Tag Archives: depression

The Valley

depression_by_thirsty5As I have been sitting these past few weeks thinking about the next verse my heart has struggled with how God would want this post to go. I know what my trips through the valley have been like. Each individual faces a different darkness in the valley. Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.

God has never seemed so close than in the valley.

As we look at the verse there are some important things to notice. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” First of all it is the Shepherds will that you walk through the valley if His path leads through it. This means that avoiding the valley will take you out of the Will of God. We need not fear the valleys, and our Shepherd is so wise that He anticipated our fear. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.“ Psalms 23:4 It is important to know that the valley contains evil. I am reminded of when Satan went to God over Job. What the Shepherd wants us to understand is that we need not to fear the evil. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 His love for us allows us to understand the Shepherd is there even if we do not see Him. Although in the valley, God may seem distant, this is a test of our faith. The same rod and staff He used to guide us in the storms on the pastures, and alongside still waters is there to comfort us. How much comfort we receive is directly connected to how well we learned the lessons of the pasture and waters.

There are some amazing blessings to be found in the valley. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.“ Psalms 23:5 The first blessing is a table set before the enemy. Understand that we are at our most relaxed and vulnerable while we are sitting at a table. Soldiers do not pack a table in their backpack. We however in the valley have a table of blessings prepared for us. It is not the Will of the Shepherd to test you, and then leave you vulnerable to the enemy. So while the enemy watches the Shepherd feeds us. That is the power of the Shepherd; He can stop the trial at any time. Notice also in this valley our heads are anointed with oil. This is done to refresh us from the trial we have experienced.

Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing.

Then we have my favorite part. Our cups are filled till running over. One of the things I have found in the valley is our cups seem to get drained. Not only of the blessings of the Shepherd, but also from the unclean things we have put into it. The valley tends to clean out my cup. Into this empty cup He fills Himself till it is overflowing. What would you rather that the Shepherd pour his blessings on top of your cup filled with yourself, or that He fills your empty cup up with Himself.

Notice here that with no valley there is no table, no oil, and no cup. The refining fire of trials makes room for all of these things. It is sad however that so many sheep enter the valley, but do not continue through it. It is the Shepherd’s will that you go all the way through the valley. Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing. They faint before the blessings. They take an event the Shepherd intended to make them stronger, and walk out of the fold.

It is true that the valley hurts. It is lonely. It is tiring. It can seem never ending. Let me say however from personal experience: the table of blessing is worth it, the refreshing oil is worth it, and the cup overflowing is worth it. God has never seemed so close than in the valley. There are a lot of things I may never do again on this Earth. I will however continue to walk on green pastures and along still waters down paths of righteousness that lead through valleys to blessings.

Article by David Wagner

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Stuck?

I recently had the opportunity to attend a 1-day conference in Middle Tennessee at GVBC called ‘Stuck.’  This was not their first rodeo and you could tell.  They knew how to encourage pastors and church ministry leaders.  It was well-worth the 400 miles!  Kudos to Pastor Locke, the staff, worship team, and the church ladies who took care of the eats!  I feel compelled to pass on what I got out of the keynote session called

Top Reasons Churches Get
-[& Stay]- STUCK:

1. The lead pastor is not growing.  He is a catalyst for growth.  Everything rises and falls on -you guessed it- leadership! (-Lee Roberson)

“I’m not dying without trying.” (-GL)

2. No clearly-defined DNA.  If you can’t write down your church’s mission / vision on your palm – it’s too bulky and people will never remember it.  Not even your best people!  The church needs to know who you are and why you exist.

3. An aversion to technology and cultural advancement.  The website is the new front door of your church (more).  The hot-word today is contextualization.  Preach like they did in the past – but apply it to the days of the present!

4. An unwillingness to ask people to leave.  Some people are not part of the team.  They are not on board with your DNA and never will be.  Trying to keep them involved only deepens the problem (and your discouragement as a leader).  It’s not worth it!

New converts are never the ones who complain about the paint, the drum, etc.  It’s always the ‘transfers’ who are the most petty!

5. It’s structured for control rather than growth.  BR Lakin said: Beware of the church with two last names.  Some churches are run by a select few (a key family, the deacon board) and will never grow beyond those who dictate it.  It’s possible to have too many voices speaking into the vision of the church.  If you can’t trust your leadership, then you’ve got the wrong team!

6. Operating totally out of context.  Know your demographic.  You have an era – serve your “generation.”  You have an area – serve your “nation.”  Has your ‘target‘ audience been identified?  Do you really mean it when you say: Everyone Welcome!?  Really?  What about addicts, the homeless, hookers, the deaf, the bi-polar?  Are you ready to help them?

People want to hear your heart, but they are tired of hearing your head.

7. A lack of faith to operate out of the box – but by the book.  Zeal is the forgotten virtue, replaced by knowledge.  Look at the Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah, Hosea, etc.).  They totally destroyed the box of ‘How-to-Do-Ministry.’

8. An understanding of the gospel is merely assumed (especially in the Bible-belt / South).  Lost people are filling churches and, with their votes, controlling them.  Jesus gave no concessions for people claiming Christ who are not involved in church.

In Addition, Pastor Locke Gave 5 Pieces of Advice of Getting Unstuck…

1. Don’t pastor from a bitter heart or with a point to prove (spite and anger are terrible motivators).
2. Don’t allow the church to become to dependent on your personality as pastor – build a team of leaders.
3. Don’t build the church your critics want – build the church your community needs!
4. Don’t allow angry church people to make you an angry family man (leave that junk in the office).
5. Don’t read the Bible for material – develop the discipline of personal, private meditation for your own soul.

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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When God Goes Silent

There is absolutely NOTHING that creates a greater sense of despair and hopelessness than feeling that God has quit listening or speaking to you. Everyone has felt it — and if we were to be honest, most people LIVE with that feeling. Is that what God wants?  How can that be possible when Hebrews 13:5, which is referencing Joshua 1:5, says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee….”?  Was He lying? Does He take pleasure in seeing His children squirm, hurt, and cry? The Psalmist asked that exact same question in Psalm 102:1-2

1  Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee. 2  Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.

Again, look what David said in Psalm 55:6-7 … He wished he could sprout wings and just leave all of his problems:

 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.  Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.

Depression sometimes got so bad for some in the Bible that they wanted to just die right there. Look at the cries of Jonah and Job:

Jonah 4:3  – Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

Job 3:11 – Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

In all actuality, very little is said as to what goes through the mind of God when He does place Himself on “Mute” in our lives. In my studies and own experiences, I feel that the reality of the situation is this: WE are the ones who pressed the “Mute” button — we just didn’t realize it! It is not an act of defiance against our Creator, but rather it just happens — Has anyone accidentally rolled over and pressed a button on the remote? IT’S THAT SIMPLE — Most of the time, when God is Silent, we simply need to find the “remote” and get to enjoying life again… Look at an example of this in the life of Elijah the Prophet from 1 Kings 19.

1  And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2  Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3  And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer–sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

1. You Are Not Alone

The GREATEST heroes of Faith and Men of God suffered great depression and even wished for death! During times of “silence” and depression, never give in to the lie that you are just a poor Christian and no one else suffers. Just one chapter earlier, Elijah had called down fire from Heaven! That just goes to show that anyone, at anytime,  can fall into a “spiritual funk” if you will. Since we all experience seasons of “silence” at times, WHY does it happen at all? Point 2 …

2. It is hard to ACCEPT that which you do not UNDERSTAND

After the battle against Baal in the previous chapter, Elijah was confident that he was God’s man. He was on the “Mountain Top” spiritually, so to speak. What happened next no doubt took him by surprise: an execution order from Queen Jezebel! Certainly Elijah pondered about how this could be happening. When he didn’t have the answer HE RAN; unable to accept or understand this next chapter in his life.

Our “Execution Order” can come in variety of ways: Job Layoffs, Financial Turmoil, Family Issues, Illness, Loss of Loved Ones — The list goes on and on. When whatever the given situation hits, and we realize that it is BIGGER THAN US, we roll away from God. It is at that moment, that we accidentallyhit “mute” on God. I sometimes call it the “Recoil Effect” … A quick, knee-jerk reaction AWAY from who apparently “caused the pain”.

3. Routes of DELIVERANCE always open after our DEEPEST DISCOURAGEMENTS

The toughest part of an “escape route” is realizing that it actually is one…

 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6  And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 7  And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

Before God showed up to answer Elijah, He sent an angel. It would be 40 EXCRUCIATING DAYS before Elijah would have a one-on-one conversation with God. During the “Silent” mode, God knows that He is on “Mute” and wants to help. However, the help He sends often isn’t what we are looking for.  At times our “Angel” sent to refocus us may be a loving spouse. Other times it may be an event, an opportunity, a sermon, a visit … Whatever it is, it’s not the “answer” to our problem and we  far too often reject it. That is why the Angel came TWICE; because Elijah didn’t get it. He told Elijah in a sense, “Hey, I’m here to help … Eat and get yourself together!” It was the Angel that was sent that got Elijah to realize that he needed to get to God!

8  And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

4. FAILURE to FULLY rebound will FORFEIT God’s perfect plan for your FUTURE

Around our church I sometimes preface a point or principle as being an “IMO” or “In My Opinion”. This point would fall into that category because it is a little controversial. It seems that whenever you deal with GOD WILL, people get real defensive on what it all entails.

Elijah gets his audience with God and pours out his heart. He was upset that he felt like he was the only one trying to do right and serve God. In an amazing display of power, God sends a strong wind. Next, He follows it up with an earthquake, fire, and the “Still Small Voice”. After that display, God asks Elijah the same question He had asked earlier:

13  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Elijah, after an amazing display from God, had left Him on MUTE! Nothing had changed in his answer … And IN MY OPINION, Elijah turned in his “two weeks notice” as the Prophet of God. He was unable to shake the discouragement! IMMEDIATELY after that exchange, look what God commands:

15  And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: 16  And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel–meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

With the exception of calling down fire one last time before he is taken to Heaven, Elijah performed no more miracles. With the exception of confronting Ahab over Naboth’s death, Elijah prophesied no more. There would even be an “unnamed” prophet doing Elijah’s work before turning the show over to Elisha.

We all have down times and dark days. There are times when we question whether God is listening at all. Just remember, God IS LISTENING — and the reason we can’t hear Him, is simply because we don’t want to…

Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. – Psalm 86:6-7

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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Finding Real Hope

“It’s hopeless.  You’re alone.  You’re trapped.  You are a failure.  No one cares. It will never change.  You’re doomed.  You can’t do anything about it, so why even try?  It’s over.”

Lies We Believe

These words ring out long and loud in many hearts. We hear the message so often, we begin to believe it: it’s hopeless!  Experts
predict that depression will be the second-most common health problem in the world by 2020.  Some will look for hope in relationships, in accomplishments, in more wealth, in better health.  Some will seek for it in pills or in a bottle, while others will try to find it through fantasy and escapism.  But all of these just leave us more empty, more broken, more hopeless… further from the truth, buried deeper in the pit of despair.  Just remember, John 8:44 reveals the source of these lies: Satan himself!

Mythbusters

According to leading psychology professors, in order to overcome hopelessness, you must “examine the emotional evidence” (Age of Anxiety, by Scioli & Biller).  We’ve got to refocus our attention onto the truths that will transform our emotional state from one of powerlessness to one of possibilities, from depression to determination, from overwhelmed to overcomer, from victim to victor.

These mythbusting truths are abundant in the Bible; we often refer to them as promises… God is with you: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).  Things that happen to you happen for a reason: “All things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).  You were made for a purpose: “We are his workmanship, created unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).  God is greater than anything in this world: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  God’s thoughts are on you: “I know the thoughts I think toward you…to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11).

Keep the Door Open

Charles Allen said, “When you say a situation is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”  Hope keeps the door open!  God is a God of the impossible… NOTHING is too hard for Him!  Jesus told his disciples (Mat. 19:26), “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  The truth is, the only hope we have sometimes is in God. No one is ever hopeless whose hope is in God!  The message of Ephesians 2:12 is simple: ‘Without Jesus, you are without hope.’ A new twist on the bumper-sticker says it best:  No Jesus, No Hope. Know Jesus, Know Hope!

If you’re experiencing a season of depression, it’s here for a reason.  Its likely God is allowing this in your life so you will turn to Him and find real & lasting hope.

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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