Rebuilding the Foundations
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I have no degrees, and no official Christian or history education. I am a Mensa member, which means I'm really smart, but God opposes the wisdom of the wise (1 Cor. 1:19-21), so I can't refer you to that, either.
My books, and those I have published for others, consistently maintain 4-star and better ratings despite the occasional 1- and 2-star ratings from people angry about my kicking over sacred cows.
I am married with six children, one of which are still at home. I was born in 1961, so I'm 56 as I write this.
How I became a Christian is particularly pertinent to this web site and how I write it.
Like David Bercot, author of Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, I prefer to call the "early church fathers" simply "the early Christians." This is because most of these writers did not see themselves as fathers establishing anything on their own. Instead, they saw themselves as servants of God, doing their best to carry on the teachings (the "Rule of Faith") of the apostles, to faithfully preserve them, and to live them out.
I was raised Catholic, but that simply did not work for me. (I know that others have had better experiences than I did as a Catholic.) As a teenager, I despaired of ever knowing God, and I abandoned Christianity for eastern mysticism.
When I joined the military at age 20, my first boss was also a working pastor for the Church of God in Christ in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Between his prayers, his life, and his witness, Jesus got hold of me. I acknowledged him as Son of God, and I surrendered myself to his rule.
The transformation was powerful, and by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit I have been excited about Jesus for the last 35 years.
Since I had now become a Christian in a Protestant Church, I was excited to be a part of something that was based purely on the Bible. (I was actually finally converted in an Assembly of God, and I was attending both the AoG Sunday meeting and the COGIC meeting on alternate Sundays. This was because my boss only preached every other week.)
Being ignorant of religion in America because I had spent most of my teen years studying eastern mysticism, not Christianity, I was of the idea that there were only two main branches of Christianity in America: Protestant and Catholic. I had no idea how different all the Protestant denominations are.
Thus, in my first year as a Protestant (and as a Christian), I was stunned to find out that Protestantism is only loosely based on the Bible. I was also surprised to find out that "make sure that what we teach matches the Bible" meant "Go to another church if you don't agree with us."
I was so excited about following Jesus that I was going to some Christian activity every day. Between Bible studies, Christian skating night, and evangelizing on Saturdays, I literally did not miss a day of Christian fellowship.
I also did not miss a day of Christian arguing.
To make a long and interesting story short, I quickly began to long for more information about what Christianity was like in its earliest days, when the apostles were still around to keep the churches on track. For years I thought no one knew, but eventually I was brought into contact with the 10-volume series called The Ante-Nicene Fathers.
That was 1990, and I began devouring those volumes. When I got to volume 5, which was about the middle of the third-century, I went back to the beginning and read the first three volumes over again.
Today, feeling comfortable that I have an excellent idea of what the second-century churches were like, they are a favorite subject of my writing. Christian History for Everyman, a much more popular site than this one, is the product of all my reading.
At that web site, and in my books I explore what Christianity was like when it began and what has happened to change it.
There is a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I must qualify for it. I have had both. (Note: it's a research and support organization. One doesn't join it. One contributes to it. The "qualify" was a joke.)
In 2011 I began a bout with leukemia that lasted almost a year and culminated in a bone marrow transplant. I had a heart attack in November, 2011 after two days of fever and a 120-130 heart rate. I only had about 40% of the red blood that I should normally have, so basically my heart was starving. Nonetheless, our Father was kind to me, and there was no heart damage. Six weeks later I ran two miles.
BPDCN is a very rare and aggressive leukemia. It was my original diagnosis from the first pathology lab that looked at my bone marrow. Vanderbilt Cancer Center has its own pathology lab, though, and they treated me, so they had to verify the diagnosis. In the end, it was almost BPDCN. They just called it Acute Undifferentiated Leukemia, and they treated it as though it were BPDCN.
Interestingly enough, the transplant changed my blood type to match the donor blood. I went from A+ to A- about two years after the transplant. I also can't ever stay out in the sun without 50+ sunscreen applied thickly because too much UV rays will trigger my new immune system to attack my skin. I hate the sunscreen, though, so I wear a ball cap and hoodie all the time. In summer I just wear a thinner hoodie.
In November, 2014 I added lymphoma to my resumé. The likely cause was the immunosuppressives I was taken to keep my transplanted immune system under control. They put the lymphoma in remission with four rounds of chemo that ended in February, 2015.
As I write this, it is April, and I feel great, but my body just doesn't want to recover the main part of its immune system, the neutrophils. All my doctors are scratching their heads except one, who is sure that my lack of neutrophils is a reaction to Rituximab, a hormone that kills b-cells and which they used to treat my "Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma."
Hopefully he's right and my neutrophils will come back on their own sometime in the next couple months. Until then I am getting booster shots (Neupogen) to keep the neutrophils at a safe level. (Current as of 4/24/2015.)
Here I must express my gratefulness not only to God, but to my incredible wife who carried me through both sets of cancer treatments while trying to home school four children (leukemia), then two children (lymphoma).
So many trips to the emergency room; two long hospital stays for the leukemia; running the household when I couldn't get out of bed; rejoicing with me and believing with me that this was all for the best. She is a saint, the love of my life, and has proven beyond anything that should have been demanded of her that she loves me.
You can read my story at my "Yippee! I Have Leukemia" blog. You might want to start with the page on why leukemia can be good.