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Showing posts with label Depression. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Depression. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Fading Sun, Falling Spirits - Depression and Vitamin D - Purity 571


 Fading Sun, Falling Spirits - Depression and Vitamin D -  Purity 571

Purity 571 11/09/2021  Purity 571 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the sun over, and reflected in, the waters of the Erie Canal at Lock # 3 off of Washington Avenue in Waterford NY comes to us from yours truly as I realized that there was a sight to behold behind me as I was sitting in my van at the end of the work day yesterday, teaching me once again that if we are too focused about the things in front of us we may be missing out on other opportunities that are available for us to experience.  

Last week the position of the sun wouldn’t have been where it was at this time of day but since we have reclaimed the hour we lost to daylight savings time; we may have to look for the joys of the setting sun a little earlier than we are used to. 

Just because the world changes doesn’t mean we are not responsible to move and adapt with the changes.  We can complain, resist, and not like it but peace and contentment are generally found by recognizing the circumstances around us for what they are, accepting them for what they are, and operating based on them, when necessary.  

Oh a quick heads up, the reality of seasonal affective disorder, the fact that our mental states could go down with the sun into depressive tendencies, is upon us and one of the things that the experts recommend is to increase our vitamin D intake to compensate for the losses caused by the reduction of our exposure to sunshine.  One study (https://medcraveonline.com/IPMRJ/vitamin-d-for-depression-with-a-seasonal-pattern-an-effective-treatment-strategy.html) suggests that daily intake of 100,000 IU of vitamin D may improve the depressive symptoms of season affective disorder.    

And when I asked my in house expert “Alexa”, how much vitamin D we should take daily, “she” responded that we should take 400 mcg (5,000 IU is 125mcg) of vitamin D each day.  As for my “in house expert”,  please consult other sources as Alexa sometimes don’t answer the same question the same way twice.  

As always be discerning in where you get your information from, consult a multiplicity of sources, and be aware that no matter what you are told, you alone are responsible for the decisions you make and will be subject to the consequences of your decisions and the information you base them on.  

I’m not sure how much vitamin D I get from the foods that I eat or my exposure to the sun but I would imagine that I fall way short of normal and use vitamin D supplements to compensate for my medically diagnosed “vitamin D deficiency” but based on this information and the changing seasons I will be increasing my vitamin D intake to make up for the gaps of my knowledge and whatever losses we can expect from the reduced exposure to the sun in the days ahead.  

As we approach Thanksgiving in two weeks, we will be in the holiday season before we know it and as much as some are filled with joy in later November and the month of December at the prospect of Christmas, many suffer from bouts of the holiday blues as the stress around the changing seasons of our lives as well as the preparations for the festivities can lead to depression.  Disillusionment around dashed expectations and the affect of remembering the dearly departed can also make the season of joy turn into the winter of our discontent. 

So I wanted to give everyone the heads up about vitamin D and the high levels they recommend for healthy living.  I myself was ignorant of how much we should have and wanted to make my friends aware. Of course you should examine your diet and consult with a doctor if depression is a real concern to determine how much vitamin D you should take and to consider the use of other medications that could help in combatting depression.   

While I believe that utilizing cognitive therapy (directing your thoughts) and a harmonious relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, spiritual therapy if you will, to be the most effective remedy to all the negative states of mind, I recognize the reality that not everyone’s situations are the same in terms of biochemistry, mental capacities, and faith. 

So if you need help, get help. Your loved ones care about your wellbeing and pastoral counselors and mental health professionals are dedicated to the cause of helping those who suffer from depression.

One thing I know for sure is that the Lord loves us and doesn’t want our minds to be filled with thoughts that condemn us or fill us with despair. Christ came to give us life and life more abundantly and scripture teaches the benefits of prayer, gratitude, fellowship, and contentment to help us live victorious lives.

So keep walking and talking with God. Be on the lookout for opportunities to recognize His handiwork in the world and to be filled with the peace and joy that comes from being in His presence.  

Take responsibility for your relationship with God, and your mental health by recognizing His love for you and by being proactive in making sure you are walking into the days ahead aware of your thoughts and moods and are utilizing all the resources the Lord has made available to you to find the peace and contentment that He would want you to experience.


Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is :

Matthew 26:41 (NLT2)
41  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Today’s verse are the words of Jesus, and our Lord and Savior is clear in His warning to us about temptation and the reality of our vulnerable state.    

Jesus was a realist.  He acknowledges that our human spirit may have the best of intentions of being in harmony with the Holy Spirit’s leadings for our lives, but we are still susceptible to falling in temptation because of the weakness of our body, or the flesh as the NKJV puts it.   

The “flesh” is the Bible’s term for our carnal nature, that part of us that seeks to meet physical needs and then some with reckless abandon if it is given total authority.  Gluttons, drunkards, and sex addicts are the extreme examples of when the flesh’s appetite for food and euphoric experiences are unchecked. The “flesh” has no morality and doesn’t care about negative consequences. Like Audrey II, the man eating plant in the Little Shop of Horrors, the flesh only has one directive: “Feed ME!”   

However, even though Christ acknowledges the ability of the weakness of the flesh to compromise our spiritual lives, He doesn’t say that we are powerless against its appetites. He doesn’t say that we are hopeless. 

Instead, Jesus warns us to “watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation”.  So we can be victorious over the flesh.

Those who have put their faith in Jesus have been freed of sin and death. That’s a spiritual reality for all who are Christians but to realize that reality in our lives we have to believe it and we have to act on it by “watching and praying”, meaning that we have to be aware of our surroundings and our thoughts, considering all we experience in light of the wisdom of God’s word, and to be in constant communication with God through formal times of prayer and Bible study and by maintaining a continuous conversation with God as we go through our day.   

Faith in Jesus is the remedy to sin and here our Lord directs us in the practice of the remedy. As Christians we are to be vigilant in our walk by being on guard against external and internal temptations by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and maintaining a continuous conversation with the Lord that reminds us of who we are in Christ and directs the steps of our journey.

Christ has given us the victory. We just have to beware that our flesh is weak and remember that we can overcome temptation if we watch and pray.  

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s “Evil and Suffering… Why? Is God Fair?

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work.

B. What Is "Good"?

A sacrificial servant of God, a fearless firefighter, a protective parent—all reflect some aspect of love and goodness. Consider the following definitions:

  • Good is uncorrupted virtue.
        "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)
  • Good is a moral choice of right over wrong, arising from righteousness of character. The Greek word kalos means "good" that comes from being intrinsically virtuous in character. This goodness, which is honorable, righteous, and morally pure, is a moral choice of good over bad.
        "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17)
  • Goodness is that which causes more goodness. Only Jesus, who is the embodiment of goodness, can produce good.

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:11)

 

Question: "Some people say, 'Everyone is born good.' Is this true?"

Answer: the straightforward answer is "No." David states ...

Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

(Psalm 51:5)

 

Question: "Doesn't the existence of evil prove that God is not a good God?"

Answer: The existence of evil does not negate the existence of a good God any more than darkness negates light or death negates life. Some things are better defined by the contrast of their opposites. Since both good and evil clearly exist, a good God must necessarily exist. What else is the source of good? God in His goodness and in His timing will deal with evil and those who promote evil. The Bible says ...

"The evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out." (Proverbs 24:20)

 

Question: "If God is a good and compassionate God, why doesn't He hear my prayers and answer them?"

Answer: God is not deaf—He hears all of your prayers. In fact, because He knows everything, He knows your requests even before you ask. And He answers sometimes with yes, sometimes with no, and sometimes with wait. God the Father even said no to Jesus when He was facing crucifixion and no to the apostle Paul when he was facing a physical malady. The Father's purpose for Jesus' death was our salvation. God's purpose for Paul's physical ailment was to produce humility in Paul. Realize that He always answers your prayers according to His purposes for you. In the end, the righteous are delivered from all of their troubles.

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." (Psalm 34:17-19)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Evil and Suffering... Why?: Why God? Why?.


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

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Monday, October 11, 2021

When It’s All Been Said and Done – Are they a Christian in the Dark? - Checking the Clues 10 - Purity 546


 
When It’s All Been Said and Done – Are they a Christian in the Dark?  - Checking the Clues 10 - Purity 546     

Purity 546 10/11/2021     Purity 546 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the view of from the top of Whiteface Mountains that apparently captures “aspects of positive and negative space” comes to us from a friend who quickly  became a fiancé when it became clear that we both viewed each other with love and could both “see” that we would like to spend the rest of our lives together as man and wife.  

But just as the view from the top of Whiteface Mountain was somewhat hazy when I joined my fiancé and several members of her family to take a gondola ride to the summit on Saturday, the view of the future, how we will work out the details of our wedding, and how we will live as husband and wife are still “up in the air” and unclear.  The prospects of the changes on the horizon are both exciting and somewhat alarming as the consequences of two becoming one in the bonds of marriage will have far reaching and unforeseen circumstances.  

Although I will keep it real in admitting that some friends and family have voiced their surprise, concern, and objections, over our “whirl wind” decision to marry,  I must admit that I have had a lot of peace in the process of making my friend a fiancé and meeting the people that will be a part of our new family as the vast majority of my prospective in-laws have been warm, friendly, and receptive.     

I was also surprised by how at peace you could be when you make other decisions that will change how you have lived for years in significant ways.   I have been on the worship team as an audio-visual technician at Rock Solid Church for nearly ten years and decided yesterday to inform the team of my decision to marry in the near future and of my intention to find a replacement for my position and to no longer serve on the team after the first of January to be available to worship the Lord at my wife’s side every Sunday no matter where we find ourselves in our new life.          

As I was driving to my fiancé’s place after attending her brother’s Christian “growth group”, Robin Mark’s “When it’s All Been Said and Done” popped up in the older playlist I had selected and I was shaken by how the lyrics, flutes, and strings seemed to convey the revelation of an all knowing and sovereign God that knew that this present course was to be a part of my life’s journey long before I could ever dream of these changes coming to pass.  The lyrics say:

“When it's all been said and done

All my treasures will mean nothing

Only what I have done

For love's rewards

Will stand the test of time”

I was quite moved in my spirit, hearing these lyrics, and realizing that finding a woman who is the answer to my prayers for a Christian life partner was in God’s plans and that one of the consequences for my decision to live by faith in the power of the holy Spirit was to come into one of “love’s rewards” that will stand the test of time.  

The sweeping changes that lie ahead in my life reveal that although we try to “see around the corners” of the future when we “walk in the Spirit” by predicting and speculating about where “this” is all leading, we actually are totally dependent on God’s plan for our lives and the way that He shapes our journey as I am realizing that all my presumptions and expectations for the my latter days of my life were based on incomplete information. Only God knows our futures perfectly.

With this latest revelation this morning, I have been greeted in my imagination by children’s televisions Blue and Dr. Suess’s Sam I am who have informed me that this 10th installment of our current series of “Checking the Clues” of a potential life partner’s authentic Christian faith will be the last. 

Blue informs me that after today we will have given enough “clues” for our friends to use to find a Christian spouse, and that today’s inquiry from Sam I am, will equally apply to us as advice and encouragement on the path of Christian Discipleship, as well as a possible category for evaluating someone else’s faith life.   

For his final question, Sam I am advises us to think deeply and to consider his inquiry from multiple points of view and then asks:

“Are they a Christian in the dark?”  

As I contemplate the idea of darkness and my walk of faith, there are a few things we should consider in terms of evaluating “Christian authenticity” in someone’s life.   The word says that we will know Christ’s disciples by their fruit so if we are evaluating a potential life partner’s faith life we should observe their attitudes and actions even in “darkness” to see if their faith is evident.  

The first consideration of darkness comes straight from

1 John 1:6 (NKJV)  which says:
6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
  

So, if our potential life partner who claims to be a Christian is “walking in darkness”, they are lying and not practicing the truth.  

So what is darkness here? The NLT translates this verse to convey “spiritual darkness” which would be revealed by someone who has doubts about or fails to believe the doctrines of grace or who holds beliefs that are not Christian.  The degree of authentic Christian faith is directly proportional to the level of someone’s belief and trust in what the Bible teaches. The more doubt or holding of views outside of scripture the more “spiritual darkness” there is in someone’s life.  

I wanted to point out the spiritual aspects and the importance of belief in considering someone’s faith first because we are saved by, and called to live by, “faith”.   If people reveal that they don’t really believe the Bible or hold beliefs that contradict it, their “Christian” faith isn’t as authentic as they may think.  

The second aspect of darkness that can be drawn from the context of John’s epistle is the “darkness” of sin.  If someone claims to be a Christian but lives a lifestyle that includes behaviors that are “sinful”, their Christian faith is either not authentic or is immature. 

If we have our eyes open, we can see the darkness of unbelief or sin in their lives.  While it is everyone’s own decision who they marry, if the desire is live as Christians, we would want to avoid potential partners who live in darkness.  

The second aspect of “darkness” that I can see as a Christian counselor is the “darkness” of depression.   If your potential life partner who claims to be a Christian, has a negative view of life, and seems to dwell in a den of depression we must be discerning in determining if we want to walk out the rest of our days with someone who we may have to constantly encourage and whose Christian faith may not be as authentic as we may think. 

The word commands us to rejoice and speaks about the joy of the Lord as the Christian’s strength.  Someone with a negative view on life or that suffers from depression may be immature or disingenuous in their faith or has failed to apply their faith to their lives or may suffer from demonic oppression.

Am I saying that Christians can’t be depressed? Absolutely not! But I am saying you may want to really consider all the possibilities in choosing a life partner who suffers from depression, including the possibility that their faith may not be authentic.  

As someone who has experienced with suffering from depression individually and has had relationships with individuals who have suffered from depression, I try not to address hypothetical scenarios when evaluating depression in Christians. I don’t know any hypothetical people and neither do you. While I admit the real need for medications to treat depression in some cases, I profess the universal need of all real-life “Christians” to repent, renew their minds with the word of God, and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  

If your potential life partner suffers from depression and is unwilling or unable to use their “Christian faith” as part of their condition’s treatment you may be receiving a “clue” of the true condition of their faith and the difficulties that would lie in being in a committed relationship with them.  

So consider and choose according to where the Lord leads you in this area. As someone who was in relationship with depressed individuals, I can assure you that living with depression is difficult for both parties and is even worse when you are unequally yoked.  

The final take on “darkness” that we will consider is the “darkness” of times of uncertainty or suffering.    The authenticity of, and great value of, our Christian faith is often best proven in times of suffering and times of uncertainty.  How people deal with suffering and uncertain outcomes can help us get an indication of what they truly believe.  

Ideally, Christians would meet suffering and uncertainty with faith. So if your potential life partner is faced with suffering or uncertainty and their response fails to demonstrate aspects of Christians spiritual practices, we may see that their faith is immature or non-existent.  

Again, we are not measuring everyone by the levels of their faith to guess their final destination in eternity, our purposes in this series and in this blog in general is to encourage discernment in our relationships as well as our faith walk. 

We have come to know the incredible power of God that can help us to overcome the problems that we face on earth through walking in the Spirit on the path of Christian Discipleship. So we encourage Christians to believe that the word of God is true, apply it to their lives, and to live continually seeking the Lord and living by faith.   

The best way to find an authentic Christian to be a life partner is to be authentic Christian yourself. So keep walking and talking with God because if you truly live by faith you will rejoice and have joy in your life whether you walk out the rest of this life with a Christian spouse or with just the Holy Spirit by your side.  Either way, God will never leave us or forsake us.       

    

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 12:6 (NLT2)
6  In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

Today’s verse encourages us to use the gifts that we have been given and to speak the truth in accordance with our faith.   

Paul’s epistle to the Romans informs us that we all have been given different gifts that are given to us by God and that they are to be used.   So while we might not consider ourselves as especially gifted or talented in the spiritual realm or in general, today’s verse tells us that we have some God given gifts that we should utilize for God’s glory.   

Every Christian can do something to give God glory with the gifts they have been given.  Our particular gifts are given to us to fulfill our purpose in Christ.

If you are not sure what your gifts are you can ask other people in your life what they think your gifts and strengths are or you could seek out a “spiritual gifts test” to tell you what your gifts are.   But the key to remember is that once you learn what your gifts are, is to be diligent to use them!   

The gift of prophecy, which in the New Testament context includes preaching, encouraging, and exhorting, is mentioned here and Paul encourages us to prophesy in proportion to our faith.  

Now while we may be hesitant to drop a “Thus sayeth the Lord” future prediction”, we can all preach, encourage, or exhort to some extent, according to the measure of our faith.  

Our preaching can simply include our personal testimony or insights we have gained from the word. So yes, everybody could preach.  

Likewise, if we have come into the Christian faith by making Jesus our Lord and Savior, we should be able to encourage or exhort others to do likewise or to trust the Lord for other areas of life.  

So determine what God has gifted you with and use them for His glory.  God saved us for a reason, and He gave us certain talents and abilities to help us to fulfill our purpose in Him. Listen for the call of God on your life to use your gifts because if you step out in faith and bless others and give glory to God, you just may find yourself prophesying to others to do the same.

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating  

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

. What Is the Difference Between Infatuation and True Love?

Laura is in love! Laura is in love with love. And although she frequently dates, Laura rarely relates. The few boyfriends she's had in the past throw in the towel within a short period of time because dating Laura is almost exclusively about... Laura.

When meeting a new man, Laura enjoys laughing and flirting...wining and dining...dancing and romancing. But soon the fantasy fades and reality sets in with an oblivious lack of commitment to moral character. Suddenly Laura—or more often the man—loses interest. But Laura doesn't let her heart languish for long....Almost immediately she is looking again for something she labels as "love." What irony in this truth...

"The heart of fools is in the house of pleasure." (Ecclesiastes 7:4)

Everyone has felt infatuation to one degree or another. Everyone has experienced "puppy love" at one time or another. Did you ever take the long way around in order to walk by a certain someone or that someone's desk...or locker...or house? Did you take special care to look especially attractive on days when you thought your paths might cross? Did your heart skip a beat when you looked up and unexpectedly caught a glance from him...or her? Is that feeling actually love...or is it love's pseudopersona...infatuation'? Sometimes it's difficult to discern—especially if the one you have these feelings for doesn't seem to feel the same way.

  • Infatuation is a form of emotional obsession, an expression of excessive admiration or foolish love void of sound judgment.
    • —Infatuation is a powerful feeling, but it is based more on the idea of someone than it is on who the person actually is.
    • —Infatuation does not last because it's not based on reality.
  • Love seeks the highest good of another person, does what is in the best interest of another person. People throughout the ages have asked, "What is true love?" Our most authoritative source for understanding the true nature of love comes from God as revealed in His Word.
    • —Love is an action.
      "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13).
    • —Love is a decision.
      "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
    • —Love is work.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love and relationships take effort. There is no fairy-tale formula for true love. God's Word, along with time and maturity, will give you the ability to discern fantasy from reality. Until then, waiting for sound reasoning will guard your heart from being hurt. ...

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)

Infatuation vs. Love

In differentiating between love and infatuation, consider these differences...

Infatuation

Love

• Sudden

• Gradual

• Highly emotional

• Faithfully consistent

• Idealistic

• Realistic

• Based on feelings

• Based on commitment

• Weakened by separation

• Strengthened by separation

• Seeking to find happiness

• Seeking to give happiness

• Focusing on external looks

• Focusing on internal character

• Seeking to get

• Seeking to give

• Possessive

• Freeing

• In love with "emotion"

• In love with "devotion"

God, the Source of love, tells us through His written Word...

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.... let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18)

Live-In Boyfriend

Question: "My live-in boyfriend says he loves me, but just isn't ready to marry. We're already living as though we are married. What can I do to change his mind?"

Answer: If your boyfriend can sexually "have his cake and eat it too," what is his motivation for getting married? When you engage in the sexual acts of love outside of marriage, you are minimizing the essence of love. According to God's Word, neither of you is truly showing love to the other when you engage in premarital sex. Begin now by either moving out or having him move out.

If your boyfriend really loves you, he will want you (not just sex) and will be willing to wait until the wedding vows are said.

"It [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking." (1 Corinthians 13:5)


Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.

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

 

 

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Blue, Are they a Christian in a Box? - Checking the Clues 6 - Purity 541


 

Blue, Are they a Christian in a Box?  – Checking the Clues 6  - Purity 541

Purity 541 10/05/2021  Purity 541 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of an almost other worldly sunrise comes to us from the Adirondack Aerial & Ground Imagery Showcase Page (https://www.facebook.com/stephen.j.lemieux) as they summited Cascade Mountains on October 1st beginning their ascent at the, MT like rising, hour of 3:30 am.  The early bird gets the worm and the images like this one show us that God puts on a show with His creation every day, but it may require a little effort on our part to see it.       

Recently, I learned that a friend who prided themselves on being a strong parent and encourager of the downtrodden was shaken by relationship problems and is struggling with depression. Their perspective has shifted and while they had encouraged others to carry on and pull themselves us from their own bootstraps that now have a better idea of what it is like to feel the sadness and hopelessness that depression can bring to your doorstep. 

As someone who suffered from depression for a couple of years in the wake of, my infant son, Holden’s death in 2002, I too understand what it can feel like when the winds of changing circumstances blow cold and make you question the meaning and purpose of it all and how the trappings of our culture and society push us to get past our losses and just get on with life and how the things that seemed so important before seem empty and meaningless.

And guess what? The things of this world and the societies that man has built are meaningless. Everything man builds falls apart. Even this world will pass away.  But there is One thing that doesn’t change or pass away: God. He is the author of creation, and He will shape the course of the coming of a new heaven and a new earth.

The One who assigns meaning and value to our lives is God. And the only way to find true peace is to establish a relationship with Him, and securing everlasting life, by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.  Once you do that you are given assurance that no matter what comes to pass here on earth, you are secure in His love for eternity.

So if we are basing our identity as being a “strong” mom or dad, we are believing the lie of our own self-sufficiency. We can be “strong” right up to the day we die but without God it will all be for nothing as our making ourselves our own God will consign us to Hell with Satan and all the other rebels who deceived themselves into thinking they didn’t need God and where powerful in and of themselves.  

The Bible says that when we are weak we are strong, because in our weakness we are forced to acknowledge that we can’t control everything and we can have moment of clarity that tells us that we need God and surrender ourselves to His plan for us, salvation through faith in Christ and relying on His wisdom and strength instead of our own in our daily lives.  

So, these thoughts were at the fore front of my mind when “Blue” and “Sam I am” revisited my imagination this morning on our continuing quest to examine the questions of our Christian faith in terms of determining the authenticity of someone’s Christianity as we seek a “real Christian” for a life partner.   

As we more or less addressed, Sam I am’s next inquiry regarding houses and mouses, yesterday when we looked at whether or not someone would be a Christian “here or there” by looking at the degree of shifting from the sacred to secular from Sunday to Monday, and from church to home, today we take on Sam I am’s next inquiry regarding boxes.  

We are not asking about where people will eat green eggs and ham. We want to know if someone will be a Christian when they are “stuck” in a circumstance where all seems hopeless and there is no escape.   Will their faith in Christ still live when they are trapped in an unpleasant circumstance and there doesn’t seem to be any way out?

As someone who has walked through some very dark days with difficult, trying, and painful situations of hardship and turmoil, the answer would seem obvious.  Mother Theresa apparently said ““You will never truly realize God is all you need until He becomes all you have.” So as someone who lived without God through one of the worst losses someone can experience, I can tell you that your Christian faith, your relationship with God is the most important thing about us and can provide us with the strength to endure the most horrific and terrible circumstance and some how provide a hope and a peace in the midst of great suffering.   

I don’t wish pain or suffering on anyone but a litmus test of someone’s Christian faith is the crucible of suffering.  I was regular church going Episcopalian when my son died, but my faith was very immature and was more of a “hope so” faith rather than a “know so” faith. So when my son died, I was angry at God because he didn’t keep up his side of the bargain.  I guess I thought the “deal was: “I go to church and “try to be good”, but fail often, and God would bless me and protect my family and I from suffering”.   So in my anger and depression, I more or less went back to my atheistic leanings and decided there was no God or that I didn’t want anything to do with Him if there was a God.  

Now granted, after about 8 years of wandering in depression and error, the Lord called me to a living faith in Jesus Christ that was based on the truth of God’s word rather than immature, superstitious, and sentimental ideas, or feelings about God, but in those dark days I would say “my faith” was shown for what it was: at best, shallow and immature, at worst: false.   To be honest prior to 2010, I don’t know if I would have made it into God’s kingdom if I had been called into eternity, but I know for sure now.    

So if I had claimed to be a “Christian” back in 2002, which I would have backed away from by classifying it by my denominational title, my actions of abandoning the church and any conversations with God in prayer would have revealed my spiritual status as far from authentic.   

While we might cut me some me some slack, we really shouldn’t.  Why? Because it is our faith, our relationship with God, which can be the means to our victory. Our faith is antidote for all the world’s suffering.  So when we throw away the solution to our problems because of our hurt, we show that we really didn’t understand what we had, or it reveals we never really had it.  

The person I know who is acknowledging the reality of the darkness of depression is revealing that they either have forgotten or don’t know the reality of who they are in Christ and instead of clinging to the Lord and being given strength and wisdom for their walk they are lamenting over their personal inability to overcome. 

We were never meant to walk alone. We are called to come to God and if we are focusing on our hurt and our inability to rise above  we have forgotten about His healing and the victory that given us over sin and death.   Our status as accepted by God and victorious over sin and death should trump any negative circumstances that this world has to offer.  

When our world is shaken, we are stand on the rock of God’s word and proclaim the truth of who we are in Christ.  We should do everything we can to try to better things each and every day but the only way we will be able to do so with peace, and even joy, in the midst of our trials is to continually go to the Lord in prayer, receiving His strength, wisdom, and love.  

So when the going gets tough, a real Christian will get going to their heavenly father. They will pray. They will read His word. They will thank Him for what He has done, for being present, and for what He will do in the future. They will lean on the Lord, and they praise His name even through tears of heartache and pain.  Someone maintaining and practicing their faith in the midst of trials is a great “clue” that are an authentic Christian.  

When we get thrown into a “box”, we may not know when we will get out but if we have a relationship with the Lord through faith in Jesus Christ, we won’t be alone in that box.   If we are in Christ, we will be like Paul and Silas singing like madmen in the middle of the night while locked in a prison with all the other prisoners shouting out us to shut up and telling us that we are crazy.  We will rejoice in our salvation and praise the Lord regardless of the box that we find ourselves in and we will keep on singing until the Lord breaks down the walls and delivers us to a new life of freedom and victory that we simply could not see or even hope for if wasn’t for God’s presence in our lives. 

So, keep walking and talking with God. Everyday you draw closer to Him the more you will grow strong in the power of His might, by relying on and trusting in Him.  In Christ we have the victory, so don’t forget. If you find yourself in a box, remember that He is with you and no matter what comes to pass He will see you through.  

 

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Romans 6:12 (NLT2)
12  Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.

Today’s verse instructs us to not give in to sinful desires because of the bondage that results.  

I like the New Living Translation’s simple rendering of this verse that says:

Romans 6:12 (NKJV)
12  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

The stark contrast between versions reminds us to have access to more than one version of the Bible on hand because although we could make the case that both versions essentially say the same thing,  they say it in different ways. 

The NLT is the version that was developed to be easier to read and is considered a “youth” translation and as much as I like it, when I am taken by the simple truth in the NLT I will go to the NKJV to see what the word “really says” because the NLT is structured to draw out the simple truths and in that intention it sometimes changes the words or the order of the words to make the message in the Bible clearer for a youthful or seeking audience.

Both versions tell let sin control us, to reign in our mortal bodies, or to give into sinful desires, that we should obey its lusts.  

The truth of this verse is telling us that the consequence of giving into sin is bondage to it.  So we are warned and if we are wise we will accept the Bible’s counsel and not give in to temptation and sin because we are clearly told that there is a danger that we will be ensnared by our sin and our lives will be controlled by it.  

So read the Bible and apply its wisdom to your life. Check out the different versions of the Bible. Avoid the ones put out by cults. Do your research to know the source of the translation you are interested in.  And when you come across an interesting version be sure to consult one of the more traditional versions, like the NKJV, to see how it lines up with the traditional teaching, a good translation will never take you too far from the translations that are drawn from the original Greek and Hebrew meanings.  

So be studious with your Bible study, but remember we are not so much concerned with the different nuisances of the way things are said in the Bible as much as we are called to apply the wisdom of the word to our lives.

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue to share from June Hunt’s The Blended Family’s God’s Recipe for Success.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:

D. Preparing Children for Your Remarriage

  • Meet alone with your own children.
  • Communicate your unconditional love for them.
  • State your belief that remarriage is God's direction for your life.
  • Share the positive future you see for them.
  • Encourage them to be open and to share their feelings.
  • Explain that the stepparent will not replace their natural parent.
  • Make your marriage commitment clear.
  • Ask for their help in this transition.
  • Communicate their secure position.
  • Let them know that Christ will be the center of their new family.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." (Proverbs 16:24)

E. The Shared Custody Shuffle

Many have found that a shared custody arrangement is not always in the best interests of a child. Children seem to have more difficulty being constantly on the move. But if you do share custody, it is important to remember to do the following when a child returns to your home:

  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Greet with a warm hug.
  • Allow reentry time.
  • Give focused attention.
  • Ask nonthreatening questions.
  • Expect children to try to manipulate your feelings.
  • Don't assume all they say is true.
  • Distance yourself emotionally from any anger.

"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!" (Proverbs 15:23)


Biblical Counseling Keys: The Blended Family: God's Recipe for Success.

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

 

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship