We LOVE you all!

To my entire church family at Bethany,

As I sit writing this after submitting my resignation, I want to share some things with all you that I simply cannot do adequately in person. 

You have never let me down. We all have up and down relationships with everyone we know. I know that I have failed at times and you have been gracious. I have never had a point in this ministry where I wondered if you had my back.


You have been a constant source of good encouragement for my entire ministry. I cannot recall the number of cards, text, calls and “pop into my office” I’ve had here during my ministry.  You guys went above and beyond to help to me navigate this very difficult path of ministry and sickness. 


I have never doubted God’s call for me to come to Bethany. There has never been a Sunday afternoon, or Wednesday night that I have laid in my bed asking “God, was it a mistake for us to come here?”. I can look back and see God’s hand moving and leading us to Bethany. I thank God!


I am thankful for the great grace you have shown me over the last year. As my voice has worsened and mobility has lessened, I never heard anyone complain, never got an anonymous note telling me it was time for me to go. You showed up, listened and smiled. The Deacons really stepped up (I hope you know how good of a team of Deacons we have!).How awesome is that? I’ll tell you, it is AWESOME!

Wendie and I (and E, B, &A) love you more than you will ever know. We are so thankful to have spent this time in my ministry and our life with you!

May God richly bless each and every one of you, and may God bless you with a wonderful shepherd who will preach the word and guard your souls!

In fervent Christian love,


Pasta B

 

Posted on October 24, 2016 .

Summer Update on our fight against ALS

I want to say how thankful I am for the support of my church and friends so I want to give this update of what Wendie and I have been doing in our part to fight ALS over the summer months.

 

As most of you know, we went to the ALS advocacy conference back in May. During that event we were able to advocate for needed legislative help for those fighting this disease (PALS). But this event was also very informative. There was a breakout session where we were able to meet and talk to researchers who are on the front line of the fight. During that time we got hooked up with several things.

 

During our time in DC, we stopped for a visit at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. The NIH is a federally funded research facility and it is massive. We met with Dr Nath who is researching the relationship between the Herv K virus in ALS. At that visit I had a spinal tap and gave quite a bit of blood.

 

We made a second trip to the NIH two weeks ago for another research project specifically for the C9ORF72 gene mutation that I have. C9 along with SOD1 are what are known as “familial” types of ALS. This type of ALS is caused by a specific gene mutation in which there is exponential expansion in the genetic materials which causes significant damage and kills the motor neurons. This type of ALS is passed down through the gene pool.  This type of ALS is very rare, but its’ cause is known. There is quite a bit of research in this area. During this visit at NIH we met with Dr Floeter and her team. This consisted of two days of rigorous exams. I went through a thorough physical examination. I had pulmonary (breathing) tests. I also underwent an intense mental evaluation. C9ORF72 can also cause Front Temporal Dementia (FTD) so that is something I am being watched for. I actually enjoyed this part LESS than anything else. While at the NIH I underwent a second spinal tap, gave a ton of blood and had a skin biopsy. (Insert jokes about me being mental right here______________) :)

 

We came home on Tuesday night of that week (don’t tell the doctor, they don’t want you to travel a long distance after a spinal tap, and I’m hard headed). Last Sunday, I preached at my church and then Wendie and I hopped a plane to Baltimore, where I spent all day Monday at John Hopkins being seen by Dr Rothstein and his team. There I underwent all the above, minus the spinal tap. I also participated in a study to see if an altered sense of smell could be related to diagnosing ALS early. You haven’t lived until you take a smell battery of tests!

 

I also have enrolled in a study in Boston at ALS TDI. I’m helping them do some research as well. 

 

I will have to go back to the NIH and Hopkins every few months as they continue to monitor my progression. This means more blood, spinal fluid and tests.

 

 

 

 

Here is where we are: we still have no treatment for ALS. This disease has no known cure, and a known progression. People ask me if I had good visits, and that is a hard question to answer when you do so much without getting treated. But they were good, and here is why:

 

For a long time, ALS research relied on mice. They could replicate the disease in mice, but that model has severe limits. Now, though the miracle of modern science, the blood and tissue I have can be perpetually transformed into my own IPS cells. Scientists can then create ALS in my own cells and look at a realistic model. So my blood and skin and saliva are sitting in a freezer somewhere being used for research.

 

Dr Rotstein gave us a lot of information. A treatment for c9 is in the pipeline. This treatment, known as an antisense, is gearing up for a trial. John Hopkins has applied to be a trial site. The research nurse told me that when it becomes available, I will be a candidate. 

 

 

So here is where we are, no treatment but much hope. Wendie and I are doing our part to fight not just on our behalf, but on behalf of all PALS and my kids. You guys keep praying

 

 

Love YA!

Posted on July 22, 2016 .

Don't love your friends more than you love Jesus (never)

In recent weeks our church has had to deal with some heartbreaking news. A young man who I love ( and his entire family) who is also loved by our church, "came out" as gay on Facebook. It was heartbreaking for me as his pastor but also for another reason: how some of my members reacted. Not the reaction you might expect, but quite the opposite.

We expect people to behave negatively over something like this and that is sin. It is NEVER right for a Christ follower to belittle or name call anyone dealing with this issue. I thank God that hasn't been the case yet. I pray we all deal with this biblically.

The response that shocked me was the opposite, some of you responded positively. That breaks my heart as well and should be very concerning to our church. The Bible clearly and unambiguously condemns homosexuality in both the OT and NT. About that there is no real debate. But affirming same sex relationships reveals something about you, more than your friend. I want you carefully consider Jesus' words:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14

This constitutes some of the hardest sayings of Jesus. Does He command me to hate my dad and mom? That seems wrong, and anti Christian. But listen to another translation that helps smooth the seams:


"If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple".

Do you see the point? It's about who you love most and best. You should love your dad, but not more than Jesus. You ought to love your mom, but not more than your Lord. In fact if Jesus is your Lord, you'll side with Him over everything and everyone. 

I expect all Christians to deeply love their friends. We should support them and affirm them, but not without limits. You should love your friends even more when they sin, by not affirming their sin. Your love for the One who saved you should prevent that. If you love your friend you will desire their relationship with God be made or even restored, but you will never cuddle them into Gods wrath.

 

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1

 

Search your relationship with God, and repent with joy. Be certain I love you, and I love Jesus most. 

Posted on July 19, 2016 .