Saturday, October 5, 2019

Depression and the Bible.


Men and women throughout Scripture dealt with real problems including struggles with mental health. Elijah, king David and Jonah just to name a few. God cares about your emotional well-being. Here the words recorded in just one of the Psalms by the sons of Korah -

"I long to drink of you, O God, drinking deeply from the streams of pleasure flowing from your presence. My longings overwhelm me for more of you! My soul thirsts, pants, and longs for the living God. I want to come and see the face of God. Day and night my tears keep falling and my heart keeps crying for your help while my enemies mock me over and over, saying, “Where is this God of yours? Why doesn’t he help you?” So I speak over my heartbroken soul, “Take courage. Remember when you used to be right out front leading the procession of praise when the great crowd of worshipers gathered to go into the presence of the Lord? You shouted with joy as the sound of passionate celebration filled the air and the joyous multitude of lovers honored the festival of the Lord!” So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace! Here I am depressed and downcast. Yet I will still remember you as I ponder the place where your glory streams down from the mighty mountaintops, lofty and majestic—the mountains of your awesome presence. My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of your love. Your waterfall of weeping sent waves of sorrow over my soul, carrying me away, cascading over me like a thundering cataract. Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life. I will say to God, “You are my mountain of strength; how could you forget me? Why must I suffer this vile oppression of my enemies— these heartless tormentors who are out to kill me?” Their wounding words pierce my heart over and over while they say, “Where is this God of yours?” So I say to my soul, “Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me.” Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!"
- Psalm 42:1-11 TPT

For the one dealing with depression. For the one battling suicidal thoughts. Know that you are not alone. As hard as it may be keep fighting, keep reaching out. Know that God loves you and that He is the light in this darkness. I am praying for you and He is here for you.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Running With Friends.


My Crossfit coach had been bugging me to run the Mountain Heritage Day 5K for a couple of weeks. I finally relented and signed up late last night. So I was up early this morning heading to Western Carolina University where I met up with several of my friends from the gym. I got checked in, safety pinned my bid to my shirt, warmed up and waited to start. I ran with (more like chased behind) these guys for 3.1 miles of up and down (seemed like mostly up). I didn’t finish 1st or 2nd or even 3rd in our group but I did cross the finish line with the best 5K time of my life. I did pass a 9 year old in the last 50 meters so take that!



The point is these people push me to be a better version of myself. When I am ready to give up they are there to encourage and challenge me to keep pressing on. If you are the fastest/smartest/most successful person in your circle you need to make some new friends. God’s Word has a lot to say about our friends -

“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” - Proverbs 12:26

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” - Proverbs 27:17

“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.” - Proverbs 13:20

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.“ - Proverbs 18:24

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”” - 1 Corinthians 15:33

In every area of our life the company that we keep will determine the heights to which we rise. That my friend is one of the reasons why we need to be actively engaged in our church. Not as a spectator, or a consumer but as a connected, contributing participant.

Selah.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

I remember.

9.11.2001

On the anniversary of the terrorist attacks I pause to reflect on that day and it occurs to me what I remember. As I scroll through the posts on social media with pictures and flags and memorials I remember.

  • I remember exactly where I was.
  • I remember hearing the news on the radio.
  • I remember seeing the images for the first time.
  • I remember that people gathered together to pray.
  • I remember that people set aside their differences to focus on what unites us as Americans.

Today I remember that time is precious, tomorrow is not promised and we should love the people around us as if it were our last day. Or theirs. I remember that prayer is still important and I believe it makes all the difference in the world.

I also remember that they enemy's ploy is to divide us - racially, economically, politically, generationally and the list goes on and on. From broken families to a broken nation he is sowing his discord every chance he gets. Even in the church.

The Church is God's plan to share His redemption with all of humanity. Let's fight together - against the enemy and for one another. Let's forgive like we've been forgiven and love like we've been loved. Let's live with faith and not fear. Let's give the world a little glimpse of heaven and live like people's eternities hang in the balance. Let's remember that we matter, and remember that what we do matters.


“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:14-17 NIV

Saturday, September 7, 2019

What's Your Worldview?


As a pastor one of the most painful things to watch is when someone begins to struggle with and question their faith. This is especially difficult when it is a young person making the transition into adulthood. As a parent my GREATEST hope for my children isn’t for them to be successful, rich or even happy. My greatest hope is for them to know and love God.

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that there has been a radical shift in perspective. My generation largely viewed ‘truth’ as something existent outside of self. It was absolute, unchanging and not subject to personal opinion. For instance the ‘truth’ of gravity really doesn’t care if you believe it or not. It just is.

Today many view ‘truth’ as something personal, internal and malleable. What is ‘true’ for one may or may not be ‘true’ for another. What is ‘true’ today may not be tomorrow. Herein lies the million dollar question…

Do we view God through the eyes of our worldview or do we view the world through God’s eyes?

If God must fit within my worldview then he/she/it is really no god at all; no bigger than my understanding or imagination and no more powerful than I am. This was the realization I had at the age of 18. I had an epiphany that if there was truly a God then He was at the center of everything and I was not. He was not subject to the whims of my emotions or limited to the finite capacity of my mind. If there really was an eternal being that held time and space in His hand then He was the author of ‘Truth’. More accurately He is TRUTH.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:9 NIV

I recently met a young man, newly saved, who had attended church as a teen. Since God didn’t fit within his worldview he admittedly embraced a pagan lifestyle to the extent of serving as a pagan priest. In his desire to break with all things Christian he set up a meeting with a pastor to vent and share his ‘truth’. In that meeting he found love, and more importantly found LOVE. When we stop trying to force God into our worldview and make Him Lord of our lives everything else comes into focus.

I am so thankful that it is not my place to judge God, or anyone else for that matter. I am grateful that ‘Truth’ is constant, because He is constant.

“Do not be deceived, my dear friends! Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning. By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so that we should have first place among all his creatures.” – James 1:16-18 GNT

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Do the Hustle.


Last year, as a ministry staff, we believed that the Lord was saying that 2019 would begin a season of Miracles, Breakthrough and Long-Awaited Harvest. Praise the Lord we are seeing that come to pass. What many of us failed to realize is that many of answers came with conditions – i.e. hard work. A good friend of mine pointed out that harvest is one of the busiest seasons in the life of a farmer. If the crop isn’t gathered in quickly the harvest can go from ripe to rotten in the blink of an eye.

I guess another way we could say it is that you, ‘got to strike while the iron is hot.’ Another friend of mine is a blacksmith and I've had the opportunity to work with him on a few occasions. You have a limited time to work the metal once it comes out of the fire. Another friend of mine is a successful business owner. He once told me that his success wasn’t because he was the best or brightest in the room, but that he would ‘out hustle 99 out of 100 people.’ I believe it. Someone once said that, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ I agree, but when it’s time for action patience will cause you to miss your opportunity.

“The reason most people do not recognize an opportunity when they meet it is because it usually goes around wearing overalls and looking like Hard Work.” – Anonymous

The apostle Paul understood,

“There’s an amazing door of opportunity standing wide open for me to minister here, even though there are many who oppose and stand against me.” – 1 Corinthians 16:9 TPT

When God provides an opportunity we have to seize the moment. That’s not the time to be patient, that’s when it’s time to hustle.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV

Every day is a gift from the Lord, what you choose to do with it is your gift to Him. I believe God has GREAT things in store for you!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

When bad things happen to good people.


When I was eight years old my parents went through a bitter divorce. I was clueless and had never even seen them speak a cross word to one another. My little world came crashing down overnight. My mom moved from southern to northern California so I only got to see her on holidays and summers. In the seventh grade I decided to move in with her and my step dad and go to school there. It was a tiny school out in the country with less than 10 people in my class. It was so small in fact that they joined classes to save money on staff and so we were in the same room as the eighth graders. One of those students happened to be the girl that is now my wife.

I would never wish divorce on any couple or family. But I also wouldn’t change my situation in a million years because God brought something beautiful out of the brokenness.

My wife and I had been married for only nine months when her mother, 47 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks after getting the news that she was sick my wife and I packed up our little apartment on campus in Reno, NV and headed east for North Carolina. She finished her race less than a year later and went home to be with the Lord. People aren’t supposed to die at 48 and our girls never had the chance to meet their Grandma Linda. But in that time of caring for her family we found a church that forever changed our lives. What we thought would be a short intermission became a life calling.

It seems everyone has been touched by cancer’s curse at some point in their life. It’s an ugly disease and it’s just not fair. Let me be clear that I DO NOT BELIEVE that God gave my wife’s mother cancer. But in the midst of the tragedy he was at work guiding our path toward yours.

See if my parents never divorced then I wouldn’t have met my wife. If my wife’s mother hadn’t become sick we never would have moved to Western North Carolina, went into ministry and started writing this blog.

He is the God of meaning in meaningless situations. He is the God of hope in hopeless circumstances. He is the God of purpose in the middle of life’s messes. He is the great redeemer and we can trust that He is bigger than whatever it is we are dealing with. We can trust Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NIV

Jesus is proof of the lengths that God will go to, lovingly working for your good because you are called according to his purpose. If you have made it through and can see God’s hand praise him for what he’s already done. If you are in the middle then trust that he is in control, he loves you forever and he IS taking care of you whether you can see it or not.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

My favorite person's favorite verse.


My wife is my favorite person in the world. One of her favorite verses from the Bible is Philippians 4:8. Therefore this in one of my favorite verses.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 NIV

When Paul says “finally” he is saving the best for last. I was recently chatting with a friend and he said that life is about 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent your attitude about it. I believe he is correct. There is always a reason to be negative, critical, frustrated, discouraged. But there is always a reason to be thankful, hopeful, appreciative, encouraged. Both are true in every area of our lives – our careers, our relationships, our finances, our church…

I think for most of us it is easy to dwell on the bad. Most of our time spent on ‘what ifs’ don’t lean toward the good. But the Apostle Paul continues his instructions –

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9 NIV

He uses the word ‘practice’. People who want to become better at something practice. People who want to become great at something practice and practice and practice. Some of us have practiced worry for years. We have become quite exceptional at it. God is willing and able to help us renew our minds, after all He is the ‘God of peace’.

There is always a reason to be positive because there is always GOD. In every situation He is always in control, He always has a purpose and He always loves you. Will you purpose in your heart today to join me on a journey of practicing a positive life? Let’s take our negative thoughts captive, make them obedient to Christ and choose to focus on good and Godly things! It may not be easy, especially at first, but I promise it will be worth it.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

Depression and the Bible.

Men and women throughout Scripture dealt with real problems including struggles with mental health. Elijah, king David and Jonah just to n...