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Depressingly, Depressed!

Last week, my blog was about the person with whom I believe is the poster boy from the Bible for Bi-Polar disorder. This week I would like to attempt to take the person that I believe is the best representative from the Bible that suffers from depression.

I have heard people refer to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet. We have read about the hard spots that Joseph continually found himself in; which could make anyone depressed. In the book of Job, he says that his afflictions lasted months [ (7:3, 29:2) and I can sympathize having myself suffered from pain for years and it is depressing.] In 2 Kings, King Zedekiah watched as his sons were killed and then his eyes were poked out. Can you imagine having that horrific sight stuck in your head until death? That has to be depressing.

However, when I think about depression there is one person that stands out more than the rest. Hannah! You know Samuel’s mom. We find her story in 1 Samuel 1-2. Hannah was barren and at that time not being able to have children was detrimental to life. If a wife outlived her husband and did not have children she was doomed. Without a son, she would be a beggar or bound for prostitution. That is why in the book of Ruth, Naomi said call me Mara (1:20).

Elkanah, Hannah’s husband also had another wife. A wife that bore him children and as if being barren was not enough, she also had to compete for her husband’s love. And all of these things I am sure brought her self esteem down into the mud.

The Mayo Clinic has a website that is pretty cool and on it is a list of the symptoms of depression. Let me state that if you feel that you suffer from depression you need to consult a doctor (if you have not already done so). Now here are a few of the symptoms that Hannah displayed.

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-image

One of the symptoms of depression is loss of appetite and we see this in 1 Samuel 1:5 when seeing that Elkanah would give her a double portion of the meat from his offering, and in lines 7 and 8, we see that her eating problems lasted for years.

Another symptom that Hannah displayed
was feelings of sadness and tearfulness. We see her crying in lines 7, 8, and 10.

We also know from lines 6 and 7 that Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah would taunt Hannah year after year for being barren. Which I am sure made Hannah feel even more worthless and brought about even more frustration and more anxiety. Not to mention bringing up all the painful thoughts of past failures at conceiving a child.

Let’s face it Hannah is the poster girl from the Bible for depression. But in all of this God was faithful, and blessed Hannah with Samuel and then with three other sons and two daughters (2:21).

I am a man writing this and it is hard for me to completely wrap my head around what Hannah was going through. But what I can say is that I sympathize and empathize with it. I have had the awesome opportunity to pray with a couple going through this exact same thing. And it has changed the way I look at Hannah’s story

I know many people suffer from depression, so I am writing this in the hopes that seeing someone struggling with something that you struggle with from the bible will give you hope. God promises never to leave you and never to forsake you. His love is eternal!

Sources

Mayo Clinic website for depression

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King Saul, Bi-Polar, What?

I have not heard many people talk much about mental disease and the Bible. If you looked around, I am willing to bet that you know someone who has a mental disorder. Maybe you even know a couple of people that suffer from a disorder of some sort, maybe it is even you.

Over the next couple of post, I want to take a look at some people from the Bible that may have suffered from a possible mental disorder. One of the reasons I am doing this is because I have a brother that suffers from being Bi-Polar and he was amazed when I told him that God’s Word contained people that have suffered from mental illnesses as well. I also wanted to point out to him that God supplies help and sometimes a cure to people suffering from these disorders.

Now through this last statement, there is no judgment. I am not saying that the cure can only come through God’s supernatural intervention, but rather that I believe God uses other people and even medicine to help us out. In fact, I love how Rick Warren states it, when he said, “If my heart isn’t working, and I take a pill, nobody thinks anything of it. [Same with the liver]. But if my brain doesn’t work right and I take a pill, I’m supposed to be ashamed of that? What’s wrong with that?”

So now back to the topic at hand, and the first disorder: Bi-Polar disorder and that brings us to King Saul. Now I did say King Saul, not the apostle Paul but King Saul. If you are wondering who that is, I will give a brief introduction.

King Saul was Isreal’s first king. He would have kind of looked like Actor Liev Schreiber ( who is of Jewish descent), with a beard. He was tall, muscular and handsome. (1 Sam 9:2) I do not often describe a man as handsome, but as my wife tells me Liev is, we will use him. Liev is 6’3″ tall and at least in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he was buff. Now that I have given you a mental picture of what King Saul would have looked like we will proceed.

God chose Saul as king from among all the tribes of Isreal, more specifically he was from the tribe of Benjamin. As we established above he was tall, handsome and it may have seemed like he had everything going for him, However, he had problems, maybe mental problems. I would like to assert that he might have had Bi-Polar Disorder

Here is a chart that the Mayo Clinic put out displaying some of the symptoms of Bi-Polar disorder:

Mood: anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, elevated mood, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

Behavioral: aggression, agitation, crying, disorganized behavior, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, restlessness, risk-taking behaviors, or self-harm

Cognitive: delusion, false belief of superiority, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness inactivity, or unwanted thoughts

Psychological: agitated depression, depression, manic episode, or paranoia

Weight: weight gain or weight loss

Sleep: difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness
Also common: fatigue or rapid and frenzied speaking

Now, this is a pretty long list and I am only going to examine a couple of these areas in Saul’s life.

The first symptoms Saul displayed that are common among people who suffer from Bi-Polar disorder are apprehension and loss of interest. In 1 Samuel 9 and 10, Saul went from being a normal man to being the king. We read how one day he is eating, prophesizing and worshipping with the prophets (9:22 and 10:13). And then a couple of days later when it is time for Saul to become the king, Samuel had to inquire of the LORD to find Saul, because he was hiding among the supplies (10:22).

Another set of symptoms King Saul displayed was his mood swings and paranoia. He could go from eating at the king’s table to trying to kill his own son with a spear ( 20:22-23). Or from celebrating a victory in battle one day to trying to kill David the next (18:10-11).

Saul also made reckless decisions and was impulsive which are two more traits of a person struggling with being Bi-Polar. He made unauthorized burnt and fellowship offerings to God because of his impatience (13:9). He also made a rash oath about eating during battle when his troops could have used food to boost their energy because they were worn out. All because he wanted vengeance (14:24). He even made more reckless decisions than the ones I have listed.

He also displayed many other traits throughout his 42 years as king, and you can be a Berean and look those up yourselves. There is, however, something awesome about how God reacted to all of this. How God provides help to King Saul, much like how the therapist prescribes medication to help people struggling with mental disorders. See God sent him relief through David. First, with how He used David to calm the evil spirits with the music David played, and then in the fact that David spared Saul’s life not once but twice. David could have struck Saul down and took his kingship but out of respect and love for the LORD, and the LORD’s anointed David kept waiting upon the LORD for his promised kingdom.

Now I am not a psychologist and I am not saying that King Saul absolutely suffered from a Mental Disorder, all I am doing is painting a picture that could possibly be true with the ultimate hope that it will get people to see how much God loves them. God loved Saul! We know this because God knows everything. So we know that God chose Saul as king knowing that he was going to screw up. Much like we do, but also the mere fact that Saul reigned for 42 years as king shows God’s love for him. God’s long-suffering here proves He loves us too despite whatever is going on in our lives. I would also like to point out that Saul’s possible symptoms showed both before and after God removed His Spirit from him, so I am in no way stating that God made him or anyone else Bi-Polar.

I love what the Word says in 1 Corinthians 1: 27- 29, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Source

Christian Post, 2013, Rick Warre interview

Xmen Origins: Wolverine, 2009, Marvel Comics Films

Bi-Polar symptoms chart, Mayo Clinic

Remnant = Support

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:14

There have been times where I feel like I can totally empathize or is it sympathize with Elijah( maybe it is both). How about you?

I know in my walk there have been times where the weight of my sins have made me feel alone and on the verge of defeat. Now I know that my circumstances are different from Elijah, in that I am not being persecuted by rulers or other people because of living out my faith or obeying God. At times, however, I do feel that Satan and his minions are putting so much pressure on me that I will crack. And Elijah felt just this way.

Elijah felt this way so much so that he was pleading with the LORD in verse 4 to take his life from him. He felt like he was alone and helpless. He felt that his fate was going to be the same as his fathers. And this is the area that I and maybe you can empathize with him.

When dealing with overcoming sin in our lives, at times we do feel helpless, alone and defeated. I know that there have even been times where I have pleaded with God, “saying that it would better for me to come home than to stay and fight.” Let me state here that in no way am I saying that I have contemplated suicide! Just like I am sure Elijah wasn’t thinking about taking his own life. What I am saying is that maybe I just wanted the easy way out.

In all of this, however, God restores Elijah’s hope and hopefully ours as well. In verse 15, 16 and 18 the Word states,”

And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be a prophet in your place. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:15‭-‬16‭, ‬18

I love this blessed reassurance! God, in His still, small voice tells Elijah that He is bringing about change and that He is going to bless him with brothers to help him to not feel defeated and alone anymore.

Another verse that I love that goes so well with these verses and quenches that idea of loneliness is from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Just like for Elijah, God has risen people up to help us in our battles against sin. People like our spouses and our brothers or sisters, so let us soak up all that our heavenly Father is pouring our way.

Challenge

Plug into a group of people who are willing to help carry your burdens, and carry some of their’s as well.

Bittersweet

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6‭-‬8

So many mornings during my prayer time, I pray this verse. And while doing so the gravity of it smacks me Leroy Jethro Gibbs style in the back of the head. If you are searching for what that means you can watch any NCIS episode and see him (Mark Harmon) doing this to any one of his subordinates. And he does not do it as a lack of respect but rather as he explains it; as a wake-up call. God does this a lot in our lives ( at least He does in mine), gives us wake up calls I mean.

But I digress. While it is so awesome for us that Jesus took our place by taking the punishment that we so fully deserve; there is still another side to this. It is so humbling, even saddening to know that my Savoir and King had to be beaten and scourged and hung on a tree because of my rebellion against my Father. Jesus suffered because I sinned. This rocks my world! Constantly!

Think about it, every lash of the whip, the insulting slaps in the face, the pricking of the crown of thorns, the mocking, the carrying of the cross, the nails, the insults the were hurled at him while hanging on the cross. All the way to the blade piercing his side were all because of our sins. More personally my sins.

The cross is so beautiful but at times it breaks me! So I just wanted to share this thought with you.

Commitment

I need to try and be more aware of the gravity of my sins and what they cost. How about you?

Questions

1) When you read the living word of God, do you use it in your prayer life or how about in you life?

2) Are there pieces of Scripture that break you, what are you going to do about that?

Cited

NCIS, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, 2003, Belisarius Productions, CBS

Deepening Grace

The level of knowledge that we have about something either makes us love that thing or be indifferent to it. Take your spouse, for example. When you first met them, you did not know them and it was okay just going out or hanging out. As your relationship grew, and the closer the two of you became, and you spent more time together. Where you once did not know what made them tick, now you do. Now, you know their likes and dislikes. The more time the two of you spent together is in direct correlation to the amount of knowledge you gained about them.

This is how relationships work or do not work. This is also how our relationship with God works or does not work. Time equals understanding.

I love how in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (vs 11) As Paul (and ourselves) grew up, he gained knowledge and was able to discern what was expected of a man (or woman) and to adjust his actions accordingly. Having a deepened understanding of expectations in certain areas absolutely helps in bringing enjoyment to our adult lives, just as it does in marriages and our relationships with God.

We can only be close to God through the grace that He has poured out on us through His Son. God provided the way. He opened the door. He tore the veil. He made it so we could have a relationship with him.

God is holy. He is perfect, unblemished. He is so many things that we are not and never could be without Him. Another one of those things is: He is good. Jesus, the son of God, is described as a man who knew no sin (2 Cor.5:21) and even he says, “no one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Good is a comparative term. When we herald that we are good, what we are actually saying is that we are better than most. Which is wrong on so many levels, one, being that our comparison is base on what we see or have experienced about other people in our circle. This is a biased judgment and its basis comes from other flawed people. Flawed people and things make for extremely poor judgment.

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

A. How would you stack up against the only man who never sinned? Against Jesus, who would not even let someone call him good?

B. Do you know what God’s Word says about people who choose to sin?

C. Are we so depraved and/or ignorant about what sin is?

In the book of Romans, Paul says, “that we all sin and that no one seeks God” (3:11 and 23).

Sin is anything that goes against what God says we should do. Lying, cheating, stealing are all example of things that have blemished us. Have you ever embellished? Well, that is lying. Have you ever used something without permission? That is theft. The list goes on and on, and we have all done these things. And because of that, we are dirty, we are blemished.

I have a perfect example of this. When I was a child, my parents would buy me new clothes for school or for times where play clothes were inappropriate. Now, there were times that I would wear these new clothes out to play and would get grass stains on them. Grass stains are horrible and are extremely hard – if not impossible to get out. These stains ruined many pairs of jeans and dress pants. And, it is not like I could bleach them in the knees to rid them of the stains because the pants were blue or black and not white.

Sin in our lives is exactly like that; it is a stain that we ourselves cannot remove. It is a blemish and according to God, blemished/dirty things cannot come before him. In fact, dirty and blemished things where disposed of. They would be taken outside of camp and burnt up.

God says that if we break his laws, we have become cursed and that cursed people will be hung on a tree (Duet. 21:23, Gal. 3:13).

However, thanks be to God! And the grace that He has shone us through Christ on the cross.

There is this Parable that Jesus told that brings all of this into perspective.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that Jesus was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now, when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”(Luke 7:37‭-‬43)

Jesus goes on to say to Simon, “I entered your house and you provided me with no water to wash my feet and this lady has cleansed my feet with her tears and hair.” And why do you suppose that this lady did this act of love? It was because she knew what we need to know. She knew that only Jesus can redeem us. Only Jesus can forgive our sins. She knew that nothing inside of herself could make her right with God. She knew that without our only Hope it was hopeless. She would never be able to see God’s eternal rest without Jesus. She was destined for that dark place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. She was destined for hell. As are we without Christ.

So, here is this sinner crying on Jesus’ dirty feet. Now when I say dirty it is not like our feet when they are dirty. Sure our feet might smell or maybe even be black on the bottom from walking around barefoot. But that is nothing in comparison to the feet of people who wear sandals and whose only mode of transportation is walking. Sun and rain exposed feet. And to go further she then took her hair; that’s right her hair not a rag, and wiped clean Jesus’ now muddy feet.

I do not know about you, but I do not like wet gooey things touching my hands more less the little hair I have. But Jesus’ response to her was to tell her, her sins were forgiven. What grace, no lecture, no judgment, just grace.

Questions

1. Has there ever been a time where you were gripped by the greatness of your sins and the depth of the grace of God and that brought you to tears?

2. Has this ever happened to you while you were standing with brothers and sisters before the altar worshipping Yahweh?

Prayer

Oh, Abba Father, please forgive my blatant disobedience and may Your grace continue to ever change me.

In Jesus name, Amen

Cisterns

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:13, ESV

I am sorry I took so much time off from writing. I have allowed so many distractions to enter my life. Some good, some not so good. Sometimes, I just go through the motions. Perhaps, you know what I mean.

I have – more times then I would like to admit – just darted through God’s Word instead of actually meditating on it. I have been so repetitive in my prayer life at times that I feel that it may be bordering on vain repetition. Instead of just being still in the presence of Almighty God, I allow myself to get so busy that…well I push God aside, for other things; for cisterns and broken ones at best.

Here is the thing though, there have been times where I am bored and have filled that time with drinking from cisterns that contain things like: watching way too much tv, getting lost in video games, or spending all my time watching movies. And, it is not just limited to being bored, but also as a way of trying to sooth hurt in my life as well.

We can put so many other things in front (or in place) of seeking the Lord, and Israel did this as well. One of those times was when Jeremiah was a prophet, it was so bad that the Israelites were complaining that God wasn’t hearing their prayers or intervening on their behalf. But they, much like ourselves, had put distractions in their way; they had worshipped gods (idols) that weren’t gods. Gods, in no way, that had any power.

Does that sound familiar? We can correct this dilemma, though and scripture can help us. Pieces like Deuteronomy 6:5 give us a key to this lock by telling us that you “need to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Think about it, we love ourselves, right? We do whatever it takes to make ourselves happy, right? If there is something we want, we buy it or save up so we can buy it regardless of the circumstances. I used to think that because I worked hard anything I wanted should be mine. I made myself the king of my life and this brought a lot of hardship into my life emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Maybe you have been there? But, in doing this I failed to acknowledge the real KING of KINGS. In fact, I was so selfish that I put so much distance between God and myself, and this is exactly what the Israelites did.

As a group, we worshipped gods that aren’t gods. They worshiped Molech, Baal, Chemosh and Dagon – which is no different than us worshipping money, possessions, fame, and self. All of these things, by the way, are broken cisterns.

Challenge

Choose a piece of scripture, it does not have to be a big piece. Sit down with it, read it several times, see what some commentaries say about it, see how it relates to the people of the time it was written and then relate it to your own life. Then, ask God to use it in your life and mean it.

So, what can we do to change this? The answer is love the LORD more.

Questions

1. Are there some broken cisterns in your life that you lean on instead of leaning on God?

2. Are you serious about your walk with the LORD or are there some distraction that get more of you attention?

Squeezed!

Nothing in my mind is better than freshly squeezed orange juice, especially when it comes to breakfast beverages. I mean, who really wants concentrated juice anyway.

Another food that gives juice off when squeezed are Gushers. My wife loves Gushers. Gushers are these little gummies that are filled with sour juice. I do not like sour things; they make me feel as though I am being turned inside out.

I bring these things up as an illustration. Two things with very different tastes, which perfectly describes us and our temperaments, especially when being squeezed by things in our lives.

A lot of people can recite Galatians 5:22, which states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” But not many of us can recite Galatians 5:19-20, which are the fruits of the flesh. They are things like, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, and things like these.”

Now, let me ask you a question: which of these two lists do you display when being squeezed? If I am honest, there are times while being squeezed, that I pour out the things of the flesh. Especially while being squeezed by people close to me, namely my wife, children or pets (which I feel horrible about). Traffic is another thing that squeezes a lot of people. Our tempers fly and we say things we hopefully don’t mean. How about you?

So, if we claim to be children of the living God, and by this, we are sealed by the Spirit then shouldn’t we be pouring out or displaying the fruits of the Spirit because he is living inside of us.

Jesus said that people would know that we are his disciples by the love that we show one another (John 13:35). And nobody (other than God) knows us as well as our wives or children; so let us not put into contention whom it is that we are disciples of.

Challenge

I love the book of James; he has so much to say concerning this topic. This week, read chapter 3 of James and meditate on what he says, then apply it to your life.

Question

1) How is your temper while being squeezed?

2) Would those closest to you question your walk with Christ (because of your temper)?