Category Archives: Depression

Regret: Let’s Talk About It

The place I preached to myself.

In one of the last sermons I’ll ever preach at South Soddy Baptist, I addressed a subject we’ll all deal with sooner or later…Regret.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been dealing with a little bit of regret, myself, as I leave one ministry behind and move to another. Therefore, even though this subject is one from which all of us could benefit, I think the Lord allowed me to preach to myself.

Below is an expanded outline of the sermon “Dealing With Regret.”


Regret in the Bible

There are several verses in the Bible that deal directly with the subject of regret. Some include the very words of famous Bible characters who have found themselves looking back and wishing things had been done differently.

David

One of the classic Psalms of King David (Psalm 51) is full of regret – regret for what he had done regarding adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Read the text, below, and try to get a sense of the weighty sorrow he must have been feeling when he came to realize the depth of the sin he had committed.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:7-10 CSB

This kind of regret is a good kind of regret! In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we read that “godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” In other words, David looked back on his actions and was sorry for them, wished that they had never happened, and that led him to seek forgiveness from the only One who could offer it.

Job

Poor old Job! I mean, this guy did everything right, yet he suffered in ways most of humanity will never come close to enduring. Is it any wonder why he had regrets? Well, his regrets were not for things he had done, but for the fact that he was born. Just read what he said after losing everything – his children, his wealth, his health, and even the support of his wife – in just one day.

May the day I was born perish, and the night that said, “A boy is conceived.” If only that day had turned to darkness! May God above not care about it, or light shine on it. … Why was I not stillborn; why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me, and why were there breasts for me to nurse? Now I would certainly be lying down in peace; I would be asleep. Then I would be at rest – Job 3:3-4, 11-13 CSB

Thankfully, God knew better than Job that his life was still worth living, despite all he had lost. He had no way of knowing that it was all a test, and one that he would ultimately pass.

Peter

Then there was Peter, the boastful disciple who swore he would stick with Jesus right to the end, yet denied him three times, just like Jesus promised he would do. What did Peter do?

Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. – Luke 22:61-62 CSB

Do you think Peter had any regrets? Of course he did! But how wonderful it was when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” No coincidence there.

Judas Iscariot

One of the most tragic stories of regret is the story of Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Disillusioned the the ministry of Jesus, Judas probably thought he was doing everybody a favor by turning Him over. But when he came to his senses and realized what he’d done, his regret took a deadly turn.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood,” he said. “What’s that to us? ” they said. “See to it yourself! ” So he threw the silver into the temple and departed. Then he went and hanged himself. – Matthew 27:3-5 CSB

Sadly, so many people these days do the same thing Judas did, in some way or another. They do something they regret, and instead of asking for forgiveness, they take their own lives. How different things could have been had Judas just asked Jesus to forgive him! But he didn’t live to eat that fish breakfast with Peter.

Fulton Oursler once said, “Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” When you stop and think about it, that’s pretty profound, especially when you consider that placing ourselves on the cross in the middle removes the only true Savior from the equation. When we take His place, regret is all we have – there’s no One to accept our repentance and offer forgiveness.

Combating Regret

So how do we combat regret? How do we get past the things that we’ve done, the things that we’ve said, the things about which we are ashamed, and move forward?

Let me share with you four things to remember, all based on different passages of Scripture.

Four Ways to Combat Regret…

  1. Pass the past and press for the prize. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do:] forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NASB).If you’re still alive, you’re still in the race! You can’t win a race by always looking back at the places where you’ve stumbled. Know you’ve messed up, ask forgiveness, then get back at it.
  2. Let the tub drain! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 KJV).Much of our debilitating regret is linked to having never forgiven ourselves, or having never fully accepted the forgiveness we’ve been given by Christ. Do you realize that when you don’t forgive yourself for something that Jesus has, you are essentially saying that your verdict is more important than God’s. In other words, if you’ve been forgiven by the One who died so that you could be, it’s a smack in His face to continually condemn yourself. If you’ve been forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness, let it go down the drain!
  3. There’s still a lion, so stop lyin’ around! “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).
    Don’t forget that we have an Enemy. The time you spend sulking over past defeats, looking back into the darkness of your past, or wiping away the tears of self-pity is time you are allowing the devil to sneak back in and do more damage. Keep your mind in the fight and watch out – others are depending on you, too!
  4. Look up and perk up! “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:4-5 NASB).
    What’s probably one of the best ways to combat regret? Keep your eyes on Jesus!

In a letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul spoke as one who had no regrets. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Yet, this same apostle admitted he did things he didn’t want to do, and he didn’t do things he wanted to do – in other words, there were things he wished he could have done differently.

However, when all was said and done, Paul spoke as one who had no regrets, for he had fought a “good fight,” finished the course that had been set before him, and “kept the faith.” The key is that he never gave up, but kept fighting and running until the end.

Alexander Graham Bell said:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” 

There are so many things I could have, should have done differently, but if I keep looking back at the closed door behind me, the wide-open door of opportunity will never be walked through. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can learn from it.

So, enough with the feelings of regret – I’m giving it to Jesus, letting the tub drain, and pressing forward toward the finish line.

You should, too. 

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Depression, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

Powerful Sales Video with Spiritual Application

Literally, no more than 3 minutes ago, I watched the video I’m sharing with you this morning.

Two days ago I got a phone call from a recruiter with the company behind the video and she promised to send me a couple of emails. In one of the emails was a link to this video.

Please don’t think I’m trying to sell you or recruit you into anything. Just watch the video below and see if you get the same reaction I did.

What a POWERFUL reminder that behind every smile is a story. For me, it is a powerful reminder that behind every face sitting in a pew (or on a cushy chair) in church, there is a life, a story.

Twenty years ago I was suicidal, taking lots of anti-depressants, and going to counseling multiple times a week. I came close to being admitted to a facility for my own safety. At the same time, I was going to church every time the doors were open, listening to the music and the preaching, doing my best to lie with my expressions.

How many other people do the same thing? How many people put up a front, build walls, and hide behind a false smile?

This video broke my heart for people: the lost, the broken, the hurting, the lonely, the scared, the abused, and the depressed.

It’s a reminder that every time I preach, every time I visit or knock on a door, every time I prayer-walk a street, there are little “stories” floating over people’s heads that only God can read.

They need Jesus to make their stories His-story.

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Filed under Depression, General Observations, ministry

Jesus Is More than a Crutch!

Last night I was sifting through boxes of stuff in my tiny office in the basement of our church and I came across several notebooks in which I’d maintained somewhat of a diary.

I’ll be honest with you, it’s been a pretty difficult time around here, lately. Not only has my faith been tested on an hourly basis, but my own brokenness has been made clear over and over again. When I took a few minutes to flip through the pages of those old notebooks, all from over a decade ago, the truth that my broken condition is chronic became obvious.

But there was one page I found where I had written some encouraging words. However, they weren’t words of affirmation meant to build up my ego or make me feel better about myself; they were attestations to the fact that Jesus is more, so much more, than a crutch to me.

Below is a copy of the text…

You say you don’t need Jesus because you don’t need a crutch. If you don’t think you need him, then maybe you’re crippled to high for crutches.

Jesus is more than a crutch!

Throw away Jesus and take the Devil, but I choose Jesus.

Just think about it:

The Devil tries to burden me down
    -Jesus says, “Cast your cares on me.”

“Forgiven” by Thomas Blackshear

The Devil wants me to sin.
    -Jesus bore my sin.

Satan will try to weaken me.
     -Jesus is my strength.

When Satan fires his arrows at me,
    -Jesus is my Shield.

In the midst of the storm
    -Jesus hides me in his hand.

Satan would see me defeated.
    -Jesus fights my battles.

Satan would have me fall into despair.
    -Jesus lifts me from the pit.

Satan would harm me.
    -Jesus will heal me.

When darkness is all around and Satan would blind me,
    -Jesus is my Light.

When Satan says, “There is no way,”
    -Jesus says, “I AM THE WAY”

When Satan says I’m guilty,
    -Jesus paid my debt.

When the Devil would lead me astray,
    -Jesus is my Shepherd.

When the Devil would watch me fall,
    -Jesus carries me.

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, help me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.
Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.” – Thomas A. Dorsey

He leads; He goes before; He walks beside; He holds me; He carries me; He helps me to stand; He gives me a race to run: He’s so much more than a “crutch” to me.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, Jesus, worship, writing

More “Wonderful” than Given Credit

In 1946 one of the best films ever made, was released by RKO Studios. The film was called “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I try to watch it before Christmas every year, as many other people do. It’s just too much of a classic not to.

But not long ago, as I was talking with someone about this movie, my emotions bubbled to the surface and started leaking out of my eyes. As I thought of the movie’s message and what it means to me, I couldn’t help but wonder how many suicides this movie has prevented since it’s release 72 years ago.

How many people have gone through life seeing dream after dream crushed by circumstances and between-a-rock-and-a-hard place decisions? How many people have been able to sympathize with the character of George Bailey as he tried and tried to get ahead, but was always forced to make a moral choice resulting in him having to sacrifice while others accomplished their dreams?

How many people have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” at a time when they were contemplating jumping off their own snow-covered bridge?

I’d say the number is far more than anyone can imagine.

So, if you get a chance to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again this year (or for the first time), remember that there are a lot of people who are struggling with life, whether or not it’s better to die than to keep living with disappointment and shattered dreams.

Pray that God will continue to use this classic to spread the message that every life is precious, no matter the circumstances, no matter how much a failure we think we are.

And even when all seems hopeless, as it does at one point for the character of George Bailey, be reminded that angels are real, God knows what we are going through, and an unexpected resolution might be just around the corner.

Just don’t lose hope and keep others from jumping. 

 

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Filed under Depression, Faith, Life Lessons, Movie review, self-worth

The Master Is Still Playing

An Old Post

Today, a stranger payed me $80 for a 1/4 size violin. It was the one my youngest daughter tried to play when she was just a tiny crumb cruncher. It was sad to see it go, even though it wasn’t being used.

As I was looking for a post to republish (because I didn’t feel like I had the energy or inspiration to write anything new), I came across something I wrote back in November of 2013…

It was about a violin.

Without going into detail, several years ago a question was posed to me, one that has an unfortunate habit of resurfacing:

“Tell me one thing I do well!” 

Someone close to me asked that question. Have you heard one like it before? Have you ever asked it about yourself?

Well, the words were not the same, but recently I’ve experienced some discouragement, some feelings of worthlessness. Maybe it was more than coincidence that a man who didn’t feel like writing found an old post about a violin.

Maybe it’s more than coincidence you’re reading this right now.

Now, let us join the edited old post already in progress…

The Violin

But as I lay in bed remembering those words, the image of a musical instrument, a violin, came to mind. Then I thought of my guitar and other instruments; each one capable of making beautiful, worshipful music, but only in the hands of one with talent enough to play.

I remembered those words spoken by another and applied them to the violin. The violin asked, “Tell me, name one thing I do well?” All I could think to reply was, “Nothing.” What can a violin do on it’s own but rest in a case, sit on a shelf, or gather dust in a closet? In the hands of one with no skill, with other things to do, and with no love for music, the violin could even become a wearisome burden over time.

In the wrong hands the violin is “worthless.” It has no value, no worth, no ability, no projection, no tone, and no song on it’s own. Alone, it really can’t do anything.

The Master

Then, right on cue, another thought exploded in my brain: What are we but instruments in the Master’s hands?

We have no ability on our own. The violin never plays itself. The only way a musical instrument can ring out notes of joyous praise is when it is given life by the energy of the Musician.

But some may say, “I’m not a violin, a guitar, or anything like that.” Maybe so, but in the hands of a skilled musician even a trash can can bring an audience to its feet.

You may not feel like you’re valuable. You may feel worthless. But don’t believe the lie of the Enemy! Your value is not determined by what you can do, or what you look like, or by what others think, but by how much the Master was willing to pay.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” – 1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV

Dear friend, don’t let your inadequacies, your mistakes, or your disabilities make you feel worthless. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, thought you were worth dying for, and willingly shed His blood to purchase your soul.

In your own strength you may be incapable of anything but being a burden on others. But in the hands of the Master, your life can be an instrument of praise in the concert of the ages.

Don’t give up! The Master is still playing … and the audience may be ready to applaud.  

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Filed under Depression, music, self-worth, worship, writing

Don’t Ask for a Sign

Just a little while ago, feeling a little down and discouraged – it’s been a rough few days, spiritually speaking – I thought out loud to God, saying:

“Lord, is there anything I wouldn’t give to see something tangible with my own eyes? Something to encourage me. Something to increase my faith.”

Almost immediately I heard a still, small Voice speak to my conscience, “Then it wouldn’t be faith, would it?”

Yeah, it was convicting. Are His promises not enough? Should I be any less obedient to His revealed Word if I never have an epiphany? Is the illumination of the Spirit of any less value than a beam of light?

We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).

What I should be praying is, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” Then, following faith, God can use a “sign” as confirmation.

If the sign comes before the faith, then the product will not be true faith, for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

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Fighting Sleep

It’s one o’clock in the morning, and I”m fighting sleep.

I don’t know why I’m having this moment,

But I’d rather lie in bed and type than weep.

The worries of the day, both past and yet to come

Have left me with my eyes wide open,

But my emotions are practically numb.

It’s quiet, now, as I’m the only one awake.

I could turn off the light and close the laptop,

Just giving in to the night is all it would take.

But as soon as I close my eyes, I’ll be asleep.

I should be praying for peace, giving it to God,

It would really probably help if I’d just weep.

The sooner I close my eyes, the sooner the sun will shine

And shed light on the battleground of my life.

I guess that’s why I want to savor the nighttime.

But there’s no winning without fighting,

And I”m not going to be any better off dead on my feet,

So, I guess it’s time to give up and go to sleep.

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