Dementia and the Word of God

Published on 12/22/11

The 19th Psalm is so rich! No greater description of the Bible exists than in this list where it tells us that God’s Word is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Then in verses 10 it culminates into these truths, “More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Some doctors appointments lately have been very helpful in quantifying what is going on with my body. They have been able to pinpoint the area of the brain that has been damaged explaining various physical ailments. Basically, any part of the body’s function that is involuntary is messed up because of a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Physically this manifests itself in faulty heart wiring, the digestive system and of-course the involuntary muscle movements. More than physical, doctors have also been able to quantify how the CO damage has effected my brain and its mental capacity. There is nothing they can do about any of this at this point but it is good to have it quantified.

As a result, I have been diagnosed with a type of dementia where my brain cannot handle multiple stimuli. Multi-tasking or even being in a room where there is more than 2 or 3 people with various activities or noises is very very difficult for me. This dementia manifest itself also in the difficulty of learning new things. During a test a doctor showed me a few different pictures and then asked me to describe what I saw a few moments later. Other than the first photo, I could not remember anything about the pictures nor even what they were. Praise the Lord that God has allowed me to retain all previous knowledge, but learning something new is a chore.

It was good to quantify this dementia because it is what I have been experiencing everyday for many months. It makes simple tasks pretty interesting. Even daily devotions. Just this morning I listened to a few books of the Bible from my iPad but I cannot tell you anything of what I heard. At one moment I really concentrated and actually heard a couple of verses. Now, I have no idea what those verses were at this point. Too much stimuli.

On the worst days I will use much effort to focus on just one verse that I am attempting to read. After reading it several times, there is some truth of it that is impacting to me that I write down in a journal. The funny thing is I have no idea what that verse or truth was latter in the day. So, a few times a day I will go back to the journal and read the verse and how it impacted me again. Each reference back to the verse is though I am discovering it for the first time!

I share this with you because I can tell you from experience that God’s Word is so precious and refreshing that it is sweeter than honey. What a privilege God has given me to be able to taste the same verse as though it was the first time several times a day!

This Christmas, may we not allow the joys of sweets, Christmas movies, nor even family to lessen our appetite for the wonderful Word of God. For not only are God’s written testimonies costly and tastily but by them also, “...your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11 NKJV).

May God give you a wonderful Christmas.

The Prayer of Faith

Published on 04/29/11

Faith and it’s relationship to prayer has been a topic of much personal thought as of late. Especially during the past year-and-a-half as God has chosen to give me debilitating health. What is the prayer of faith?

The prayer of faith is most easily understood by first examining what it is not. It is not some level of spiritual giftedness where one can earnestly trust, with no exception, that his or her exact request will be answered. Some truly believe that they can expect most anything of God when they pray because they are somehow “specially gifted with unusual faith.” Can we truly know how God is going to work in the future? Can we claim to know what God’s will is concerning any matter other than what He has already promised in His Word? There are definitely times when the Holy Spirit gives us a type of peace and assurance that God will work in a specific way, but these moments are the exception rather than the rule. Besides, the claim it methodology of prayer is not how Jesus prayed.

We are given a great example of the true prayer of faith in the garden. Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying knowing that He was about to be arrested and eventually crucified. We can be certain (because of who He is) that Jesus demonstrated complete and perfect faith with every word of His request during that famous prayer. Also note that there has arguably never been a more passionate prayer than when our Savior produced sweat drops of blood as he bowed before His Father that night. So what did Jesus pray? According to Mark 14:36 He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36 KJV).

This is the real prayer of faith! Jesus prayer that night in the garden teaches us some important nuances of how to pray.

Notice, first of all, that if we are to pray as Jesus prayed then we should not be demanding a specific result. Certainly we should tell God our request, but with the petition we should also give the disclaimer – “Not my will but thine be done.” You see, the true prayer of faith is prayed when we honestly believe that God’s ultimate plans will be better than our request. In my own life, I have found that this is not an easy state of heart to come to. It often requires a prolonged battle with my own flesh. It requires a time of struggle between my carnal mind and the truths of Scripture. This type of battle is only won by the Christian who’s whole heart (the center of our being including the mind, will, AND emotions) is in a quiet state of surrender. Only then can we truly say, “God, whatever you want is what I want.” Even if God’s answer and ultimate will comes at great personal costs to us.

Now comes the exciting part…

Once we have emptied ourselves of our own desires and expectations then we can begin to expect some things of God. What can we ask of God which we can believe, by faith, to absolutely come true? Answer: what God has already promised in His Word. So, what has God promised? Well, we can pray believing that God will answer in a way and in a time that is BEST for us (Romans 8:28). Also, we can and should pray believing that God will do over and above what our original expectations are or ever could be (Ephesians 3:20). I like what it says in Psalm 65:5, “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far-off seas.” (Psalm 65:5 NKJV). I like that. When we pray, we can be confident that God will answer through His awesome deeds in righteousness!

One might say, “I know these theological truths intellectually but my emotions betray my doubt.” Dear friend, do not doubt. Remember what Jesus said before his statement of surrender. He affirmed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.” God is indeed powerful enough to answer your requests and then some!

So, having pondered this prayer of Jesus we can conclude that the true prayer of faith might look something like this:

“Lord, if you want to grant this request you can, but if You do not then it is best. May You please intervene in such a way that will BEST glorify yourself.”

When we pray with this attitude of faith God will not disappoint. Just look at how the answer to Jesus’ request turned out. Certainly God was glorified in the end! By the way, God’s answer was also the best thing for us was it not? We are the redeemed that were cleansed by the suffering of “the cup” that was to be Christ’s beginning that night in the garden.

What trials has God allowed into your life lately? What are the burdens and requests that you so fervently desire for God to do on your behalf? What is the plight that tends to give you constant worry?

Personally, my family and I have been so humbled to know of many people’s prayers for us. This battle with the neurological and heart damage inside my body has drastically changed every aspect of our lives. We are certainly humbled and so very grateful to all who have prayed and are praying. We sense the prayers as God has sustained us and blessed us day-by-day. We are so humbled yet grateful for the love others have shown to us. God does not seem to be choosing to heal my body – at least not yet. Nevertheless, if God never chooses to heal me then it actually makes me kind of excited for what better and more eternally valuable things God has in store. God has stretched us, taught us, and shown Himself to be so good already. Indeed, there is no improvement on the will of God.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 which says that God, ” and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do you believe that? Oh may our expectations be of Him! Whatever He chooses to do (or not to do) will be AWESOME!

A Testimony of God’s Grace

Published on 08/10/10


We have been looking into my health issues from every angle while asking for God’s wisdom and direction. It has been a long eight months while being very ill and with the doctors suspecting some serious illnesses. A couple of weeks ago we had an environmental inspector come and look at our home. We were curious especially about mold. He found no mold, but said that our furnace had a serious issue in that there was a gap in the piping of the flue. He recommended that we have someone come who is an expert in carbon monoxide. That carbon monoxide inspector came and sure enough, with the furnace on, he detected carbon monoxide (CO) in the furnace room. He also came upstairs and saw increasing amounts of CO fill our bathroom as the furnace ran. So, we were exposed to CO throughout the winter when the furnace ran. The CO levels were not enough to kill us, but high enough to cause health issues with long-term exposure. The inspector kept on saying over and over again, “You guys are lucky to be alive. Someone is watching out for you.” We have been having HVAC people come give us bids for a new furnace. All of them have been amazed when they see the issue and say the same thing, “You guys are lucky to be alive.”


That Sunday we mentioned the furnace leak to a physician’s assistant in our church. His first response was doubtful but he promised he would research it. By the time I looked at my cell phone that Sunday night, there were two messages from him saying that he thought that this had to be the cause of my health symptoms. He referenced a reputable physician’s website that talks about neurological damage which shows up three to four weeks after acute CO exposure. Two-thirds of the symptoms that were mentioned in the article are symptoms that I have including dizziness, vision problems, trembling, changes in gait (the way I walk), confusion, decrease cognition, etc. CO poisoning could also explain the vascular damage of the aortic aneurism.

While waiting to see my doctor, we were able to speak to a toxicologist from John Hopkins University who was recommended to us as one of the nation’s leading CO experts. He listened to my symptoms and exposure levels and said that it is very probable that CO has been the issue. He emailed a protocol and instructions to give to our doctor to do some specialized blood tests to see if there is still CO toxicity in my body. Indeed, the doctor’s office called and said, “You definitely have CO poisoning. All the blood levels are very high.”


Our first response was, “If it was carbon monoxide then why didn’t the rest of the family get as sick?” The professor from John Hopkins said that if one place one hundred people in a room and exposed them to carbon monoxide then each person would react differently to the poison. Then we got to thinking and remembering that the boys were having random episodes of throwing up in the winter. We just thought they had the flu or something. We thought it was odd, but it was not dramatic enough for us to think twice about it. Also, throughout the winter, Brittany was walking around in a daze. She has hypothyroidism so we thought her thyroid levels were off and began the process of getting her blood levels rechecked. Now we know why her thyroid levels came back fine, yet she still had those symptoms. Also, we remember that the winter months are when Melissa was having her severe migraines followed by vomiting. Now that we know what it is, Melissa remembers doing laundry downstairs and feeling very tired and nauseated throughout the winter. Melissa and the kids mostly appear to be fine now; however, we are planning to get them checked out as well.

As for me, I had mono or some other virus that they found in January. This would have compromised my immune system causing the CO to do more damage on me than the others. Plus, I was sick in bed for those first three months being only in our bedroom and the bathroom which is located immediately above the furnace. So, I was exposed to it continually whenever the furnace was on. It makes sense as Easter Sunday was the first Sunday that I felt well enough to be able to make it out to church. Coincidentally, that is when the weather began to get warm! During those winter months, I would get up and go take a bath. After the bath I was so week and dizzy I would stumble back to my bed and sleep for the rest of the day. It all makes sense now. I still have no strength and have several episodes a day of being dizzy and lightheaded. They say that the oxygen treatment will take care of that.


The treatment is to be on 95% oxygen for two hours a day for four months. There may be more drastic measures needed such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, but since the poisoning is no longer acute doctors doubt the need for this.

Doctors tell us that I should begin to feel quite a bit better after just a week. Yet, it will take up to a month for the oxygen to saturate the tissues enough for symptoms to subside. It is interesting that when I thought I was getting better (at the end of March) was right after I spent a week in the hospital. I was on oxygen that whole time! Anyway, I will need to be treated for four months total before the toxicity is gone, the blood levels normalize.


While a brain scan in February was negative, a recent MRI showed some spots beginning to develop on my brain. What CO does is it gets in your blood and attaches to the hemoglobin causing it to no longer be able to carry oxygen. During very acute CO poisoning, this lack of oxygen kills your body’s tissues (especially the brain and heart) within three to four hours. Since I was exposed to low levels for a long period of time, what they say happened is that my tissues were damaged but not immediately killed. The after effects unfortunately are that the tissues do eventually die within weeks causing damage to the central nervous system first. This is why many of my symptoms mock a neurological disease such as MS or Parkinsons.

We have read that two-thirds of patients completely recover. Others say that the tissues are damaged and there is no going back. In either case, it is unclear if and when the neurological symptoms will reverse. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy helps long-term. Some doctors are pretty confident that the brain will re-route itself and that I can experience a complete reversal of symptoms just as other patients do after suffering a stroke. The encouraging thing is that all my symptoms worsen with fatigue and exertion. So getting rid of the poison and fatigue may cause the neurological symptoms to disappear. It is in the Lord’s hands to do as He wills.


- Praise the Lord that we travel a lot! We were not home much during the months of October, November, and December when the weather was getting colder and the furnace would have kicked in.

- We praise the Lord that our kids did not frequent the parts of the house where the CO was invading the most.

- Praise the Lord that it was not something worse! Carbon monoxide is of course colorless, odorless, and tasteless and often called “the great mimic” as its symptoms can appear to be a variety of diseases. Doctors feared and tested for some pretty nasty diseases. Praise the Lord that the prognosis looks good!

- Praise the Lord that this was found so that the problem would not be reoccurring this coming winter.

- Mostly, praise the Lord that the disjointed pipe off the furnace was never bumped. Each contractor who has seen the furnace said, “You guys are lucky to be alive.” We know that it is much more than that! We have been humbled to hear of those praying for us. It is amazing how many churches mentioned that we are brought up in every prayer meeting. Little did we know that all of these prayers were keeping us alive and protected us while an invisible poison invaded our home. God is so good!


It is so great to know that God is completely sovereign and in control of all things. His purposes are always perfect. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy works (after 5 days, it appears to be working well). There are still some unknowns and uncertainties. Ultimately, our hope is that I would regain strength enough to drive and to function again in ministry. At this point, it looks as though God will answer that prayer also. Please pray specifically for no long-term effects in our children. We need wisdom as we move forward.

Again, thank you so much for your love and prayers. We cannot express how God has used you to encourage us and sustain us this year. We are so very thankful for you and for your continued partnership. Thank you for considering with us what God is doing (Psalm 64:9).


David Whitcher

When you see people, what do you see?

Published on 04/11/09

When you see people, what do you see? When you go out on the town, to the grocery store or the mall – any place where there are crowds of people what comes to mind?

After a thanksgiving together with my family, I got up early on Friday and went to Wal-Mart at a little before 5AM. It was “black Friday” and my wife had already scouted the adds and had a list of things she wanted me to purchase. Since I also had my own list, I willingly succumbed to her prodding to get up long before sunrise to hit the stores to find the bargains.

As I pulled into the Super Wal-Mart parking lot at 4:30 in the morning there were only about three parking spaces left. In the store the isles where completely blocked with hoards of people. I guessed about well over 1,000. In the middle of the isles where these crates stacked with merchandize and then wrapped with black plastic. A worker in a blue vest guarded each stack waiting for 5 o’clock when the horn would blow indicating that they could unwrap the stack for people could purchase the items. Every isle was jammed full of people lined up in front of each crate. People pushing and shoving trying to be the first one to get their prize. I found the line behind the stack of the item I was looking for (a GPS) and so I put myself into position to wait for the horn.

My first reaction as I observed the people was that of annoyance. “What a greedy materialistic society we live in,” I thought. “Here are all of these people many of whom will not darken the door of a church on a Sunday morning because it is ‘too early’; yet they get up at red-eye hours after a holiday just to save ten bucks on a Christmas present they are probably buying for themselves!” I was completely perturbed with growing frustration each time someone bumped into me to get further ahead in line.

Then it hit me, “I am one of those people!” I was one who was greedily getting up early just to save ten dollars on something that I wanted for myself. Immediately, I asked God to change my thoughts and to view the crowds differently. God began to break my heart and to convict me that I needed to see every person as a soul. A soul that was either going to heaven or hell.

When I first saw people that morning my view of them was that of annoying greedy shoppers that were in my way. My thoughts were far from where they needed to be.

What I needed was a change of perspective.

When you see people what do you see? More specifically, what comes to your mind when you see Hispanics?