Tag Archives: depression

Wake Up and Seize the Day

There are days when one sleeps late, therefore doesn’t get out of bed on time to go to work, or something like that.

Then there are other days when you’ve worked hard (or partied hard) the night before, so you decide to sleep a little longer in the morning.

Sometimes we get the flu, or just a cold, and when morning comes there’s nothing else to do but pull the covers over your head and have your spouse cancel all your appointments.

Then there are times when the last thing you want to do is get out of bed and face another day. Putting your feet on the ground will mean having to do something, to think through something, to deal with somebody, or face an insurmountable situation.

That’s the kind of day I’m having; I just didn’t want to get out of bed.

Nevertheless, I’m up, or I wouldn’t be writing this. If nothing else, having a little dog that can’t figure out how to use a toilet and can’t open the front door sorta makes staying in bed indefinitely a problem. Oh for a doggie door!

But I must remind myself that each and every day is a day the Lord has made. To waste it – even the parts I don’t like – is to waste a priceless gift the Creator has given me. It might be difficult at the moment, but I must “rejoice and be glad in it.”

I have the physical strength to face another day, but my mental and spiritual strength is weak. Does that give me an excuse? Well, what does “when I am weak, He is strong” mean? Does it only apply to the day after a workout?

Some might call it depression. Some might call it the blues. Some might chalk it up to working, more or less, seven days a week (wait, how could I work “more” than seven days?). Some might call it burnout. Whatever it is, I’m breathing, the sun is shining, I’m just a steward of what has been given me, and there’s no guarantee of a tomorrow.

Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all. – 1 Chronicles 29:12 KJV

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11 KJV

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. – Psalm 119:116 KJV

God gave this day to us for a reason, so we must seize it! Carpe diem! Who knows? Home might be just around the corner.

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Filed under Depression, General Observations, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials

From Regret to Radiance

No Regrets

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say of life, “I have no regrets.” It amazes me, for I don’t see how it’s possible. How can one look back on one’s life and find nothing regretful?

To be honest, the only people I’ve encountered who actually said that were people who were unwilling to admit they’ve ever done anything wrong. They are the type of people who, when confronted with some wrongdoing which caused pain in others, refuse to accept any responsibility. Therefore, I believe the person who says he has “no regrets” is either lying or in denial.

Many Regrets

Look, I’m not perfect. I’ve done a lot of things I regret. I’ve broken things, lost things, wasted things, and hurt things. I’ve wounded hearts, scarred lives, and wasted ungodly amounts of irreplaceable time.

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Photo credit: Katie Baker

Besides the things I’ve done, there’s also the things I didn’t do. For example, I could have told my dad I loved him the day he died instead of storming out of the house and speeding away.

I could have walked away from that relationship before our hearts were broken and our innocence lost.

And speaking of lost, I could shared Jesus with those people before they went out into eternity. But I didn’t, and I regret it.

Moving On

Every once in awhile my past creeps back into my mind, bringing with it the pain of regret. There has even been times when I could echo the words of David when he said:

“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” – Psalm 6:6 NLT

But like King David, I’ve had to move on. After being judged by God for his sin, David wrote in Psalm 51:8, “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice!” (ESV). He begged God for forgiveness, then he accepted it. We must learn to to do the same.

When we fail to accept God’s unmerited grace, we not only waste away (2 Corinthians 7:10), but we open ourselves up to the Enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). And in case you haven’t noticed, Satan is always ready to attack where we are weak.

Press On

I know it’s hard to do, but we must do even more than move on – we must “press on.”

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining 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 ESV

When those painful regrets come to mind, don’t let depression hold you back and weigh you down – press on! Be tough, push the past aside, be disciplined, and press on toward what lies ahead.

Be Radiant

God saw our future, along with our past, when He purchased us with His blood. Therefore, what He has forgiven we must also forgive, and that includes forgiving ourselves. Accept that the past happened, but learn from it and rest in the grace of God.

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:4-5 ESV

Turn your regrets over to the God of mercy and grace and quit living in shame. He can work miracles with broken things, including your past. You survived for a reason.

You have a hope this darkened world needs to see, so don’t be regretful; be RADIANT! 

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Filed under Depression, self-worth

“Maybe You Should Seek Counseling?”

The Atheist

Every once in a while I encounter one of those atheists. Those atheists are the ones who troll the internet in search of Christian blogs, their prime objective being to “enlighten” us (i.e., intimidate us into silence) with their browbeating, far-superior intellects and firmer grasp on all things biblical and theological. They are the bullies of the blogosphere, dutifully heeding Richard Dawkins’ call for mockery.

Today, one of those atheists made a comment on a comment I made on another blog. His tone was condescending, irreverent, and vulgar (in his particular shade), just as always. Then, after some purposeful sarcastic language from me (which is all he is now qualified to receive, for it’s obvious anything more is casting pearls before swine), he said: “You really do have issues, Anthony. Maybe you should seek counselling?”

My response…

“Ha! You don’t know the half!”

His reply…

“You are right, I do not. But maybe this is half the reason you sought your god in the first place, perhaps?”

My response…

“Actually, that’s why my God sought me (Luke 4:18).”

His final reply, showing complete and willful ignorance…

“Really? What were you doing, Anthony, lurking in a back-alley?”

I Have Issues

The thing from the above exchange that stuck with me was the comment about me needing counseling. If the truth be known, we ALL have issues, and I am certainly no exception. For that matter, I am well acquainted with counseling and counselors.

It wasn’t worth my time to go into any detail with the obviously antagonistic troll who only wanted to get a rise out of me. Had he been one who really cared, if it would have done any good, I might have shared with him some deeper truths concerning the atonement and redemption, of the God who came to seek and to save the lost, to heal the brokenhearted.

But he scoffs at all that. He is no sinner. There is no God to whom he must answer. There is no need for crutches; he’s not crippled!

But I am broken. I am wounded. I do suffer from scars. I do deal with painful memories. I don’t have all the answers when I hurt, much less answers for others. I long for ultimate redemption! I do struggle with temptation. There are times when I feel overwhelmed, afraid, helpless, and hopeless. And yes, sometimes my faith gets weak.

Sometimes I do hide from my God…in my thoughts…in my books…in activities…even in the occasional dark and secluded place – much like a back alley.

But then Jesus comes looking for me, saying, Anthony, where art thou?

My response?

“Here I am, Lord.”

His reply…

“I know, but why?”

My response…

“I was ashamed. I was afraid. I was angry at You, and myself, and angry I felt that way.”

His reply…

“Son, you’ve got issues.”

Me….

“I sorry…..  I’m so sorry.”

His still, small voice…

“I know, son. But hey! I’m your Counselor! Let’s talk about it.”

Then what follows is the kind of counseling those atheists will never be able to understand…because they don’t have issues.

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Facebook Depresses Me

Depression

How can one not get depressed in this day and age? For me to claim that I never get depressed would not only be a lie, but an absurdity few would believe. For crying out loud – with varying degrees of severity – I’m only human!

I’ve heard some tell me, “But brother, you’re a minister, a pastor! Real Christians never get depressed.” I usually respond with, “Have you never heard of Jonah? Elijah? Spurgeon?” Even the greatest men of God have fallen into times of deep despair, so what makes me immune?

Depression can come on at times when we least expect it, draining all joy and optimism from even the most hopeful. However, if we can distinguish what sends us into downward spirals, those initiators of depression, it would be much easier to stay upbeat and positive.

I think I have found one of those initiators, and it’s called Facebook.

Warning!

photo (66)I think that Facebook should come with a “warning” label. Seriously! It can be dangerous! It can be utterly depressing!

Think about it, there’s really very little by way of good news on Facebook. Sure, there are the regular kitten pics and funny memes, the morning devotionals, and the occasional video of someone looking like a fool, but where’s the hope? Where’s the good news?

What I typically find on Facebook is bad news, threats of violence, predictions of doom, loads of racism and bigotry (from all sides), political tension, and food pictures. Even what might be good news to some ends up becoming a source of envy for everyone else (even me). For example:

  • “Look at my new car! I got a great deal because my perfect credit score!”
  • “Here we are at our child’s graduation from Harvard Law School.”
  • “Praise God! We had 5,000 at church this morning, 495 of whom made professions for Christ! 15 surrendered to the ministry!”
  • “Having a wonderful time in Hawaii! Looking forward to our next 10 mission trips around the world! Come join us, if you can!”

Honestly, I think there should be a big, fat warning label on Facebook, at least for my sake. Nevertheless, I may have learned my lesson.

Look Elsewhere

Just the other day as I was trying to figure out what it was that was making me feel so depressed, that bummed out kind of feeling I couldn’t shake, I picked up my cell phone and, out of habit, clicked the Facebook icon. I still remember the very words I whispered to myself as I started to scroll down through the updated stories…

“It sure would make me happy if I could just find some good news.”

Almost immediately it was like the Voice that woke little Samuel from his sleep boomed into my conscience…

“Maybe you should quit searching for good news to make you happy and find your happiness in THE Good News.”

That was it! How can I remain hopeful, joyful, happy, and upbeat when nearly everything I see on Facebook is bad news? There’s reports of terrorism, possible financial collapse, children missing, rampant immorality, religious persecution, Christians acting like heathen, and even stuff to make me envious…why think on these things???

Seriously, a great deal of the depression with which many of us battle could simply be the result of looking for hope where there is no hope. Will my political party win? Will there be something funny to make me smile? Will someone somewhere finally make the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Westboro Baptists shut the heck up?

What does it matter? Who cares?!! Has God lost control? Has his arm become too short, his hand too weak? Has a single nation risen or fallen outside His sovereign will? NO!!! 

No App Needed

The GOOD NEWS is that God is still on the throne; I am His child and He loves me; He loves the world so much that it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, He’s still ready and willing to forgive; no law of the land can change the law of God; and one day all things will be made right.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling a little depressed, put away your phone and do a little social networking with the Lord…there’s no app for that.

 

*NOTE: Andrew Zuckerman did not approve the use of the Facebook logo for this post. However, if I ever start making any money from this blog I will take the image down. Until then the warning stays. Consider it free advertising, Mr. Zukerman.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, Depression

Don’t Grow Weary

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” – Galatians 6:9

I must keep reminding myself of this. But right now I’d be happy to go live in a cave and cover my head with pillow.

I’m growing tired; I can’t do this in my own strength.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Jesus, I need you.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture Wars, current events, Depression

He Didn’t Strike Me Dead

I pray the following will encourage someone.

Confession time… I shook my fist at God, cursed Him, and asked him to kill me where I stood.

It was around 15 years ago in Kentucky, and it was a bad time in my life, needless to say. It wasn’t that I had lost almost everything except my wife and children; God was doing a work in my life, purging me of my pride.

The Unfaithful One

Kentucky offered a step up in what was proving to be an already successful career. On top of that, I thought by moving to Christian County (get that? Christian? A sign?), a place where at the time there were thirteen churches without pastors, surely God was opening a door for me to preach. Yep, things were looking great, and it was all about me.

Long story short, not only did my new position not pay the expected $90k+ a year, it was completely done away with! No longer could I afford the nice house in the historic district, or the nice car, or the private education for my girls; it took working four part-time jobs just to keep the power on! What was worse was watching my wife wait tables and clean houses (with a smile, no less) just to make ends meet.

That’s when full-blown depression set in. We’re talking suicidal thoughts, counseling, meds, nearly getting committed…you name it.

One evening, on my way home, I stopped by a liquor store  (they actually have drive-thru’s in KY) and bought a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. I had not eaten anything all day, so on an empty stomach this non-drinker decided to down a bottle of alcohol while walking around our neighborhood. After much contemplation, I’d already determined I was too fearful to kill myself, so I tried a different approach – tell God exactly what I thought of Him and His so-called “plan” for my life.

Literally, with my fist clenched and thrust toward the sky, I cursed God with every word I could think of. I condemned Him for letting me be humiliated; for bringing me to this point and abandoning me; for making me think everything would work for the best. I literally dared God – I begged God – to take my life. Like I had told a former prayer partner whom my wife had called on my behalf, just to try to talk some sense into me – he said, “Don’t you know you have a family who loves you? – I just didn’t care anymore.

Again, it was all about me.

The Faithful One

But even at that moment of total despair and resentment, that “still small Voice” was hard to drown out with my obscenities and vulgarities. “I love you,” He said, “and I know you don’t really mean what you’re saying…and even if you do, I still love you.

I didn’t want to hear it! Like a little boy throwing a tantrum, I was bent on pushing the envelope, just to make God angry back at me, I suppose… just to hear the kind of response I wanted to hear – confirmation I was worthless – which in turn would prove I was right about God.

But my Father was patient (Psalm 86:15). When I was faithless, He was faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). And when I came back to my senses, when I begged to be forgiven for the blasphemous things I’d said, He didn’t condemn me (Romans 8:1). No, on the contrary, He sat me on His knee, put his arm around me, and gently whispered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust.” – Psalm 103:12-14 

Friends, I am so thankful for the mercy and grace of God! All glory and honor are His! My God is Faithful and True!

Do you know Him?

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Filed under Alcohol, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Depression, Faith, God, Life Lessons, Love of God, self-worth, worship

Saturday Morning Prep Time

Sun Is Up!

Our daughter’s little dog, Jack, a Chuweenie, ran into the our bedroom, leaped on our bed, then on my chest, and in clearly-understandable dog language yelled with an obvious smile, “The sun’s up! You need up, too!”

All smiles

All smiles

Yep, the sun’s up, so now I’m up, having taken Jack out to do his business, and now back here at the computer listening to worship music (Keith and Kristin Getty) as my coffee brews.

It’s a Saturday morning, but Sunday’s coming! And I’m excited!

Preparing 

This morning started off with reading a selection from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening – oh, what a blessing! “Have faith in God,” Jesus says in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God!’

What better way to prepare for Sunday morning, or any morning, than to have faith in God? I can’t do anything in my own strength; I am weak, scared, inadequate, unprepared. But when I look forward toward tomorrow with faith in God, I can do so resolute that the battle is not mine, but His, and He is with me!

Little-faith says, “It is a rough road, beset with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;” but Great-faith remembers the promise, “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be:” and so she boldly ventures. Little-faith stands desponding, mingling her tears with the flood; but Great-faith sings, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:” and she fords the stream at once. – Spurgeon

I am looking forward with expectation to Sunday morning! God is going to bless us with His Word and His presence, even more faith. I may even show up to church as Little-faith, but when I leave I’ll be wearing some new “iron and brass” shoes!

Sun Up Earlier

But just remember, you who will actually wake up tomorrow with anticipation, set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed tonight. Otherwise, you might end up doing something few desire to do anymore – get to church early.

Have a great day in the Lord!

 

*Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Filed under Christian Living, Depression, Faith, God, worship