Posts Tagged With: depression

A Dramatic Detour in Jesus’ Road to Destiny

pleading_womanWelcome to one of the strangest stories — many would call this a troubling tale — in Jesus’ entire life and ministry.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, what happens here in Mark 7, and its parallel passage in Matthew 15, seems highly uncharacteristic of Jesus; uncharitable to a tragically needy-yet-remarkable mommy; and unnecessarily cold and calloused as far as a Jesus is concerned.

A Jesus, I will humbly remind you, who defined Himself as “gentle” in Matthew 11, and who described His mission as one “to seek and to save the lost in Luke 19.

As you read this story, at first blush anyway, Jesus was Anything.But.Gentle in the way He spoke to this panic-stricken mother who was understandably distraught over the condition of her daughter.

Tell you what: If His mission was to seek and to save the lost, you couldn’t find anyone more lost than this woman.

As we read this story together (it’s only 8 verses in Matthew’s account), you tell me if you find this encounter between Jesus and this mom at all unsettling or unnerving. Put yourself in the mom’s sandals for a second and imagine that Jesus is talking to you about your little girl.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

A happy ending to be sure.

But what an insensitive, ungracious, uncaring way to get to that happy ending..

You talk about showing a little kindness (as we did last week), there was no kindness shown to this woman; no kindness of any kind was shown to her at all. Until the very end.

Jesus (apparently) ignored her (“Jesus did not answer a word.”), then (apparently) refused and rebuffed her (“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”), then (apparently) belittled her (“It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”).

Curiously enough, that’s it as far as Jesus’ road trip up North into what is today Lebanon, what was then Phoenicia, was concerned.

This one strange story.

And as always, my friend, we have much to talk about.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What DOES the Bible Truly Teach about Healing Today?

facebook-depressionThe day before yesterday, I read a recently released report out of University of Missouri on the subject of Facebook Depression.

Well, as you will hear in this PODCAST, I really didn’t need to read a report about that. I know all-too-well what happens in my own rather sizable soul when I scan my FB newsfeed.

Sometimes I just can’t help but to feel so deeply and compassionately and sadly for many of the challenges so many of my friends are going through, especially as they relate to their issues of health.

I, like so many of you, just want to wave a magical wand and fix everything. But I can’t. Of course, as the cliché goes, I do know Someone (capital “S”) who Can.Fix.Everything.

But what happens when He doesn’t?

Perhaps amplifying my FB depression, this was the week for “I don’t know if I believe in God anymore” messages. Messages sent to me by a few of my friends, unsolicited on my part, each message unrelated to the others, in which their faith is floundering, seriously so. This precisely because they have things broken in lives, significantly so. Yet despite their cries and pleas to the Almighty Who — as that name for God so powerfully suggests — has the power to fix it all. But He didn’t. He doesn’t.

Now what?

What does a person do when, in their moment of greatest need, it appears that God is either…

1. Silent/indifferent/deaf to their pleas, or worse…

2. Appears to be powerless to fix it all?

And so, in the lives of some of my friends, faced with a seemingly silent/indifferent and/or powerless God, their faith in God is in a free-fall.

I say all of that so that you know that I take this podcast’s passage in Matthew 10 Ever.So.Seriously. Tonight’s discussion hits me Ever.So.Personally. And so I will endeavor to bring to this discussion Ever.So.Compassionately the understanding of what it’s like to have one’s faith collapse.

Because it’s simply a fact that, despite the title of the runaway bestseller that just celebrated its 30th anniversary with a rerelease of a 30th Anniversary Edition — the book entitled He Is There and He Is Not Silent — for many of my friends, just when they needed Him the most, from all outward appearances God was NOT there and He was deafeningly silent.

Why so silent?

It all comes down to what you will hear in this podcast.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

If it is a blessing to you, PLEASE share a link to this podcast with your friends.

HAPPY LISTENING.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Way Out of Worry

1619375_10151957200015841_1701684413_nWhat you are about to read below is just a small but tantalizing taste of what you will hear in this PODCAST, my expanded paraphrase of that wonderful passage, Philippians 4:6-9.  

You can hear the podcast in its entirety by clicking on this podcast player:

Concerning your many personal problems, let me encourage you to do what I do. Over time (of which I have a lot, sitting here in this prison), I have actually trained myself not to worry about anything, but rather to pray about everything. I share with God everything – my joys and sorrows, my victories and my defeats, my thrills along with my spills, my hopes and fears, everything.

And every time I do, He answers my prayers. Not necessarily by giving me everything I want. No! No loving parent would do that – not an earthly father, nor certainly our Heavenly Father. Instead, He does something so much better. He floods my soul with His peace – the quiet contentment and calm assurance that everything is going to be OK.

I can’t explain it. It is in every sense of the word a miracle of God’s loving touch. But especially during those times when I would otherwise be freaking out, it’s like God whispers to me in His wee small voice, “Hey, I’m here. I know what you’re going through. I’m on top of it. I’ve got your back. I will fix this – in my own way and in my own time. So… relax.”

Yes, that’s it! By His grace, because of His grace, I have learned how to mentally and emotionally relax.

Let me teach you this one simple principle: When we worry about stuff, when we become anxious, when we do freak out, we are not dealing with realities. We are mentally inventing fantasies, most of which will never come to pass.

But even if our fears do come to pass, that’s the point, isn’t it? They come to pass. Our problems won’t last forever!

Far too often, we negatively worry about the things that we imagine might happen, instead of positively channeling our energies into dealing with what really happens. What a waste of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy!

So I offer to you this challenge: Develop the mental discipline to think only about those things which are true, that are real. As someone who loves you more than you could ever know, I beg of you to train yourself to think only those thoughts that bring honor to God, rather than thoughts that cause you to doubt God. Doubts about whether or not God is big enough or loving enough to handle your present trials. Trust me, He can handle them. And He will handle them.

Think only those thoughts that are wholesome, not worrisome. Try not to allow your mind to meander into places that will emotionally bring you down, rather than to lovely places that will spiritually build you up.

Mentally focus on the promises of God that will cause you to praise Him, rather than your unfounded fears that will only cause you to question Him.

If nothing else, try to follow my example. I have certainly had my share of struggles. You know about the personal pains that I have endured, and continue to endure. You know that I could make the argument that life has unfairly dealt me — an apostle — a losing hand. But you also know that I choose to regard my present circumstances, even in this prison, as though our good God is dealing me a winning hand. Because you know what? In the end, I will win! And so will you!

Oh, my dear Philippian friends, how I long for you to put into practice all of lessons that I have taught you, both when I was with you, and now as I write to you. All of the principles that you are watching me in real time apply to my own life. In short, how I long for you to learn how to luxuriate in God’s peace, just like I strive to do today, and every single day.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Want to Know the Heart of God? Look Where You Least Expect It

Jesus weptHave you ever wanted to know the heart of God? I mean to really, truly know it – deep down where it counts, in the hidden depths of your sizable soul? To know what He thinks, what He feels, what He experiences every day of His life?

I have. And the answer came from the unlikeliest of places.

For the longest time, the picture of Jesus that dominated my thoughts was that of a happy-go-lucky, spirited young man sprinting through the countryside with a smile on His face and a spring in His step. A man beaming with blazing optimism, brimming with boundless joy. A guy on top of the world. Because, after all, He created the world. He owned it. So of course, He lived to enjoy it.

But try as I might, I could not find that Jesus in the New Testament. Nor, for that matter, did He appear in the Old.

In his place, I discovered a very troubled Jesus. Someone who bore the weight of the world on His sagging shoulders. Someone who every day encountered everyday people – people just like you and just like me. People whose challenges seemed overwhelming. People whose difficulties were difficult even for the Son of God to understand.

The deeper I dug into the Scriptures, the more this alternate picture of a melancholy Jesus began to emerge. The Jesus about whom it was written, “He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering” (Isaiah 53:3 CEV).

That didn’t sound very happy-go-lucky to me.

“He suffered and endured great pain for us” (Isaiah 53:4 CEV). An intense, unrelenting suffering that He carried not only during His trials and crucifixion, but throughout His life and His ministry as well.

For instance, did you know that Jesus apparently lost His adoptive dad, Joseph, at a relatively young age, and was therefore raised by His single mom, Mary? While this desperate situation doesn’t get a lot of press, we do get a glimpse into Jesus’ household when He stopped dying on the cross just long enough to assign to John the care of His beloved mom. Add to that that Jesus’ brothers all rejected Him. His enemies hounded Him. Even His disciples deserted Him. None of which makes for a spirited young man to my way of thinking.

“He was wounded and crushed because of our sins” (Isaiah 53:5 CEV). Wounded and crushed don’t sound like the attributes of someone sprinting through the countryside to me.

How about a smile on His face with a spring in His step? I don’t think so. Not when I read, “He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher” (Isaiah 53:7 CEV).

“Who could have imagined what would happen to him?” Isaiah asked, as a thoroughly appropriate, if unsettling, question. 

Who could have imagined the unimaginable? Who would have anticipated the unthinkable? Who should have expected the unexplainable?

There is a reason we read in the Gospels that “Jesus wept.” Yet, nowhere do we read that Jesus laughed. Think about that for a minute. A smile on His face? A spring in His step? Guess again. 

This theme, the seeds of which are planted in the Old Testament, comes into full bloom in the New, with such confessions such as this: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.”

Yes, Jesus admitted that in Matthew 26.

Rather than beam with blazing optimism, Jesus daily discovered the depths of despair that darkened the souls of the people He loved. And this all-pervading sadness clouded His countenance with heart-rending compassion and never-ending concern.

There is a reason that Isaiah made a point to highlight the raw reality that Jesus’ “life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering.”

Gaze into His eyes and I think we’d see much more dejection than delight. 

All of which means this: Our worst times might be our best times to know, to experience, to feel the heart of God.

Yes, it’s true. There are some lessons, perhaps our most profound lessons, that can only be learned in the classroom of personal pain. 

So much so that you can take this to the bank: Our worst times might indeed be our best times…tears

Our darkest days might indeed be our brightest opportunities… 

…to truly know, to genuinely experience, to actually feel the heart of God.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.