In 2006, I didn’t actually think that I would die, but my body was in big trouble. I was twenty-five years old, and diagnosed with a fatal disease that you never heard of; a disease that has no medical cure and few treatment options.
I was given three to five years to live.
When the end is in sight you look back to the beginning and evaluate your life. “How did it go,” “What would you change,” or “Is it too late to make a change?”
You find out that you are in a hurry to put things right, before it’s too late. I reflected on a random day at church. I was maybe 16, standing outside the church and I overheard my youth minister say that I would do something big with my life. I deeply hoped he was right. I wanted to believe it. I remember telling myself that I would make those words come true. I would do something big. I didn’t know what, or when, or how, but it would be big and it would be for God.
Time is running out for us all, the only difference is I was told just how short my time was. What a blessing that knowledge turned out to be; and what a curse.
While I reflected on my life, I thought to myself, “Since that time, did I do something big?” To my sorrow, the answer was, “No.” Ten years had passed and now I might only have five years to go. Was it too late after all?
A picture I drew seven years earlier explained my predicament perfectly. The man, exhausted from worry is sleeping on his desk while writing bills, where his worst nightmares play out: Death chases him, his wife and child are alone, his life is a balancing act while he screams and backslides.
Try, try again…
I did not want to go down like this. So I finally was ready to try something. My first attempt was a website. Everyone has one these days!
My first idea was a project site called ChristianRevolution.net. A site for Christians to work on projects together that they wouldn’t do otherwise.
I didn’t want other Christians to be like myself, a believer who dosen’t do anything more for God except fill a pew (even though deep down inside they want to do more). It is easy to act like we have all the time in the world to do whatever-it-is-God-called-me-to-do, but that may not be true.
I wanted to make it self sustaining so it could live on without me… but no one participated. I even went looking for help. I decided that I would post the works of others. However, many of the churches I contacted didn’t want to be listed on a site that might have different theological views than their own. Then I decided to be the lone ranger. I would launch a few projects on my own, and hope they would draw attention to the site. I started with David’s Herd, a comic series revolving around King David’s younger years when he was a shepherd.
The ChristianRevolution.net Online Bible
In addition to the comics, I began posting studies from other authors, whoever would let me. These studies made references to Bible verses. I wanted readers to be able to look up those verses through a link, but I didn’t want to just point them to another website! They might leave mine. I needed a Bible on my own site. So I went looking for a bible that I could install on my site. Much to my surprise, I couldn’t find one. I thought, “If no one offers a bible that I can use for my website, then I’ll make one my self.”
What a life changing thought that turned out to be. This online bible was to be the foundation of what would later become something “big.”
This all happened in the span of 8 months. April of 2006 I was diagnosed with Scleroderma and by January 2007 I built a site complete with comics, studies, music, news, and a Bible. All this while working a full time job and getting experimental treatment at a hospital four hours away from home.
Listen folks, In 2006 I could barely walk. I needed a lift chair to get out of a seat. I could barely breathe. I couldn’t bend over. My hands, my precious hands, were stuck in a half fist position. I was lucky that I was able to type. I lost the ability to play guitar, piano and I couldn’t even give a high five (good thing fist bumps are popular now). It was embarrassing to wave at someone. I could barely open my mouth wide enough to brush my teeth. My face was on one of those penny jars at a gas station.
Scleroderma, the kind I have, effects everything.
Five years to live? That may have been too generous! Had there been no treatment, I doubt I could have survived three years.
It struck fast. In February I was able to do whatever I wanted, by May I couldn’t stand up in a shower for more than five minutes before I was out of breath. By July I needed a wheelchair to get around the doctors office.
It is amazing. Truly amazing. How things fell right into place at this critical moment in my life is really for another blog. Here is the quick version:
Less than one month after that diagnosis I was enrolled in a study for the treatment of Scleroderma. I would receive a low dose of chemotherapy for a year, and somehow it would eventually turn my health around.
Suffice to say, I credit God for helping me find a path towards healing, one that would buy me the time I needed to do His work. My wife, family and friends truly came through for me. Whatever I couldn’t do my wife did for me. If we needed a hotel while we were away getting treatment, they helped.
I want you to know how grave things were for me because it shows how God can use anyone. I am not looking for anyone to feel sorry for me. Neither am I trying to brag about myself. The way things happened, it was truly those around me who enabled me to survive. It was God’s work through others that pulled me through, not me. There is no room to brag about myself, but there is plenty of room to brag about God and those who helped me along the way.
This Changed Everything
It was January, 2007. After six months of chemo I was doing much better. Plus, I had a Motorola® Razr® in my pocket! I was so excited to have such a beautiful phone.
Boy, was I in for a surprise. While I was entranced by the Razr, behind closed doors an amazing device was in the works. No one truly knew what to expect, but on January 9, 2007 a new phone was about to send my Razr into the dark ages.
I watched as Steve Jobs took it out of his pocket and my jaw hit the floor (which is pretty good considering that I couldn’t open my mouth more than a few inches before that)! I couldn’t afford one, I thought I’d never see one, but I knew it would be big.
No, there wasn’t an App Store. Only “Web Apps.” Basically, people were making programs and games out of web pages, formatted to fit the iPhone. That sounded like something I could do, but I wasn’t considering doing anything for the iPhone at that point.
When June came around and the iPhone was launched, my good friend’s wife actually got one! I couldn’t resist myself, I had to see this thing. The first thing I did was visit ChristianRevolution.net. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I found my way to my online Bible. It had a drop down menu that allowed you to select the chapter in this spinning wheel. It really looked cool.
After seeing her iPhone I was curious about what Bibles were out there for the iPhone. I was very disappointed at what I found. They were just so hard to use. You had to go through multiple screens just to get to a verse, and you lost the ability to change your selection once you scrolled down. If you turned the phone sideways none of the apps adjusted to the screen. Worst of all, if you lost your internet connection, you lost your ability to read the Bible.
I couldn’t stand that last one. However, it seemed there was no way around it. A web app requires the web, right? Wrong! What about email? Aren’t those downloaded? Why not send a Bible App to someone via email?
No one was doing that. It really bothered me. I could see someone on a subway or in a church, pulling out their iPhone wanting to read the Bible or share it with someone, and not being able to because the cellular network went out on them. Also, iPod Touch® users only had internet when they were home, “shouldn’t they have a bible for when they are on the go?”
Remember the Online Bible I built earlier?
Suddenly it occurred to me that I already had an online Bible… why not use it for the iPhone and fix these problems? That is when an idea for something big truly materialized. It needed to be easy to use, downloadable, and cool. It needed to give people their Bible whenever and wherever they needed it.
I didn’t even own an iPhone. When I began working on this bible app I just borrowed an iPhone from someone for 5 minutes so I could test it to see if it actually worked. That wasn’t going so well, so I broke down and spent money that barely had on an iPod Touch.
What a great investment. By November I finally finished a Bible called “Touch Bible.” Why Touch Bible? Because it was a bible for my iPod Touch, an iPod Touch Bible, if you will. It was in two forms: a web app and an email app – The Web app was Touch Bible(Online) and the email app was Touch Bible(Go). Touch Bible(Online) was a reinventing of the online Bible for ChristianRevolution.net. I often wonder if Touch Bible would have ever existed had that first online Bible not been there.
To get Touch Bible(Go) one only needed submit their email address and the app was sent to them right away. It was all free. I wasn’t trying to make money off of this. The world needs to read the bible, and I wanted to be a part of the christian force that was providing it to them. It even brought a little traffic to my ChristianRevolution.net site.
God used me to gave away 11,500 copies of Touch Bible(Go). That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Touch Bible app would later go on to be downloaded over half-a-million times! What a blessing! Little o’ me, with one idea, God’s word and a lot of help, reach many thousands of people. I never expected that.
And, I am not bragging. In fact, other publishers probably had more people use their bible apps. I only tell you that number to show you that God can take someone, be they close to death or full of life, and pull them out of the waste basket, dust them off and use them in ways they never thought possible.
I didn’t want to meet God empty handed.
Folks, I won the lottery of rare diseases when I was diagnosed with Scleroderma. My skin was on the verge of turning to leather, and somehow God still used me when I was at my weakest. I didn’t know how to start a website, I didn’t know how to make a Bible app. I tried anyway… I had to, tho.
Touch Bible didn’t come to me in a vision. It wasn’t even Plan A (or even Plan Z). I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be distributing Bible Programs. I wasn’t a programer. I was more of a graphics dude who would occasionally make a video or cartoon.
There were these three men in the Bible. Their master was going out of town and trusted each person with money. The first person he trusted with the most, the third person he trusted with the least. The first two men invested that money, and made more out of it. But the third man hid his in the ground. When their master returned, the first two gave back more than they were given. The third man only gave back he already had. The master wasn’t happy with that man, saying that he could have at least put it in a bank where it would collect interest.
It isn’t a parable about money. It is one about using your gifts, and letting those gifts bless God and others. I didn’t want to be that third man, who sat on his gifts and never used them. I want my master to know that I at least tried to do something.
Was my work done?
The world of web apps was over just as soon as it started. In July of 2009 the App Store was here. No one needed Touch Bible(Go) any more. And I wasn’t a programer. I wanted to be one tho, so I could continue the project.
Am I dead yet? No. I can’t just let Touch Bible(Go) die along with the rest of the web apps out there. I had, HAD, to keep going. So what if I can’t program, I’ll learn. That is just what I did. I downloaded Apple’s programing software for the iPhone. I watched videos, read articles, and tried my best to learn the art of programing an application.
Along the way I was looking for more free Bible translations. Touch Bible, the app, was going to be free but it needed a modern English bible. As wonderful as the KJV is, people like myself need something written in today’s english. That is when I came across the NET Bible. They gave it away for free! I couldn’t help but wonder if they would let me put it in Touch Bible. I sent the nice folks at Biblical Studies Press an email requesting permission and not much later I signed a license agreement to distribute the NET Bible.
If you own Touch Bible, you may have read Did You Like My Book [Obadiah]?.
Did you like Obadiah nails the purpose of Touch Bible right on the head; take time to read the entire Bible. Touch Bible is here to make that easier for everyone.
Touch Bible is free and it goes with you places that the internet can’t. It is my hope you take advantage of it and read the bible where ever you go.
It has been over five years!
I survived from April 2006 to April 2011. That’s five years, and I am still here. I am doing well, too! All of those problems I mentioned before are now gone. I still have trouble out of my hands and I am not as flexible as I used to be, but the doctors tell me that I am doing very well. I should have many years of good health ahead of me if things continue like they are!
Let me be clear. The doctors told me I could die from this disease, but I didn’t really believe them. I accepted the warning as a wakeup call, but I never worried about tomorrow. Today has enough troubles of its own. I learned that from a very wise man.
It wasn’t that I expected some miracle would cure me. I wasn’t wrestling with keeping doubt at a minimum so I could be “Faith healed.” God isn’t “Faith Healing, INC.,” like some television ministries would have you think. I’ve never seen Benny Hinn actually cure scleroderma, have you? Instead, I believed that God would work through others to carry me through, and guide me to the help I needed.
He came through.
I lived like I was dying because I learned to never take tomorrow for granted. The reality was that I almost lost my life, but my hopes where in another place. Peace like that can only come from above.
Unfortunately, you can’t just tell someone to live as though today were their last and hope it sticks. It doesn’t work that way. But I do pray that if you read this, that you were encouraged to do something for the LORD.
I guess we are all worried about our shortcomings. But trust me, that, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,” is a very powerful truth. I couldn’t have made Touch Bible, at the sickest point in my life, without God helping me.
Imagine what He could help you accomplish!