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Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Prayer of Acceptance
Gracious God,
I give thanks for the gift of your love and mercy which knows no end. I
give thanks for Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose again that I may know true life in his name. Today I confess my sins, all the actions, and attitudes that keep me from loving you and loving others.
Lord have mercy and forgive me for those things I have said and left unsaid.
Lord have mercy and forgive me for those things I have done and left undone.
In the knowledge of your mercy, I confess Jesus as the Lord of my life and my savior.
I turn my life over to You today.
Please make me a new creature through Your Holy Spirit and change my heart.
Help me walk in Your ways as You reveal yourself to me.
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for my sins.
I accept Your gift of salvation today and confess that You are Lord.
Amen

“Said and left unsaid…done and left undone…”

I have readily considered laziness a sin and its’ association with “left undone.”  I have also known cursing and pain-causing language to be sinful–“said.”  The “left unsaid” I’ve considered the times when I coward from what the Spirit asks of me to speak.  The “done,” I’ve considered the busyness that distracts me from what God asks of me, or actions that are defiant to Him.

Today I realize, sometimes God asks us to speak, to hold our tongue, to act, or to withhold from action and be still.  But the counter can also be said, sometimes the enemy asks us to speak, to hold our tongue, to act, or to withhold from action and be still.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best, and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11)

We must learn to discern the voice which directs us–an awareness and ability that grows from knowing the love of God.

This lent I have devoted myself to the discipline of simplicity–offering myself, especially, in words said and unsaid as clay to be reformed by the touch of Christ’s redemption.

This past week was midterms.  In the past weeks, we have cared for friends who are mourning losses in their immediate families.   Last week, we met our month’s financial pot for the month.  This week finally seems to be the end of months-worth of frustration to change my name, join bank accounts, change health insurance plans, and meet many other adult-newly-married responsibility tasks.  And we have begun to truly shape one another as man and wife in discussing points of growth and affirming opportunities met in beautiful ways.  We’re being shaped in the tension for sure.  But I must also admit, there have been too many moments–lasting much more than one moment–where I spiral, allowing tasks to get the best of me.  I have been overwhelmed.

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.
Reinhold Niebuhr

Overwhelmed… Simplicity… These appear to be two sides of the same coin.  Makes sense that one who battles feelings of being overwhelmed would be challenged to stewardship and surrender in the act of simplicity before the Lord.  So here I am in the midst of remodeling.

You are sovereign Lord! And You will always be sovereign, Lord.  There will never be a time when You are not sovereign.  You are and will always be sovereign above all things.

Being overwhelmed means that the doing becomes unbearable.  There is too much to do, we simply cannot be.  Peter Scazzero challenges us to self-reflection, confession, and acceptance of the process of sanctification as he admits–to which I am also guilty (p.58):

We attach our wills to the belief that someting less than God will satisfy us.  We think if we just accomplish that one big goal, then we will really feel content and good about oursevles.  We will be ‘finished’ and able to rest.

It is out of being that our doing has purpose.  Being, then doing.  Being becomes doing.  In being with God, we are moved to action–doing for God–and not the other way around.

Overwhelmed is to be overpowered with an excessive amount of anything; overcome, especially with superior forces; destroyed; crushed; covered or buried beneath a mass of something as floodwaters, debris, or an avalanche; submerged; or, overthrown.

Ever felt overpowered by an excessive amount of responsibilities calling out for your attention–tasks that keep you from simply being, that beckon you to ‘finish’ before you can rest?

I sure have.  I know the tools that I teach others, yet, sometimes the tasks seem to be relentless prison guards.  Sometimes they even disguise themselves, claiming to be the very thing that would honor God, yet, in my obedience to the task, I find myself distant from and desperate for God.

“There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.” – Jesus Culture

God may challenge us, but He would NEVER lead a child to suffocate or drown on their own.  Separation from His children is NOT God’s desire.  Doing and being overwhelmed by the doings can lead to separation from God–where we are no longer attuned to His voice but are commanded by the perceived need to complete tasks.

“Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus says, “You will be able to bear the load I have for you.”

God, I do not wish to drown.  I do not wish to suffocate.  If I am overthrown, may it be that I am overthrown by You–humbled by Your reign.  If I am overwhelmed, may it be by Your presence.  If I am overpowered, may it be by Your strength, Your power.  If I am submerged, may it be in Your Word, Your Truth.  God, I surrender.  I want to know You more. 

I know that when I am overwhelmed I have either consciously or unconsciously chosen to prioritize tasks, the doing, over my surrendered being with God.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians2:12).

We can examine what is according to His good purpose by knowing God and knowing God’s Truth as it is written in Scripture.  Anything that is not according to God’s good purpose we can then distinguish as not from God working in us.  If it isn’t God who is working in us when we choose doing, who is it?

 God is not a god of confusion.  Who would want to inspire confusion in us? Satan and his army. Remember: God is omnipresent and can be with you wherever you are and with all people where they are.  Satan does not hold such power nor authority.

That means as we are made in God’s image, standing as God’s children we can choose to bow our knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and as we do, we submit ourselves to God, aligning our will with His, and surrender to God working in us “to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:9-12).

  • What does my life show? I do more than I be right now.
  • What do I desire? I desire to know God and to do only which pleases God.

My life does not show the desire of my heart… perhaps, then, it is not my heart that dictates my actions, but my mind…

“Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Dr. Caroline Leaf discusses the neuropsychology behind taking every thought captive.  She suggests it takes 21 days to replace the thought.  Let us feed and be filled by Your Word, God. That we would have the strength to persevere, to endure as we begin this process of sanctification in our minds.  I hope to be able to discern, to choose ‘God work in me, so that You may do in me that which is according to Your good purpose’ over what seems convenient or stressful and needs relieving.  Remind me, God, that You are all I need.

 The process of renewing our minds:

For twenty-one days…

Admit: Acknowledge the toxic thought

Quit: Eliminate the toxic thought by focusing on the healthy replacement thought, denying the unhealthy habit

For the following forty-two days…

Beat: Stabilize the strength of a healthy replacement habit to beat and remove possibility of regrowth of the eliminated toxic thought

The result: The natural choice in our unconscious stems from our restructured healthy habit, NOT the toxic thought life that once was.

Steps to take with honest reflection…

  1. What do I prioritize?
  2. What does God prioritize?
  3. What keeps me from being with God (admit)?
  4. Sit with God and learn the surrender of those very things that keep us from Him (quit)
  5. Allow God to renew Your mind, that His Spirit may be known and adored by Your spirit–rejoicing always and praying without ceasing as you make choices to live a life of love–honoring God, self, and others (beat).

Let’s be the Bride of Christ–doing from our being.

God, I want to live an uncluttered life.  Simplify what is of me and what is of the enemy.  Rebuke his grasp.  Overwhelm me with Your presence that all else may fall to ruin.  You are all I need Lord.  I believe in Your renewing power.  Cleanse me, O God.  Make me more like You.  Might my image of You grow to be truer and truer each day I spend with You.  I love You, Jesus, Amen.

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Tonight, just minutes after writing about my recent conversation about God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with my father, I spoke with a young man about the purpose of life.

As he spoke of reasons why he plans on taking his life, I focused on the, “You know how God uses different tools, I’m an encouragement tool, but maybe life would be better if I weren’t in it.”  Based on the laws and standards of my work (volunteer position), I am unable to volunteer information of my personal opinions or beliefs.  I cannot disclose that I am a Christian or that my answer to why should I continue to live? is “because God has a purpose for your life!”

And yet, I paused, and said out loud, “I’m about to break some rules.  Do you mind if I share my interpretation of your tool belt analogy?” As I began to explain the functions of the Body of Christ through an analogy of a construction worker building a house with fewer tools than necessary, the line went dead.

Quickly, I began to pray that the young man would find his way to call once more.  All the while, thinking, out of the last year I have not had a government listener, but today, the day I chose to break the rules, perhaps, he/she heard me and discontinued the call.  Prevented me from speaking God’s Truth into this man’s life.  Worried partially for myself, but more so for the salvation of this young man, I prayed.  And the phone rang, here he was again, “I don’t know what happened, but the phone line got disconnected.  What you were saying was very interesting.  Can you continue?”

My inner Spirit wanted to scream YES! I would love to share with you, I was overjoyed! I continued with the story, and as I spoke, he reiterated time and time again, “You interpreted that perfectly..”  This coming from a young man who was under the impression that no one cares to get to know the real him.

God knows each of us intimately, we cannot hide from Him.  In this particular conversation, the Spirit revealed insights that led this young man to reconsider the existence of God and instilled within him the desire to study the purpose of life.

This young man was considerate and said, “I would like to know what you think the purpose of life is, but don’t want you to break any laws.” I gulped and continued to speak.  I technically did not break any laws.  I praise God that He worked in the conversation and temporarily saved the physical life of this young man, and am delighted to know He has been invited to work on the spiritual life of him as well.

The young man, lets call him J-, was able to see that the job could not be completed without all the tools, and that God has a use for his encouragement.  He agreed to meeting with a chosen pastor to discuss the purpose of life, his parent’s love, death and life, and where God is in the midst of darkness.

As our conversation ended, I began to consider the threat of sharing the Gospel with this young man.  If I were in Afghanistan, I could be beheaded.  In another country, I may be imprisoned.  But as it stood, I could have been fined and fired. Still not a desired end, but so worth it if this young man were truly saved and met Jesus through our shared words!

Let us pray for the persecuted and be mindful of the authority of our lives.  My authority is God’s Word.  Let what is Caesar’s be Caesar’s and God’s be God’s (Matthew 12:17) … J- is God’s!  Who do you claim as God’s in your environment?  Have you begun to share God’s gift with them?

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August 13, 2014

The woman was convinced.  She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  They she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.  So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves…So they hid from the LORD God among the trees…Then the LORD God asked the woman, ‘What have you done?’ ‘The serpent deceived me,’ she replied. ‘That’s why I ate it.”

Unfortunately, Genesis 3 can be attributed all of our guilt, shame, and suffering.  Because of Eve yearned for what she could not have, we too yearn.  Thankfully, through the life of Jesus, we as believers have Good News. There is victory over death.  “The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam–that is Christ–is a life-giving Spirit…Let me reveal to you a wonderful secret.  We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 51).

In times of defeat, where we feel deceived by the serpent, let us concentrate on the life-giving Spirit.  Mark Driscoll speaks on these verses,

It is interesting, isn’t it? The first Adam forgot who he was, the last Adam didn’t. When Satan came to Jesus, he said, ‘Do no put the Lord your God to the test.’  He went back to the issue of identity.  I know who I am, so I know what to do…The issue of identity comes down to being in Adam or in Christ.  The first Adam turned from the Father in the garden, the last Adam turned toward the Father in a garden…In Adam there is defeat, but in the last Adam, there is victory.  In Adam there is condemnation, but in the last Adam there is salvation…In Adam we are cursed, but in the last Adam we are blessed.

Where is your identity? In times of trial, when battling mental or physical illness, are you in Adam or in Jesus?  Who do you cry out to or who do you blame?

Eve chose to eat from the tree, desiring its’ wisdom.  She was unaware and then her eyes were opened to the shame.  God made it clear then when she told them to not eat from the tree.  Now we have Scripture, “Look to God’s instructions and teachings!” (Isaiah 8:19).

“When we choose to sin, we choose to suffer.  And when we break God’s laws, we also break God’s heart,” (Mark Driscoll, “Good News Before Bad Advice”).

I know I fall short, but I do not desire to break God’s heart.  Rather, I’d like to be a recipient of transformation, “God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please Him” (Ecclesiastes 2:26).

May we have the strength to obey Him.  Oh wait, my prayer has already been answered.  He promises, For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).

It is true, “According to the path of Good News, Jesus changes who you are and helps you change what you do. Who you are determines what you do.  Jesus says it this way, ‘A good tree bears good fruit,'” (Mark Driscoll).

Therefore, no matter the trial you are in, you have a choice.  A choice to follow the path of deceit or to remain obedient.

“You’re identity precedes your activity…The decisions people make are in light of who they think they are.”

Who do you say you are?

Are you an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do you own your physical body or do you yearn for your perfect, heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15)?

Whatever the weight is on your shoulders, know that on the path of Good News, “In Christ you are not just forgiven, you are new.”

Reach out.  Find a Bible.  Call a church.  Become a member of Jesus’ Church.  Wear white, for you are made new.  He treasures you as His bride.

Nothing about Jesus is imperfect. Nothing. God’s love for His people is immeasurable.

Do you accept it?  Can you embrace the identity He has gifted you?

My favorite image will remain,

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

Abraham willing to sacrifice his son

God’s love for Abraham was so abundant that he allowed for a lamb to substitute the offering of his son (Genesis 22).  However, God’s love for His people allowed an everlasting offering.  Where God dismissed Isaac, He replaced all sin by offering His only son.

Jesus Christ gives us new life.  Although it doesn’t always feel physical, know that your burdens are lifted.  That the pain of mental or physical illness is not too heavy for God.

As a follower helped Jesus carry His cross, allow Jesus to help you carry yours.

You belong.  I belong. We belong to a great Family.  Our Father knows discipline, mercy, grace, and love in its’ perfect form.

Brene Brown, Ph.D. and researcher of shame and vulnerability says this quite well, “Belonging is the innate human desire to be apart of something larger than us…True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Allow yourself to be seen. And once you reach that place of vulnerability and Jesus has transformed you, may it not be the imperfections of man that the world views, but rather may you be seen for the example of Christ that you are unto humanity.

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August 12, 2014

This would be the part two of a previous post; however, I came to the rationale that perhaps what was written should have never been broadcast.  Either way, somehow it was unsaved and vanished from my computer’s memory.

That leaves us with this.

The death by suicide of Robin Williams has brought public attention to the seriousness of mental illnesses. I pray that as media begins to lessen the attention on specific suicides, overdoses, school shootings, etc. that we as the people do not forget the impact such illnesses have on individual choices.

I have a deep respect for how Pastor Mark Driscoll accounts for the separation of Christians and non-Christians, he states, “For the Christian, this life is as bad as it gets.  For the non-Christian, this life is as good as it gets.  And that is what I want you to understand.”

Either way, life is difficult.  We each have our short-comings.

I don’t want to act as if I am an expert on anything about Robin William’s life, and therefore will only add this one bit in reflection.  Matt Walsh has been receiving a lot of criticism for his chosen words in reflecting the passing of Williams.  I personally appreciate his boldness in recognizing the danger of messages such as “Genie, you’re free.” as posted by @theacademy.  Positive references allow onlookers to re-examine their thoughts about attempting to take their own life.  Scientifically, speaking of suicide does not increase the probability of one taking his or her own life; however, when an individual is seeking an escape from the current burdens of their own life and are holding on for one reason only.  Perhaps the reason is the impact it will have on those left behind or the fear that it is a lasting decision.  Speaking of peace and freedom weighs heavier on the “it is time to let go” versus the “fight to keep holding on” side of the battle.

Considering taking one’s life is a battle. Choosing to reach out is bold and the first sign of ambivalence.  If you are the receiving end of the conversation ENGAGE, take it SERIOUSLY, and LISTEN.  God is using you, and can save a person’s life–both the physical body and the salvation of their soul.

As a suicide prevention counselor the key is to always allow the caller to feel they are in control.  Therefore, we are not permitted to take suicide off the table for them.  Rather, we lead the struggling individual in a temporary partnership to seek alternatives.  Mental illnesses can be blinding to the individual; our job is to say the words and not be afraid: suicide…depression…suicide.

Warning signs are crucial.  Are your eyes open to the needs around you?

Mark Driscoll says this,

I want you to see when you meet with people and when they tell you what has dropped on their life..they ask one question, ‘What should I do?’ …That is a sacred moment, a significant moment, a strategic moment.  I want you to see that they have just opened the door of their soul to you…they have invited you in, they are trusting in you. And Jesus has placed you there, in that moment, to be the person they talk to, and invite in.

The words of Mark Driscoll that I have chosen to include in this reflection and proactive invitation to all my readers was spoken to the American Association of Christian Counselors at the 2013 World Conference.  His words are not in response to any one particular tragedy.  He speaks according to God’s advice for good counsel in leading with preaching the Good News before offering human advice.

He understands that “for a lot of people, they never get to this moment.  They will suffer in silence.”  Take the invitation seriously.   As an individual who has been the counselor or friend in several conversations about the threat of suicide, I ask you this: Don’t feel responsible for another individual’s life decisions.  And if the unfortunate does occur, don’t feel guilty.

Be prepared that even if you are willing to say the words, to approach the intimate moments of reflection, to speak of the hope in finding new identity, unfortunately sometimes, we do not witness the victory we hoped to see.

I do pray though, that you see this bit of honesty and know it is not an excuse to run from the hard conversations.

I must also add, if you read this and think this is a reason not to unload your burdens on someone, please reconsider.  If you can’t think of someone you trust that could engage with you about your thoughts or concerns, you can start by calling a hotline to talk or to consider a prevention plan.

On the hotlines, I am told to guide the caller to answering their own questions. Sometimes I feel led to comfortably share a little good advice.  But am told not to share the Good News.  When God needs His Truth to be known, He opens opportunity for me to engage in clear waters.

I am here.  God has gifted me with a compassionate heart.  And this year, He has led me to feel the sorrow and victory over the mercy shared. Please know, it is by God’s strength that I am able to listen, to comfort, to lift high, to cry with, and to rejoice with you when the time is right.  May you find a person to trust–whether it be me, your family member, a dear friend, pastor, or mentor–that can tell you the path of obedience, the path to salvation, the path to dancing in the glory of God.

And if you are reading this thinking, I could be that person for my husband, for my friend, for my sister, for my– you fill in the blank.  Please recognize that it is important to first humble yourself.  It is not by our authority that we share words of knowledge in someone’s life, rather we submit to the authority of God’s Truth and by that we wisely comfort as He embraces the individual in their vulnerability and pain.

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” – Martin Buber

My prayer, whether it be God’s design to raise and lift up the spirits of these individuals struggling through mental illnesses in their current bodies.  To restore these physical bodies.  Or it is His ambitious, God-glorifying vision to meet with them and to fully resurrect their bodies into a Heaven-ward individual in the future.  Either way, our purpose is to make disciples of the nations.  Let it be known that God is with us in our struggles.  Let it be known that we have life, we have hope, and we have a new identity in what Christ has offered by the sacrifice on the cross.  All has been done, nothing needs to be done.  We cannot do anything to make up for the lives we have lived in sin and fear, rather, we must hold on and grip the Truth, the life of Jesus Christ.  For it has been done and we are free.  Let us live in freedom, not choose death to be free from life.  Let us walk in confident hope that our identity is a reflection of Christ and not dictated by the fall of man. We are presently free.  Lift off the chains and claim victory over disease!  God is in control.

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