t Everyone Remember to Do It)

November 25, 2007

Thoughts from my last day at Mayo Clinic

By BRYAN DAVIDSON
Published: September 6, 2007

Do I Try to Find Common Ground?

Shortly after our conversations with our newfound friends at the Starbucks next to Mayo, I began reading in I Corinthians 9. I was sitting in the waiting room for my last appointment with the Internist before heading back to Atlanta.

“When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings (vs. 22-23).”

I want to dig into this on a much deeper level and understanding later today. But for now, I am fascinated with the simplicity and practicality of it. For one, it just makes sense. Do I share in people’s oppression? I want to see what the meaning of that word is here, but in a general sense it means to feel dominated, coerced or subjugated by something or somebody. To be oppressed is to be subjected to a harsh or cruel form of domination or to have worry, stress, or trouble because of somebody. It also means to hold something in check or put an end to it (Encarta World English Dictionary). For me it’s sickness. For others it’s a boss or a government.

The fact is many if not most people are oppressed by something, and Paul is saying we should share their oppression. To share means much more than just finding commonality. It can also mean to take equal responsibility for it, but I’m not sure (yet) if that is what Paul means here. The message is we must be responsible to share with others whatever they are going through for one overarching purpose: “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It doesn’t say, “so that they might be led to Christ” and it doesn’t say “so that someone might bring them to Christ.” It says “so that I might bring them to Christ.” It also doesn’t say “will”—it says “might” which means that doesn’t mean you must bring them to Christ, taking off the wrong kind of pressure. There’s a balance to this like everything else in the Christian walk.

(more…)

Final Day: (Is this the end or the beginning?)

September 7, 2007

The end is near (or so we think).

I’m writing this on day five, and it can’t be a bad day considering what day four was like. I wouldn’t mind etching that from my memory. Not only were the tests painful (and I might add, personal), they did not lead to a viable answer. “There is something wrong,” the Doctor alluded, “I just can’t pinpoint the root cause.” So you’re basically saying that something is wrong in my body, but you don’t have a clue what it is. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Then my Internist who is quite the guy, upon looking at all of my test results and detailed reports from all the specialists, looked at us and said something like this, “We at Mayo get some of the worst cases out there, and are known to find answers that others could not find. But… (uh oh, I don’t want to hear that word “but”) there are some cases we don’t figure out.” Ouch. He didn’t say that did he? Then he goes on, “Sometimes it takes time.” I have heard that before. “You have to try things.” Thankfully, I do have a few new things to try. “Other times it can be too early to catch whatever is going on.” Interesting, but that makes sense.

So, you can imagine our spirits as we begin this last day that includes one last meeting with our Internist.

We continue to feel hopeful and how important it is to keep reminding ourselves how grateful we are that so many horrible cancers, tumors and diseases have been eliminated. This is especially encouraging to consider among so many others who are incredibly sick. However, all we know is that something’s off in our spirits.

We want to accept that –hey, if Mayo can’t fix you then only God can, right? (Yes, we believe this but we don’t feel in our hearts this is the only way we need to think.) We know God can heal me right now, but we also know He has a plan that we are to trust and follow.

“Unscheduled” Appointment

Now, it’s 10am and we have some time until our last appointment. We decide it would be good to go to the Starbucks 100 feet from the main building. Our souls are longing for some “soul nourishment” time. I drop my laptop and Bible on the comfy chair and tell Amber I need to take a walk.

When I return she is engaged in conversation with a lady probably in her fifties. She has a blood pressure checker wrapped around her arm, and hooked around her neck to hold it up. I can tell they are “into” it, in a very sincere, genuine sort of way.

Sherri is a former Ophthalmologist from Western Wisconsin, a strong Christian, and a very sweet demeanor. Well, for the next hour or so she pumps Amber with tremendous insight and encouragement. There’s a lot of common ground going on in that conversation.

While they were talking, this guy in a Tommy Bahama shirt and black jeans jumps into the conversation every now and then. He seems very curious, and also seemed to have a lot of common ground with Amber and Sherri. Sherri’s husband has been sick for a long time as well, somewhat similar to me but had improved a lot, so they were able to relate a lot. And the guy, whose name is George, could relate too because his daughter has been sick for a long time, and his wife is there for breast cancer. While this was going on I was chatting on the other side of George with someone Sherri had met at Mayo named Barbara. She was there for her routine check-up. A dynamic Christian herself, we had a wonderful conversation and prayer.

I’m getting somewhere so stay with me a little bit longer.

We find out that George is someone we all know. When he handed me his card it said George Zimmer, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Men’s Warehouse.

That made me chuckle.

Most of us know him from the television commercials he narrated, usually closing with the company slogan “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” Started in 1973, and now there are over 700 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

So, we’d like to shout out a big thanks to Sherri, Barbara and George, our newfound friends. God used you to give us the exact wisdom we needed to move forward. Our hearts skipped a beatwhen we met you.

You guys encouraged us to consider more options. You agreed that Mayo is the best in the world at what they do, which is a wide range of traditional medicine. But now that we have more options, we feel led to keep searching.

Goodness it’s hard to be flint!

September 4, 2007

But we are deeply grateful to have His promises. Thank you for sharing scriptures with us and for your constant prayers- we certainly need them. So far, not much has been “revealed” in the physical realm- although always encouraging to cross off more of the “really bad” things from the list! We are still waiting on more test results and Bryan has two tests today- one that has been done and was abnormal so they are checking further- although when asking the Dr. if this could be causing his other issues, he didn’t think so. There have been some things recommended to “try” out as his symptoms remain very hard to diagnose- even for the Mayo Clinic. But we are still praying that if there is something that is “missing” or just hasn’t been a light bulb in the doctor’s minds- that it will come to mind. They will be conferring today and tomorrow- so please pray as they discuss and think that if there is something that hasn’t yet come to the light, that it will.

Interesting to say the least that one doctor while asking about the process of this illness actually asked if a lot of good has come out it- and of course we went on and on about great things that have happened and how God has used it. Then he said (admittedtly tongue in cheek!) “Well, if God is allowing this, then who are we physicians to wrestle Him to the ground?” Whoa. That was crazy. Especially since there wasn’t really evidence that he was a believer. And not long before that- Bryan was able to share with him and he had lots of questions about faith and what specifically that means. So who knows?! What we do know is that we are supposed to be here and that no matter what, we will continue to seek healing in Bryan’s physical body, while at the same time seeking to glorify the Lord in the midst of this challenge.

2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Status, and Sioux Falls

September 2, 2007

I only have a second to write. We are in Sioux Falls with Amber’s family. …hanging at the lake and without an internet connection.

So far, we have eliminated some things (more on that later) and are waiting to hear the results from the MRI and Lymes Disease test. Friday was a very busy day, to say the least! So, check back later for more stories and info.

We will be back at Mayo on Tuesday morning.

Here’s a pic we took yesterday:
unruh-family.jpg

unruhfamily_forweb.jpg

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Day One: The Mayo Experience

August 29, 2007

This is Amber…

Greetings from Rochester, MN!

We arrived safely last evening after a flight delay due to weather. Our new friends we are staying with, Dr. Simon Mittal and his wife greeted us with warm hospitality!

We are deeply grateful for your prayers. The initial consultation this morning went well. The doctor overseeing the evaluation is not only smart, but also kind and easy to work with – a huge blessing! After reviewing medical records, many questions and an exam- he referred us to three other doctors and for some tests. At first, the earliest available appointment for Neurology was next week… But praise the Lord it has been moved up to Friday so far. We will continue to wait to try to get in earlier on two of the appointments- please pray that will happen. It will make a huge difference- especially if those Dr’s order more tests.

All the staff at the Mayo Clinic have been friendly and helpful. It is evident that they care about patients and are “on your team” to get answers and expedite the process as much as possible which is very encouraging (esp. in a world where I sometimes wonder if customer service has gone out the window!) Yes…it is still alive! 🙂 Amen.

Again, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your prayers and support in standing with us. There aren’t words. We love you.

So Like God

August 29, 2007

I feel so much love. The response has brought me to tears. I am utterly speechless.

God has put every piece in place. I don’t know what God has in store for this trip, but I know it is already a glimpse of how God is in control.

A few “So Like God” happenings already (wrote this entry at midnight last night—just now posting it):

So Like God #1: Here we are, staying in someone’s house we’ve never met before tonight. Dr. Simon Mittal, who works with the Mayo Health System – first a servant of God, second a family man, and third a servant to God’s church. He and his wife, Maren, asked us (actually asked!) if they could pray with us one night. I love the Body of Christ!

It feels so good to begin the tests tomorrow with a community of laborers who care. I don’t feel alone. In fact, I plan on reading all the emails and comments I have been receiving in the waiting room or wherever else they want me.

I have this humble privilege of going to one of the top medical centers in the world. It’s such a humbling thing – for little ole Bryan to receive this kind of treatment. But, you know, I am more excited to experience the Body of Christ here in Minnesota.

So Like God #2: Dr. Simon happens to live in the same city – a not-so large city of 26,000 folks, as my cousin’s wife grew up in (note: I have one first cousin! Ha!). This is where her family lives! Right down the street from the Mittal’s. How amazing. We are about 50 miles from Rochester, so it’s not like this is a coincidence. I love it when cool things happen like that. Oh, did I mention I officiated Jeff (my cousin) and Debbie’s wedding last year, so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know this wonderful family.

So Like God #3: This illness has brought me closer and reconnected to so many people. I love that! I’m quite surprised, even though I shouldn’t be, by how many people have taken the time to get in touch. I suppose it sounds like a bigger deal when you hear about it for the first time, partly because they know me as an energetic guy. I guess it has become sort of the “norm” in our lives over the past year especially.

So Like God #4: Minneapolis/Rochester happens to be only about 4 hours from where Amber grew up and where her family lives. So, when I’m done at Mayo for the holiday weekend, we’re going to drive to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and be with the Unruh clan. There’s never a dull moment around them, which I love.

Life’s sooo good!

New News – Going to Mayo Clinic

August 28, 2007

New news

I am writing to say hello, and give you an update.

It has been a long road, filled with lessons I won’t soon forget.

I have seen 16 doctors both in the medical field and the holistic field, some of whom, are the best in their area. I have traveled all over the country to see them and I am grateful to each one for adding some value to me. (btw…if you are wondering- yes, I have read Jordan Rubin’s books).

It seems it is time to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. All of the great doctors I have visited have helped eliminate some possibilities and helped me with better health habits and nutrition, but they haven’t been able to lead me towards total health. And although I have certainly grown in my ability to manage and deal with this illness mentally, emotionally and even spiritually; my physical symptoms of extreme fatigue and “brain fog” (among other things) continue – not fun for a normally intuitive 27 yr. old should-be-full-of-energy guy. Thankfully, we were able to rule out Celiac Disease after all (a change from the first test results). With a liberated diet (praise God!), I have gained some weight. It was just two months ago when the scale read just over 110 lbs. I knew I was in trouble when one Doctor started calling me Paris Hilton and Nicole Richey. Well, I am extremely grateful to have put on 15 lbs. and of course each day we plead for divine healing.

Flipping the Switch

It’s the best way I can describe what happens when “it” hits.

If I have two-three semi-normal days in a given week, it is a phenomenal week. The other days have phases. Something like this:

    It usually begins when my body begins to slowly crash. I can usually feel it coming the day before it takes over. By the next day, I am laid out in bed with a body that can barely move. It feels like I am shut down completely. At times I can feel pain in my bones. And the biggest heartache is in my mind. I wouldn’t mind losing my bodily energy, but when my mind shuts down, it feels terrible. And this is the most humbling part of being sick. Many days, I don’t have a choice but to show up to the event I am speaking to, or the meeting I have scheduled for. And I am at the mercy of my body, or if the Lord chooses to miraculously heal me for an hour or a few days. It’s truly amazing how often this happens. Recently, we were speaking in Ohio, and my body and mind stayed focused throughout the two days. When I finished my last speech, everything immediately shut down. Those are the cool, unforgettable moments. My switch is in God’s hands.

The term worldliness can be defined as “living as though you have no need for God.” Well, God has graciously chosen to give me help in learning this. I am completely dependent on Him, and it’s actually a wonderful thing. When I try to do things without God, it’s not good. I am learning to live more prayerfully by His Word no matter what I am doing. I certainly don’t do this perfectly, far from it, but I am learning and growing. And it helps to have a wife who walks with the Spirit. All of this to say, more than anything I am learning to “fight” and “stand firm” on the promises I already have. It’s not about letting go and letting God. Rather, it’s joining Him in the “good fight” for God’s mighty power to have reign.

So much support…

I am taken back and humbled from the hundreds of emails I have received. I cannot believe there are people who have not only prayed but actually have fasted for me. I have heard so many stories of how God is using this illness for his glory, and that makes it all worth while.

I have to admit, I haven’t done a very good job communicating with everyone. I guess it’s partly due to the fact that when I have a good day, the last thing I want to do is write or talk about my illness. There’s so much more to do! It’s hard because we still don’t know what is going on. I have tried so many Doctor protocols and yet it continues. I have found it’s hard to communicate what’s going on without a “name” or a “diagnosis”.

Mayo Clinic Door Opens

I have been to Emory in Atlanta, unfortunately they join the long list of health centers and medical professionals that haven’t been able to offer a concrete solution or even a diagnosis. I have tried many tests. These tests are invasive and humbling to say the least. And now we feel it’s time to try even harder! So, tomorrow I fly out to Rochester, Minnesota and Wednesday morning is my first appointment at The Mayo Clinic. They are well-known as one of the top health centers in the world. Please pray that God would bless these doctors with the wisdom to finally understand what has been causing this illness. Please pray that he would strengthen me and bless me with peace and contentment during the multitude of tests that I will undoubtedly have to undergo. Please pray that he would bless Amber and I with discernment as to which tests should be taken and to help us to make wise decisions.

We thank God for insurance, but still these tests at Mayo could cost up to a maximum amount of $4,700.00 out of pocket- which is still a lot! Please pray the Lord will provide for whatever we end up needing through His people or whatever means necessary because we have been doing as much as possible to take on extra work, etc. but we are at a point where we still need extra help. And the last thing we need is debt.

I am most grateful to Christ who freely gives peace, love and joy that makes nothing unbearable. And I am grateful to my friends, family (and even strangers) who have lended prayers and a “huge hand” when we need it most.

Do pray with us. It’ll be nice to feel well again, but in the meantime we’ll keep roaring as loud and strong as we can.

Love,
Bryan

The Prosperity Gospel

August 13, 2007

Okay.

There was a time in my life when I would have had a hard time -not with what John Piper is saying, but how he is saying this. But I would have been wrong.

This is a dangerous, misleading false teaching that MUST be eradicated.

Yes, these are intense words, but our day and our theology causes for it. May we continue to converse about these issues, so that we find ourselves only satisfied in Jesus. Our life and the world depends on it.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with 100% of it, but it’s important that we guard our theology. Read I Timothy 4 and 6. Paul thought so.

Kudos to Jimmie Gillespie for telling me about this.

Now let’s converse…

Oh – by the way, this applies to health and suffering too:) I surely would love to learn more with you about these issues. As for the suffering issues, I have a lot of opinions from this past year through my own health deficiences. It caused me to study it like never before. And I think I’ve heard everything under the sun. There’s certainly a lot there about what we’d like for theology to be.

What’s most important to do in college today?

August 13, 2007

I couldn’t agree more:) with most of this.

An eye on the next life

August 6, 2007

As I lay in bed this rainy afternoon, the only thing that brings joy is keeping an eye on the next life. I may not be able to talk. I may not be able to move. And even the slightest stress turns my inward body into an out-of-control spin. Yes, these are without question unique times! But my soul and my Spirit are alive and well, thanks to a great God I have the privilege of walking with. And the only way that can change (-a unaligned soul and Spirit) is to do anything but sit and rest because God wants me to do just that. I’m not supposed to make phone calls. I’m not supposed to go hang out with friends. I’m definitely not supposed to work. I am commanded by the Ruler of the Universe to sit and be. And it feels good.

I am utterly amazed.

And…I will relish every moment when my body builds itself back. However, in the meantime, as I sit and be, I am reminded how I was made for the life which is yet to come. The men before me who followed hard after God, men like Abraham and Joseph, and all the patriarchs of the Old Testament, they didn’t know why things went as it did, much less what was next. They did know, however, that God was with them, and there was more to life.

What life are you stacking up rewards for?

For the life which is yet to come—live well!

Who will Father and Mother all these children?

July 20, 2007

Spiritually speaking…

It’s easier to keep a few feet away (a mile for some) from those who don’t share a similar belief system than it is to invite them into our lives. There’s an easy way and a hard way to do it. The easy way has proven to be a remedial supplement for some, however it keeps us isolated from sick patients who need close, constant, attentive care. People don’t need Doctors that tell them how sick they are; they need caregivers who’ll Father and Mother the new baby child into its new world of fresh beginnings. Who will Father and Mother all these children?

We are all the Same. Unique.

June 29, 2007

We are all the same. Unique.

We are unique. We are all the same in that we are unique. We share uniqueness.

No matter how hard you try you are going to be different. You can’t be like anyone else. Don’t try. You can’t.

You are unique.

You were born unique and you die unique. Some were born into wealth and others into poverty. Why? One little girl was born into the poorest of homes and became the richest woman in the world. Her name is Oprah.

Why is it that we see those who are poor as unfortunate?

It doesn’t make any sense does it? Is it meant to?

Why do I weigh 110 and feel so sick (at the time of writing this over a month ago)? Is it because God wants to teach me something or make me better? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it okay for once to accept there may not be an answer? YES, it is! Embrace the mystery, but more importantly-embrace your uniqueness in this mysterious maze of life.

How to stay humble

June 28, 2007

One day I was having lunch with Josh McDowell and two businessmen. One of them asked Josh how he stays humble. But Josh kept talking. The guy grew kind of irritable so he asked him again, “How do you stay humble as you accomplish so much for God?” Josh’s answer: “I’m too busy to think about it.”

That’s it.

There’s something to be said about working hard for God and not looking back, but keep your head focused on the now, on our God. Many of us in our culture spend so much time evaluating, which is a good thing, but sometimes it causes us to outthink what really matters. Josh works hard. He gives what he can and leaves the rest to God. That’s the way Jesus led his disciples. He told them what to do, in fact, he pretty much threw them in the fire and they obeyed. After they obeyed they went to sleep ready to give God another day. We live what we can have for ourselves; another vacation, a retirement fund or a new house. We work hard so we can reap great things for ourselves. But I don’t read anywhere in the gospels about the disciples doing anything remotely like this. Jesus didn’t lead them that way. He didn’t tell them if you do this and follow me like this you will reap things for yourselves to enjoy. He called them to die to their selves, and to live for eternity.

We know one thing: you won’t be humble thinking about being humble.

Top 10 Lessons I Have Learned From Being Sick

June 28, 2007

Last Sunday, I shared at my Dad’s church some of the top lessons I am learning right now through all my health deficiencies. Here’s a look at my short-notes:

1 “I didn’t know how to be sick.” All of us are suffering. No one is immune to suffering. We all suffer because of the fall.

2 “Sometimes, I don’t feel spiritual.” Feelings are fleeting. Feelings are fickle. I didn’t know it was there. I had to relearn what it means to be a spiritual being. I put some stock in what God made me feel, but when I became sick I was forced to realize how dangerous this was.

3 “I took for granted the good times.” It’s amazing how much it hurts when we can’t operate like we used to. And it’s unfortunate how many of us don’t stop and consider how fortunate we are. We misuse the gifts and sometimes we control and overpower people with our strong personality and ability to outsmart people. Well, what happens when that’s all taken away? Then what do you do? We should remember whose we are and what we were created for. While I have been sick I have been able to reflect and I’ve realized how much I live for myself. It’s sad, really. I think of me far too much and place far too much attention on me. It’s quite embarrassing once you think about it in light of our God and eternity. It’s hard to imagine what it feels like when your personality changes. Yes, when you get sick it affects your personal makeup, the way you interact, the way you lead, the way you communicate, everything. If I depend on achieving I will eventually get depressed.

4 “Being sick doesn’t change your life.” It reveals who you really are. And being sick is a good time to let people into your lives. It’s an opportunity to see how we respond and struggle through hard times.

5 “Suffering without meaning is despair.” And meaning might not be a two-step formula. It might mean there is no reason at all, just a loving God whose allowed you to hurt. And while he allows it, he hurts with you.

6 “You can’t deny yourself unless you know yourself.” Sure, it helps to study others and how God worked in and through them, but it’s far more impacting to study ourselves, and how God wants to uniquely lead us. I think there’s something drastic missing from our lives when we ignore the study of who we really are. God made us to be unique. He made us with specific distinctions and purposes, yet we don’t put emphasis on learning what those are.

7 “Sometimes we’re so worried about the what, while God is more concerned about our motives.” I may not be able to “discern” or “feel” (if that matters) if my whole heart is not in line with him. I have to be completely surrendered in order to do the what. It’s amazing how “simple” the what is when we’re this way.

8 “Your misperceptions might be perceptions.” When I was a young, brash 17 yr old who was transformed by Christ, following Him was simple, thrilling and impactful. I read the Word and obeyed. Simple as that. I shared my story with others and saw fruit almost every day. Five years later, I started trying to figure everything out and do it “better”. At that moment something began seeping out of me. I have to work hard to remember my salvation, and what matters and doesn’t matter. Misperception: I am called to do this or that. Perception: I am called to “live in Christ, die is gain”, “to make disciples of all nations”.

9 “People will fail you, but our Heavenly Father never will.” I will fail my wife. My wife will fail me. Your earthly Mother and Father will fail you. But our Heavenly Father will never fail you.

10 “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?” Those who do most make the most mistakes. God doesn’t bless leaders. He blesses faith.

Also, this is a word I wrote in my journal the night before:

    I am not seeing God as he really is, as the Old Testament prophets saw him. When I pray and when I ask what he wants I have my own agenda in mind because I doubt that what he wants is what I would want. I have too little respect and perspective of who this Great and Mighty God really is. When I pray in the back of my mind is this little tug-of-war of thoughts saying what I think is best for me and not what he thinks is best. Yet, I am doing this with the Creator of Heavens and earth – the Mightiest thing that my mind can’t even comprehend. Yikes!

As I try to constantly recall this thought, it is changing me!

That moment

June 11, 2007

Seth Godin articulates what’s been on my mind. It’s called That moment

    “When you are sitting right on the edge of something daring and scary and creative and powerful and perhaps wonderful… and you blink and take a step back.

    That’s the moment. The moment between you and remarkable. Most people blink. Most people get stuck.

    All the hard work and preparation and daring and luck is nothing compared with the ability to not blink.”

A hole in my sheets

June 8, 2007

I’ve been staying up late a lot lately. I used to say “I feel like I’m burning a hole in my sheets.” I feel that way right now. I can’t sleep. The fire is burning. Man, it feels great.

I love Rob Bell’s church philosophy, “People will drive a long way to see a fire.” So would I. So would I.

Why it’s hard to say “I don’t know”.

May 15, 2007

Decisions:

It is hard to say “I don’t know.”

It is rare, extremely rare to hear those words come out of someone’s mouth, especially someone older. Yet it is a refreshing, even liberating thing to hear. I am impacted when I hear those words come out of someone’s mouth. I want to be able to be true to myself and often say “I just don’t know.”

Other liberating words: “It’s okay.” “It’s okay to make a mistake.” “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?”

Why is it that a man who is 40 feels the need to give his opinion to a man who is 25?

And…just because you are in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader. Respect, yes, but it’s important to be honest with people. That is, respectfully honest.

I remember it just like it was yesterday.

I approached my friend Larry Green and he said to me these amazing words that still ring in my ear: “Why are you afraid to make a mistake?” That’s it. That’s all I needed to hear.

I was set free from my own victimizing pursuit of perfection.

He was right – I was afraid to try because I was afraid to make a mistake. I heard one guy say one time that those who do most make the most mistakes.

I was talking with someone the other night who was about to approach her supervisors with a kind of honesty she doesn’t normally share. But she’s grown in her leadership to know that it is imperative to be open and honest, plus for her own sanity. As she shared with me what she had in mind, I felt compelled to say to her “you are their leader as much as they are yours.” I mean just because they are in a position over you doesn’t mean you can’t lead them and just because they’re older doesn’t mean you can’t be honest and help them. This is a crucial moment for you, and for them to learn something profound. They need this, to be stretched.

Recently, I looked into my wife Amber’s eyes and said, “I will fail you. You will fail me. But our Heavenly Father will NEVER fail us. We’re all messy lives tied together by a perfect God.” While that may or may not seem like a profound thought to you, it was for me. I need those constant reminders of the grace of God, that it’s okay that I don’t know everything nor will I do everything perfectly.

Be graced.

News

May 15, 2007

Back in January I wrote to a few friends for prayer suppor regarding my lengthy battle with a chronic illness. In a few days, I’m going to post an update here. For now, I thought I’d share that letter.

Health news…

Some of you are aware that I have had health issues for some time. I do.

Quickly, I want to lay it out for you. But before I do you must know two things:

1) This is the best time of my life.
2) Don’t feel sorry for me for a second.

I say this so you can know that life is vibrant. A bit of suffering has only made us stronger and hopefully wiser. I certainly feel more compassionate for people now because I know first hand what it’s like to struggle – to feel the sting of disease. What it’s like to break down, to feel unable, and yes, I now believe (deeper) that the human struggle is a beautiful part of God’s grace and essence.

The sting…

My digestive system is not functioning correctly and the doctors don’t know why…yet. They know “my digestive system is not working”, the exact words from a Dr last week. They know there is good reason to believe my body doesn’t tolerate Gluten, Wheat, Soy, Dairy and Eggs (and yes, they have names for such allergies – but my issue is beyond that). They know I cannot lose any more weight. Let’s just say I weigh less than 120. You get the drift – not good. They know what I tell them – I am exhausted most of the time – I’ve been beyond tired.

At the extremity, this has been going on for over 4 months.

Big weight loss. Chronic fatigue. Continued problems despite a complete diet makeover (even though that diet has made some of a difference and will be helpful in my lifetime care of my body as like most of us- I used to eat too much junk!).

I share this because God desires of me to ask for prayer. Just so you know, my request for prayer today is not a lowercase ask rather it is a CAPITAL LETTERS, EXCLAMATION POINT ask.

God advises us that each and every struggle is an invitation to victory. Sure, God decides the outcome, but he is greatly INFLUENCED by prayer. So, I beg and plead for your prayers before Almighty God.

You are loved and appreciated,

Bryan

NOTE: I’m having to learn how to be carefully discerning to all the recommendations I’m receiving (and I’m receiving a lot of them). Many of you have had health issues. Some of you have gone through similar experiences. You might have a product to recommend or a Dr who saved your life. I deeply appreciate all the recommendations and I have visited many Dr’s and tried many supplements and programs. I’ve read lots of great books and I plan on using the accumulated information to stay healthy the rest of my life. Feel free to share them and I’ll prayerfully consider each one. I am not one to say no to something that could help me- BUT I also can’t afford every “magic potion” and doctor so you understand I have to weigh each suggestion.

When We Remember

April 21, 2007

Here I am, sitting comfortably with my lovely laptop…in a cushioned chair at ole Starbucks. I’m in Fort Lauderdale, my favorite getaway. I’m not here to get away – I’m here to focus on all that’s in front of me. Mostly writing stuff.

I hardly ever reveal some of my writing pieces before they’re crisp crossed. But I came across a piece I wrote a while back that’s knee deep in dust by now. It’s been tucked away for years, unused…and quite lonely:) In sure need of a rewrite, but I thought it was a good reminder…you know, that we are in a war fighting for souls of the people we love and care for. That’s everyone, right? It’s unfortunate when we/I let the little, minute things of life, you know, like this darn measly digestive problem or a fainting fatigue slow us/me down from what’s a stake.

When We Remember…

Dirty. Angry. Sick. Cold.

The soldiers felt through a myriad of complex emotions as a long, brute war took a turn and, at last, the Germans fell in defeat.

The American soldiers who lived to tell, from the now famous film Band of Brothers speak of the voices inside their heads—the rage the fueled within them as they finally arrived in Germany after months of treacherous fighting. They became despisers of the German people. With their small window of freedom they were allowed – they drank, found women to sleep with, and the rage was set on fire. Some stole things. Some slept and some wept. But all mourned in their own way.

It was a sad scene to see. Only the few held up to this test of honor, the ones who kept their focus even though the world around them was so distracted. The poor attitudes. The downward depression. It was all there. What do you expect? They had been in the worst war of the twentieth century. They had an up close and personal encounter with death. They had front row seats as their friends lost arms, legs, and lives. It was a cold and rigid war for these men. Now they had to let it all out. They had to vent. Their emotions weren’t made for this. With their guns by their sides, they dealt with it in their own way. What became important was “who got what” as one guy put it. Now they were more concerned about their own property, their own well-being than anything else.

(more…)

Do you love what you do?

November 19, 2006

I ask people all the time if they love what they do. Most don’t. I ask why and they a) haven’t thought of it before or b) just think it has to be that way. They think it’s normal to be miserable. When you see miserable people (or anyone for that matter) ask them questions. You will help them and it will keep you fresh—it will remind you how bad it can be. Ask your friends, your bosses, your teachers, even strangers all kinds of questions. I tell young people to watch and question their teachers and don’t be atraid to wonder if they are truly happy. That’s just life. People everywhere get caught in the web of distraction and doing and the paycheck and loyalty to people. But they need to be reminded just like you and I do that there’s nothing more unnatural and abnormal than living like that. Actually, it’s a life grounded in fear – the anxious kind (you know, the bad one). All we need is love. Fight for love. Seek out love. Open your eyes to love. And resist fear. Fight against the voice of fear. It’s there. It’s the enemy. Every single day.

The Anatomy of the “What if”

June 30, 2006

What if?

What if I could change the world?
What if I could be a leader?
What if money wasn’t an issue?
What if I could be like an Apostle Paul?

A “What If” has a positive and negative connotation. A “What If” thinks potential and at the same time it can think devastation.

“What if” the world looked liked this? “What if” that happened to me?

“What if” I could race cars for a living? “What if” I crashed when I raced the car?

All “What if’s” carry risk. Some people are willing to risk, while some aren’t. What kind of risks? Criticism…failure…pain. To see your “What if” happen, you have to be ready to face every one of them. It just requires it – but it’s so worth it.

We have to train our minds to relish the fact that – the price is worth it. And even more—to enjoy it. Have you ever gone through hurt and pain that didn’t grow you? None of us like it while we’re going through it. However, on the flip side, we know we’re better off having gone through it.

Think about it.

“What if” we trained armies and communities of people to think differently? To think “What if” while preparing them for what will be.

We know that innovators bend the world, but it’s the spiritual innovators who amend the world.

The Need to Conquer…the Harder to Fall

February 8, 2006

The longings of my heart is to pour the gospel message into people’s lives. I am not so much of a brain surgeon—I am into doing the heart-surgery thing on people’s lives. But the intertwining thought that continually tangles my mind is how can I be the person God made me to be. It wasn’t long ago that my role seemed so complicated compared to everyone else.

I would assess and evaluate and seek counsel and look everywhere for that fit. All of this has led me back to the same mind-boggling questions and the same desperation I’ve always had. And I wonder if there’s no other way than to aggressively and intentionally go.

That’s the way my journey with Christ began. I went…hard! I found wavering souls and fed them the food of God. Lives began to change. My life was like a sailboat…and I glided with the wind of God. I didn’t have time to think…only time to proactively pour my life into the word, prayer and the powerhouses of teachings in all kinds of books, tapes and the men of God to spend time with. The overflow of all of that was to step out in faith and point people upward to Jesus and then to help guide them into a similar walk I had. The power was eminent!

Then things started to unravel as I found something to conquer.

Beforehand, I had nothing to conquer, only everything to lose. My life revolved around losing in order to gain; giving in order to receive; staying weak as the only way to be strong. But in college I found something to have and enjoy and settle on.

Of all the things in the world, it was a relationship with my future wife. We had something that was truly incredible, a story only God could weave. But the moment we acknowledged to each other that we were going to be soul mates for the rest of our lives, in my mind I felt like a conquering hero.

At the top of my game I began to let the very thing that brought so much joy to my life take me down. I really had no idea this was going on. I was in love and at the point where I had it all—a walk with God, a very fruitful life, and a wife very few people get to have.

This was a woman who is special and everyone who knows her can see it. She’s as true of a Proverbs 31 woman of God as you’ll ever find, even at a young age. So I had my trophy now and everything else seemed less spectacular. The high of my game became the unraveling.

Success is such a danger isn’t it? The more you obtain, the more you have to lose. Even the good things in a life can become the idol that brings you down.

There’s something to be said about the man who maintains a perspective that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The more we learn and the more we become can eventually become our biggest threat.

The constant fight – to be more consumed with God than anything else – the world, the becoming, the having, the wanting, the expectations, and even the pursuit. It’s God’s deal or nothing at all. We are meant to be slaves of the Master in word and deed.

Ravi Zacharias noted in This We Believe:
“A modern-day writer, jack Higgins, was asked at the pinnacle of his success what he now knows that he wished he had known as a younger man. ‘I wished I had known that when you get to the top, there is nothing there.’”

Three pertinent questions that can take you towards God or separate you far away from him:

What am I after? What do I want? What do I want to live for?

It’s a Heart Issue

January 9, 2006

Tozer has me thinking this morning.

You and I are a part of the legion of seekers who’ll only find what we’re looking for in the quietness of the soul. The ones who find God discover this.

Tozer reminds me that I won’t find the soul connection with God in something. There is no particular method for finding what everyone’s looking for. People flee the norm world for a getaway condominium of rest and quietness, but only discover their thirst unquenched. Rest is found where God is – and God for you might be a closet or a parking lot. Rest assured, he is found when he is sought and rest flows from without.

Life and world issues that are thrust upon us are heart issues. We are so entrenched in what happens to us, or protecting what we have (especially, if it’s good), when the root of our happiness is in knowing how to react and pro-act to life. We jump into life waiting for the world to take us where it wants, but it’s a never-ending cycle isn’t it?
All of life’s issues are heart issues.

A generation is crumbling not because of it’s misuse of sexuality, but because they haven’t uncovered the power of the heart. You find the heart of life in the quietness of the soul – where God resides. It’s the place where you find the intimacy you’ve been looking for you’re whole life. When you taste it, you’ll do whatever you can to get it back.

Yet we want to focus on what to take way. “I’m struggling with this sin so I need to stop watching TV.” That maybe a great idea but I can guarantee you it’s not your problem. Your problem is in the heart. Go find your heart – the heart of God – the intimacy you long for. Satan wants to point you toward a TV, but it’s all part of his confusing scheme. The issues is we’re selfish. We live for ourselves. That’s the root of our struggle and sin.

When you taste God for who he is, you’ll never forget it. Nothing – not an experience or a preacher or a book or a overseas trip or anything can compare with tasting God like he truly is. There’s freedom and rest and understanding and single-mindedness and willingness that pours in here.

You can have all the money and possessions in the world, but if you lack this you’ll stay restless. God doesn’t want us to live in poverty, but it might take that (like the young rich ruler) to get your heart. It might not take giving much of it up at all. All that God wants is your heart – the motives, desires, tastes, all of it. You’re just be managing what he already owns anyway. Why would he care about taking away your things? Everything with God has to do with the heart. If he asks you to give up something, it’s because he’s after your heart. You just have to trust him and obey him with a fierce single-mindedness.

A close friend sought God and found him. Then God led him to give up his very influential and lucrative career to pursue his God-given aspiration. He did. But months later after God knew he had his heart, he led him back to his old career with an even more affluent position, only this time he was working with churches. God wanted his heart and my friend gave it to him.

I have this thing about giving up on God. What I mean is: I give up on God a lot. I’ve often thought up my own ways too much. My wife has told me in the past that my mind is my greatest strength and greatest weakness. I can think up stuff with my mind that is good, but that same ability can be used negatively. There have been moment when I’d have this thing for scheming up reasons why I need to do things a certain way rather than uncovering his heart. I’d convince myself I found his heart when I’m really still searching. The more I go through this motion the better, but it’s a tiring and turbulent way to live.

We go to God for an answer. We go to God out of duty. Why not go to God to stay synched. When you need to make a decision, the answer is right there, in the spirit that has you completely full and content. It’s common sense to keep oneself synched up through the word of God and conversation with God.

Why are we afraid to teach people about the heart? They get it…at least, they can pick up if we know the heart or not. And they will look at you like, “Why haven’t you shared this before? This explains everything!”

Six Viewpoints

January 6, 2006

I just did an article on evangelism for a magazine. I thought I’d post some of the viewpoints I propose (a modern magazine needs points).

1) Transformation is a life-long process, not just a one-time event.

2) Unless we put more emphasis on authentic, connective relationships we will lose this generation.

3) The most effective evangelism strategy is to cultivate genuine friendships with people who are non-believers and engage them in thoughtful, respectful conversation about what’s important to them.

4) Those with the foresight and strength to speak the truth in love will have the most impact.

5) Genuine humility and love will win over anyone anytime!

6) Centralize everything with Jesus. They like Jesus but they don’t like the church.

My Soul’s Dark Night

December 7, 2005

Today, I read an article in Christianity Today by Chuck Colson entitled My Soul’s Dark Night. I took away some great, deep insight, and thought you’d enjoy some of the things he said too.

We’re taught in most Christian circles to “rely on the still, small voice of God cheering us on” no matter how dark our days are. And you’re not human if you don’t experience those. But what if God seems absent? Does that mean we’ve lost faith. I don’t think so, and neither does Colson.

“I’m not sure how well the contemporary evangelical world prepares us for this struggle, which I suspect many evangelicals experience but fear to admit because of the expectations we create. At such times, we can turn for strength to older and richer theological traditions probably unfamiliar to many—writings by saints who endured agonies both physical and spiritual.”

“A prominent pastor once told me he experienced the Holy Spirit’s presence every moment. Contemporary evangelicals regard this as maturity. Perhaps it is—or maybe it is a form of presumption. True faith trusts even when every outward reality tells us there is no reason to. Faith becomes strongest when we are without consolation and must walk into the darkness with complete abandon. As theologian Michael Novak explains, true faith says, “Let this be done, Lord, according to your will”—even if we don’t know what “this” is.”

Can we really rely on our intimacy with God? Colson doesn’t think so.

“It struck me that I don’t have to make sense of the agonies I bear or hear a clear answer. God is not a creature of my emotions or senses. God is God, the one who created me and takes responsibility for my children’s destiny and mine. I can only cling to the certainty that he is and he has spoken.”

“Evangelicals must rely on more than cheerful tunes, easy answers, and happy smiles. We must dig deeply into the church’s treasures to find what it is like to worship God, not because of our circumstances, but in spite of them.”

“Countless times over the years I’ve experienced God and his providence, but I’ve also known the dark night. God, I’ve realized, is not just the friend who takes my hand, but also the great, majestic Creator who reigns forever.”

God is God no matter what we feel, no matter what we see, no matter what circumstances we have to endure.

It’s truly refreshing when someone speaks the honest truth about something we all go through.

I learned a lot from this short piece that you can read in it’s entirety at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/012/15.80.html

Mere Christians

November 23, 2005

We are “mere” Christians, are we not? Thanks to C.S. Lewis, the man on my mind this afternoon, we can effectively coin the answer we need the most right now. Lewis was a man who lived “Mere Christianity” beautifully authentically. Today his books speak as strong as they did in the 40’s and 50’s. His writing resonates with the postmodern culture because he would fit truth in a story. A man whose legacy penetrates the culture long after he leaves this world.

How Are We Missing It?

November 23, 2005

I’ve often wondered lately if there is a need for a deeper muse about Christian sexuality. That there’s more to the story than what’s being told. Do you agree? Why do you think the younger generations and twentysomethings tend to buck what God says about sex? Presentation? Culture Saturation?

Sex, love, beauty and relationships can be better understood and so much more esteemed. In God’s world they are gifts to be cherished, not mountains to climb. We are prized with a treasure.

A gift isn’t given to someone to be misused, is it? It’s meant to be valued and appreciated.

This is a spiritual war.

We are placed in a war, where we have to fight to stay alive. And sex is one of Satan’s greatest tools.

But there is healing and hope and a revolutionary life we’re called to live, the life role we desire to play, the adventure we’re meant to take. All we’re used to is a backdrop message of don’ts. Now, we want something real. We want viable answers to our curious and perplexing questions. We want to have a real, honest conversation about life and love.

• Life is a journey. The destination is left in God’s hands.
• Life is a walk. The results are left in God’s hands.
• Life is an adventure. The mundane and boring are left in God’s hands to be challenged.
• Life is a revolution. The make it through the day type will be captured by the enemy.
• Life is about the heart. The moment you shut down the heart, you stop living.

You get the gist of it. There’s just more to purity than abstinence. How come the young people I talk don’t understand it like this?

Emerging Generations and Sex

November 23, 2005

When I talk to the emerging generations about sex, what resonates with them most is this: God gets it – he actually understands the world they live in and the fierce temptation they face every single day. Lives are being changed when they understand that God does not think of them as a nuisance if they struggle with something so deeply and often. That He knows them and the very world they live in. He understands it. He gets it. And he wants to help them…to be their friend, their guide, their heavenly force. And let me tell you, when this is understood, a new confidence is born, a new relationship is formed. This is not something we’ve seen before, something that breeds a religious notch on their journey. This is something that explodes like a human tidal wave. The kind we believe God has destined for every human being, a transformation our hearts long to experience.

What do you think?

If You Could Do Anything With Your Life

November 6, 2005

My newfound friend Margaret Feinberg, who is an excellent and accomplished writer was speaking at a event in Dallas called Fusion. While there she asked her audience the following question: If you could do anything with your life, assuming that time and money were no object, what would you choose to do?

Check out the answers at margaretfeinberg.blogspot.com… I was shellshocked by how many said they would write. You know, when I read that it hit me how many people have told me that they’d love to write too. I get asked all the time about my journey in writing. My answer is always simple: I just did it because God told me to and he backed me up. That’s it. Sure, I’ve had to pay a price for it, but it’s worth it because I love doing it and he’s guiding me.

My charge to people is to go for it! And don’t depend on a publisher for crying out loud. Writers are prophets, not puppets. I’m just getting started but my faith muscle has grown a lot in a year. Someone told me one time he thinks the evangelists of the 21st century will be writers. We have so much baggage as a religion, we will have to build our platform through writing.

Can you imagine the kind of material God could put out there if more people would just go for it?

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