This morning, I preached about the subject of depression. I am no stranger to this. I can remember experiencing depression as early as age 9. I continued to battle through middle and high school. At age 17, I thought I would do what the preachers on television said and rebuke it. No matter how many warfare Scriptures I quoted and hocus pocus I tried to put on the devil, the depression still existed.
I went into my first marriage at age 20 with this lingering problem. Marriage couldn’t solve it. Three children couldn’t solve it. It was not until I was around she 30 that I reached out for help. For almost 2 years, I was a guinea pig for medication. I was then sent to a psychiatrist who prescribed what helped me at my lowest point. I finally began to understand what it felt like to be joyful and more consistent.
Many of you who are reading this understanding what I’m talking about. You struggle with anxiety and/or depression. While it is an issue of the brain’s chemicals, there are some things we can do biblically to help. I jokingly say that I need both prayer and medication. I will be the first to tell you to go to a doctor for help, but don’t forget to include the Great Physician.
Many think that depression is a modern problem, but it is not. Moses, after being physically and emotionally spent dealing with a bunch of whining Israelites for decades, asks God if He could just die. Elijah, after the emotionally charged victory at Mt. Carmel, is under threat to be killed by Jezebel and asks God to die. God gives Him rest and food, and Elijah balances out. Asaph, in Psalm 73, laments over his personal problems and wonders why the wicked are “blessed” and he is “cursed”. In verse 17, he states that he gains perspective when He enters the sanctuary of God. It is when we turn our eyes upon Jesus that we can find perspective in the midst of our depression.
I want to state some biblical principles that, coupled with professional care, can provide some relief.
Depression comes when we are depleted. We easily get physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. When we do, we need to take care of ourselves in all 3 areas. Sometimes poor nutrition, lack of exercise, or poor rest contribute. We must take care of ourselves.
Depression results in feelings of lost hope. Many take their own lives because they cannot get a sense of hope. Don’t automatically assume that those who feel like they are without hope are unbelievers. Depression affects both believers and unbelievers.
Depression can be treated spiritually through time with God. That is what Asaph said in Psalm 73:17. I experienced this personally through a quiet time of worship on Saturday nights before leading worship on Sundays.
Depression demands a redirection of our thoughts (Philippians 4:8). This verse gives a list of things on which to focus. If you fill your mind with unwholesome things, unwholesomeness will flow from your life.
Depression can be lifted through prayer (I Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6, 7). We are told to cast all our cares upon the Lord. That means to pray about EVERYTHING.
Depression is helped by community (Genesis 2:18; Hebrews 10:23-25). Most of us tend to isolate ourselves when we are depressed when God designed us to thrive in community. God saw Adam and said it was not good for him to be alone, so he created Eve. One of our ladies at church jokingly asked if that means it is good for the woman to be alone (She is a single mom). God does not want any of us to be alone in the sense of going through life without a human support system. This support system is designed for encouragement. That is how the church is supposed to function – as a body of encouragement, serving to bring out the best in our brothers and sisters in Christ.
All of these components work together. I am not denying the physiological issues behind it while I am not denying the ways we can personally care for ourselves. God has given us people and tools to overcome in this area. The road to overcoming may be a slow one. Many struggle for years. May this post bring awareness to mental illness and lead us to pray for those who struggle daily and do not have adequate help.
This title may seem odd to you that new would be painful. Think about it with me for a minute. New (or best said stronger) muscle requires pain. For my wife to give birth within the next week or so, it will require pain. As we are giving birth to new, it is painful. If you are like me, you enjoy new – new clothes, new books, new keepsakes, etc. There still comes the pain of letting my money go (if I have the money) to buy it.
Yesterday, I posted the song “New Wine” by Hillsong. Note these lyrics:
Words and Music by Brooke Ligertwood
In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground
So I yield to You and to Your careful hand
When I trust You I don’t need to understand
Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing
But all You have given me
Jesus bring new wine out of me
In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground
You are breaking new ground
Where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
The Kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames
To carry Your new fire today
The new comes from crushing and pressing. Sometimes we have to be pressed and crushed in order to produce what is new and best in our lives. Though the process may be painful, the product will be powerful. Keep the end in mind. God will give you grace in the meantime.
I was reading someone’s post today on Facebook that read something like this: I have taken this step of faith to lift my voice and start a new ministry, and the attacks from the enemy keep coming. Can you relate? I can.
In this post, I want to mention some tactics of the enemy.
Distraction – The devil often sends along something that looks like a good thing, but it is not a God thing. As we are facing another move for worship, we have been presented something that could be easy to get into, but I have no confirmation yet that God is in it.
Discouragement – The devil will often attack us at our weakest moments. He is good at bombarding us to see if we will renounce our faith. He will send the naysayers along to discourage us or even remove people from our life who mean something to us. Remember that God can take what the devil meant for harm and bring about something good.
Temptation – This is normally the one people think of first. If the devil gets a glimpse of your weakness, he will send along the very thing that will tempt you. One of the greatest temptations I see is the devil magnifying the worst so that a person will quit before they reach a breakthrough.
As I often say (or write), you and I shouldn’t blame everything bad on the devil. If you hang out at a bar, get drunk, and wake up with someone you don’t know, don’t go blaming the devil. You set yourself up for that one. We should be wise to the devil’s schemes, but we should also keep ourselves from situations that would make our lives worse.
The devil may be at it again in your life, but remember that you and I see a God Who is greater than our enemy. He is a defeated foe, but God is victorious!
How many of you love a cold glass of stale Pepsi? I mean so stale that the fizz has been long gone. No takers? What about eating stale bread with dry meat and no mayo, mustard, or ketchup to add? Sound appealing? I didn’t think so (unless you’re an oddball…no offense to you if you are).
Just as food becomes stale, it is easy for us to become spiritually stale. The power is gone. The intimacy with God is gone. God doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants us to be renewed by and in His presence.
I will leave you with this song that has quickly become a new favorite. Let God do a new thing in you today.
Joshua was ordered to gather the people and instructed them to “compass the city” once a day for the next six days (6:7). The priests were followed by the “covenant of the Lord” (6:8), so they were more than certain that God was supporting them and leading them. And so every day for six days they went around the city. They didn’t question why, they just done the same thing over and over again until on the last day, they went around the city seven times and on the seventh time they gave a shout and the walls came down (15-16, 20).
A lot of the time we’re told that if we try and do something one way, and it fails, then we should try another strategy in the hopes of succeeding. Reading Joshua 6 has really opened my eyes to see and understand the power of doing…
Pastor John Gray is notorious for asking for a 15-second praise break in his sermons. Tonight, I encourage you to take a 4-minute praise break and listen to Mark Clarke, Music and Arts Pastor at Point Harbor Community Church in Chesapeake, VA. The video is only available on Facebook. I pray that it will quiet your soul like it did mine.
As I became more serious about my calling to ministry, my views became more “conservative”. I had friends in high school on both sides of the spectrum. One in particular was more “liberal” in his views. I will give him credit for respectfully listening to me although we disagreed. He would engage me in topics and hear me out. We would strive to focus on common ground just as we do today. I can honestly say that, despite our differences, I respect him as a very talented and driven individual who has done well.
He made this statement after I posted about racial reconciliation recently:
“Much respect to you for speaking out about this!
“Speaking as someone who considers themselves to be liberal/progressive/left/whatever label is cool this week lol, it is refreshing to see those with more conservative views not be silent in this area.
“Also, even though we may disagree on some things I enjoy reading your blog! I often find we agree on more things than you might think. Hope that doesn’t scare you haha.”
I responded with this:
“I may be a conservative, and I have no problem that we agree on many issues. Labels are labels, and they really don’t define much of anything when you get to the bottom of it. I enjoy challenging the status quo and can disagree and still hang out with those with whom I disagree. Jesus loved people where they were. I can’t find a better example to follow.”
“Well said. Couldn’t agree with you more!”
I honestly wish we could see this level of respect on multiple levels. Republicans and Democrats are each fighting for the way of the party. Churches are fighting over secondary issues. People with varied backgrounds and differences cannot see the common thread that weaves them together because they spend too much time magnifying the differences.
I am thankful for the differences. That does not mean I agree with everyone. I continue to maintain my stance on certain issues while striving to be a gentleman about it and loving my neighbor as myself. As Mandisa sings, “We all bleed the same, so tell me why we’re divided.”
After my long 6 hours on the road today, I had the opportunity to watch Steven Furtick’s message at Elevation Church when I returned home. I’m not asking you to support him or the ministry there. I see its pros and cons. I do, however, know that God can speak through whomever He chooses. Tonight, God had a message for me through Pastor Furtick.
It is so easy to feel like we have to know how to do everything. I feel the pressure of knowing how to be a good husband, father, friend, chaplain, pastor, and all the other hats I wear. Do you know what? I don’t know how, and that’s okay. I face new situations all the time in these areas. With each new situation, I don’t know how. I do know one thing – the person who knows how and can show me. That is the Holy Spirit. When I am in the home of a family whose loved one is breaths away from dying, the Holy Spirit shows me what to do and how to do it. In the moments when I don’t do the best job as a father or husband, the Holy Spirit shows me how I can do it better. Evangelist Junior Hill said something to the effect that when you don’t know what to do, do what you know to do. In other words, you may need some specific direction but you don’t have it. So you pray, study the Scriptures, and obey what the Bible says.
You and I are imperfect beings who serve an all-knowing, all-powerful Lord. When we don’t know what to do, we call upon the One who does. He will always come through. He may not come through the way we think He should, but He will reveal Himself to us.
What is rationalization? According to dictionary.com, to rationalize is “to ascribe (one’s acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes.” While it is supposed to be rational and logical, it is often emotional and illogical. For instance, he beats me to a bloody pulp because he loves me. Or, this relationship will get better because we will mature. The examples can be endless.
If you have to try to convince yourself that something is right while all the evidence says it’s wrong, you have a problem. Ruining my family over a rationalization is not worth it. Marrying the wrong person is not worth the rationalization. Going against God’s Word “for the right reasons” (no such thing) is not worth the consequences that come from such a poor rationalization.
Maybe you are facing a crucial decision in your life. If you have to come up with a bunch of dumb justifications, rationalizations, and other things to convince others that it’s right, you are more than likely trying to convince yourself also because you know it’s wrong.
Don’t settle for short-term “peace” to end up with long-term regret and misery!