Tag Archives: faith

Let’s Talk About Depression (Seriously), Pt. 1

Don’t grade me on the look of this post, for I don’t want to take the time to make it look pretty.

Don’t judge my writing based on this one post, for it is not going to be eloquent or edited for content; I’m just going to share with you what’s on my mind, straight from the heart, holding little back.

Here we go.


Scarlett

For the last few days I have had another blogger on my mind. If you want to, go check her out at The Full Story and read her post “My Depression.”

Scarlett (aka, bloodmoonxxx99) has left some pretty pointed comments on this blog, especially regarding my post “Atheists On Christianity.” Because of those recent comments I decided to go to her blog to discover what she was really about – was she for real, or just another atheist troll out to try to yank my chain? Well, come to find out, she’s a broken, scarred, and hurting young woman who needs to be loved, just like the rest of us.

In “My Depression” Scarlett described some things I can understand, for I, too, know a lot about depression. I could feel her pain and sense her struggle. But I guess what really broke my heart was that I wish I could have offered her some real hope…some help…a Way to deal with it. Yet, as she will probably attest, I’m sure, she doesn’t want prayer, or Jesus.

Nevertheless, I’m going to pray for her. Frankly, I’ve had her on my mind all day long.

But enough about Scarlett, for now… Let’s talk about you and me.

My Depression Story (not Scarlett’s)

Have you ever been depressed? Have you ever suffered from clinical depression? What are your thoughts about depression? Do you think depression is a sin? A character flaw?  A mental problem? A weakness?

For the record, I am no stranger to depression; I battle with it on a regular basis. And when I say “battle,” I do mean an all-out fight at times…a fight to notice the sunlight while staring at it.

Years ago, when I was just sixteen, I nearly committed suicide. Had it not been for my dad knocking on the door of my bedroom, I would have pulled the trigger of the loaded 12ga. shotgun that was pointed inside my mouth. Long story short, no one had adequately taught me about God’s grace, only the legalistic perspective of holiness, and I was failing at it. I was ashamed of myself, my sin, and my constant asking for forgiveness. I came out of that period of my life, but without any counseling or help, because I kept it a secret.

Years later, I went from poverty to riches (practically speaking) as I moved up the ranks from a salesman in the funeral business, to manager. I was making more money than I ever dreamed possible for someone like me – every take-home paycheck each week had a comma in it. Now, I was not only legalistic, but I had money and was making a name for myself – literally, my name was actually the only thing used in a big radio campaign.

Then, in 2000 or so, the proverbial rug got jerked right out from under me and I, along with every thing I had, came crashing down. I hit rock bottom. I literally came to the point of shaking my fist at God, cursing Him with every vulgarity I could muster, and daring Him to kill me. I blamed Him for my career loss, my marriage problems, and especially my loss of ministry opportunity, and I wanted to die – I didn’t even care about hurting the ones who loved me most.

Until around 2002 I regularly went to counseling, at least twice a week, with both psychologists and psychiatrists. I was prescribed medication and was nearly committed to an institution for my own safety. It was almost impossible for me to see any future worth living, for my pride had been crushed, my self-righteousness had been proven worthless, and I couldn’t see why God would want to have anything else to do with me. For a while I was literally card-carrying crazy, or at least that’s how I described it.

What made it even worse was the fact that my wife loved me so much that she stayed with me, working extra jobs when I couldn’t hold a job. She loved me, even when I hated myself, and that made me hate myself even more – at least for a while.

But I specifically remember one night when I got drunk and started cursing God, telling Him exactly what I thought. It was in the midst of my wretched ranting that I heard that “still, small, Voice” whisper into my heart, “I know you don’t mean that, Anthony; but even if you do, I’m still here, and I still love you.”

Jesus wouldn’t let me go.

My Right Now

Now, let’s fast forward to today. For the last couple of days I have been dealing with some feelings of depression, and it’s been very difficult. What caused it? I’m not sure. All I know is that when it got triggered my mood went downhill faster than a Jamaican bobsled. In just a few hours I was wallowing in the muddy pit of despair, thinking terrible thoughts, even questioning my beliefs.

But what I have learned is that God is real, His ways are higher than our ways, and that whenever He is about to do something in our lives, or use us in the lives of others, the Enemy (who is also real) desires to counter those plans. More often than not, long before we even have a clue about what is going on, Satan and his minions are already working for our defeat and disgrace. It’s in our times of depression that we must realize our faith is the number-one target of the Devil.

Ultimately, in the plainest of explanations, the truest way to defeat depression of any kind is to hold on to our faith in God and his character. I submit the following video featuring Lauren Daigle.

This afternoon, after lying down for a short nap (it was a long night and I needed some sleep before getting back on the school bus), some words started coming to mind, sort of like a sermon outline, and all alliterated with the letter “P”.

What came to my mind were five (5) reasons why we get depressed…what causes depression in so many of us…what has resulted in deep depression in my on life.

I will share them with you in the next post. 

In the meantime, would you pray for Scarlett?

 

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Filed under Depression

“It was Jesus”: A Testimony of Faith and Praise

I am a blogger, a semi-professional writer, but my wife is not: she’s an accountant. Valerie deals with numbers all the time, not words.

However, when Valerie does write, she has a flair all her own, one that I could never duplicate…one you will enjoy. Therefore, when she recounted to me the conversation she had yesterday with her gynecologist, I knew you needed to hear it…

In her words.

So, what you are about to read are the words of my wife, Valerie. I’m turning over the keyboard to her.


I feel that to do the Lord the justice that He deserves, I need to go back about 12 years.  I had a complete hysterectomy, including my ovaries, when sweet Haley was maybe 4 years old.  Please understand this was not as a form of birth control; no, I would have had more children if I could have.  (I really do not know if Anthony and I had discussed more – maybe it was just me, but either way, you know who would have won that battle!)  I was very lucky to have the last two children that I had and am very thankful.

During the three-day hospital stay after having the hysterectomy, my sweet husband was by my side – sure wish I had pictures! Yes, he was sleeping on the chair/bed for the visitor who is crazy enough to stay.  The funny part is that I was hotter than I’d ever been and he was colder than he had ever been.  You see, on day two, it just happened to be the coldest day of winter that we had that year.  I looked over as I sat on the bed with only a hospital gown and panties on, to him with a toboggan, a winter coat zipped up tight, and several blankets.  I had the air conditioning on in the room and still was hot!  I guess I could have opened the windows, but I didn’t think about it.

Now, we lived in KY at the time.  After having two bad experiences at the local hospital (Jenny Stuart, but nick-named “Killer Stuart”) our family drove to the next closest hospital which was about 40 minutes away.  I was released just after lunch on day three.  I was still just burning up!  I had the window down and my head sticking out going down the Pennyrile Parkway in something-teen-degree weather.  Anthony?  He still had that same coat, toboggan, and now gloves on.  Somehow I figure this was a faster drive than usual.

I had a patch on my arm with hormones that I was supposed to wear five days, remove two days, and then apply a new patch for five days.  After the second day of the second patch, I ripped it off and Jesus and I had a little chat that went something like this:

Me: Jesus, you know that I did not desire this hysterectomy.

Me: Are you there?  I said I did not desire this hysterectomy!  I wanted more children…. (by now the tears are coming).

Jesus:  (He did not audibly speak to me, but the Word of God sure came flying at me.)  Be happy in whatever state you are in.  Be content with what you have.  I am here.  I will help you.  I love you.

Me:  Ok, I will be content and happy, but I really need for you to handle the hormone part because really just can not take the patches.

Jesus: (I waited….)

Well, things were much better.

In 2007 or 2008, I had my yearly exam at the gynecologist.  While waiting in the exam room, I was reading the poster on the back of the door about the pros and cons of estrogen.  Looked to me like the cons were medical complications and problems, and all the pros were for pleasure and nothing really medical at all.  After the exam, my doctor always leaves and has me dress and then the nurse will come and get me to take me to his office where he sits across the desk and talks to me about his findings and makes suggestions, etc.  While I was waiting for the nurse, I snapped a picture of the chart on the back of the door.

Once in his office, he began the spill that I had heard for year after year about how important estrogen is and how much better I would feel.  I brought up the poster on the door and he said, “The cons rarely ever happen.  In fact, I have never had a patient experience any of those problems.  So that year he convinced me.  I left and went to Target to get my estrogen prescription.

Two days later, Anthony and I were at the mall shopping (not my favorite thing.) and he said, “I wish you felt better.  We hardly ever get to do this.”  I told him if I could just vomit I though I would be better.  The next day, I went to work and I felt really bad.  I never even thought about the estrogen as the cause.  I was so really achy.  Could this be the flu?  I worked later than usual trying to get things finished up so when I was driving home I hit major traffic on I-24.  I typically drove the van, but for some reason that day was in the Honda Accord, which happened to be a 5-speed.  I remember my right arm hurting so badly that I was clutching with my left foot, holding the steering wheel straight with my right knee, and shifting with my left hand.  Traffic was c r a w l i n g!

Anthony NEVER meets me at the door when I come home unless I phone ahead and ask him to come out and help carry stuff in. That day, he did.  He opened the door, looked at me, and then said, “You look awful!”  It did not even hurt my feelings; my reply was only that I needed to read about female heart attacks.  I had all but two of the symptoms.  Needless to say, we headed straight to the ER.  My initial EKG was just a little off, nothing to worry too much about.  Other tests were showing things getting worse and a second EKG was not good.  I kept telling them, “It’s the ESTROGEN!” and they kept ignoring me.  I was admitted for further testing.  I finally got the floor doctor to hear me.  He didn’t believe that to be the cause but did tell me to call my GYN and have him come remove the estrogen.  I did it myself.  That was early morning.  As the day progressed, my test  results were getting better and better.  I fully expected to be going home.

But I have a daddy who has a lengthy heart history that was not impressing the doctor to make rash decisions.  My dad told my brother to make sure the doctor knows the family wants him to do a heart cath because my dad’s heart attacks never showed up on the early tests, but always ended up with stents after having a heart cath.  Well, the doctor agreed.  So here I go the next day into a very scary procedure.  I left with a clean bill of health, heart-wise, but with a diagnosis of “chemically induced heart attack. Listed in my chart was, “Allergic reaction to estrogen.”

Now, let’s finally fast forward to yesterday (4/19/2017). My yearly exam with the gynecologist.  Even though I have told him that estrogen had thrown me into a “chemically induced heart attack,” he tends to think it was co-incidence.  Each year we have that same talk, and each year I remind him.  This year was different.

Yesterday, I was waiting in his office admiring his children and cool artwork when he came in and sat behind the desk.

“Valerie,” he said, “I do not have you down as taking any kind of replacement hormones, and if my memory serves me correctly, you aren’t.”

I said, “No.”

He said, “I didn’t think so, but looking at your cells under a microscope, I am very surprised  – at your age and having no ovaries – to find that your cells look very estrogenized.”

He was puzzled to be sure!  I said in a very every-day, casual voice, “Oh, that is Jesus!” He looked up at me with a questioning expression.  I continued, “Years ago I told Jesus that I did not want to have a hysterectomy and that I had wanted more children and since I had to have one anyway, I asked him to take care of the hormones …and he has!”  He took it in and shook his head, looking back down to the chart, and then asked a more personal, intimate question that I really do not want to share on here… again, he was surprised.  I quickly added, “that is Jesus, too.”

You just never know where the opportunity to share Jesus will come up.  Even though I did not get the chance to tell him all about the Good News, I know a seed was planted.  I wonder how he slept last night?

– Valerie J. Baker

So, did you like what Valerie wrote? Let her know in the comment section.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Faith, God, Guest Posts, Prayer, worship

The Night Before

Just imagine with me… What would it have been like the night before the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Tomorrow is Easter, the day that we celebrate the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. But here it is the night before, the night before the celebrations, and few of us have any idea of the sense of total despair the followers of Jesus must have been experiencing on this night – the night before.

For three and a half years his disciples had followed Him around, listening to His stories, His parables, and His prayers. They had witnessed miracle after miracle which should have confirmed to them His claims to be the Messiah. Yet, just two days ago they witnessed the supposed Son of God, the “resurrection and the life” (that’s what he told Mary and Martha, you know, on the day He raised Lazarus from the dead), betrayed, beaten, falsely convicted, and tortuously crucified.

Then, after his tormentors had done all they could do, Jesus died. It was pretty obvious to all who were present.

It grew dark and the earth shook violently, as to add insult to injury, for even creation sensed the tragedy of it all.

They saw Him buried.

Some ran…some huddled as they hid…would they be next?

What of the “Kingdom” the Jesus had spoken of?

What good were the words “he that believeth on me shall not die, but have everlasting life” if the one saying it could be unjustly convicted, abandoned by heaven, and left to die in the most disgraceful and painful way? How could HE make such a promise if HE could die?

It was the night before, just like tonight, yet there was no anticipation of worship services or egg hunts – only the expectation of another sunrise without the Son.

They were afraid…broken…discouraged…faithless…confused…angry…directionless…without hope…

They were totally unprepared for what was about to happen, because the last thing they were thinking of was that this was…

the night before.

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“What Must I Do…?”

The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30) asked Paul and Silas a question that is still asked today, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” In response that question, I have written the following, simple post and included it in a permanent page, Eternal Life. Please, take the time to read it, then consider what you read. This is what I believe, and I’ve staked my eternity on it.

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” – C. S. Lewis

My Story

One day, when I was a boy, I took the chance. I placed all my eggs in one basket (and we’re not talking Easter eggs). The fate of my eternal soul, as much as I could grasp the idea, was placed in the control of a Man I had never seen in person, nor heard with my ear, but one I believed loved me and died for me.

Now that I’m older, I can use words I never knew back then, such as justification, atonement, and propitiation. But the simple truth that led me to surrender my heart and soul to this Man can still be explained with simple words…words written thousands of years ago… “For God so love the world, that He gave…

What did God give?

Do you know what a gift is? Sure you do. It is something you give to another when you care. It is something you give with no expectation of payment in return. It is best when it is something that required some sacrifice, but it was a joy to purchase. It means even more when you know the gift was something needed, but unexpected.

A gift is something that is received. I have a friend that has no more family, so for Christmas he goes out and buys things for his self, wraps them, and places them under a Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, all alone, he opens them. How sad is that? Those are not real gifts – he bought them!

According to God, as written in His Word, the Bible, eternal life is a gift. That’s right, a gift. In the letter to the Romans we read that the “gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23). God is offering it to you for the taking. He is offering it to you for free! But it wasn’t cheep. It cost Him a whole lot – it cost him his Son.

God loved the world so much, that He gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Why did God give his Son? Well, so that you and I could be rescued from the eternal penalty we owe for our sins – our breaking of God’s laws. Our lies, our lusts, our broken promises, you name it: all of these things are sins. Each one deserved separation from a holy God. But God “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever [puts his whole faith] in Him, would not perish (be separated from God), but have eternal life.

Why did He give?

All men and women have broken God’s laws. And even though you may have not actually committed murder, or robbed a bank, or abused a child, James 2:10 (RSV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” So, you see, we need a Savior. We need the Gift that God is offering. Won’t you accept it?

The whole verse in Romans (6:23) goes like this: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is why C.S. Lewis said those words above. Eternal life is a gift, but it will not be offered indefinitely. You see, all of us will die, one day. Hebrews 9:27 says that it “is appointed unto man once to die; but after this, the judgment.” One day we must either give an account for our lawbreaking, or rest in the fact that our account has already been settled by putting our faith in Jesus.

“From death to life”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

Jesus also said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36 NIV). And to those that put their faith in Jesus, he said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28 NIV).

The Apostle John wrote, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12 NIV).

The Invitation

What can I say about the greatest gift ever, especially in a thousand words or less? I can’t cover all the bases, answer every question, or defend every point – but I can offer you Jesus.

Have you been searching for meaning, for hope, for unconditional love, for eternal life? Give your heart to Jesus. Make Him the Boss of your life. Confess your sins to Him, repent of the things that caused Him to have to die so that you could have life, and cross over “from death to life.” For “whosoever shall call upon the name [Jesus] of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

You could even pray a prayer, in your own words, similar to this: “Dear Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son, and that you died for me, and rose again, that I might have eternal life. I know I have sinned, and I confess. I also confess that I cannot earn heaven on my own. I need You! Please take my life. I give freely give it to you. Be my Lord, and my God. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, honestly, and from your heart, then I would love to hear about it! I am sure many others would love to hear about it, too! If you accepted God’s gift of eternal life, let the world know in the comment section below.

If you would like to talk with someone, there is a phone line open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-NEED-HIM (1-800-633-3446). Someone will be happy to show you how to be sure you have eternal life. Don’t wait.

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Filed under God, salvation, Witnessing

I’m Not Feeling It, TobyMac

The other day I was listening to the radio and a song by TobyMac (Toby McKeehan) started playing. Since I had nothing better to do as I was driving, I listened.

I was disappointed.

Folks, if you will remember what I wrote in a previous post, I’m not anti-contemporary music…I’m just anti-bad theology. New songs, even those with styles I can’t stand, are fine with me as long as they convey biblical theology, edify the Christian, and bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ. Really, that leaves the Christian music artist with a lot of room to  create.

But it seems to me that Toby Mac really missed the mark with this song. In “Feel It” (released in 2015) TobyMac seems to want to appeal to the modern, post-Christian, millennial culture by basing the whole argument for God’s existence on his personal, subjective feelings.

The chorus of “Feel It” reads:

“Feel It”

[Chorus:]

Oh I feel it in my heart
I feel it in my soul
That’s how I know (oh oh oh ohah)
You take our brokeness
And make us beautiful
Yeah, that’s how I know
That’s how I know (You can’t take that from me)

I’m sorry, brother, but your argument is weak, to say the least.

Contrast the above with the first verse and chorus from another song, “Never Alone” by Barlow Girl:

“Never Alone”

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You’d be there
And though I haven’t seen You
Are You still there?[Chorus:]
I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel You by my side
So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here and I”m never alone

Do you see the difference? The first finds comfort and reassurance in “feeling,” but the second finds faith secure in “knowing.” There is a difference.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” – 1 John 5:13

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32

Notice that last verse? What did Jesus say? Did He say, “You shall have a feeling, and the feeling shall set you free”? Don’t think so.

Feelings fluctuate. Feelings lie.

In the tagline of “Feel It” TobyMac repeats,

Everybody talkin’ like they need some proof
But what more do I need than to feel you?

I’ll tell you (and I bet you already know), Toby, you need the Truth, God’s promises, His Word that never changes…

’cause feelings sure do.

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Filed under Apologetics, Faith, music

Defining a Fool

April Fools Day

In 2012 I actually got to preach a sermon on April Fools Day. Since today is a Saturday, and I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist, I will have to wait a little longer for the opportunity to return. However, today’s post will give you a head’s up for what I will be preaching come Sunday morning April 2nd.

So, happy April Fools Day!…or, happy Atheists Day!…whichever you prefer.

You know, even though atheists think we are being smug and “snarky” by quoting Psalm 14:1, I believe the one who thinks there is no God really is a fool. But what I think matters little in the scheme of things. What matters to me is what God thinks. That is why I came up with a list.

What is a Fool?

What is a fool?  Believe it or not, Scripture lists several characteristics of a foolish person. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. So, why not do this Jeff Foxworthy-style?  

You might be a fool if…

  1. You are always right in your own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
  2. You despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).
  3. You are unteachable (Proverbs 17:10; 23:9; 26:11)
  4. You’re always running your mouth, getting into trouble (Proverbs 18:6-7; 29:11).
  5. You are always trying to find yourself (Proverbs 18:2).
  6. You make fun of sin (Proverbs 14:9).
  7. You’re always meddling in other people’s business (Proverbs 20:3).
  8. You are a shame and a burden to your parents (Proverbs 17:25).
  9. You deny the obvious because the truth is inconvenient (Romans 1:18-22).
  10. You deny Jesus because you think the cross is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Don’t be a fool.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Preaching

God Is My What?

“God is NOT my co-pilot; He’s the Designer, the Draftsman, the Engineer, the Builder, the Insurer, the Ticket Agent, the Server, the Security, the Navigator, and the Captain, not to mention the Maker of the wind, the Power to take off, and the Writer of the laws of gravity and flight! Friend, I’m not the pilot of anything; I’m just an unworthy passenger along for the ride!”

– A. Baker

35k ft. somewhere over Ethiopia.

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