Depression / Discouragment

WHAT SHOULD I THINK ABOUT?

think

by Debbie Huber

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

For Christians to grow in likeness to Christ we need to have a renewed mind. God in his graciousness to us gives us his Word so we know what our minds should and should not give attention to.  We need God’s word to saturate our minds so that our thoughts change from selfish and sinful thoughts to praiseworthy thoughts in all situations. 

We need to change how we think and “take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5.) Seek to think of things through the filter God’s word. Ponder the things of God that are worthy of our thoughts.

“Whatever is true”:  Think about the good things we know about others, not the motives we assign to their actions. 

“Whatever is honorable”:  Honor is about serving and respecting others, not seeking our own rights above others. 

“Whatever is just”:  Knowing that God’s ways are perfect and unbiased and that even the most difficult person on your life should be served with joy.

“Whatever is pure”:  Ask God to remove desires for gossip, viewing ungodly TV and movies, and inappropriate or addictive social media. Feed your soul through prayer and Bible reading.

“Whatever is lovely”: Ask God for a heart to love others with pleasing thoughts, words and actions.

“Whatever is commendable”: God is concerned about the state of our hearts, not the world’s standards of accomplishments or success.

“If there is any excellence”: Are you thankful for the excellent qualities of the world that God has made and the people that he has put in your life?

“If there is anything worthy of praise”: Flee from negatively criticizing people and situations because God is worthy of all our praise.  And no situation can ever diminish His commitment to us.

Therefore, “think about these things”.

THE GOSPEL ANTIDOTE TO THE EPIDEMIC OF LONELINESS

by Debbie Huber

Upon opening Facebook the other day, there was a picture of my family that I had posted a year ago with a notation from Facebook: “we care about you and your Facebook memories”.

Wow!  Facebook cares about me?  The place where I can show family pictures, see pictures from friends and acquaintances, find out about real AND fake news, argue with others without looking them in the eye, not be accountable to anyone, keep my struggles safely hidden from public view…

Right after seeing this I read an article that referred to a major study that was recently presented at the 125th annual convention of the American Psychological Association by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Brigham Young University.  Data from hundreds of studies involving millions of individuals was analyzed. This analysis found that “social isolation, loneliness or living alone was each a significant factor contributing to premature death. And each one of these factors was a more significant risk factor for dying than obesity“.  

More significant than obesity?

Marriage rates have been steadily declining and families are having less children.  Families are separated by miles, divorce, estrangement, and just plain busyness. Schedules are busier and family activities dominate any possibility of free time. Neighbors come and go without ever interacting with one another. Many people live their lives without having anyone truly know about them and care for them.  

There have been multiple studies that suggest that frequent Facebook users do not feel more connected at all; they “actually experience feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, and depression.”

Sometimes we are alone by choice by putting up walls because it can be too painful or fearful to be vulnerable to others. Or we just want to live our lives for ourselves without the baggage that comes from being accountable to one another. 

The Bible does have an antidote to this epidemic of “loneliness”.

We were made for relationship with one another but it is not necessarily how the world defines relationships.  God demonstrates what a healthy relationship is through the relationship between the Father, Son, and the Spirit. A relationship of fellowship, working together, and enjoyment of each other’s company. 

God calls us to relationship with himself through the gospel. We were “separated from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13)

God made us to need Him and also to need one another. In Genesis 2 He says that “it is not good for man to be alone.”  We were not created to make it in this world alone. 

Real, lasting, satisfying relationships within the context of the gospel brings reconciliation between us because we were reconciled to God through Christ when we were without hope or without God in the world. We have relationship with one another even when it is difficult or inconvenient because we know that Christ died for our relationship to be restored to God even when we were “difficult” and far from Him. 

Be prayerful and watchful for the lonely around you. Seek them out face to face.  Be helpful when they need it, speak of the things of God to one another.  In light of what Christ has done for you seek reconciliation when there is division.  The Gospel will be on display in your lives.

And if you are the one “putting up walls” or on the fringes because you are fearful to be vulnerable or too busy remember the gospel!  You were not meant to go it alone in this world. The gospel tells us that we were made for relationship with God and with one another. Serve, help or become a part of a small group.  Ask God to help you to care for and be vulnerable with others. Preach the gospel to yourself daily and pray that the gospel will be lived out though your relationships.

 

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