Good Shepherd

Lutheran Church

San Pedro CA

310-833-3336

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Faith Stories 

​When we think of armor, what Comes to mind?
​Helmet, Breastplate, Shield...
​For Myself it's Protection, Protection from a Weapon that is

in the hands of an attacker wanting to inflict harm.

But,what if you're unable to see the weapon? 

​What if, you are unable to see the attacker that wants to inflict harm.

What good is the armor if the weapon is being used

on your Mind, or your Faith.
​ As I speak… ​Satan has received permission​ to sift me like wheat.
​ First, he started attacking my mind.
​ How will he react to no work?
​ Does he have faith? Next he started attacking my faith.
​How will I react to stressful and painful situations with my own Family,

Not to mention the outside world… how deep does his faith go?
​....And now as I speak, he's attacking my body...
​But... Everyday, I Pray,
​I give thanks for the blessings I have received.
​ My Wife.
​ My Son.
​ This Congregation
​and Pastor.
​ I ask that God Lift up those Who are in need…
​My Son, My Wife, Pastor and his Family, the hungry, homeless, sick, jobless, the congregations all over the world…

and most of all the ones who don't know Jesus.
​ I Pray every day that "They" come to know him as I have.

And then, lastly...Every now and then I pray

that I be allowed toput on the full armor of God. 

​ I Stand Firm in My Faith.
​ Regardless of the mind games…
​I Stand Firm in My Faith regardless of the painful and

stressful situations I'm in…
​I Stand Firm in My Faith Regardless of this Cancer attacking my body.
​ I WILL NOT BOW, I WILL NOT BEND OVER, I WILL NOT KNEEL, YIELD or GIVE IN to the Strategy and Methods used by Satan to Destroy the way I feel about the Holy Spirit, God and My Messiah JESUS!​

So now, when I think of armor… I think…

​For All I'm Thankfully Humbled ​F.A.I.T.H.

"Armor of Faith"

by: Joshua Daniel Karnes

"The Heart of Christmas"
What is Christmas without the heart? ​
How would the giving begin to start?
If Scrooge was allowed, ​​
​He'd bring the world to the floor
​and stockpile the money.
He'd open no door,
​He would have everybody working Christmas Day
​ just to keep the bodies active,
Maybe keep the world away.
If the thieving Grinch would have the time,
​He'd change the calendar to steal a dime.
​Especially when Christmas drew near,
He'd surely proclaim an instant New Year!
Will our faith vanish from sight when
​our expectations don't survive.
Will we overlook, when things seem trite
​and be grateful that we're alive.
Let us keep old Grinch at arm's length,
It may take some struggle and strife.
So we can keep the Heart in Christmas,
So we can keep the love of God in our life​​​​​​​​​​​!
Have a heartfelt Christmas!Jerry Brady

  A True Resurrection Story:
"The REAL DEAL with GOD"
Pastor Chris's Story 

Did you know that about two-thirds of the findings published in top medical journals are refuted within just a few years? Even worse, there's a one-in-12 chance that a doctor's diagnosis will be wrong. So wrong, in fact, that it causes the patient harm.  I can attest to that personally!  I could have lost my life within the first 48 hours of going to the hospital in Santa Rosa.

 Listen to the following illustrations:

I was diagnosed with an Aortic Valve Insufficiency when I was 17.  The Initial Prognosis was that I would have to have Open Heart Surgery when I was 35 years of age.  If I took good care of myself and discontinued all my sports and physical duress activities.  (I was an athlete at the time and was considering the Air Force Academy) all that ended!
I have annual visits to a Cardiologist since I was diagnosed with heart disease since 1978.
Fast forward visits to Saturday, September 25, 2010.
After a terrible dinner at a restaurant, I thought I had terrible indigestion.  My wife Venice was teasing me when I told her that I didn't feel well.  She went down to the Hampton Inn Hotel lobby and purchased a 7-UP and Tums.
She gave those to me and we called it a night at 9:00 PM.  One hour later she turned over to check on me and I told her I still felt terrible.  She asked, "Do you want to go to the hospital?"
I said, "YES!"

First shock went through her mind that I had said, "YES" without hesitation and then we proceeded to get dressed and went to the front desk.  Being a man and ignorant of protocol, I asked the front desk how close the hospital was.  I was erroneously thinking that I could drive myself to the hospital, something no one should ever consider given chest pains.
When the woman at the desk said the hospital was about 9 miles from the hotel, she asked if I wanted her to call 911 and Venice and I said, "YES PLEASE!"
We went and sat on the couches in the foyer.  Within minutes two Fire-trucks pulled up.  As I was lying there I was thinking, "What is going on with me?"  I was not terrified for myself, but for Venice.  I was thinking, "Here we were in a strange place and I was seriously sick, who was going to take care of her if they took me to the hospital."
As the paramedics had me lay down on the sofa, they took three EKG's and asked what kind of pressure I felt?
I said, "It felt like an Elephant was sitting on my chest!"   The EKG revealed that I might be having a "Heart Attack"!
The paramedics were calm, cool and collected and just said,
"The numbers are elevated and we are going to take you to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital!"
My response was,"OK, but we can't leave my wife here, we are visiting from Los Angeles and she won't know how to get to the hospital!"
"No Problem, she can ride up front!"





Off we went with sirens blazing in the dark of the night at 10:30 PM.  En route to the hospital, they gave me Three Nitro Tablets to help me ease the pain, because I had all the symptoms of a "Heart Attack"!  In the ER they ran a number of tests and the Dr. on staff said, "It looks like you had a Heart Attack and we are going to keep you."





An Angel of the Lord
An angel,  named Anita Green, drove 2 hours from her home on the coast to be with us at the hospital.  She arrived at 2:00 AM just as we were getting into our New Hotel Room at Santa Rosa Memorial.  She never left Venice's side until I was given permission to go home three days later.  After an Array of tests over a 72 hour period which entailed: Heart Cauterization, CT Scan, a number of EKG's & Echo-cardiograms, blood tests that could fill a gallon jug.  The good news from all the tests is that I had not suffered from a Heart Attack!  All my arteries and veins were 100% clear.  But, I needed a "Valve Job" to replace the Aortic Valve.  There was no mention of anything else going on.


Visit of the Second Angel
The Second Angel on the trip was Calvin, our Son,who dropped everything he was doing and flew up to meet us in Santa Rosa, Via Oakland Airport and a shuttle arranged by our other Angel, Anita.  I received a copy of all my reports and our son would drive Venice and I to San Jose, where I would get on a plane to fly home, Venice and our son would proceed home after dropping me off at the San Jose Airport.  I called my cardiologist from the gate at the airport to make an appointment for when I returned home.  My cardiologist was on vacation the next day so they made an appointment with his associate.


Visit the Cardiologists, October 2010.
When I returned home, I was still having fairly severe chest pains, but not like in Santa Rosa.  Venice and I went to the partner of our cardiologist, who we had worked with in the past a felt very comfortable.  After he reading the reports, he told us that it looked like the "Valve" was bad, but then said the most bizarre thing, "I have seen a lot of these operations get messed up!"  (Meaning Aortic Valve Replacements)  Then he proceeded to give me a referral to a thoracic surgeon.  When we walked out of the office, I looked at and said,  "Am I crazy, am I imagining all this pain and discomfort, is this less important that I think?"   We decided to wait for my regular cardiologist to return and get his opinion.  After he read the  reports, he said that I should get the valve replaced and wanted me to have as  "Minimal Invasive Surgery" as possible.  He gave us a referral to see a second surgeon  and said that he would see me after everything was complete.  Neither cardiologist mentioned any other concerns from the report.



Visits to the Heart Surgeons
On Thursday, October 29th, we met with the first Surgeon.  We really liked him.  He explained everything and gave us brochures so I could pick out the "Valve" I wanted.  It felt like we were buying a car, not preparing for major surgery.
The doctor said,
"We will go in replacing the valve and if anything else comes up, we will take care of it then."
We said, "OK, we would  discuss the options and pray about it!"

 The following Tuesday, November 2, we met the second surgeon,  Our initial encounter started off on the wrong foot:
First, he made us wait one hour in the examination room before he saw us.  Second, he hadn't read the report from Santa Rosa Heart Lab.  When I looked at Venice, I just motioned to her to be patient as he read the report.
The Doctor asked us what the first surgeon had recommended and we told him Dr. Hall's plan. 
"Wrong Answer!"  Dr. Stoneburner blurted out and proceeded to jump out of his seat and walk around the examining room, like a tiger in a cage, extremely irritated.  Then he showed us the report and pointed to a number that was plain for all to see, and then looked me in the eye and said, "This number indicates that the Aorta along with the Valve that leads to it has a problem and needs to be repaired!"  "Follow Me!"  We followed in silence as he leads us to the nurses desk where proceeded to order a number of tests at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.  After the tests were ordered he said, "Don't do anything!"  He was so serious, Venice tried to break the tension by asking,  "Does that mean no intimacy what so ever?"  He said without batting an eye, "You better check with the man upstairs!"


For the next week we went for another battery of pre-operation tests,In the meantime, the pain in my chest had increased to nearly the level of when we were in Santa Rosa.  I called the Doctor's nurse to ask what I could take for to minimize the pain.  I asked if I could take Vicodin for the pain.  She calmly said, "Yes, you can take Vicodin to ease the pain for the Aneurysm!"
I hung up the phone and gingerly walked over to the medicine cabinet, took out the Vicodin and then told Venice,
"I have an Aneurysm in the Aorta as well as the bad Valve.  This is way serious."  Suddenly I was panic stricken as I realized just how serious and complicated my surgery was going to be!  From that point on, I was afraid to move because I remember our beloved member who died of Aneurysm at Torrance Memorial with me by his side!


As the surgery date drew closer we visited Dr. Stoneburner one more time to review the tests and set the date for the surgery.
He showed us the results of the tests and we could see the Aneurysm inflating and deflating before our very eyes.  He set the surgery for the following week on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 7:30 AM.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Three Days Prior to Surgery the song, "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns, (Click the play button:)  provided Venice and I enormous courage as we would face the battle of our lives. If you click on the bar above, you can hear the words by Casting Crowns about facing your giants with God!












Calm Before the Storm
I was afraid to walk around the house, because the 'Elephant' had returned!  Memories of our member who died continued to haunt me as I waited for surgery.  I knew anything could cause the Aorta to rupture, especially after seeing the CT Scan.
Sometimes too much information can be dangerous.  I stopped watching all Medical Shows, including "House".  I just wanted to get the surgery to be done and be in recovery.  The weekend before the surgery, Nov. 19 – 21, 2010, I played cards for hours at a time with two of my grandchildren.  We didn't talk about the surgery, but just enjoyed the moment.  My wife watched my every action to make sure I was OK.


The Monday prior to the surgery, friends and family called or dropped by to see us and to pray for a positive outcome.
Our son and his family were with us, our Best Friend and maid of honor at our wedding, was there for Emotional and Spiritual Support.  Another dear friend came by to pray and share her well wishes, and when they all left, about 6:00 PM it hit me,
"I could die tomorrow!"  I went to my room, closed the door and bawled!  Venice and our son heard me and came into the room to comfort me.  It was then that I actually verbalized the reality and I looked Venice in her beautiful brown and compassionate eyes and said:  "I Can't Promise You That I Am Coming Back Home!"  We held each other tightly, then I told her,  "All I ask of God, is that He gives me a chance to fight, that's all I want!"  I proceeded to tell her is that,  "Our first goal is to get to Thanksgiving!";   Just two days after the surgery.  We both kind of smiled with tears streaming down our cheeks.  At that point I just surrendered my entire life into the Hands of Jesus Our Lord and Savior!  From that point on I was as calm as a cucumber.  When our daughter arrived home from U.C. Santa Cruz, for the surgery, she broke down in my arms in the hallway.  She asked me if there was an alternative, but I told her that if I didn't do the surgery, that I wouldn't be here for Christmas!

Battling the Storm
The morning of the surgery was still and dark as we drove to the hospital.  You might say, "The Calm Before the Storm!"
It reminded me of the movie, "The Perfect Storm"!  We knew the Storm was coming, but everyone was busy about their tasks:
Venice, drove me to the hospital; our best friend Barbara and maid of honor was with us for support and prayer; our daughter and son were my constant reminder of who I am and what I had to live for.  The volunteer at the hospital who signed me in,

let me know what a great surgeon Dr. Stoneburner was, he had taken care of him five years ago.


Walking the Walk Alone
The moment of truth came when the nurse called my name to come back to prepare for surgery.
She told my wife and family, "You can see him when he is ready, we will call you back!'
When I look back on that moment, I realize what Jesus must have felt when he walked from the Praetorium of Pontious Pilate to the cross, virtually alone, with the weight of the world upon Him. The nurse said,  "Please take everything off and put it in the bag, we'll give it to your family."  As I disrobed, I stood there realizing that this is it, no turning back, "Here I am Lord, I am yours!"  I did leave one article of clothing on so to speak, my wedding band.  The nurse came in and said, "That has to go as well!"  As I was taking it off, I held onto it until Venice came in so that I could hand it to her myself.  When the nurses were finished preparing they allowed my family and friends in to visit me two at a time.  You could feel the presence of the Lord in the room and you would have thought I was going to have my tonsils out verse a major heart surgery.  As they wheeled me into surgery, I was as calm as could be, knowing I was in the Lord's hands!




The Torrential Storm
The weather outside was stormy while inside the hospital surgical waiting room, the people prayed, shared, and prayed for 9 hours from 7:30 AM until 4:30 PM.  They had brought me up from surgery and reported to Venice and the bountiful prayer warriors that I had come through the surgery and that they could see me briefly.  The surgery was thought to be a success and I was up in ICU.  They even sent Venice home to rest so she would be available for Wednesday to help me get on the road to recovery.






 The Storm of Storms!
Venice was restless when she returned home so prior to resting for the evening she called the hospital to check on me.
As she talked to my nurse on ICU, he told her that two things were going on with me:  One they couldn't get my blood pressure up and they had a second problem, "I was bleeding internally!"  Needless to say, Venice told her best friend that she was going back to the hospital but didn't tell her why.  She was now battling two storms herself: The torrential rain storm that was hitting the South Bay and the  storm raging within my body.  When she arrived back to ICU, the surgeon was there shaking his head, confused as to what was wrong.  When Venice saw me, all she saw was that I was drenched in water and that there was blood going out of me as fast as they were trying to put it in.  I was battleship gray and clinging to life.

The Surgeon looked at Venice and said, "I don't understand what's going on, but we have to go back in!"
She said, "Can he handle anymore surgery?"  He said, "If I don't, he won't make it!!!



God's Fourth Angel
As Venice watched in horror as her husband was slipping from life, God sent a fourth Angel to her, a nurse from the congregation.  She just stood next to her, comforting her as they both watched as the surgical team desperately tried to keep me alive until they could get me back into surgery.  I had so many tubes on me that they couldn't get me in the elevator, but finally they did.


Prayer Angels
When Venice walked out of the ICU, devastated by what she had just experienced, many of the prayer warriors that had been with her and the family for 9 hours earlier showed back up at 10 PM to pray with her.  For Four excruciating hours they prayed and hoped for a miracle.  At about 3 AM, the Surgeon walked on the floor of the waiting room and said,  "I believe we took care of everything!  We found the Leak & stopped the bleeding, we were able to stabilize the blood pressure and have it under control, we eradicated the blood clot behind the Heart!"


God's Guiding Hand on the Surgeon
God put His hands on the hands of the Surgeon, especially during that additional 4 Hour Surgery, God Raised me up from the precipice of death.  I don't have the scars on my hands, feet and side but: If you were to look at my upper body you would see: Two Scars on my stomach that form crosses, one Large 10 inch scar along the center of my chest, a horizontal scar above my left breast and my permanent "Hickey" on the right of my neck.



Four Months of Recovery
The next three  months of recovery, It was great to see the church be the church.  The cards, e-mails and phone calls were wonderful.  Those who were able to visit brought such hope and promise to my family and I.  Especially during the first Month when the choir came and brought dinner and sang Christmas Carols at our home how awesome!  Each day I became stronger and stronger.


The Power of Prayer
From the prayer warriors at the hospital, to the pray warriors around the San Pedro and the World, God heard your prayers and graciously responded.  Don't stop praying and trusting in God to hear and respond to your prayers.
In fact, it was all the prayers that inspired me to teach and preach about the Lord's Prayer when I returned back to church.






Face to Face with God
As you have heard, I was moments from death prior to the second surgery.  I thank God for that every day, but what I am about to share with you, makes that moment seem anti-climatic.  On the evening of Tuesday, March 22nd I was telling my wife how amazed I was in my recovery and how much I had accomplished in Cardio-Rehab at Torrance Memorial.
I was back to work ¾ time and feeling great.  We sat on the bed praising God for all that he had brought me to and through!
I went to bed feeling really good about everything.  I kissed my wife good night and rolled over for a night's slumber thinking about the characters in the Gresham novel I was reading at the time.


At about 3 AM I was in the midst of a dream where I was teaching Adult Sunday School.  We were talking about the book of Revelation and then the dream ended abruptly mid-sentence you might say.  Then the next thing I knew:  My environment changed significantly everything around me was gray blue, there was a soft wind blowing beneath me.  Then I realized there were these two "hands" for lack of a better word under my armpits pulling me slowly up.  I knew I wasn't dreaming at that point because I was aware that I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't in my bed!   It was as if time stood still and I was just mesmerized by what was happening.  I wasn't afraid; I just didn't know where I was or where I was going.  Dying was not on my mind.  As I was contemplating whatever was happening,


You might say that I came 'Face to Face' with God/Jesus/Creator of us all.  I knew then, this was definitely not a dream, I was in the presence of God, I was thrilled as I looked upon God and said, "This is cool God, this is where I want to be,
but I know that Venice couldn't manage without me right now, it would be too much for her to bear!"

Well, God knew exactly how to respond as he looked at me and 'Nodded' and slowly lowered me back into my body next to Venice. I put my arms around Venice immediately to confirm that I was back. She was awake and told me she had a dream she wanted to share and I said fine, but let's wait until morning because I have something to share.



 Fiction, Dream, or Real Deal Resurrection
The next morning was quite the sharing time.  Most mornings we take time to discuss dreams, my wife often has.
After Venice shared with me about her dream and we discussed it, I said now I have something to share with you.
After I told her what my experience had been earlier in the morning, she said,  "I know!"  I said, "What do you mean you know?"  She said, "I was awake, and as I always do,  I was checking on you to make sure you are OK and breathing.When you told me what happened this morning, I know it is true!  When I looked at you while you were having that experience, you were not breathing, your chest was not movng and you were as still as the night in the hospital! I thought I would have to call 911 and then all of a sudden you started to breathe on your own!"  


We looked at one another and began to embrace one another and realize how real the Promise of the Resurrection and Jesus is.  


Impact on Venice and I

I have had a Strong Faith since I was Three, I have never really doubted the Bible.  I have never had a time when I wanted nothing to do with God.  I have always trusted who Jesus was, is and will be!  I have put my sins at the foot of the cross as often as I can remember!  There are parts of the Bible that I struggle with and have many questions for God at the appropriate time when I am with Him in heaven, but I have always believed in the Resurrection.  It is the most difficult part of the Bible to believe because we don't often see dead people getting up and walking around.


There is one message I want to share with you today:  The Resurrection is Real, not just a wild story in an old old book,
It is the Real Deal.  It is truly the Bottom Line.  It is the Fulfillment of all That God Has Promised in the 66 Books of the Bible.


Invitation
I want to give you an invitation.
You don't have to believe what you just read today, you can doubt it if you wish,

but, before you do, promise me that you will seriously consider

the Hope and Promise of Jesus in the scriptures and ask yourself:

"You know Jesus, I may not fully comprehend all that is in the Bible,
but do you think you could come into my heart today
and help me with the areas that I struggle.
Enable me to move beyond my 'lack of faith and doubts'
and begin to trust in your hope and promise one day at a time!
Thank you Jesus.
Amen"

If you have any questions regarding this story, please feel free to call me

at 310-833-3336, and I would be glad to answer any questions or discuss anything with you.

Rev. Dr. Christopher Lindstrom