My Story of Personal Healing and Freedom

Those who are aware of my work may not be aware of my story, which is incredibly important to who I am and what I do.  What has happened in my life has catapulted me into a world of transformation, but also a deep passion to help others experience that same healing and freedom.

I include my story because I want you to know that everything I teach is not just theory, but truth, experiences and practices that have worked in my own life. They are also principles that we apply in our own family. Out that context is how I seek to help others. I actually have a great privilege of equipping people with insights, processes and tools that have been helpful in my own journey.

My Story

I grew up in the church. I am really honored to have been able to grow up in a Christian home. Both my parents have had tremendous experiences with coming to know Christ. They both have had extensive involvement in Christian service. My mom has taught Bible studies for decades while my dad has been passionate about ministering in prisons since his own salvation experience in prison he had in his younger years. They both met each other while serving in the Teen Challenge program, so helping people get free is definitely in my spiritual root system.

I always knew about church life. My earliest memory as a human being is actually sitting in a wooden church pew and falling asleep on my mom’s lap, while a sermon was being given. I remember giving my life to Christ as soon as I had the chance. I’ve always wanted to be all-in as far back as I can remember. I remember as a young child, sitting with a Bible and saying, “Jesus, if you are real, show Yourself to me.”

While growing up, I witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly of church life. I received the benefits of the good but I also had to process the pain and toxicity of the negative experiences took place within the local church body.

Through it all, I did had some powerful defining moments, where God changed areas of my heart and called me into greater purposes. I remember feeling a draw and call to help people–to use my voice to help change people’s lives.

An Early Launch

I had some very early experiences of being involved in ministry leadership at a very young age. I remember preaching my first sermon to adults when I was about 15 years of age. I was planning and running programs for youth while still in high school. My initial launch into further ministry capacities occurred quickly, faster than I could even process. At the age of 18, I was hired, right out of high school, to be on staff at a growing church in Connecticut. I was asked to be youth director and pastor the teens of the church. Being so young, it was a huge risk for the church leadership, but God did amazing things through the lives of the teenagers and their families. The youth ministry grew exponentially and I had the privilege of being able to express my gifts, passions and creative talents.

I had so much happening in my life. I was putting in full time hours, while going to school and developing my ministry training. I learned a lot, but it did happen at such a hyper speed, I had to grow up a little faster than most 18 year olds. This is something I would have to address later in life.

I had wonderful opportunities to gain experience, understanding and grow in helping people effectively. I have never known adult life without helping people, so it’s been in my DNA and lifestyle.

Brokenness Begins to Manifest

Years later, I transitioned into the music ministry in that same church. I had a passion to lead worship, develop the music, and encourage people to engage the presence of God. I also led the church productions that went on there.

It’s really good that God had me in a place where so much worship, praise and seeking God’s presence was a part of my life–because I would really need it for the struggles that I would have to confront.

God did amazing and wonderful things there during those seasons of my life but during that time slowly some difficult battles started to surface. As time passed, those mild battles became major.

Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Depression

And after some time, those slow manifestations began to become constant problems and realities in my life. I was experiencing anxiety, panic attacks that would later move into depression, simply because the anxiousness wouldn’t leave. The panic attacks wouldn’t stop.

On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, I was at about a nine or a ten with anxiety just about all day long for unending months. When I would wake up, it was there. When I’d finally collapse in bed, it was my last thought and emotion. I lived for months in a personal hell that not many people knew about.

I struggled a lot with oppressive thinking. It was like darkness was surrounding me and influencing every perspective and emotion. It formed into a hopelessness and constant negativity that kept me from enjoying anything. I felt like Pig Pen from Peanuts, where this cloud of spiritual dirt surrounded me.

Struggles with Obsessiveness

I felt it constantly. What made matters worse is that my thinking was very obsessive. The anxiety I battled was obsessive and obsessive thinking would also lead me to becoming more anxious. When it comes to Obsessive Compulsive battlegrounds, I get it, cause I was there…neck deep.

I became obsessive in trying to figure things out, often spinning myself into new ditches everyday. Meanwhile, a deep discouragement loomed over me, saying, “Will I ever get over this?”

What’s Wrong with Me?

I continually asked:

“What is wrong with me?”

“Why am I struggling with these things?”

“Why can’t I seem to break free?”

I thought, “Everyone else around me seems fine. What’s my problem.” I remember sitting in church after leading worship and in complete anxiety. While looking around, I felt like everyone else was going through life like normal and I was in a hidden hell.

Little did I know that a bunch of people around me were struggling with a lot of the same issues too. In fact, today I know that the large percentage of the church actually struggles with some kind of deep battle of the mind. Sadly, the numbers are growing.

Constant Torment

People stray away from saying they are in torment, but I don’t. I felt like I was out of my mind most of the time. With it, I struggled with addictive behaviors and habits. I was in a lot of emotional chaos. If I was to sum up my life at the time, I just felt tormented, confused and chaotic.

On top of it all, I was constantly getting sick. I was worn down and exhausted. I was constantly getting sick, whether it was the flu, sinus issues, or constant colds, I was constantly getting ill where I couldn’t sing and at times even speak for days because of sickness.

I was going to the doctor constantly. I had constant gastrointestinal issues; reflux and even hiatal hernias. I lacked energy. I struggled with just having peace. So, I got to the point where I began to look for help.

I am the kind of guy that if something is wrong; I’m going to look for help. I’m going to look for answers. So, I first looked to my friends. I had some well-meaning people in my life that did their best to stand beside me; but many of them were just confused as to what was going on. They loved me. They just didn’t know how to help.

Attempts for Help

I went to counselors and therapists. I started with a church counselor and then went to a therapist. Nothing against any of them, but I just didn’t get any tools to really help me with the torment I was facing. Most of the time, I felt like I walked away more discouraged and without hope for change.

Nothing broke, so, it was recommended that I go to a psychiatrist who could prescribe medications. So, at that point, I began to take medications for the constant anxiety and for the panic attacks that I was going through. I was so broken and so discouraged, but I didn’t know what else to do, so I took the medications. At this time, I didn’t know one person who was on medication for anxiety, so it just added another layer of shame over my life.

I felt like there was no way out. I cried out to God til I was blue in the face. I wept on the floor until I didn’t have any more energy. I attempted to worship, but the oppression kept me from worshipping.

The problem is, I felt like God was far away. . . the farthest I’ve ever felt, which made the darkness worse. I felt like there were no answers.

Struggling with “What’s the Point?”

I struggled. I really struggled. I battled with meaning in life. While in a full time work of helping people, I struggled with torment, along with thoughts that said, “what’s the point of all this?”

I struggled with my own sense of being on this planet; those oppressive kinds of thoughts that just surround you.

I remember one wintry night leaving my apartment and just walking the streets in snow, just feeling like I wanted to die. I called one friend, the only person I could think of to talk to and thank God he was there to at least land me. (You know who you are.)

I know what suicidal thoughts are like. I know what it feels like to be at your absolute end. I cried out to God continually from a desperate place of help. I needed Him now more than ever.

Divine Appointments

I can’t say that He responded to my prayer with an instant manifestation, but I do know that strategic people were brought into my life to help me get free. In the year 2004, I was looking to buy my own home. I had rented an apartment and was looking for a piece of property of my own. Making this kind of decision was pretty challenging for a guy like me that was battling to keep any peace from day to day.

During this time, God brought somebody into my life that began to share his own story of healing and freedom. He was a mortgage broker who was setting me up with my loan as I was buying a new home.

As we sat down, we got into some small talk. He began to share his own story about how God began to heal him and set him free, mainly because God healed his broken heart. Not only did he experience personal breakthrough, he also manifested a number of physical healings that came out of that process.

As he talked, my eyes and ears both opened to take in what he was saying. At that moment, I didn’t care about the mortgage, and I knew I needed to hear this. I told him, “I’m all ears, cause I got stuff screaming in my head that I need help with. I need to get to the bottom of this.”

Being Challenged

So I opened my heart up to listen to him and learn from what he experienced. Now, I have to confess, during that season in my life, I had to really challenge some ways of thinking, because I had really put God in a box. I was so bound, but I was also in a spiritual rut. Reading the Bible was not empowering me and prayer seemed futile. Many of the precepts he would share, I would respond with arguments or Christian cliches, ruts I had fallen into without doing my own discovery.

I kind of lived an “accept Jesus into your heart, try to read your Bible, be a good guy and it will just help.” I lost sight of the invisible war that was going on. I got lulled into a Christianity that didn’t equip people to deal with brokenness and get armed for the spiritual war they were facing. These conversations got me stirred up to revisit those places in Scripture.

He gave me a fantastic piece of advice: “Instead of arguing. Go to Scriptures and seek it out for yourself. Be Berean. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you through the Word and let it come alive to your heart.”

The Dangerous Prayer

So, I prayed this dangerous prayer that I encourage everybody to pray. I said, “God, if there are things in Your Word that I’m missing, I ask that You reveal it to me, even if it’s painful. Even if it crosses things that I’ve taught, that I’ve shared with people that were flawed. Even if it confronts sacred cows I’ve got. Whatever it is, God, I want Your Word to come alive.”

This is where everything began to change for me.

The best way I can describe what happened is that a veil was taken off of my eyes. It’s like I saw things in the Bible that were there all along. I just didn’t have eyes to see and ears to hear. It takes an open heart and a willingness to challenge your religious ruts to sometimes get breakthrough.

I began to see things in the Scripture about who God is. I also saw in greater clarity who my enemy was, and guess what? It wasn’t me!

It’s like a pair of spiritual glasses were put on my eyes and I could see the warfare in my life and in believers lives all around me. I realized that the enemy’s main target is actually Christians! I was awakened to the war and the call for me to take my God-given place in the battle.

Layers of Awakenings

The first thing that I really needed to experience was the love of Father God. It’s amazing that you can grow up in the church and not have a personal ongoing connection to the love of our Father in heaven.

I was at church all the time, so it wasn’t for a lack of participation. I was the poster child for going to the altar and praying every time. If there was an invitation for single moms who needed prayer, I’d run up there because I just wanted prayer.

The Father’s Love

I didn’t know the love of the Father, I didn’t know the love of Father God. In fact, I was uncomfortable with the love of Father God. I didn’t understand that Abba, that daddy understanding. I also didn’t know how to love people except to perform. I didn’t know how to love and accept myself. I had no sense of identity, no sense of worth, no sense of meaning for who I am on this planet.

I began to see satan’s devices. I recognized in greater clarity how in thought and in my experiences, he put a lens over my perspective that kept me from the depth and breadth of the love of God. God began to expose the lies, layer by layer, and do a healing work in my broken heart.

Engaging the Healing Process

There were moments when the love of the Father would hit me. I’d spend days and weeks just crying; weeping through issues I never addressed, pain I never grieved and love that I was missing. Even in my somewhat safe upbringing, there were a number of areas where I just did not know love.

So I cried and I let myself cry. I remember a friend of mine telling me just let the tears flow, so I gave myself permission to weep and feel like a hot mess most of the time. I mean, I’d be in staff meetings, just wanting to bawl my eyes out. I’d be in church, walking down the street or in my car just bawling.

Some of it was healing, some of it was grieving. Some of it was God just doing a deep, deep work of renovation in understanding His love that I had never known before. Remember, I grew up in church, doing things that Christians do–all the activity, the programs and the t-shirts, but little revelation of the Father’s love for me as a son. I lived my whole early life as a slave.  

Exposing Enemy Attack

The second big thing that became real to me, was exposing the schemes and operations fo the enemy. The work of fear, heaviness, rejection, bitterness, self-hate and more was exposed for what it really was–lies of the enemy.  

I began to start seeing piece by piece by piece the armor of the enemy that had put a cloak on my life keeping me from the fullness of God. I started disarming those areas, not in a spooky or whacky way, like some people think, but in a very methodical, practical and consistent process. I love teaching people how practical and victorious everyday warfare can be for their life.

I realized those crazy thoughts I battled were not my own. I wasn’t crazy. I had an enemy giving me thoughts and I needed to be equipped to tear them down. I need the fresh work of God’s love to heal those broken places that had been invaded by tormenting thoughts.

Over time, not only did my thinking start to clear up but my whole life began to change. My excitement was coming back. Energy was being restored. I wasn’t getting sick all the time. My relationships started to change.

A Deeper Hunger Emerges

Most of all, my passion for God’s love and presence went through the roof. At the time, I was leading worship, and the transformative work began to spill out of me in everything I did. More and more people saw the dramatic difference in my life. I remember times where enthusiastic worship would break out and all people wanted to do was simply bask in God’s loving presence.

There were times I could see that people were on the brink of genuine revival, a passion for more was bubbling up. Choir rehearsals would become times where we would simply bask in God’s presence. Times of worship became a moments where we’d just stop and sit at God’s feet. People’s lives were being changed and I saw more and more chains being lifted off my life.

Faith Rising

As I got more free, I realized that I couldn’t keep doing the same thing anymore. I had to take the message of freedom to more people. What God was doing in me had to be shared with others. The more I talked with people, the more I heard and witnessed the brokenness of their life. And it bothered me. I watched the colossal damage in people’s lives because of what the enemy did to steal, kill and destroy.

I got stirred up that church life was becoming a mundane experience while people were drowning under the swell of personal battles they were facing. This holy discontent rose a passion in me to go all out so that more people could experience dynamic healing and transformation in their lives.

Taking the Leap

During this season of transformation, God brought Melissa into my life and she hit the ground running with me. Her passion to be healed and made whole was so refreshing to me. As I fell in love with her, one of the things that moved me so much was her passion to do whatever it takes to pursue what God has.

So in 2006, Melissa and I did something that would seem pretty crazy. We got married and 30 days later, I left that church staff position and leaped out to help people in whatever way God would open up. One of the biggest things that rose up in this new season was a deep passion to write. Since then I have continued to hone and develop my writing to help encourage people experience transformation.

Melissa and I started Turning Hearts Ministries with a sole purpose of developing teaching and training that would equip people to experience inside out transformation. We completely left the comfortable life to pursue a risky walk in the water.

We knew no other way. Our lives had been so deeply changed, there was no way we were going back.

This step caused us to start all over from scratch. We knew this was a fresh work that needed to take place. Since then, we have gone through many seasons. I have done itinerant speaking work, I’ve worked other jobs and we even pastored  a church for six years, so that people could walk the walk of transformation on a weekly basis.

Challenges and Sacrifice

It has been a joy, but it hasn’t come without its challenges and intense hardships, some of which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s been a sacrifice, but each step of the way, we get clearer on who we are and what God has assigned us to do. We just love knowing that there is hope for those who are hurting, struggling and in need of healing.

During the biggest challenges, we really feel like Peter did when he looked at Jesus and said, “We have nowhere else to go.” And we really feel that. There’s no plan B. It was only Plan A.

So, with joy, we’ve just been ministering out of what God has been doing in our family. We now have two wonderful children. Our firstborn son is Maximus and our second-born daughter is Abigail and they are the love of our lives. They are our delight and even in my teachings and broadcasts, you’ll hear some things that we’ve processed through in our own family in what God is teaching us to overcome and in our home.

Clarifying Our Calling

In 2014, God put it on my heart to spread the message beyond my pastoring role into a whole new level. This is where Transformed You was formed, a place where books, teachings and trainings can be developed to equipped people to live healed, free and transformed.

In 2015, we took another huge step. We completely left pastoring to pursue a full time work of teaching, writing and consulting with people and organizations that desire to walk in greater wholeness and transformation.

You see, we have a passion to take everything that God has put in us and produce it into written, audio and video material, so that we can cover all the ways that people can learn. We’ve been excited that this message has impacted both Christians and non-Christians; church and unchurched. We see impact to business communities that want to live healthy and educational communities that want to see people walk in wholeness. We’re hoping to impact any arena, any circle which would be willing to hear a message that breathes life and wholeness into people’s lives.

My Passion

So, I am so excited and I am so thrilled to be able to share with you the precepts and principles that God has been doing in my life and what He has been using to help me teach others and see them set free. So I look forward to each and every resource God is allowing me to bring to you.

My goal is that I’ll help you get more to the heart of what’s going on in your life and to get to the bottom of what’s holding you back. I’m passionate about getting to the why people do the things they do and don’t want to do. I like to help people see what’s at the root system of their struggles and help them experience the freedom they can have in a very real way.

I pray my story encourages you, because I will spending the rest of my life spreading this message. I know that everyone around you is going through something. A war is going on about how you think, how you perceive life, how you see yourself, how you see God and how you see your destiny. I want to help empower you to face life, not only with greater transformation but with greater clarity so you can be launched into your destiny.

May the story of my life empower yours.