Christian Depression

www.bible.com/72/psa.42.2.hcsb

When I counsel those who are in depression, or tell me they are depressed, I assure them they are in good company. David, the author of this Psalm, says over and over again that he too is depressed. It is possible to be a devout believer in God and the hope of His promises and still be depressed. I find some comfort in that, because I suffer from depression. There is a phrase from this Psalm “deep calls to deep” (vs 7) that gives me a reason why this is so. Depression comes from a deep place within us, a fundamental discord about our lives and abilities.

Like a slow moving river, depression moves slowly within me, I feel like life itself slows down, because the depths of my soul are being stirred. Depression speaks to the core of my being and tells me I am worthless. Tells me that for all my vaunted skill and training, I still suck at being a good person, at being significant.

David remarks that he remembers the triumphal procession of worship, remembers the heights of the Lord’s presence, and I do too. And perhaps it’s because of such heights that I also know the depths. “But no temptation has overtaken you but what is common to man.” (1 Cor 10:13) The Lord Himself will provide a way of escape. “Oh for the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 10:33) Here is One who will match the depth of my depression with the depth of His riches. My depth of depression calls to the depth of the presence of God. So as the deer pants for water, ever seeking for a stream to slake its thirst, so my soul thirsts for God, in the depths of my soul crying rivers of tears.

My life is bleak, a mere two-dimensional black and white portrait of someone that I used to be. Depression strands us in that wilderness and leaves us desolate. Depression abandons us to the worthlessness of our own thoughts. Depression itself is no good companion and we become stranded in the corridors of our thoughts looking for a way out. As Paul once wrote, “O wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?” Who can?

Deep calls to deep. The depth of our sorrow calls to the depth of God’s love and comfort. This Psalm has no resolution. There is no great triumph at the end that show that David overcame his depression. I think we need to hear that. Depression is a part of who we are, and it forces us to confront the deep parts of us. We would be so stirred if we had no depth. And some of the greatest self-reflection can take place there. But we do so in the knowledge that it is ok. God has not abandoned us. The Valley of the shadow of death is still a place where His rod and staff, his gentle leading and correction, comfort us. We need to traverse the wilderness to experience the wonder of the verdant gardens. Because we feel so strongly in our pain, so too will feel strongly in our worship, a far deeper appreciation for the glory and wonder of God. I would not give up my depression, because it moves me to a profound sense of worship. Depression is but for a season, for God calls to us in our depths, meets us there, walks with us there, and guides us back.

Praise be to God for His glorious gifts! Praised be the Lord!

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Good Grief

www.bible.com/72/jol.2.12.hcsb

Loss is usually the signal for grief. What Joel describes this morning are three common symptoms of grief, fasting, weeping and mourning. We fast because we don’t feel like eating. We weep because stress often finds its way out through our eyes. Mourning is about meditating on the loss itself, looking at the open wound in our lives. And this kind of grief isn’t just about losing a person. It can be about losing a job, a spouse (through divorce), a pet, possessions, or even hope for the future. Grief is a natural human reaction to loss of any kind. The degree of grief is according to the perception of the loss.

Now Joel sets his focus on national sin. The Lord is calling to the people of Israel to come back to Him, leave off worshipping false gods, and come back in grief to the Lord. If grief is a response to loss, then what are they grieving? Maybe loss of innocence? Loss of relationship to God? Loss of God’s blessing on their nation and His Divine protection?

May I submit that this text is entirely appropriate for our nation today, though few are aware of what we have lost. We have lost moral authority. We have murdered the innocent, allowed it over and over again. We have protected the guilty. We have promoted immorality and abomination in the form of gay marriage, an absolute mockery of God’s original institution. We have those that fight for the right to be immoral, and I wonder how soon until the Lord vomits us out of his mouth.

We ought to grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. For we know God is gracious. He welcomes back the repentant. May your prayers today be for the repentance of God’s people.

God bless you today.

Sup?

www.bible.com/72/rev.3.20.hcsb

in the old King James, Jesus offers to come and sup with whomever opens the door to His knocking. This verse always seemed to be in the wrong book. It doesn’t feel like a verse out of Revelation, but here it is, in the letter to the Laodiceans, a town that has done very well thank you very much. They have survived an earthquake and needed no outside help to recover. They were wealthy, well-to-do, and needed no handouts.

We don’t have a origin story for the church of Laodicea, like many of the churches of Revelation. There is no record of a Pauline visit or any of the other apostles making their way here. Her first mention is here. But the church ought to be very familiar to us, for it is one who has let too much of the world in. She is neither cold nor hot for the gospel, but lukewarm. Perhaps she never experienced the conflict or the persecution suffered by others. Maybe her relative wealth and lack of conflict has made for a complacent church. It would be easy to make imagined parallels here between the American Church and this one, and many have. Truth is, we just don’t enough about this church to know either way. And we ought not to compare. American churches stand before God on their own, but we ought to learn from this church, as we do the others.

That is why this simple verse is so striking. Speaking into a complacent church, with powerful warnings of removal from the body of Christ, Jesus comes back around gently. “Open the door, let me in, and we will dine together.” I’ve always read this in an individual context, but this is a message for the church as a whole. He is asking to be invited back into the Church so that He May dine with them, a strong reference to the Communion of bread and wine. Standing at the door is a subtle reference to His imminent return. Will they let Him in before it is too late? We don’t know if they did. But dare I ask, should a church neglect Communion, will they last? If they forget hat Jesus is at the door, will He stop knocking and leave?

Don’t be that church.

Pages of Hope

www.bible.com/72/rom.15.4.hcsb

The Old Testament Scriptures anticipated Jesus Christ and were fulfilled in Him. Romans 15:3 quotes from Psalm 69:9. There David speaks of his alienation from his own people. Why? Because “the zeal of Thy House consumes me”, the first part of the verse, and then, “the insults of those who insult you has fallen on me”. You might remember that the first part of this verse is quoted on John when the disciples remember after the fact Jesus’ zeal for the Temple after he drove out the money-changers. Now Paul quotes the second half of the verse to illustrate a truth that Christians ought to experience as well. We ought to be insulted because we receive the insults of a fallen world upon their Creator. David was so insulted, Jesus was, and so ought we to be. But as Paul reminds us here, our encouragement doesn’t come from the world, it comes from the Lord through the pages of Scripture. If Jesus was so insulted, wasn’t He also glorified? If He was condemned, wasn’t He also raised?

The predictable reaction of the world to Christians notwithstanding, we ought never to fear the insults hurled at our faith. Whether they be crass and crude, or reasoned and philosophized, we stand among giants of faith when those insults fall upon us. For these pages tell us that a greater reward awaits us. If we are failed upon, Will we not be exalted? What is our hope? Do we not hope to see the One who received insults at the cross and was raised again? Do we not look forward to see One humiliated beyond measure for our peace?

Don’t look to the pages of Facebook to find your encouragement. Find your hope within the verses of Scripture.

I know, ironically you are probably reading this one Facebook. “Forget the bird, follow the river”. Only nerds will get that reference. God bless you today and may you find your peace in Him.

Not Right in the Head

www.bible.com/72/pro.21.2.hcsb

First of all, I love this picture. Wow! God’s Love is at the heart of our mission and witness, “For God so loved the world”. So this image is a perfect opener for what needs to be said today.

I will be honest. I think I’m right a lot. I don’t intentionally set out to do the wrong thing, unless it’s avoiding writing this blog. Because sometimes you just don’t feel it. This isn’t one of those days because this is the Lord’s Day, and I am finally back in the house of my spiritual family after having to take a break last week. I love being in Church. I feel at home here. And I know I am in the right place.

But the rest of the week, I feel like I’m on my own, and like you, have to make a number of decisions day to day. I like to think I make those decisions based on Scripture, but honestly, I don’t. Not every life issue has a “thus saith the Lord.” I don’t believe the Lord intended it that way. There are major course corrections we learn to make, moral decisions about life’s direction that He gives us wise counsel, but there are countless minor decisions we make everyday that don’t have a moral component, or do they?

Take for example, brushing your teeth. Seems like a minor thing, right? You squeeze the toothpaste onto the toothbrush and brush vigorously. Rinse and spit. Where was God in this decision? Why did you brush your teeth? To have clean teeth, right? Why is that? So that I don’t offend people when I talk to them. So that my appearance is unmarred at least for a while. Keeping teeth in our culture is often paired with affluence, lack of drug use, and a standard for wholesome living. Having a full set of clean white teeth offers strangers a quick insight into the kind of person you are. And then you pair that with Christian witness, and you have a positive effect upon others. Was brushing your teeth a Holy work? Maybe today it is.

All of the billions of tiny decisions we make have. Cumulative effect on the kind of person we are. If we think that we can skip a day, we have declared something about our character. We may think we are “ok”, but God knows the motives of the heart.

How is your heart today? God Bless!

Praise or Thanksgiving

www.bible.com/72/rom.4.7.hcsb

Talked to a gentleman yesterday who offered me a different perspective on thanksgiving. He said he had talked to many people who expressed thankfulness for their salvation. He said this was the wrong attitude, since they did nothing to earn it. God is the one who has committed all of the effort and heavy lifting to make salvation possible. We should not thank Him for it. We ought to praise Him.

While I don’t agree with his assessment, it did make me think. Our salvation ought to call from us thanksgiving and praise. But shouldn’t it also call sorrow from us? We ought to be sorrowful, to a degree, that we could not please God in all of our effort. Maybe our pride ought to take a beating knowing that despite all we can do, it is not enough. Second, that because of all we have done, God sent His own perfect Son to die in our place. We have no say about salvation. We cannot effect it. We cannot earn it. It is entirely on God’s terms. So I may sorrow a bit, in my own inadequacy, but then let me rejoice, let me exult that God Himself paid the ransom for me. He is the Redeemer, and He lives! Let me praise a God like that. Let me rejoice and thank my God who say me in my fallenness and loved me enough to save me.

Praise be to the Lord!

God bless you today.

No Place Like Home

www.bible.com/72/deu.30.16.hcsb

As Moses was preparing the people to move in to their new land, he reminded them of a few caveats that would be essential to their extended stay, their attention to the covenant they had received from God. God’s promises to protect them and prosper them was dependent (to a degree) on their ability to keep the law and obey the Lord. If they wanted to stay in the land of promise, they were required to keep the law they had been given. Their ability to raise their families and maintain their property was based on their ability to obey the commandments.

My ability to stay in my home and raise my family is dependent on my agreement with the bank, and my ability to pay my mortgage. Actually today is the day they tap me on the shoulder and ask for their monthly contribution. Now if I ignore them, I might get another month or two, but the days of my stay here would definitely be numbered. More than this, the state of Kentucky demands a certain fee for owning property every year. As a landowner in this state, they might overlook a delay in payment, but I could not go long before they would take action to collect what they are owed.

For the people of Israel, God was a landlord, as much as any rent collector, but His rent was collected in personal ethics, living up to the standard of behavior He had called them. Dues were received as sacrifices for sin, resisting temptation and obedience. If they failed to obey, the Rent collector would come by in judgment, and eventually, they were oppressed by actual overlords of other nations, even evicted when their sins became too great.

So how does this apply to us? Are you enjoying the blessings of God? If so, be thankful. But note that Jesus also said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Our blessings are not dependent upon our ability to obey, as much as God’s grace to give. But like the Israelites, if you in the community of blessing, there is an expectation of obedience. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” “Should we go on sinning that grace may abound? May it never be!” If as Christians we do it obey and continue to sin, then there has been no change in us. Why should God continue to bless us? Will He not spew is out of His mouth? We should never take the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ for granted, but be thankful and actively obedient every day in our gratitude for saving us from sin. It is in this way that we know we will never be evicted.

God bless you today!