“What It’s Like Explaining Depression Meds to Many Christians” by To Save a Life

img_2605Hello dear readers!

I am in the middle of working on some upcoming blog posts for this week,  but I saw a great post today that ties in beautifully to the past several posts regarding invisible illnesses. I’m including one of the graphics, but you’ll have to click the link to see the rest:

 

http://tosavealife.com/mental-health/depression/what-its-like-explaining-depression-meds-to-many-christians/

May the peace of God dwell with you today and always.

A Voting Christian’s Prayer

photo-1475938476802-32a7e851dad1Our Father in Heaven,

You are King of Kings, Creator of the Universe, and Lord of my life. You raise up nations, and you take down nations. Our times are in Your hands.

Thank you, Father, for allowing us to dwell for many years in this country of prosperity and peace. We are grateful for your bountiful care.

Our country stands on the precipice of change once again as we prepare to elect a new leader. Continue reading

Why we should find joy in suffering (Day 14 of the #encourage marathon)

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Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

~ James 1.2-3, NASB (click this link for multiple versions).

Welcome to mile-marker 14 of our 26-day encourage marathon.

Someone out there is suffering. It might even be you.

Have you ever cried out to God, “Why, Lord? Why is this happening to me?”

Continue reading

5 Things Christians Should do this Election Year

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Let’s talk for a moment about those two taboo subjects: religion and politics. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or how to vote. Nor am I here to relay all the evils of socialism or capitalism or any other ism. In our walk with God, all of our choices should be made based on what pleases God, not what conforms to the present culture.

Consider this question: What is the place of Christians in American politics?

I have seen two positions on this:

  1. Christians need to do everything they can to make the United States enact legislation that mirrors the Bible and work to include Christian teachings into public education.
  2. Christians should have no involvement in politics, Revolution, civil disobedience etcetera. After all, this world is only temporary, right?

Some may say that there is a middle ground, but they must be the silent majority (or minority) because these are the two most promoted views. Regarding the first view, the constitution reflects many Christian principles and would be effective if our lawmakers would stand by it. As to the second, all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. Sitting on our hands is not going to help anyone.

The United States is a unique country. No matter your color, gender, class, or creed, a citizen is given a vote to elect fellow citizens into office. And, though it may be difficult, a laborer is just as entitled to run for office as a lawyer. Yes, I know, the process is so expensive that most poorer people are unable to run due to lack of personal fundage—but it is possible! I wish I could say the people in office look out for the best interests of the nation as a whole, but unfortunately—like all things involving money and power—there is a high degree of self-interest rather than service.

What roles should we as Christians take in shaping the policies and politics of this country in which we dwell?

#1: Be a good citizen.

This is paramount. Before anyone takes a leadership role of any kind, they should first demonstrate integrity and character. Each of us, especially as Christians can do this one, unless it involves disloyalty to Christ who is our eternal King.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.

Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

~ Romans‬ ‭13:1-7‬ ‭ESV

We may not be political power players, but we can help our small corners of the nation improve by simply being moral people who help our neighbors, show respect towards people in authority, and bestow charity on those less fortunate.

“Whoa! Did you just say ‘show respect to those in authority?'”

I did.

I know there are many who think cops are corrupt, but as someone who has known my fair share of law enforcement, I can tell you that they are primarily composed of ordinary people earning an ordinary living. Many of them are jaded and cynical from dealing with some pretty rotten people day in and day out. They see things you can only imagine in your nightmares. In their job, they deal with jerks and death on a daily basis.

As for the politicians, many of them are undeserving of respect, but we need to guard what we say to them and about them. We are Christians first and foremost; our speech ought to reflect our love for God.

Civil disobedience is condoned by God when government tells us to do something that runs contrary to our service to God. Peter, in Acts 5, told those in authority that they would “obey God rather than men.”

One more thing to consider: In this country, the ultimate authority isn’t the nebulous entity known as the government. It is the Constitution. Military personnel take an oath to “defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.” The reason that is in place is to protect this nation from corrupt leaders. So, in that respect, those who resist the corruption of our government and work to defend the constitution are, in fact, respecting the law more than those who are in “authority.”

#2: Vote.

I see your eye-roll and hear that sigh of disappointment….

I know this one is old and obvious, but we should not treat this right and responsibility with contempt. Many men and women have sacrificed their lives to afford us this freedom. Do not dishonor their sacrifice by neglecting your duty to choose people for office.

Furthermore, do not just pick the popular candidate—especially in the primaries. Pick the one you honestly believe to be the best. What a difference the outcomes would be if people took time to objectively consider each candidate and the ballot propositions! We get the government we deserve if we neglect this necessary step.

Don’t squander your vote if you have the opportunity.

#3: Pray. A lot.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2.1-4, ESV

I have heard my share of token prayers acknowledging those in charge, and they are good in their own way. Ask yourself this question: Do you honestly believe in the power of prayer? Then start praying! If you are truly worried about the state of the Union, then get on your knees and appeal to God for help… we certainly need it! For suggestions on specific things to pray for our president, click here. For prayers for law enforcement, click here.

#4: Educate.

Teaching the Word of God is the most important thing we can do for our children. It’s imperative that they are trained in what is true, right, moral and just.

Second to this ought to be teaching them about the history of our country and the law. I’m not suggesting blind, brain-washed patriotism. I encourage you to teach your children the things our country has done well, the principles that made her great,  and (this is the most critical point) the fact that God has been instrumental in this country’s success. Yet instruct them also on our darker moments in history and how good people sought to bring about constructive change. Teach critical thinking so that they will be able to discern the truth and lies being thrown at them when they are voting age. Many young people are disillusioned with good principles because they haven’t been carefully taught the opposing side. It’s good to know both sides of an argument so that when they are grown and these dark truths are raised, they will already know how to respond. They won’t feel as though their parents deceived them.

#5: Get involved.

This one may not appeal to many of you. I don’t possess any political ambition myself, but if you really care about changing this country, you may want to consider this. Many people have found ways to be part of the process, projecting a positive influence into a dark realm. Christians can write about their political views, knock on doors for the candidate they support, contribute financially to a campaign, or even run for office themselves.

Before you take this step, I want to give you some warnings:

  1. Guard your heart with all diligence. The higher up you climb on the power rung, the more vulnerable you are to the attacks of Satan.
  2. Guard the Word. Don’t misquote or mishandle God’s Word to fallaciously support your political aims—this has always been a huge problem!
  3. Guard your lips! People say some downright stupid things. Politicians make false promises. Citizens make vulgar statements about the opposing parties/candidates. Even if the statement is true, ask yourself is it true, helpful, necessary, or kind? Do things God’s way and the outcome will be significantly better.

I am thankful to be a citizen of this country. I am thankful to all the men and women who have fought and died for freedom. For the moment, my family can worship God without threat of imprisonment. I can write this blog without fear of my family being tortured or killed. What a blessing! I know that it could all disappear in a flash if God so desired. It is my desire to help—in my own small ways—to preserve the country that has allowed me to be free from violent persecution for my faith in the Lord.

I don’t want our children to lose these precious blessings, do you? You and I need to be active in creating solutions.

What are your thoughts about a Christian’s role in American politics?

Am I walking by faith or frozen with fear?

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What follows is a long post and I hope you will bear with me through the end. It could be that you will not relate to this in any way; or its just possible that you also are faced with terrible storms that make you want to change course. Whatever the case, I hope this will be edifying to you.

As many of my long time readers and personal acquaintances are aware, 2015 was a very challenging year for me and my family. I won’t go into great detail, but we have dealt with a disability that brought about medical retirement and have been searching for new job opportunities since August. We’ve been waiting for doors to open, putting out resumes and preparing for some lean times. We’ve been busy during our wait and praying hard for direction and strength.

Around Christmas, we got a phone call—a potential job opportunity in Texas. Houses, food, gas (pretty much everything) is cheaper in Texas. We could do more than just “get by” over there.

My immediate reaction was resistance and—though I am ashamed to admit it—fear

Texas is flat!

How can we move so far away from my parents and in-laws?

That part of Texas doesn’t have much natural beauty…

How would the kids handle being uprooted?

How would we afford the move?

But it’s Texas!

I’m a native Californian… I won’t fit in.

We have to leave behind orchestra, my daughter’s truly awesome violin teacher and our homeschool group.

I’ll be even further from the coast!

Why Texas?

Fortunately, 2015 was a year of significant spiritual growth. So, even though my mind was all flashing lights and blaring sirens, I knew that I needed to take it all to the Lord. So I prayed and pondered. I talked to my spouse, then prayed and pondered some more. I started sounding out friends and family and prayed even more. Slowly but surely I began to see all the positives. If this is the direction God wants us to take, then He will help us through it. I need to trust Him to do what He has always done.

No final decision has been made as we are still doing our homework, which includes an upcoming trip to assess the potential of the job offers, the housing and the local churches. As all these things have been unfolding, I was struck by something, but I kept it to myself until about a week ago.

I thought of the Israelites.

I can hear you groaning: “Oh no! Not more about the Israelites, Elihu!” I see so many of my own foibles in them that I feel compelled to write about them and—hopefully—learn from their mistakes.

I thought of the account in Numbers 13 when the Israelites had reached the edge of the Promised Land and they sent twelve spies to check it out. The account even lists the names of these men. Two men of faith and then men of infamy…

They don’t hop on google to look at photos, crime stats and housing prices. They don’t get a birds-eye view from Google Earth. Not having the benefit of modern technology, they pack their walking sticks and maybe the last bit of the day’s manna and quail ration and head in on foot. The rest of the Israelites pace about for forty anxious days waiting for their return. They may have been thinking,”Do you think it’ll be as amazing as God says? I wonder how hard it will be to move in?”

At the end of forty days, the twelve men return with more than what they packed. They have fruit! Mouthwatering, savory, sweet, colorful fruit! When all you’ve had is manna and quail for months, fruit is pretty exciting.

With twelve different men, one would anticipate twelve different perspectives. It came down to two: fear vs faith.

Let’s read the account:

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.

And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”

Joy of joys! This is what God had promised! He wasn’t making it up, and the men had brought back evidence. Can you imagine seeing fruit after eating nothing but quail and manna for months?

How do you think the Israelites are going to react? Are they going to rush eagerly toward their new home?

Hang on to your hats, the men have more to say:

“However…

Uh-oh. This can’t be good…

“…the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

Houston, we have a problem. This won’t be as easy as we thought! Lions, and tigers, and bears—oh my!

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Whoa. Why did Caleb think they could take the land? They didn’t have chariots, horses or battering rams. They were just a rag-tag assortment of ex-slaves! How could they overcome these gigantic, well-armed people?

Read on:

Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.””

So…. who’s giving the correct assessment? Is Caleb having delusions of grandeur or are these men cowards?

Fear says: Freeze! Don’t go another step! We can’t do this!

Faith says: Yes, this is daunting, but God and I make a majority. God promised this land and He wants us to take it. He’ll lead us through it one step at a time.

Faith trusts God in spite of fear.

Faith moves trembling feet forward.

This story isn’t over….

So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims?

Oh the agony! One minute, the promised land is within their grasp, the next minute they are lead to believe they cannot have it. Instead of pausing to consider or even praying about their fear, they weep and wail.

Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Seriously?!

They wanted to go back to slavery? They must be mental!

It’s doubtful the people of Egypt would have welcomed them back with open arms. It’s more likely they would have killed them on the spot. And yet, how often do we make outlandishly stupid statements at the height of our anxiety?

The minority is going to speak:

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel,

“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

Joshua and Caleb—two small but strong voices of reason. Two voices who speak from faith, not fear. In the turmoil of emotion, the people pick up stones to kill them (hmmm…. Sound familiar?)

“The Lord is with us; do not fear them.”

I would venture to guess (and it is only a guess) that Joshua and Caleb had been noting, with gratitude and awe, all the ways in which God had cared for them since they had left Egypt: the manna, the quail, the longevity of their clothes and shoes, the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, and the water in the wilderness. They had seen a mighty empire defeated without a single spear tossed. All these wondrous things they had committed to their heart. They had confidence in the power of the Lord.

I would also guess (though, again, I could be wrong) that these men had a huge adrenaline rush when they saw the Anakim and the fortified cities. I’m confident they were a little scared. Fear is a natural reaction to such things. Joshua and Caleb didn’t know how God would defeat their enemies, they simply trusted that he could. They feared God more than they feared the Canaanites. Their faith held more sway than their fear.

How often do we fail to see God’s provisions, both small and large, and consider ourselves entitled to those blessings? Such a mindset will lead to a lack of trust and progress in our walk with God.

What was the outcome of this account?

And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.

Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.

According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the Lord. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive.

(The above passages are from Numbers 13 and Numbers 14. As always, I suggest reading the full context.)

Oops.

Confident, courageous faith will take you beyond what seems possible, guard you through perils unthinkable and carry you to heights incomprehensible.

An unhealthy fear of everything but God will paralyze you, leaving you to wander about life barely subsisting, never quite tasting the joy that comes from trusting in the Lord.

As I thought about this possible move, I had to ask myself—Am I going to walk by faith or freeze with fear?

I wondered, “Am I being offered the chance for better things and forsaking it for the comfort of my known wilderness?” During a discussion one evening about our possible future, my spouse began comparing the situation to the Israelite spies.

I burst out laughing. Our thoughts were nearly identical.

So, the two of us are going to go “spy out the land” as it were. This choice will have a huge impact on our family one way or another and I would be dishonest to say it doesn’t matter. I want this choice to be positive not simply so we can be “better off” financially, but so our family will grow in the Lord. If living in this new place wold damage that, I’d rather not go. If staying here will weaken us, I’d rather not stay. Unfortunately, I cannot see all the far-reaching implications, but I have confidence in my God who does see and whose wisdom is so far beyond my own.

Unlike the Israelites, we don’t have any sort of promised land on this earth. Our promised land lies beyond this life. Yet the choices we make today have long-term consequences that impact our spiritual health. I’d rather have a dinner of herbs with God in my home, than a sumptuous feast without Him. I want my choices—even these piddly ones like moving—to fulfill God’s purpose on this earth. No matter where he leads me, I need to be making Him the goal with each breath. It could be this door is opening just to reveal it’s the wrong one. Who knows?

Seek the Lord’s guidance each step of the way and remember that the promised land lies beyond this earth. Don’t let your fear keep you from it. Walk by faith.

 

Coffee Chat 6 – I don’t get it…

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I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

I want to thank each and every person who has come to these coffee chats and commented. I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights and inspiration! Thank you for your time.

This week, I want to talk about Samson.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Hebrews 11.32-34

 

I often wish that the Hebrew writer had elaborated more on Gideon, Barak, Samson etcetera.

I am reading through Judges at the moment, and I just finished the Samson saga.

There is a question that has always nagged at me, and while I plan to do some digging tomorrow, I thought I would pose my burning question to you:

How on earth did Samson make the list of the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11???

I am confident that God knows the hearts of people far better than any human ever could, yet when I look at the information supplied on Samson, all I see is a man who was unstable, selfish and extremely foolish when it came to beautiful women. How on earth did he rate as a man of faith?

The account of Samson is in Judges 13-16.

Initially, when he goes to marry the Philistine girl in chapter 14, it says that this was “from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.”

I see obedience and faith there. So far so good.

Then it says he went in to a prostitute. I don’t see God approving that…

[gritting teeth in confusion!]

Then, there is Delilah, an infamous name synonymous with deceitfulness and duplicity.

And Samson fell for her, hook, line and sinker. And literally, it sank him.

Delilah used the oldest trick in the book, the “You must not really love me if …” The truth was, she did not love him. It surprises me how gullible he was. I mean, it took persistence and persuasion on her part. He didn’t instantly give in, but still, he divulged the secret of his strength and the Lord left him.

At the end of his life, when he is blind and imprisoned, he makes one final plea to God. I’m not sure if his time in prison humbled him and his faith grew in the jail cell, but he calls out to God, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16.26)

I suppose that could be the faith spoken of in Hebrews… and yet, it seems to me a very self-centered request that fits in with his behavior pattern.

This is one of those things in scripture that I have always struggled to understand.

I would love some insight here! Can you help me?

Please leave a comment below while you sip on your favorite cup of tea or coffee!

If you have some time after commenting here, please visit this previous coffee chat and share your reason for being a Christian.