Depression / Discouragment

HELP FOR EXCESSIVE SELF-EXAMINATION

A few weeks ago, I attended a book launch for my good friend, Jared Mellinger, who was celebrating the release of his first book, “Think Again: Relief from the Burden of Introspection”. Jared is Senior Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA

I was eager to read my copy right away. I knew that anything written by Jared would be biblically sound and Christ exalting. What I didn’t know is whether he is a good writer.

It turns out that Jared is an excellent writer. His book is honest, insightful and gets to the point quickly without getting bogged down. There is plenty of practical wisdom to go along with his clear analysis of where we lose perspective.

“Think again” is written for those who are overly introspective. If you spend a lot of time focusing on self-examination, self-pity, or self judgement, this book is a must read! Jared also confronts some of the fear of man and people pleasing issues that are common to us.

Virtually anyone would benefit by reading “Think Again”. Jared’s insights will help you understand how to help those who struggle with introspection as well as serving your own soul.

 

GETTING THROUGH THE DRY TIMES

A macro shot of a small flower growing out of a crack in dry earth.

Sometimes when I pray, it feels impossible to get a thought out and up to God.

Sometimes when I read my Bible, the words are recognizable, but incoherent.

Sometimes I feel distant from God even when I know it’s impossible for that to be true.

In these times, I usually don’t have an identifiable reason why I feel as I do.

I have spiritually dry days – and so do you.

I have come to believe (at least part of the time) that God sends these days to us. Learning to stay consistent and pursue God in the midst of dryness is one of the ways faith extends its roots.

This still leaves us with the question of what to do during dry seasons!

I found this helpful article by Jason Helopoulos entitled, “When A Christian Feels Dry: A Simple Practice”. And if ever we need simplicity and guidance on something to do – it is when we are feeling dry.

I hope your dry days are few, but when they arrive, it is good to have a plan for how to bring water to our soul.

REAL ANSWERS TO ANXIETY

Do you ever worry?

If you are a breathing member of humanity, you have problems that look (and perhaps are) fearful. Anxiety is one of the most shared and common of human experiences.

Our experience is different in the degree to which anxiety dominates our emotions, but we are all touched by it.

Yet, the Bible tells us that we should not remain in a place of anxiety. In Philippians 4:4-7, the Apostle Paul gives us this biblical council:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul even gives us direction on how to overcome our anxiety – replace it with praise and prayer.

You have probably tried that with mixed results. The problem is not that Paul gives faulty direction, but that we are weak vessels.

Part of our problem is that we listen to the voices in our head which insist that a full blown 5 alarm anxiety siren is the correct response to our current disturbance.

Justin Taylor wrote an excellent article entitled 8 Arguments for Why You Should Be Anxious Today (and How the Bible Responds)”. Justin points out that the real battle in these times is between belief and unbelief.

His premise is quite helpful, but what I appreciated most in his article was the way Justin listed 8 arguments our minds give for worrying, he then briefly presents an opposing truth from God to defeat each one.

Justin has provided us with a useful article that is great for sharing!

REAL HELP FOR DEPRESSION

9781781915387

Depression.

Being confronted by this word brings an instant desire for avoidance.

However, if you suffer from depression, you can’t run from it. And if someone we love is burdened by depression we shouldn’t try to run from it.

That still leaves us with the frustrating and exhausting problem of not knowing what to do!

Zack Eswine provides an outstanding resource for us in his book, Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who suffer from depression.

Eswine not only has personal experience with depression, he draws in the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon who was one of the most famous and fruitful pastors in history. Yet, Spurgeon struggled bitterly for many years with his own depression (that knowledge itself should provide some comfort for believers who battle depression).

I heartily recommend this book to everyone, because we all will either walk through depression or know someone who does. Eswine writes:

Diagnostic words like “depression” are invitations, not destinations. Once you’ve spoken them, your travel with a person has begun, not ended.

If you have read books that promised to help and found them to be frustratingly empty of real help, Zack Eswine and Charles Spurgeon combine gentle pastoral care with clear biblical wisdom.

DEPRESSION and the CHRISTIAN

masking-depression

Depression is widespread

Anxiety is common

Like everyone else, I know what anxiety feels like, but I cannot say that I understand depression.

How do these conditions fit in with what the Bible says about faith, godliness and sin?

What does someone’s struggle with depression say about their spiritual condition – if anything?

Certainly the way we think about God is by far the most important ingredient in how we look at fear, anxiety and depression. Yet, that is not the only factor.

Some of the most famous (and godly) men in church history had long struggles with depression. Even with their depth of biblical knowledge and faith – often these men still did not understand their depression.

Pastor Stephen Altrogge opened up with his own personal struggle with anxiety and his father Mark Altrogge, (also a pastor), added the experience of his wife’s long battle with depression.

Stephen and Mark graciously share their experiences and their responses from a biblical perspective in a series of articles that appeared sometime ago on the blog they co-author, The Blazing Center.

I have listed the articles separately so you can click each individually

Don’t Judge the Depressed

Talking Freely About Depression and Anxiety

Understanding the Workings of Depression and Anxiety

20 Years of Depression

Why Many Christians Don’t Want To Talk About Depression

ENOUGH?

Resource-Graphic_Never-Enough

 

Why does a man with a beautiful wife, pursue other women?

Why does the person with 2 billion dollars, want 3 billion?

Why does a king who rules over a vast empire still desire more land?

Why does a coach or athlete never have enough championships?

Why do the wealthy who live in beautiful mansions need still more homes in new places?

Why does the woman with closets stuffed with more fashion than she could ever wear, keep shopping for more?

Why does the celebrity who receives praise, awards and adulation, never get enough of it?

Why are we never fully satisfied?

Imagine an eternity filled with beauty, endless joys and wonderful experiences. Further imagine that this eternity had no pain, no worries, no troubles, no enemies and no sorrows. We would still end up dissatisfied and unhappy – if there was no Christ.

For we have been created by him, to know him and dwell in communion with him. We can only find true, full and lasting contentment when we are with Christ.

Hell, among other sorrows, will contain the endless gnawing pain of never being satisfied.

And so Heaven itself would become an eternal burden of emptiness without Christ being the center of it. All its glories would eventually become jaded and wearisome

The joy and glory of the Heavenly realm is the presence of Christ with us.

The presence we have now

The relationship we can grow in now

The Christ who loves us now

The Christ we can rest in now

If heaven would be empty without our Jesus, how absurd, foolish and wasteful it is to ignore him as we walk through this bruising world.

 

A RESPONSE TO THIS DISTURBING WORLD

Do you ever get discouraged after reading the paper, listening to the news or just watching the world from your front door?

Only if you are human

The changes in our culture or perhaps the situations close to home in your life can easily wear down our heart. This is not surprising, because our world is in disarray and mayhem.

I wonder what will happen in the days ahead. Even more alarming to me – what will the world be like when my grandchildren have to navigate it?

In these moments (or longer) of discouragement, I consider what will always be true.

The unchanging goodness and sovereignty of our Lord is the medicine that has been settling disturbed hearts – ever since sin began to create havoc in our world.

Here are some ‘What will always be true’ thoughts for every Christian:

Our Lord Jesus Christ will always be “King of kings and Lord of lords”

Jesus will always be the victor over sin, Satan and death

The gospel will always be “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”

We will always have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us

The Word of God will always be true, sufficient and fruitful

Our life in this world will always be the temporary portion and Heaven will always be forever

Our life in Christ’s eternal kingdom will always be wondrously perfect

We will always be “children” and “heirs of God”

We will always be loved by our Heavenly Father as fully as he loves Jesus

Jesus will always love us, as fully as he loves his Heavenly Father

There will always be an eternal “rest” waiting for those who love God

Our destiny will always be glorification

Our Defender will always be greater than

Our Lord will always be better than

Our King will always be wiser than

Our God will always know what to do and when to do it

We will always be in the center of God’s attention and in the palm of his hand

Our hope will always shine more gloriously than the sun

We will always have a response to the disturbances of life

If you have other examples of what will always be true for us as Christians, please share them in Comments.

GUEST MOM: LAURIE ANGERMAN

Ladies, I hope you had a good Happy Mother’s Day!
…I do believe every day is a day to celebrate mothers’, isn’t it?

I am a mother of three grown sons, and a grandmother of 2+ (one is still being knit by God).
However I am not able to write about how to be a good mother.
I could fill the page with advice on what NOT to do.
So, I will just tell you what I have learned since becoming a mother.

Has anyone ever heard this from their child…?
“Mom, everything is NOT always about God!!”

I have heard this from my children many times while seeking to address life issues through the lens of the gospel.

Truthfully, my response to life and discipline is often the same.
“Can’t it be about ME sometimes?”

Being a mother has taught me, well, a lot about ME.
And ME isn’t so wise. But God is!
I am thankful that the Holy Spirit reminds me of this daily.

Being a mother has taught me that The Word must consistently be a part of my day.

It has taught me to wear the carpet out on my knees in prayer, not pacing it while worrying.

It has taught me the value of sisters and brothers in Christ that will speak biblical truth to me, even when it hurts.

It has taught me the value of a church that faithfully teaches me biblical truth.

It has taught me that my emotions often deceive me so I can’t base my decisions on my feelings.

I must base my decisions on God’s word that will not deceive me or mislead me.

It has taught me that from the time I rise until I put my head down on the pillow, my life is ALL ABOUT GOD.

This life is not easy for anyone.
As much as being mother is a blessing, it is very challenging, to say the least.

We become so consumed with our long list of daily duties and troubles that we can easily lose sight of God and His purposes.

Despair often knocks at the door of our hearts.

Right now many mothers are struggling with great difficulties and even severe hardship (joblessness; working full time and feeling stretched to far; loneliness as a single parent; a marriage that is in trouble or has ended; chronic sickness; troubles with children that are rebelling with seemingly no love for God, but instead a love for the destructive lusts of the flesh; children that are suffering physically and emotionally).

Oh, how easily we can fix our eyes on what is seen, not the unseen. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

We often end up joyless, believing a lie that we have been forgotten and forsaken.

We head in the wrong direction, toward the darkness of despair.
If you are going in that direction, what should you do?

You must intentionally STOP, pray, read the Word of God, seek Christ centered relationships, and get to church regularly. You will never be led astray by these common graces God uses for good in our lives.

So you see, I can’t write anything telling anyone how to be a great mother or a great anything….however, through Christ’s example and His mighty power in us, we are equipped to be loving servants to a world that is in need of His great love, no matter what our circumstance in life.

That is what being a mother, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, church member, child of God is all about. Whatever road we travel, seek to make it all about Him. He will make your paths straight.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
                                                                               Proverbs 3:1-7

 

OUR HOPE CAN HANDLE ANY CHALLENGE

 This is the fourth in a 5 part series on Tuesdays that present the great truth of biblical Hope.

Our Hope Can Handle Any Challenge

In Christ we are never hopeless!

Our hope will be challenged in a variety of ways – but our hope can handle every challenge

The hope we have is that salvation’s entire promise will be fulfilled        

God has promised that his sovereignty and goodness will fulfill that hope

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, 30and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30)

Our enemy cannot alter this hope, so he tries to distort our perspective about hope

What are some of the major challenges to our hope, and why can our hope can handle them?

The Challenge of Sin  

Satan lures us into sin and then uses it to condemn us.

He floods our thoughts with a barrage of accusations declaring God’s anger and rejection.

He wants us to give up our zeal by telling us that we will never be godly.

Hope meets the challenge

v30 tells us those who have been “justified” (saved) will eventually be “glorified” (perfected). 

Our salvation is guaranteed by Christ’s work, not by our maintenance of salvation

v29 reminds us that our salvation began by God coming to us – He is totally committed to the preservation of our relationship with Him

The Challenge of Success and Prosperity

It seems that nothing leads us to take our minds off God faster than success.

At first we thank God, but over time we become lax and fall into thinking we are self-sufficient.

We become forgetful and lesser hopes take over our attention. We spend less time with God and think about his graces less often

Our focus increasingly is on what we are accomplishing, what we think we need to do, and our ever lengthening list of wants

Hope meets the challenge

Simply look up and there Christ is – he has never left us or stopped his labors on our behalf

v28 reminds us that “we know” wonderful truths about God

We are surrounded with memorable works of God and the wonderful promises of God

Our hope is so extraordinary, just to look at one facet, is enough to outshine the empty hopes of our own success

The Challenge of Disappointment and loss

The reality of living in a world groaning under bondage (vs 20-22) is that pain and disappointment are never far

We are regularly assaulted by thoughts that “God may be real, but He is not near”

We take our failures and multiple burdens to be evidences that God has stepped back

Hope meets the challenge    

Our hope is nothing less than the person of God himself and His inability to be unfaithful

vs 28-30 repeatedly remind us that we are on an eternal trajectory. In fact life can only make sense when we look at it with an eternal perspective

God is taking our life somewhere and the final destination is not here

The Challenge of Shallow Hopes

The world is incessantly offering us their false hopes

When the world around us is only talking about these empty hopes, we can get lost in the clutter of it all. The sheer volume of hearing about them creates an obscuring fog of shallow hope.

When we see people enjoying some of these hopes, we start to think they are worth pursuing.

The world’s hopes are not a mirage, but they are a veneer – they are shallow and will wear away

Hope meets the challenge

Our hope is not simply something held out to us to grab, we are a new creation

v28 tells us our hope is in God’s work

All the efforts of this world combined cannot match the grandeur of what God is accomplishing in us and for us

The Puritan preacher, Richard Sibbes wrote:

“As an adult is no longer satisfied with children’s games; so we are no longer satisfied with what the world offers”

We have been made for greater hopes than the world could ever provide – and we have tasted that they are wondrously good

Spit out the false hopes people are trying to feed you and nourish your soul on the person of Christ who is the Bread of Life. Refresh your soul with the person of the Holy Spirit who is the Fountain of Living Waters

EVERYONE IS IN A WHEELCHAIR

Kim Ordile

When Lou Ordile showed me this article written by his wife Kim, I immediately asked if I could share it with all of you, God has given her excellent insights through her significant struggles.

Kim and Lou along with their children, Joseph and Jessa have shown the power of God’s grace in the midst of life’s great difficulties. May their heart be our own!

Back in 2012 my health started to decline. 

Today the wheelchair is my reality. 

But this is not about me, for God has graciously reminded me that everyone feels like they are in a wheelchair:

The feeling that things are out of my control

Being pushed in directions I didn’t plan on going

The fear of going too fast or the frustration with going to slow

Heart ache due to broken dreams

Angry from having to live with limitations, consequences, boundaries and restrictions

Coping with changes that impact my identity, or who I thought I was

Anxiety that I might be rejected

A sense of pain, and the lack of comfort or contentment to make it go away

I have found the only way for me to resolve any of these feelings is on my knees before God.

God loves me and he loves you, and he longs to be in relationship with us.

Hard times cause our hearts to long for something deeper and real. This is found when we are in relationship with the God who created us. Accepting that Jesus is God’s Son and that he died and rose again to pay for our sin, is the way to God. 

God is the only One that can give us peace, a purpose, a true identity, contentment, and the security of being unconditionally loved. 

I pray that no matter what your wheelchair is – that you will receive God’s love for you. I have found his love to be true even in my wheelchair!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13  

Kim Ordile