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Hearing God In the Now…

Buckle up…this is a long one and I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers.

I am overwhelmed with the repeating words, resounding in my mind like a trumpeting horn, “not my will, but Yours be done.”

I’m increasingly concerned with the people of God, their leaders (not just pastors, but leaders, teachers, praise team members, etc.) especially, not being led by God in the NOW. I will explain my use of “in the now” in a moment.

Jesus Christ – Himself – said in Mark 14:36, “…Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou will.”

Christ knew ALL things were possible; but, He did not want it to be His way. He wanted it to be God’s way. I’m sure Christ, in his infinite wisdom, could have constructed a great way; but, it would not have compared to God’s PERFECT way.

How did Christ know what God’s way was? He didn’t have a Bible to finger through and find the section on “fearing for your life and carrying the weight of the sin of the world on one’s shoulders.” I’ll tell you in three simple words, though He be a very complex and overwhelming being: the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16 tells us very clearly that Christ received the “Spirit of God.” It says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” In the English Standard Version it says, “the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”

There is such a thing as a “rhema” word. I really like the way James Rae explains the term “rhema” on Sharefaith.com. The word rhema means, “an utterance.” It’s used to refer to a word received that applies to your current situation or need. He goes on to say, “With this understanding, Christians can count on the written words contained in the Bible to have deep and personal meaning to their lives. And it is the Holy Spirit who enlightens believers when reading a Scripture, with the goal of imparting wisdom, knowledge or understanding in order to have an immediate impact.”

Not every Christian is fully aware, but rather it’s tucked away in their subconscious, that the Bible has been translated many times before you get your handy-dandy Message version. Keeping that in mind, also be aware that there are words in our language that cannot be interpreted in other languages; because they have no word for it and that works vice-versa as well. The word “rhema” is one such word. The best way we can put it is as James Rae does when he says that it is (forgive my abbreviation) an on-time utterance.

Now, if we are to refer to Matthew 4:4, where it says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God” and In John 6:63 where Christ confirms the use of this rhema revelation by saying, “The words [rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” then each Christian has an imperative, possibly life-changing, question they must answer for themselves.

Do you believe God speaks today?

Notice I did not say, “Is His written word speaking to you, today?” That is understood, it’s a given. His word is always fruitful, always valid, and will always speak to someone willing to hear it.

Further, as a side note to avoid any confusion, I would like to add that a rhema word, whether delivered by reading the Bible, the utterance of tongues, or a word dropped into one’s heart or mind, will NEVER contradict God’s written Word. If it does, that’s not God.

In 2 Timothy, Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So, please do not for even a moment assume that I am saying anything other than exactly what I am – that God speaks through us through His written word but ALSO through His Holy Spirit, TODAY. That is to say He speaks to us in addition to His written word. The Word of God is just as valid today as it was when it was first being chiseled and penned; and, a word given by the Holy Spirit – by whatever method – is equally as valid.

The key ingredient that we must not miss, though, is “rhema.” Why would God speak a rhema word? Because you need to hear it NOW!

He is not a God that sits atop a thrown, inaccessible to His children. Your earthly father would be called “a dead beat dad” if he never spoke to you. Wouldn’t he? How much more of a father is God to us than our earthly father? If we know how much greater a father He is, then we should logically assume that He would want to speak to us, currently – now, in our every day endeavors.

To give a more specific example: If I were standing on a ledge ready to jump and my dad, saw me, he would lovingly tell me that he was there for me and that I didn’t need to give up – he would help me through whatever was going on. How much more would my God do?

I’ll tell you. When my daughter was a toddler and her father and I were going through a lot, life became very overwhelming for me. The only person who knew that I had seriously considered taking my own life was my husband. Long story short, I was at the end of my rope and sat, numbly, in a pew one Sunday as a visiting pastor preached a good sermon that had nothing to do with what was going on in my life. At the end of the service, though, he called everyone who “desperately needed a touch from God” to come forward for prayer.

I will be honest, I didn’t even really realize I was standing at the alter until I looked up and saw that I was there with my husband at my side. I waited, silently crying, for this visiting pastor to come over, pray for me, and for me to walk away disappointed. After all, I had lost all hope. I wasn’t in that place where you run to God expectantly. However…we froze, stunned, as this man laid his hands on my head, began praying, and then suddenly paused and then lowered his voice and said with authority, “And, devil, I rebuke this demon of suicide plaguing this daughter of God! She is a child of the King!”

As the weight of the world and all of my hurt – feeling as if I was not even a blip on God’s radar, washed away. The Holy Spirit descended upon me in such a powerful way that I can truly say that I will forever remember how soothing the Balm of Gilead truly is.

You see, in that moment God knew that the only thing I needed to know was not how to fix my problems, where to find direction in His written word, but simply that God was aware and was there with and for me.

That pastor spoke a rhema word, given to him by an utterance of the Holy Spirit, that FOREVER changed my life. Sure, the devil tried to tempt me with suicide again. The thing is, not only has it never been a temptation since receiving that revelation; but, whenever depression descends upon me, I remind myself that God is aware and watching me, with love, knowing that through Him I have the power to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Why did I tell you all of that? Because a rhema word is what this world needs. This world is suffering from problems never before conceivable to mere man. Now, more than ever, we need to hear from God.

Please note that I did not say that we need another prophet. Prophets are great (when authentic) yet they come and go. Some are false and some are as true as the day is long. You don’t need a prophet, though, to hear from God. God is just as accessible to you as He is to anyone else. When apostles laid hands on people, the Holy Spirit was not coming from them. Acts 19 tells us that when Paul laid hands on some believers from Ephesus the Spirit came epi, upon them, not dia, through him.

We were given this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, from God, so that we don’t have to walk through the desert following after a prophet to whom God only speaks to. The only thing you need to hear a rhema word from God is to have the Holy Spirit residing within you.

A prophet has to be followed; but, God is accessible everywhere at all times. Didn’t Christ say in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I am going to the Father”? We can hear from God just as Christ and his apostles did.

I’m always blown away when we read that Christ – Himself – and His apostles did things a certain way but we seem to either think it’s beneath us, we’re too smart to have to do it that way, or we’re just too careless to assure that we’re doing it His way – that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way. I want to repeat that: “to assure that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way.” The very basis of our foundation should be believing that God manifested Himself into man; He died for our sins, so that we could live again; and, He sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit, that should reside within us to direct our paths. Why are we skipping the third part? That’s like leaving the water out of the concrete mix and then wondering why it’s not setting up properly!

In Acts 19:1-7, Paul met some disciples of John the Baptist. He thought that they were believers in Christ, after hearing their talk of repentance. Paul, sensing something was missing, asked them the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” This passage, and others, proves that Paul believed that it was possible to be a believer in Jesus without receiving the Holy Spirit. If receiving the Holy Spirit was automatic upon receiving salvation, then why did Paul ask, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Christ, during his ascension, told us that he would leave us “a Comforter.” If Christ said He was leaving us a Comforter, we need this Comforter!

Why would the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit as a “comforter?” What is a comforter? A comforter is “a person or thing that provides consolation.” “Consolation” is defined as “comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment, a person providing comfort to a person who has suffered.”

Allow me to take you back to the beginning of all of this where I referenced Christ’s illustration of choosing God’s way over His. A counselor can be a wonderful person to go to who will have good ideas of what to say to you; but, I want you to think about how much more your grief would be sated if you heard from the one person who actually knows exactly what to say to give you a peace that passes all understanding. I want you to consider how awesome it would be to have access to someone who is so inundated with the Holy Spirit that, if you’re too blinded by grief, confusion, hurt, etc., they can be a conduit of God to deliver a rhema word to you just as that visiting pastor did for me that day.

Yes, His written word can be a comfort to us, guidance, and more; but, Christ was leaving with us a living Comforter, in addition to a written account of His words.

We need to receive the Holy Spirit because God is a personal God – a God that wants to tailor His conversation specifically to you, not merely give you a generic word that you can apply to every situation.

Again, he is just as accessible today as he was 2000 years ago. The only question each of us needs to ask ourselves, and our leaders, is why are we/they not following a path set before us paved by His rhema word in our lives? Why are we following a generic path that we have drawn based on the few things we have assumed we fully understand from His written word. Our senior pastors, associate pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, counselors, Sunday school teachers, praise team singers, praise band members, missionaries, …all of those people that would teach the Church about discipling should be anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit and be in such constant communication with God that they have vision, words, and specific application to add to His kingdom. Just as they should have this, so should each and every one of of God’s children.

In conclusion, I just want to finish out a word from THE Word, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

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Bible, bible verse, Book, Church, college, Entertainment, family, Friends, friendship, Giveaway, god, Holy Spirit, jesus, Life, Marriage, Mental Health, Ministry, Music, Parenting, Praise & Worship, review, Suicide, teenagers, Theater, Uncategorized, verse, Worship

Review & Giveaway: I Can Only Imagine

*I received a copy of this study material for an honest review of the materials.

Have you seen the faith-based blockbuster film I Can Only Imagine? If not, you’ve been beaten to it by my six-year-old. That’s right. Even my six-year-old boy sat through it and soaked it up.

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If you thought the song was moving and anointed, you have got to go see this film as soon as possible. If you’ve already seen the film, then you know. You know it’s got gritty reality and God’s grace – two things this world needs a better balance of.

That’s where the I Can Only Imagine small group (or individual) study comes in.

What’s weighing on you? Maybe you’ve lost someone or you’re struggling to hold onto your health. Maybe it’s a fragmented relationship or one you never even got to have. Maybe you’ve experienced something unspeakable or did something that feels unforgivable. Something or someone has left you feeling rejected, guilty, and broken.

Before he became the lead singer of MercyMe, Bart Millard suffered a painful childhood. Abused by his father, Bart built walls around his heart. He couldn’t see hope.

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Dennis Quaid as Arthur Millard, Bart Millard’s father

In the I Can Only Imagine Study, Bart shares his own personal story with you. He watched a monster become a godly man. He came face to face with his own brokenness, and he saw God transform a lifetime of hurt into a beautiful and enduring purpose. In this 4-week study, Bart will lead you on a redemptive journey to:

  • recall your past wounds
  • reorient your present identity
  • and reimagine your future.

Surrounded by brokenness, it’s hard to imagine a loving father, complete forgiveness, and eternal restoration. But when you learn to see yourself through God’s eyes, you will finally find rest in his approval, purpose, and eternal hope. Reveal the heart of the God who loves you…more than you can imagine.

*Features exclusive scenes from the movie, I Can Only Imagine

If you’re looking for a study for your small group, yourself, your tribe, or just your best friend or spouse and yourself, then I highly suggest this study. This study is both time conscious and yet also intensive and thought provoking.

It includes:

  • 4 twelve minute episodes on DVD featuring Bart Millard of MercyMe
  • One copy of the Leader’s Guide with discussion questions for 4 sessions
  • One copy of the 28 day I Can Only Imagine Journal

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I Can Only Imagine small group study DVD

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I Can Only Imagine small group journal

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I Can Only Imagine leather journaling notebook

(refillable, handcrafted in Haiti, printed in the US)

As one of my followers and for reading this blog, you can get an exclusive 10% discount with the code frontgate10 by clicking HERE and purchasing the I Can Only Imagine Study Series and/or the journal.

Can’t wait to purchase or just want to take the chance of getting a second copy for a friend or loved one? Enter below to win a copy of this amazing Bible Study…

Win ICanOnly imagine

Want more information on this and more resources for your study groups? I Can Only Imagine – PDF Catalog.

Anxiety, Bible, Children, Depression, family, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting, Suicide, Uncategorized

#worthless

Have you ever felt completely worthless? I want you to really stop and think about this question. Don’t just say, “Sure!” I’m talking about, “Why did I get out of bed, today? What was the purpose?” #worthless.

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Battling depression for the majority of life has brought me closer to God than anything else in this world. Because I battle it, because I fight and refuse to cave, I must lean on Him. I must find my encouragement in Him. I hope that in sharing my thoughts, today, that you will find encouragement as well. You’ll have to bear with me through the rough stuff first, though.

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For those of you who have never been diagnosed with clinical depression, without diminishing the validity of your bad days at all, I would like to clarify what it means to be truly depressed. One is not anymore important than the other. We’re all entitled to our feelings and the processes that we must go through to find our way in this world. I pray that yours finds you looking toward Christ. Now, that being said… depression doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to make sense; yet, when you feel it, you feel and believe it all the way to your marrow. One of the worst ways the spirit of depression can attack you is when you can actually reason as to why you feel this way – you can point out evidence that leads you to the conclusion that (in this case) you are in fact worthless.

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That brings me to today.

I don’t want to write about this. I’ll be honest. I keep stopping my fingers from typing because, quite frankly, this sucks. I promised God, though, and you that I would be transparent because this world is full of people that don’t know what the face of true Christianity is and this world is full of Christians that think every other Christian’s life is hunkydory. So, here goes nothing…

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Today, I’m battling the notion that without me my family would go on pretty well. At most, they’d be inconvenienced by having no one to pick my son up from school on weekdays. Even then, my mother-in-law could probably pull that duty and watch him until my husband got off work. That sounds seriously pretty harsh and depressing. Right? Well, that’s transparency for you. Look at that: a true believer in Christ going through a major battle. They don’t tell you about that on Sunday morning at Joel Osteen’s church. Do they?

With depression and anxiety constantly trying to beat down my heart’s door, I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries in order that I can function at my best and, in addition, not hurt those around me. Sometimes that means walking away. Sometimes that means quarantining myself. Sometimes that means addressing something in writing rather than in word. To complicate matters, I’m an INFJ. What? I know. It’s like I just spoke in tongues. While I am pentecostal, that was not the utterance. That is actually my personality type. It stands for Introversion iNtuition Feeling Judgment. This personality type is often referred to as “The Advocate.” This reference is due largely impart because we find ourselves constantly playing the part of mediator and part-time therapist. INFJs don’t want to just be a shoulder you lean on. We want to get to the very heart of the problem and help you to fix it so that you’re the very best version of yourself and you don’t revisit these problems in the future. Tied in with this need to resolve issues and bring situations to a positive head, is the introversion part (Which just means we recoup differently – extroverts get energy from being with others, introverts get energy from downtime. It doesn’t mean I’m shy.), the feelings part (It’s almost as if you’re empathic, though I don’t believe in that. An INFJ is simply really adept at readings others’ body language and listening to them, really hearing them.), and the judgment part (feeling strong conviction in regard to justice prevailing and things being set to rights). Does that sound tiring to you? It does to me and I can attest that I’m freakin’ wore out, y’all; because, I’ve been doing all of that for everyone around me!

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Right now, my husband is going through stuff at work. He’s laterally moved into a position that can be time consuming and stressful yet doesn’t quite have the payoff commensurate to the stress and time involved. Add to that, he’s a leader at Celebrate Recovery and carries his own burdens along with those of the men he leads. Oh yeah… he added soccer coach to his schedule, too. My 20-year-old daughter is going through something very personal right now that, at times, has cut her to the quick and nearly every one of us goes through. It’s something that if she takes one path it could end in a lifetime of committed misery, and if she takes another path it could be the best decision of her life; yet, both paths look the very same at the beginning – there are no signs, simply two seemingly duplicate paths that end in two very different ways. My son is going through his own trials that are in no way little simply because of his young age of five. His trials are heartbreaking and frustrating and….seem hopeless to him at times. And, guess what? I’m feeling it ALL. I’m feeling every tense beat of my husband’s heart. I’m feeling every single tear that my daughter is dropping. I’m feeling every single moment of failure that my little buddy is determined to fend off. And…I’m enduring this all while being completely terrified of the test I’m having run on myself this Tuesday (while trying to hide that terror).

And…I’m trying to do my part. I’m forgiving them when they’re short with me. I’m ignoring things that aren’t worth addressing because they’re like small storm clouds that blow away. I’m trying to hear. I’m loving. I’m trying to counsel. I don’t think I’m a know-it-all. In fact, if life and circumstance has taught me anything it’s that I know very little. Thankfully, I have a manual and I refer to it often. So, when I counsel my three – whether it’s by walking them through them finding the answers themselves or my pointing it out for them – I’m referencing the Bible. After all, if you have no manual, no compass, you’re going in circles with everything being subjective.

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(Now, I feel compelled to say that normally my family is actually pretty darn great. Usually we love each other so much and when I have a bad day they are all there to lift me up in their own special way. We are just going through a really difficult season right now.)

Well, that brings me to today. I’ve been – everyday – fighting for, praying for, and counseling my family nearly every minute of every day, nearly non-stop now for weeks, getting very little sleep and waking up to do it all over again and… all three of them, in their own ways, made me feel worthless. No…the correct way to word that is this: I allowed myself to feel worthless based on the actions of my family members. I don’t really want to say that but the truth is Jeremiah 17:9 tells me that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” So, I have to set how I feel aside and face the fact that I’m allowing their actions to make me feel a certain way.

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I feel worthless. One of them was so quickly offended by the seemingly smallest thing that I did that I thought, “Well, I just shouldn’t talk or interact with [them], then.” After that, another looked at me like I was a complete imbecile in front of my parents – not even deeming me important enough to deserve a verbal response – and that was it for me. My limit had been met. I spoke to no one. I simply stood up and walked away. After 39 years, around 25 of them battling this, you begin to know yourself and see patterns. You know when to walk away, if you care that is about others and end results. So, I sat in the truck…and missed my son’s first soccer game. What? I know. You’re like, “How could you do that?” Well, if you thought that then…praise God! You’ve probably never had to battle this horrific sickness that satan uses against God’s people all over the world nearly every day. I’m not admonishing you. I’m genuinely glad that you don’t get why I had to leave no matter what. You see, if I had stayed, I would have sat there and cried silently, probably shaking, having a full-blown anxiety attack and I would have ruined my son’s first soccer game for everyone else that was there – his dad who was coaching, both sets of grandparents, and his sister. Who am I to do that? This brings me to the third and last of my family that I allowed the actions of to make me feel worthless – my son never even noticed I missed his game nor did he care one way or the other. And (humorless laugh) to add insult to injury: my daughter is now in charge of sitting on the bench with the boys not on the field and taking the score; and they all spent the next hour or two talking about what great fun it all was.

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That’s what I wanted. Right? I wanted to not ruin it for everyone. Job well done, Erin. (Insert proverbial pat on the back here.) Only…they didn’t need me. They didn’t need me. Oh, man, how I want to stop typing right now. I wish God would release me from writing this so badly. At least there’s a cover over my keyboard to keep tears from seeping within the keys, right? (humorless laugh…again)

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I’m not sure there’s anything more hurtful in the world to a person than to feel as if they’re obsolete. Let’s maintain perspective though. My flesh would tell me – and maybe you, today – that those around us don’t love us, don’t like us, whatever. John 8:44 tells us about satan, though. It says that “…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

 

 The Word also tells us in John 10:10 that satan comes to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” So, allow me to remind myself – and you – that this is a lie (the lie that I am worthless) perpetuated by the devil to cripple me so that I would not be about God’s business but instead be balled up in the fetal position in bed – actually creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by being useless to everyone.

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So, how do I battle rather than buckle? I do what I’m doing now – I write. I delve into God’s Word to find the truth and I share it with others so that when they are experiencing this, not only am I ticking off satan for failing – yet again – at knocking me down for good, but I’m picking up those that he nudged and caused to stumble. You see, what good is me feeling like this for even a moment if I don’t allow God to make use of it? Satan throws a grenade at me and I may have ignorantly caught it; but, I hand it over to God, allow him to transform it into an atom bomb and I drop that bad boy into the lies and spirit of depression that he’s flung on the men and women around me and I let that puppy blow his “well laid” plans to smithereens.

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So, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to print the following image out. I want you to fold it up and put it in your pocket, put it in your purse, hang it on your fridge, pin it up in your office…AND READ IT. Read it every single freakin’ day if you have to. Read it, memorize it, learn it, love it, and live it.

PRINT THIS:

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Anxiety, Bible, Depression, family, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide, Uncategorized

Christian Counseling?

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to a Christian counselor out of California. I cannot tell you how as a Christian who battles with depression and anxiety how valuable it is to find a counselor that believes in God and the power of His Word. At times, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That is one of the greatest benefits of the Internet, now. We have access to things, information, and people that we may not otherwise have access to. This is especially important when you live in a remote area. I can tell you, though, that even living in a more metropolitan area it is still not as easy as one would think to find a believer that is a counselor.

If you’re asking yourself, “Is therapy really a Godly approach?” Remember that John 14:26 refers to the Holy Spirit as a Counselor. Also, thought the Bible we are told to seek, listen, and receive counsel!

This can be a pretty large roadblock for someone who needs counseling or merely someone to listen to them. I know from experience that when you’re a believer and you are seeking counsel or therapy from someone who is either atheist or agnostic – or maybe simply doesn’t feel comfortable to speak of their own spiritual beliefs – this can be very frustrating when you’re trying to convey how you seek answers, provision, and a relationship with God, the Father.  


Having a counselor, therapist, or physician that understands your believe system, your core values, your identity… because you both follow the one true God, makes your sessions so much more fruitful. For instance, the Bible is our answer book. So, when your counselor knows a verse… when he or she has spent time in prayer and meditating on the word, he or she can share the very words that you needed to hear. That is an extension of God. That is your counselor being the hands and feet of God in a time when you may be weak.


If you’re asking yourself if therapy or counseling is something that you may or may not need, I would remind you of ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭17:12 where it says…

“But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”‬

You see, as long as Moses’s hands were up they would prevail in battle. Yet, he was exhausted. Even still, God provided Moses with Aaron and Hur to hold him up. Everyone, even Moses, needs someone to hold them up now and again. If you’ll recall, even Christ at the end had someone else carry his cross to the very end for Him.


I encourage you to check out Finally Alive Counseling Ministry. They have a Facebook page you can follow and Twitter. They also have a YouTube channel for you video lovers.


Recently, I listened to their radio broadcast and I was thoroughly encouraged by how much scripture Gary used. So often we look to man for answers because it’s someone who’s tangible, right in front of us. We seek affirmation and validation when really we need to be seeking the answers – whether those answers come with tough decisions and actual participation on our part or not. Gary approaches life and struggles from a biblical standpoint – a thing of which is greatly lacking in this world.

Gary does radio broadcasts and postings. And, if you’re in the Brea, California area, he has Bible studies you can attend. 

Lastly, I would remind you that even if you think you don’t need therapy or counseling, the Bible instructs us to think on good things. The Bible desires for us to seek encouragement and fulfillment through God’s word. You can easily do that by simply turning on one of Gary’s broadcasts and listening to it. It’s a very easy way to refill your vessel with encouragement from God’s word. 

Comment below with what your thoughts on internet access to a Christian counselor are!

Anxiety, Bible, Depression, family, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Suicide, Uncategorized

Battle Depression& Anxiety, Don’t Suffer Them

After a lot of confusion, drama, fear, horrible decisions, and finally a complete and total breakdown that left me in the fetal position in my bathtub, at the age of 16, I begged my mother to “please just fix me.”

She took me to our family doctor of whom we’d known my whole life, who diagnosed me with severe depression. Therapy was suggested, appointments made, and Prozac prescribed and administered. By the time I was 21, mostly because of life and things outside of my control, I was then additionally diagnosed with anxiety and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The OCD mostly resolved itself after a time and rarely springs up, now. The depression and anxiety are still a battle but one I will never give up the fight against. 

Understand that for the sake of this post appealing to those who haven’t the time to read for hours I’m giving The Cliff Notes version, here. To say that there was a lot that brought me to these diagnoses would be the understatement of the century.

The day I decided I would not give up the fight was a pivotal and very real moment in time that will forever be etched in my soul. 

A lot of incidents led up to this particular day and to make a very long story short I was having suicidal thoughts. When you’re to that point, satan has deluded you into believing that the world would actually be better off without you, even your kids. It’s not unheard of to truly believe you’re doing everyone a favor. That’s where I was…even with the Prozac. I went to church as I did at least three times a week, every week. Trust me… no one knew what was going on inside of me. There are people right now reading this saying, “Holy crap. I had no idea and she sat next to me in choir.” I digress. There was a visiting pastor. I don’t even remember what he preached on. I was told he had preached on some message that easily applied to the body as a whole on how we treated one another. I was borderline catatonic in my own world of shame, pain, and misery that I could barely pay attention. All I remember was this – the most important part of this story: he invited people to the alter. My God! When you’ve done everything…you’ll do anything. Keep in mind that at this point I truly believed that even God looked down on me as if to say, “I can’t believe I took the time to make you.” The lies that satan will tell and the extent at which he’ll go to knows no bounds. He is the master of lies and he had found his foothold. So…for me to go to the alter was really an act of “What the heck…” I didn’t go believing ANYTHING was going to happen. I just went. And…something happened. Something that can’t be explained. To be honest, I don’t care if you believe me or not. It is what it is and it’s why I’m here today and why I’ll never consider suicide EVER again. I want to preface what I’m about to say by saying this: NO ONE but me and one other person knew that I was having these thoughts. And…trust me, this other person wasn’t a talker. This preacher made his way to me. He was very quiet for just a moment as he looked at me and then he prayed for me and it was over in a moment. It was only afterward that I realized that in that still quiet moment, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. In front of the only other person in the world that knew what was going on with me, this preacher laid his hand on my head and said the following (I paraphrase), “God this is your child and you love her and I rebuke any and every single thought of suicide that would ever enter her mind. She is a child of the Most High and has a great purpose. The devil can’t have her because she’s already been claimed by You!” That was it for me.

That was it.

All I needed, all I need, is to know that God is in it with me. That He sees me. And, after that day…that knowledge was given to me when I needed it most. 

But I was too sick to see at the time, to inundated with everything else going on around me, too blind to see… Was that so many of His answers, the answers, and encouragement were already in His word waiting for me to find them. 

At that time, I was to sick to wait patiently but now I know that His word promises…

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. Psalms‬ ‭40:1-3‬ 

I had no idea that Psalms 40:1-3 would soon be my testimony. It proved to me that just as God showed up for the psalmist, He showed up for me. I matter to God and so do you.

In times of anxiety, I would encourage you to meditate on this:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God ‭and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

In other words, take your burdens immediately to God. Don’t hesitate. Don’t run to your friends. Run to God. And if you find yourself worrying over those things again, give them back to God again! No matter how many times you pick back up your burdens, God will never get tired of you bringing them back to Him.


Now, this Word is a two parter. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8

Do not – I REPEAT – do not sit around and watch the news, read the news, look at your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter feed, what have you and allow it to steal your joy. It is so unbelievably easy for you to get mired down in the direction you see this world going into. It’s so easy to get pessimistic and morose over the very real atrocities that are happening in this world. Two of the greatest differences between now and many years ago are that 1) we have access to far more information and current events around the entire planet then we ever had before; and 2) information has led us to believe we merely need our “Tower of Babel” and no longer need God. This is why it’s IMPERATIVE that you think on “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy.” 


The second part of that commission is…

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians‬ ‭4:9

We are to be active participants in our lives. Remember where in the Bible it tells us about how if we want friends we need to be friendly, if we want love we need to give love, etc.? That rule applies here. These things that God has taught us that are right, that are noble, that are good…these things that we know Christ did, God’s men and women did…we need to go do them. 


It’s amazing how going and doing for others – especially when you don’t feel like it – can change you and bring you peace. 

So, today change your mind. Decide to fight. Clearly satan feels threatened by you or he wouldn’t come at you with a full frontal assault. Right? So…prove him right. Prove that he should feel threatened by you. 

One step at a time. It may just be putting on clothes and getting out of your pajamas today. But, tomorrow, fix your hair. The next day, leave your house. The next day, go to someone else’s house. Every day take one step more. Every day delve into God’s word and spend time in prayer seeking his purpose for your life. Because clearly, as I said earlier, He has a purpose for you. After all, satan finds you threatening! 

You have a purpose. For me, it’s being my husband’s “right-hand man;” it’s being a strong mother to two very strong offspring; it’s writing and teaching. Many days I still feel like a square peg trying to fit in around hole. But, after God took His time throughout all the universe to let me know that He loves me and loves all of you, I’ll never give up the fight no matter what. Why would I ever give up when I know I’m on the winning side – the side of God who shows up and proves that there are no other gods before Him? 

Comment below with some of the things you meditate on!

Suicide

Suicide…let’s talk about it

Okay…I don’t want to write about this but I’m going to because I have to. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, my family, my friends. I didn’t want to upset people. Those days are over now. My Headcase Christian stuff is usually pretty lighthearted stuff. Usually people read my stuff and laugh, even. I’m sorry to say that my new Facebook page is not beginning that way but… hey. I’m not called “The Headcase Christian” for nothing.
Recently myself and my family experienced a loss that was…is…heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and in a way…inexcusable.
My brother by another mother – and I’ll call him that because he never stopped being my brother – took his own life. Even though there was a divorce, I never stopped loving any of my “married” family members. I never considered them no longer family. I stayed in their lives as much as I felt I could without being intrusive and did my best to always let them know they were welcome in mine and my kids’ lives. People who truly know me know this about me – it’s often to my own detriment but once my love is given it’s given for good.
Here’s the catch – often times people simply don’t have a clue of what to do, what to say, how to maintain a relationship, how to cry out, how to scream, how to hold a sign above their head that says, “Help me! I’m drowning!” Other times we’re so wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t see the sign they’re shoving right under our noses. I’m not scrutinizing, casting stones, or casting aspersions – not in our family’s situation nor anyone else’s and I’ll tell you why. Because after the fact doesn’t matter. All you can do is move forward and do better. That’s what I’m doing with this. That’s what I’m trying to do. So… I’m doing what some say I do best and I’m writing my feelings and thought and, yes… a painful as hell experience that forever changed my life.
I’m going to state an experience that happened in my life and you can believe it or not. Quite frankly I don’t care which and further it doesn’t really matter in the large scheme of things whether it even WAS real or not because the end result is that I’m still alive today and I have a beautiful family.

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You see, after my brother-in-law took his life…and after I sobbed until I was sick… I was angry. I was livid and I couldn’t figure out why. Until now.
I was angry, am angry, at me. Because of what has happened, I feel a guilt…an albatross around my neck of which I feel is nearly drowning me because I didn’t share this experience with anyone but my immediate family before. So…here it is:
I nearly killed myself. In fact, I thought of it on so many occasions that it nearly became a daily occurrence for me. It wasn’t a matter of would the thought cross my mind but rather in what way and how heavy would the temptation be. Now, let’s be clear here. This wasn’t a “Look at me! I’m hurting and need attention!” thing. It sucks but some people do do that.* I mean even after being diagnosed with a serious chemical imbalance and taking Prozac since the age of 17, I was literally formulating a way to end myself and this completely inexplicable pain that only seemed to be growing in its intensity daily along with this completely consuming feeling of uselessness and strong sense of worthlessness. At this point I had a beautiful baby girl and… it didn’t matter. I loved her beyond comprehension and… it didn’t matter. Why? Because this level of depression and hurt doesn’t make sense. I had convinced myself… or the devil had… that my daughter would actually be better off without me. I honestly felt that I was a burden to everyone around me and hadn’t lived up to my potential subsequently being viewed as … less. In fact I felt as if I was less than “less.”
There was actually a day when someone held my daughter in front of me and said, “Fine! If you’re going to do this then don’t be a coward. Do it right here in front of her!”
Following this horrible incident that I’d prefer to not detail, I went to church as I did at least three times a week, every week. Trust me… no one knew what was going on inside of me. There are people right now reading this saying, “Holy crap. I had no idea and she sat next to me in choir.” I digress. There was a visiting pastor. I don’t even remember what he preached on. I was told he had preached on some message that easily applied to the body as a whole on how we treated one another. I was borderline catatonic in my own world of shame, pain, and misery that I could barely pay attention. All I remember was this – the most important part of this story: he invited people to the alter. My God! When you’ve done everything…you’ll do anything. Keep in mind that at this point I truly believed that even God looked down on me as if to say, “I can’t believe I took the time to make you.” So…for me to go to the alter was really an act of “What the heck…” I didn’t go believing ANYTHING was going to happen. I just went. And…something happened. Something that can’t be explained. Again,… don’t care if you believe me or not. It is what it is and it’s why I’m here today and why I’ll never consider suicide EVER again. I want to preface what I’m about to say by saying this: NO ONE but me and one other person knew that I was having these thoughts. And…trust me, this other person wasn’t a talker. This preacher made his way to me. He was very quiet for just a moment as he looked at me and then he prayed for me and it was over in a moment. It was only afterward that I realized that in that still quiet moment, the Holy Spirit was speaking to him. In front of the only other person in the world that knew what was going on with me, this preacher laid his hand on my head and said the following (I paraphrase), “God this is your child and you love her and I rebuke any and every single thought of suicide that would ever enter her mind. She is a child of the most high and has a great purpose. The devil can’t have her because she’s already been claimed by You!” That was it for me.
That was it.

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God is real. The Holy Spirit is real. He is here, there. He is near to you. He wants you to cry out to Him in your greatest hour of need. He wants to comfort you. He…is…REAL.
I want to be clear here. I had seen therapists off and on since I was SIXTEEN years old. And you see…it wasn’t some miraculous prayer over me, some psychological awakening. It wasn’t this preacher laying his hands on me. It wasn’t some spiritual transplant that I received that day. It was simply the fact that oh my God….You heard me! God had heard me. God knew me and knew what I was going through. He wasn’t unaware. He wasn’t apathetic. He saw me. That was all I needed – to know that God was there, He saw me, and I mattered to Him. I didn’t need Him to tell me my life would be roses and it would all turn around. Literally all I needed to know was that I existed for a reason, He knew me, He loved me, and I … mattered.
After that, any time a thought of suicide or harming myself came in to my mind my reaction was nearly one of a since of ridiculousness. The thought of killing myself after knowing that I was worth something, no matter how much, to God… was absurd. There is literally no way suicide will ever be the way I go out. No way.
Here’s the thing: I got to have a great gift that not everyone gets to have. And do you know what I did with it? I failed. I may not have failed my brother-in-law. But at the very least I failed myself. I failed applying this testimony to God’s kingdom so that if even only ONE person’s life was changed… my pain was well worth it. I can’t tell you why I did this other than to say that to visit that time in life even now is inexplicable… it still hurts painfully to remember that time in life. The pain is so strong that right now I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest as my body is shaking and I’m crying. It sucked. It really, really, sucked.

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So…here it is! If you’re a Christian, then you need to understand that we’re the hands and feet of God. We’re the light. We’re the salt. We are the world-changers, the earth shakers. If you’re not a Christian, man how I wish you were because without the hope of God I would not be here today. I’m not going to high jack what I believe God wants to do here, though, by preaching to you though because God already knows you, loves you, and is just waiting on you to talk to Him. He’s a gentleman and won’t beat you over the head so neither will I. Either way, though, all you have to do is be a decent person to understand that we are responsible for the ones around us. I know that doesn’t sound like fun; but, guess what? Suck it up because that’s life! You can recognize that you effect people and do something with that or you can find out on Monday that Todd, just two cubicles down, drove his car off the dock and never even left a letter to let anyone know why. That is reality. This is my plea to you to stop living in your bubble, stop living in your social-media-perfect world and SEE people, visit them. This is me begging you to love people, especially the ones that make it nearly impossible to even like them.
If you can’t think of one person in your life that even appears as if they’re considering hurting themselves then allow me to destroy your cotton candy world – you’re wrong. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013. That means you know SOMEONE who has thought about it.

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“Suicide is an increasing public health concern. In 2009, the number of deaths from suicide surpassed the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the United States.” #CDC
If you think this is something that only happens amongst angsty, drama-riddled, teens… you’re WRONG.
In 2013 the CDC published an article titled “Suicide Among Adults Aged 35–64 Years — United States, 1999–2010.” It stated the following: “To investigate trends in suicide rates among adults aged 35–64 years over the last decade, CDC analyzed National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) mortality data from 1999–2010…The results of this analysis indicated that the annual, age-adjusted suicide rate among persons aged 35–64 years increased 28.4%, from 13.7 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 17.6 in 2010.”
Did you read that?! THE SUICIDE RATE (for ages 35-64) INCREASED BY 28 AND A HALF FREAKIN’ PERCENT. That’s more than a quarter. Are you picking up what I’m throwing down?! I hope you are because you KNOW someone, RIGHT NOW, that is hurting.
It is estimated that 8.3 million people in the U.S. had thoughts of suicide in 2013, with 2.3 million people developing a suicide plan and 1 million people attempting suicide. Eighty-three percent of suicide attempts involve poisoning. #Emory And these numbers GROW every single year.
Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24

Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18

More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED

Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12 (GRADE SEVEN IS 12-YEAR-OLDS FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!)

Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs. #TheYouthRiskBehavioralSurveillanceSystem
This is real. This is today. This is not just someone else’s life. This is your life. If you’ve not experienced this, then you’re one of the lucky ones – SO DO SOMETHING WITH THAT! If you’re a kid reading this, go sit with that weird kid that no one will sit with. If you’re a teenager reading this then befriend that girl who talks to no one and don’t assume the cheerleader is living the highlife because chances are she’s anorexic and hates herself more than you could ever consider hating her. If you’re an adult NEVER think that you’re age bracket, circle of friends, and family is safe because you’re all past this point in your life. The statistics I put above PROVE YOU WRONG. Love your family. Forgive them. Talk with your elderly neighbor. Speak with your postman. When the guy behind the register says, “How are you today?” in return, look them in the eye and say, “I’m okay. How are YOU doing?” and MEAN IT.
Finally, if someone comes to you and they’re telling you they’re unhappy. ASK QUESTIONS. Don’t try and fix them. You are NOT equipped. Don’t give them advice. Suicide and depression doesn’t make sense to someone who HAS experienced it because it’s a personal thing, it certainly won’t make sense to someone who has never experienced it at all. Ask them things…
How long have you been feeling this way?

How bad does it get?

What can I do?

Do you want to talk to someone who knows more about this than me?

You matter to me so, if I went with you, would you talk to someone?
Last: DON’T TELL THEM TO GET HELP. GO WITH THEM TO GET IT.
https://afsp.org/find-support/
*Even if you THINK someone is looking for attention. NEVER ignore someone who is even pretending to consider suicide or self-harm. Your act of not giving them the attention they seek can be the very thing that makes them subsequently feel worthless and as if no one would miss them.
RIP David Richard Pozorski (05/03/79-03/24/17)

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Jocelyn with her Uncle Dave