Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Purity 262: Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Purity 262     11/11/2020          

 Good morning and Happy Veteran’s Day!

I captured today’s photo last week in Burtonsville NY. I was enjoying the weather and decided to take a short hike and was pleased to enjoy this view. It’s great to have the freedom to explore this earth and see the beauty of God’s creation. It’s just great to be free, which brings us to Veteran’s Day. 

For those with the day off, consider taking a part of it to thank a veteran for their service. You have the day off because of their decision to serve our country and sacrifice a part of their lives to serve and defend the country that provides the freedom which we all enjoy. 

I know several men and women who served. I have the utmost respect for all of those who have served and don’t tolerate any disparaging remarks or attitudes towards the ones who were brave enough to sign their lives over to the armed services.   Their decision to serve cost them all something. Some have experienced physical pain and injury and now have permanent disabilities because of their service. Others have mental and emotional scars of trauma that don’t necessarily show. All of them experienced the other worldly phenomenon of stepping out of the paradigm of “normal life” into the challenges of military service that us “normal citizens” will never know.  

So, veterans, thank you for your service!

While I didn’t join the service, ten years ago I decided to follow the one who laid his life down for all of us, Jesus Christ.  Since experiencing the joy of salvation, I feel the least I can do is share the message of hope and life that comes through following Jesus Christ.  I have served the kingdom of God through missions, serving at my local church, and through leading the weekly recovery ministry at Rock Solid Church.

One aspect of our recovery ministry that has parallels to military service is accountability.  Like two soldiers in a fox hole who have to cover one another’s backs, those in recovery can cover each other by becoming accountability partners: two or more people who agree to support one another and hold each other responsible for performing different tasks or living according to a particular set of principles.  

The idea behind accountability is to cover and expose one another’s blind spots.  And boy do we have them!  When you are walking out of darkness into the light, everything we knew about living has to change. Like a civilian going into boot camp, those who enlist themselves into recovery suddenly discover that there are new ways to think and live that they have to adapt to.  Our sponsors and accountability partners won’t be barking orders (or at least they shouldn’t) but they have experience to show us how to live a life of sobriety and peace.  We weren’t drafted into recovery and we can quit anytime we want but our sponsors and accountability partners are examples of the fact that a new life without our old hurts, habits, and hang-ups is possible and desirable. 

I’ve discovered what that new life is like because of those who were wiling to sacrifice their time to guide and support me.  So, I now stand every week for those who are looking for hope and a new life.  Be it addiction, trauma, depression, anger, anxiety, lust, or loneliness,  just like those grunts in that proverbial fox hole, I “got your six” and I will be here for those who have reached the end of searching for meaning in this world and all its vices and will guide you to walk with the One who brings life and life more abundantly. 

John 15:13 (NKJV)
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

Today we continue in Anderson & Baumchen’s Finding Hope Again:

Two Depressed People

It is not enough for Christians to merely be aware of the general symptoms of depression. If we want to reach out to those who struggle with depression, we must view them as people, not bundles of symptoms. Describing specific people who exhibit symptoms like the preceding can also help you see yourself in a more objective light.

Matt, a Former Go-Getter

Notice how many of these characteristics became evident in Matt, a 46-year-old man who had a good job in a manufacturing firm. He and his wife, Linda, had raised two children in their nice suburban home. Their younger child was graduating from high school and the older one was in college.

Matt had been a real go-getter; but now he began to feel restless at work and his performance began to drop off. He hated going in to work, and he became irritable and feisty with his coworkers. Finally, his supervisor had to speak to him about his performance and his relationship with fellow workers. Matt just didn't see the problem in the same way. He felt picked on and condemned by his coworkers and his boss. He hated his job, his life and himself. Then one day, out of frustration and disgust with himself, Matt quit his job!

He felt even worse after quitting his job. He had been satisfied with his profession, which had given him a sense of worth and, of course, an income. Now he felt tormented in his mind and wasn't sleeping well. He lost his appetite and didn't want to visit anyone. He even quit studying his Bible, and stopped attending church—activities he had found meaningful and enjoyable. His marriage deteriorated, and relationships were strained with his children. Frequent fights about money and Matt's lack of interest in finding a job made living at home a source of constant irritation. He had no mental peace. His mind was flooded with negative thoughts about himself and life in general.

Matt was experiencing almost every sign of depression; and, as is typical, his problems were affecting every other person in his family. Because there was so much conflict at home, he and his wife sought counseling for their marriage. Their marriage problems, however, couldn't be resolved until Matt dealt with his personal issues.

Fortunately, through counseling, deep repentance and faith in God, Matt was able to overcome his depression by winning the battle in his mind.

King David

In Matt's case, sin was an issue in addition to many unresolved conflicts. His situation was similar to David's depression, described in Psalm 38:3-18:

Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips." For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin (NIV).

David is depressed, even though he was a man Scripture says had a whole heart for God. David would have identified with most of Matt's symptoms. He describes in graphic detail his physical, spiritual and emotional pain. He even feels that he is near death. David knows that his only hope is God, as he cries out at the end of the psalm, "Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior" (Psalm 38:22).

Finding Hope Again: Overcoming Depression.

------------------------------more tomorrow----------------------

God bless you all!




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