Mistakes

A misspelled word in a book does not invalidate it’s overall message. Nor does a personal mistake invalidate your life.

Whatever you have done, does not have to define you.

God has not given up on you, even though you may have given up on yourself.

God can, and will, make something beautiful of your life.

Our God is in the redemption business.

24 Things Not To Do With The Family On Christmas Eve

In the hopes of bringing peace to all men, here is a list of 24 things to not do on Christmas Eve with your family tonight.

1. Drink to much at your in laws.

2. Try to move the Christmas Tree or the location of next year’s celebration.

3. Discuss spoilers to a big movie that others haven’t seen.

4. Try to resolve complex family squabbles.

5.  Discuss your political views.

6.  Try and sell a product to friends and extended family.

7.  Re-gift something to the same side of the family.

8.  Eat fruitcake without knowing it’s  expiration date.

9.  Tell someone how much you hate getting ties for Christmas.

10.  Baby pictures.

11.  Ask the newlyweds when they are going to start a family.

12.  Let the oldest people in the house do all the preparation and cleanup for the party.

13.  Let the youngest children play with matches.

14.  Gossip loud enough that everyone can hear. 

15.  Eat so much you dominate the only bathroom in the house.

16.  Ask when the single people are getting married.

17.  Forget to bring batteries for the new unwrapped toys.

18.  Start any sentence with the phrase, “When I was your age…”

19.  Play cards or any board game without a time limit on each persons turn.

20.  Ask when you will finally be old enough to sit at the adult table.

21.  Announce that you will be out of the country for Christmas next year.

22. Don’t volunteer your family to work at the soup kitchen tomorrow without consulting the participants.

23. Bringing additional uninvited guests without asking the host first.

24. Be 4 hours late for the meal, when you are bringing the featured dish.

P.s.
Any resemblance to any family living or dead is strictly coincidental. This just feels like a description of your family.

Coping With The Holidays

I know that it can be difficult dealing with the holidays.

Buying gifts for people who seem to have everything.

Dealing with Holiday traffic and the crowds in the store.

Working long hours at work and being shorthanded at work due to vacations.

Trying to plan how to see both sides of the family without starting a family argument.

Christmas can be so stressful that we forget what we are celebrating and why.

So take a minute and think about it.

When you are looking for that special gift is it really worth stressing over?

Would it physically hurt you to let the other person make the lane change or beat you to the cashier?

Would it be possible for you to be patient with the employee or sales person who is doing the best to help you?

Could you be gracious and spend more time with your spouse’s family this year?

Could this be the year you put Christ back in Christmas?

9 Practical Steps To Respond to Depression

9 practical and spiritual steps to deal with depression.

1. Recognition
Recognizing that we, or someone else, are depressed is the first step to responding to depression.  Recognizing that our emotions are important but that they do not necessarily reflect reality.  Denying that a problem exists will not make it go away.

2. Get Off The Couch
Activity of almost any kind is a direct enemy of depression. When we are depressed we do not feel like doing anything. We have that deer in the headlights look. We fail to respond and let our emotions run us over like a freight train. Like the deer in the headlights all we have to do is move.

3. Sing or Listen to Music.
Music can express deep emotions and sometimes actually change our mood. David used music to change Saul’s mood. Ephesians 5:19 says that we are to “make melody in our hearts”. Singing praise to God is recommended. It can change our mood.

4. Seek medical assistance.
Maybe we have a chemical imbalance and need some medication for a time.
In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul encouraged Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. The use of the word “little” indicates moderation. Self medicating is not advised. A doctor’s counsel should be sought.

5. Positive self talk
Psychologists are in agreement that self talk is very important in dealing with depression. We can talk ourselves into a depression. Sometimes we can talk ourselves out of it. Maybe we need to sit down and “think on good things” as the author of Philippians 4:8 says

6. Count your blessings and write them down.
Make a list of things to be grateful for. Making a list reminds of us of all the good things that are going on in our lives. We simply forgot them. In Psalms 103:2, the author indicates that he will “praise the lord and forget not his benefits”.

7. Talk to God
Tell God how you really feel. Hold nothing back. “Cast your cares upon him for he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 and Psalm 55:22).

8. Laugh often.
It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. Proverbs 31:25 in describing a Godly woman says that, “Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come”. Laughter in the author’s mind is an asset in facing the day.  Eccl. 3:4 indicates there is a time for everything, including a time to laugh. We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4).

9. Help someone. Act. Listen.
Helping others builds up our self-esteem and reaffirms things can get better. Listening to others and helping them with their needs will change our attitude. Isaiah 58:9-11

Helping others with depression is not an optional behavior. We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens in Galatians 6:2.

God is the source of comfort and will assist us in comforting others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, God indicates that he is the God of all comfort. That he will comfort us. That we will comfort others with the comfort we have received.

Expect that depression will lift gradually, just as it came in. It will take time. There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

Guess Who Suffered From Depression in The Bible

You might be surprised at the number of people in The Bible who struggled with depression.

In the Old Testament we have a lot of people with difficult circumstances:

1. Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, suffered the death of her husband and two sons.

2. Jonah, ran from God, was spit out from the belly of the whale and watched Israel’s enemies repent and receive God’s forgiveness.

3. Job, lost his property and family.

4. Jeremiah, is known as the weeping prophet as he watched the nation of Israel go into captivity. The Book of Lamentations describes this situation.

In the New Testament we have two examples of people depressed over difficult circumstances:

1. Paul  who shows his depression over the fact that his fellow Jews were rejecting Christ. He is also acknowledges his depression over a thorn in the flesh, a possible physical ailment or spiritual condition that he cannot get over.

2. Jesus was certainly depressed because of those who rejected him and his teachings. Mark 14:32-34, They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

If Jesus, the son of God, can be depressed then so can I.

Most of us think that if we just had all our wants and needs met that we would be happy. Just make us rich, or royalty and all our problems would cease.

But this did not work for the first three Kings of Israel; Saul, David and Solomon all suffered from major battles with depression.

Saul, David and Solomon were depressed for many of the same reasons that people are depressed today.

1. Saul had it all and then he lost it. He was king until God rejected him due to his disobedience. David had gained the adulation of the people and God’s favor. Saul knew that God had chosen David to replace him. Saul was depressed because of an unfavorable comparison of himself to David.

2. David had several reasons to be depressed. King Saul sought to kill him. His first child by Bethsheba died. His son, Absalom, tried to take his kingdom from David. Perhaps his greatest source of depression was due to his own bad behavior. David committed adultery and murdered an innocent man attempting to cover up his sin. His sin led to a cover-up of massive proportions. Then everyone found out and his embarrassment was monumental.

3. Solomon seemed to have everything going for himself. He had wine, women, and song. He could pursue pleasure and knowledge to his heart’s desire. His kingdom was peaceful and prosperous. Solomon was depressed because it was all meaningless. He was searching for significance. Why was he created, what was his purpose? Surely there was more to life than sex, booze, and intellectual satisfaction.

So when I find myself depressed I know I am in good company with my heroes of faith.

Next Tuesday I will be writing about some strategies in response to depression.

My Struggle with Depression

I’ve struggled with seasons of depression for years, especially around Christmas. I have done a pretty good job of hiding it even from my closest friends.

Being a preacher’s kid I was expected to be perfect. Everything I said or did was under a microscope and reflected on my family. I learned at a very early age how to put on a mask of cheerfulness to hide the darkness I felt.

I incorrectly perceived that others could fail and be forgiven, that I was required to forgive them, but that I would be judged and condemned for the exact same behavior.

So I grew up freely extending grace to others but demanding perfection from myself.

This contradictory belief system led to my first real episode of depression at the age of twenty-five. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer, my dream job was ending, and I was struggling with thoughts and behaviors that were inconsistent with my faith. Eventually the depression lifted and I moved on none the wiser.

This pattern repeared itself for a number of years.  But at the age of forty. I found myself on medication for depression in a psychologist’s office asking for help.

At the time I believed that my depression and taking medication for it showed my lack of faith in God.

I did not understand why I was unhappy. I thought the problem was my work, difficult people, and circumstances.

But the real problem was a chemical imbalance and a faulty view of God’s grace. And the counselor helped me to see this for the first time.

I saw a glimmer of hope as I began to experience God’s grace for myself. I found additional  relief in helping others and writing music. And for a time things dramatically improved. But gradually the seasons of depression would return.

I was reluctant to take medication for my depression. Although I took medicines for high cholesterol and blood pressure without a second thought. I even encouraged others to seek counseling and to take their medication.

My attitude began to change when I developed a relationship with someone with severe chemical imbalances and suicidal tendencies. This individual deeply loved the God who had made them. On the right medication, with supporting friends, they functioned perfectly in society. Without medication they were a danger to themselves and others.

For the first time I could see my own depression and the necessity of medication in the proper light. I began to understand that this is a lifetime condition. It cannot be ignored and has to be addressed continually.

And now I am in the season of the year where it can become overwhelming. I know the right things to do. I know this season will pass and normalcy will return. But it does not make it any easier or less painful.

Maybe you are feeling the same way I do. You feel less than spiritual because of your struggle.

But today I just need you to know that you and I are not alone in our struggle with depression.

I hope you will continue to read the next two blog entries.

This Thursday I will be writing about people in the Bible who struggled with depression.

Next Tuesday will be practical strategies in response to depression.

 

Advice

Unsolicited advice is usually dismissed without consideration. Advice is free but the right to be heard must be earned.

If you want wise counsel seek out someone who willingly will share their failures as well as their successes.

A person who gives good advice is always a great listener.

The best advice usually is someone  sharing what to avoid and asking questions that narrows your options of actions down to the best one.