Thursday, August 28, 2014

Antidpressants and Faith

Antidepressants and Faith

Yesterday I wrote about Christians getting depressed and while I was doing a little pep talk to myself about "Let's work through these feelings and see what's really going on?!" I started doing a little internet research. I found this great article about taking antidepressants and having faith. Like I wrote yesterday, I struggle with depression as many others do. And while I see the biological component in many family members I often think back to the times of King David or Job and think to myself...'There was no little pill called Zoloft" back then so what gives.

I hope this article helps others as much as it did me.

Examining the intersection between taking medicine and relying on God. 
I take an antidepressant.

Even though I believe it is God “Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and sinking” (2 Corinthians 7:6), each day I swallow a pill.

I think of this not as turning from God, but as attempting to manage symptoms while I wait on Him. I hope I am in the company of Paul’s associate Timothy. He had certainly witnessed great miracles of healing in Jesus’ name, yet the apostle urged him to supplement his drinking water with a little wine because of his “frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23).

It is humbling to take a psychiatric medication and humiliating to admit as much on employment forms.
Of course, not all believers take this view. In 1914, John G. Lake declared, “It is just as offensive for the Christian to take medicine as for the drunkard to take whiskey.”Now, I don’t condemn Lake; he was used by God in a great move of miraculous healings. But I am fairly sure he would disapprove of me.

As Paul says in Romans 14:3, the strong in faith tend to despise the weak, and the weak to criticize the strong. Sometimes we are not even sure which is which.

For me personally, this struggle has become an invitation to humility. It is humbling to take a psychiatric medication and humiliating to admit as much on employment forms.
I suspect every Christian receives such invitations to humility—perhaps in the form of a period of unemployment or a painful relationship. No doubt some of us need more schooling in humility than others. To all of us, though, the Bible says three times, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34; James. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

Humility and faith coexist in odd ways. In Genesis 23, when Sarah dies, Abraham believes God’s promise that all the land, as far as the eye can see, will belong to him and his descendants. Yet instead of claiming the promise, he pays an exorbitant fee, to people who don’t share the promise, for a parcel of land to use as a burial plot.
Is this a lack of faith? Or is it an example of humility giving faith the strength to believe and trust even when the fulfillment seems to lag?

That depends on the heart, but one thing is clear: it is not humility that hampers faith, but pride. Specifically, my proud desire to exalt or elevate myself. This putting myself forward can masquerade as faith. But it can't keep up the act forever. Repeatedly, Jesus warns us that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11; 18:14; Matthew 23:12). The contexts indicate claiming a place or title or attitude of honor. Similarly, Paul says that his thorn in the flesh, probably a physical affliction, served to keep him from becoming elated or conceited (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Yet we are also encouraged to trust that, “in due time,” God will exalt us if we humble ourselves (1 Peter 5:6; James 4:10). “You bestow glory on me and lift up my head,” writes David; “You stoop down to make me great” (Psalm 3:3; 18:35).

Jesus is, of course, the great example: humbling Himself through long years to the lowest place to be exalted to the highest place (Philippians 2:8-9). But we see the same pattern in Joseph (Psalm 105:17-21) and Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:25), and most explicitly in Joshua: “that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses” (Joshua 3:7; 4:14). Unlike Solomon, Joshua never suffered the humiliation of a fall from grace, and some of his most memorable words were spoken toward the end of his life (24:15).
When and how did Joshua humble himself? We first meet him as a military leader (Exodus 17), and later he was one of the 12 spies (Numbers 13). In-between, he was Moses’ minister or servant or aide (Numbers 11:28). He endured the 40 years of wilderness wandering. And, man of action though he was, we are told that he did not leave the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11). He learned the discipline of waiting on God.

Humility is not grasping upward to seize but extending downward to pour out.
In the New Testament, particularly, exaltation is not individualistic, a promotion to honor, so much as it is a lifting up of the name of Jesus in His Body, the Church—paradoxically, by accepting responsibility and bending low to serve. Paul “conquers” by marching in Jesus’ victory parade; he embraces weakness so that others may be strengthened (1 Corinthians 4:9-10; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 4:12).
Humility may be incomplete without service to others, but it is rooted in waiting on God. In the end, whether or not we submit to antidepressant may not be very important. What counts is whether, at one of God’s occasions, we find our way to the lowest chair and sit in it. Because in that chair, all of us—whether or not we take Zoloft—come before God knowing we are broken.
And God, seeing our need, puts us back together. Piece by piece.

~ I hope you found some comfort today!




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do Christians Really Get Depressed?

King David was depressed. In the opening verses of Psalm 13 he writes, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

The book of Job is filled with verses about his depression..“I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes …. I will never again experience pleasure ... I would rather die of strangulation than go on and on like this. I hate my life” (Job 3:23-26, 7:11, 15-16, NLT).

There are other examples of depression in the Bible and so I think the answer is YES! Then why are we ashamed to say that we are in the middle of a depression spell? I truly think it's because of how society sees mental illness..because you can't see it - "It's all in your head!" and you should be able to just think yourself out of it right!?! SO WRONG!!!

Doctors believe that depression is a time when our brains become chemically unstable for whatever reason..and that it's not about self-pity or lazyness or self-denial. While these things can contribute to it we must begin to accept as a society that there are biological reasons for it.

I can attest to depression because I have dealt with it for years. Infact, it is something that runs in my family in many members and so I clearly see the biological side of things..and I can personally attest to the fact that depression causes one to withdraw spiritually. But it's at these times when I take some action steps to help deal with my depression
  • Confide in a trusted friend all my thoughts, fears, etc to see if they are founded
  • Read the Bible and search out verses of comfort
  • Attend a 12 Step meeting
  • Seek out professional help if it lasts more than a few weeks (I tend to cycle so by now I can tell when I really need help)
  • Get exercise!!
  • Take a break from the family
  • Pray
Depression really can be debilitating, but we can get a grip on it if we truly pursue it.  God can heal our depression over time or sometimes even miraculously..but we have to be willing to put in the work as well.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Musical Devotional - Matthew West's "Forgiveness"


the story behind Forgiveness - so powerful!!!

"Forgiveness"by Matthew West

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness




Monday, August 25, 2014

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter - from Our Daily Bread

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I am Second ~ Colt McCoy ~ I am Successful Because I Have Jesus Christ Living Inside Me


The Story - Colt McCoy from IamSecond.com

“For me, I’m successful because I have Jesus Christ living inside of me,” says Colt McCoy, starting quarterback for the University of Texas.
College football’s biggest stage provides Colt McCoy with a platform to share his story with others. What is your story? And how is it being told? Join or start an I am Second group to find out.




Saturday, August 23, 2014

Perspective..Let's Move the Artwork

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Proverbs 31:30

I recently read in a devotion book where the author often moved the art pieces around her house because she wanted a different perspective. And that got me to thinking...about perspective in our lives.

What perspective do we have in our lives? Why do we "hang" with a certain crowd? Why do we leave the "art" in our lives hanging in the same place? I think it's because we are afraid of change - or are using it to bring us a temporary goodness (like a high from an a addiction).  Most often the 'sameness" brings us comfort - even if it's not healthy. Those with an addiction know exactly what I am blogging about!  What would we want to make our lives uncomfortable?  It feels good to get high right?

Well, it's perspective! And for those who attend 12 Step Programs or Celebrate recovery meetings or who see a counselor for an addiction - you have moved the artwork!  Yeah!!  You have decided that your life needs to be viewed from a different perspective. And I applaud you!

I think in this verse the charm and beauty that is being referred to can be generally applied to anything to temporarily brings us comfort but perhaps is not the healthiest. Unless, those things that bring us comfort are because of our changes with our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Christ will give us peace and a new perspective on life - and he will often do it not only with your personal relationship with Him but he will work his ways through others...the key is that we need to move the artwork first!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Haughtiness Goes Before Destruction

Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor. Proverbs 18:12

In the United States I believe we have a generation of kids growing up who feel entitled. We have not told this generation that they are just "average" and no better than their peers. Instead, as parents we have become so engrossed in our kids lives forcing them to be in honors classes when they don't belong there, awarding trophies to all kids, etc. We are raising a generation who thinks they are better than others - and deserve the rewards in life even though they haven't paid their dues.

But, what about teaching them failure or humility? How do we do that if we always get involved? The problem is, if we continue to parent in such a way that never allows our kids to experience disappointments, how will our kids learn to overcome adversity.

We need our kids to make their own choices - good or bad. And then we need to praise when it's deserved and encourage when it's needed!  As parents, or individuals even, do we know the difference?

It's a shame because the stats of kids who have addictions is staggering.  And as parents, we are not equipped to deal. Or are we? Perhaps we ourselves need to look at the verse. Our kids learn from us - yes? They see how we live and most often mimic what they see. So perhaps it's time for us to put on a layer of humility and allow our failures to be displayed. By exposing our failures, we allow those around us to see what it truly takes to succeed.

I'm not saying go around and announce to the entire world that you have an addiction or are in rehab or whatever. I'm saying allow the true you to come out. When you make a mistake, say it out loud. Apologize to others. Say out loud "I failed because....but looking back I didn't do....in the future I will do ...." We need to model to our kids how to overcome adversity by allowing them to fail and then allowing THEM to come up with a plan of action. Our kids need to develop critical thinking skills to be able to plan.

We don't need another generation of kids graduating crying in the workplace because their boss told them they didn't do a good job. We need a generation to step up and admit they didn't do their best but will make appropriate changes.  I know it sounds cruel - but we need our kids to fail!