RSS Feed

Author Archives: carrierofchrist

Paul’s Purposeful Praises

Many of us struggle, whether from health issues, emotional issues or mental issues. Some of us struggle with addictions and some with issues of being persecuted by family and strangers. And one of the ways we cope is by telling ourselves, “God doesn’t give me more than I can handle.”

Let me say that again, “God doesn’t give me more than I can handle.” Hmm, what a nice thought, however, it is biblically inaccurate. I am not saying that God doesn’t love you. Or that He doesn’t move supernaturally to help you, all I am saying is the statement above is inaccurate.

Many people from the Bible have had much more than they could handle on their own. People like Job and Paul. There where even times in the life of David, Daniel and Joseph that were filled with struggles. How about the lady that bled for 12 year and spend all her money on physicians, who at the passing of Jesus was delivered from her hopelessness. All of these people are prime examples of this saying being untrue. God loved all of these people.

I love what Paul tells Timothy when he says, “My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.”
(2 Timothy 3:11)

I want to refer you to another chapter in scripture that illuminates Paul’s struggles. In Acts 14 while at Iconium and Antioch Paul was mistreated but escaped right before being stoned. (vs. 5) And if that was not enough the people from Antioch and Iconium followed Paul to Lystra and poisoned the Lystrian’s minds about Paul so much so that they stoned him and left him for dead.

People die from being stoned. Stephen died, the guy who cursed his parents from the Leviticus 24:23 died and the guy who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath from Numbers 15 also died. Yet Paul miraculously lived. He lived because he was divinely rescued.

I know that there are times (maybe you are in the midst of one right now) where your struggles seem to be bringing you to an end, lean into God. Wait on God. Isaiah 40:31 tells us that those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength.

David penned in Psalm 18 after being rescued from King Saul, ” The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalms 18:2

So now when we read pieces of scripture where Paul is boasting about his struggles like in 2 Corinthians 11. We can understand his joy or where his joy comes from. Like he states above it comes from his Rescuer.

I struggle with waiting, Abraham struggled with waiting. Job struggled with waiting. Loads of people struggle with waiting, but if we wait on the LORD he will renew our strength.

Prayer

ABBA, Father help me in my struggles. Your Word tells us that if we ask for wisdom, you will give it. So LORD please give me wisdom and patience to wait on you. I need you!

In Jesus Name, Amen

To Berean or not to Berean, that is the question

Who from the Bible do you think you are most like? From time to time a personality quiz has come across my Facebook feed saying it can tell me which person from the Bible I am most like. I always take it and usually am told that I am John the Beloved. However, if you know me I think that we would both say that I am more like a Peter because like Peter I can be impulsive when it comes to Christ.

Maybe you are like me and imagine yourself as the biblical character you are reading about. When you read about David and Goliath you become David. Or maybe, you read about all of Josephs’s hard times and because you to have struggled in this life, you become Joseph.

In order to place yourself in their shoes, you need to read the Scriptures, or at least the accounts from the Scriptures. And it takes time to do this.

Have you ever just sat back and calculated how many hours a day you are awake. On average people sleep about 7 hours per night and that means that you are awake for 17 hours a day. I want to break those hours down into minutes, so on average, we are awake 1020 minutes a day. Wow, that is a lot of minutes!

Let’s put a pin in that thought for a second. Although I may be more like a Peter (and there is nothing wrong with that) there is a group of people I would rather identify with. We can find them in the book of Acts. Which reads: The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now, these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (17:10‭-‬11)

See because God has designed each of us uniquely, I cannot be Peter, however, you and I can be like a Berean.

As seen in the scripture above the Bereans eagerly examined the scriptures to see if Paul was telling the truth. They weren’t just reading the Word for the first or second time, they knew it enough to be able to check and make sure everything they were being told by Paul was accurate. It didn’t take them years or months to fact check the Gospel because they knew where to find the scriptures Paul was using to point them to Jesus. And ultimately help them in accepting Christ as Savoir.

We could be this way. We could be eager for God’s Word. We could be Bereans, but to be a Berean we have to manage our time better. We are awake for 1020 minutes a day, how much of that time are you eager for drawing close to God through His Word and prayer.

Maybe you did not know this but for 15 minutes a day, you can read through the Bible in a year. 15 minutes is only a bit over 1 percent of your daily waking minutes.

To put it another way, we are told to test the spirits, (1John 1:4) how can we test them if we are not studying the Word like the Bereans? If we do not know or seek out the truth how will we know how to test them at all?

Prayer:

God help me to be more faithful with the time you have given me. Help me to draw closer to You.

In Jesus’s name

Amen.

I am not a Back-handed Honor Seeker, or am I

I think for the most part all of us in one way or another desire to be honored. We want our spouses to honor us, our children, our families, we even want co-workers and strangers to show us honor.

To seek honor is a good thing; it is a wise thing. Solomon penned in Proverbs 3 that the wise inherit honor whereas the fool disgrace. However, there are people (and if I am honest I have drunk from that man-made cistern) that put receiving honor above other people and relationships. To make this a bit easier to digest, some people make success in receiving honor more important than actually being honorable.

Let me ask you a question; Do you believe that while being wise you can be completely foolish about things you yearn for? I think that for the most part, we are all good-willed people, none of us truly seek out being evil. That being said, how is it that we allow ourselves to become so blinded by our fleshly desires?

This posting is about a man (or us) in the Bible that did just that. He wasn’t super-evil he just allowed his quest for honor and power to unravel him. His name is Haman and we can find him in the book of Esther. Haman was wise and hard working. We know this because King Ahasuerus promoted him above all the other nobles in his court (3:1). The King trusted Haman in making decisions concerning his Kingdom (3:9-11). The King also sought counsel from Haman concerning everyday things; like giving honor where honor was due (6:6-9).

Haman himself even loved to boast about his stature in the Kingdom to his wife and friends (5:11-12). But all of this honor wasn’t enough for him, he wanted more. All the honor that the king, the queen, the governors, and the other officials gave him just wasn’t enough. Everyone in the kingdom was showing him honor but one person. ( on a side note this was a big kingdom, it stretched from India to Ethiopia, and contained 127 provinces)

Haman allowed this one person who refused to bow down to him to effect his own decision making. He allowed one small thing to fester which ultimately showed his foolishness and brought death. But even worse than death Haman’s disgraceful story would be told and read for all of eternity because God’s word is eternal.

So back up to what Solomon wrote: the wise inherit honor whereas the fool disgrace. I can sympathize with Haman because I have been him. From time to time I have said that the honor or the privileges that the King of King’s has set before me are not enough. I have been foolish. LORD change me!

Prayer:

LORD, thank you for revealing these things to me and thank you for sending your son to me. Please continue to change me, to transform me into a likeness like your own.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Priestly Protagonist Procrastinator

This blog is a hard one to write. Mainly because I am a huge admirer of the person whom I am writing about. His name is one of three that I would give as an answer to the question, What person from the past or present would you most like to have lunch with? His name is Jehoiada.

Jehoiada appears in the books of 2 Kings (11 and 12) and in 2 Chronicles (21-23). He was the High Priest st during the reign of Queen Athaliah and King Jehoash. He led a revolt against Athaliah that restored Judah and the lineage of David back to the throne. He also brought the hearts of Judah back to Yahweh. Jehoiada is the only High Priest to have ever been buried (after his death of course) with the Kings of Judah.

He was just pretty amazing! However much like us and unlike Jesus, he had a sinful nature. And I would like to assert that he was a bit of a procrastinator. In 2 Chronicles 24, King Jehoash told the priests and the Levites to go and collect taxes from Judah and to use that money to repair the temple. Then 23 years passed by and nothing was restored. So the king summoned Jehoiada and other priests and asked them why they had not done as he commanded concerning the house of the LORD. After that, a plan was put into place and the Temple was restored.

I encourage you to be a Berean and to read the scriptures listed above. I wholeheartedly believe that you will see it in the same light that God has shown it to me. On a side note, I have procrastinated in writing this entry and that is tragically funny. Maybe that is why God has shown it to me.

Here are some verses to help with overcoming procrastination-for the next time you are stuck in that rut.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:13‭-‬14 ESV

Or

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
Matthew 24:44‭-‬46 ESV

Prayer

Oh, Abba, Father. Thank you so much for your patience with me. Even when I slack off and do not complete things in a timely manner. I need Your help to be more urgent with tasks in this life, whether from you or from someone who knows that I belong to You. LORD help me to be that faithful ambassador and the faithful servant that You call me to be.

In Jesus Name

Amen

And the Grand Prize Goes to….

Let’s see, thus far we have covered Bi-Polar Disorder and Depression, so this week I would like to study someone who I believe is the front runner for suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You know I have never actually heard anyone accuse someone else of being a Narcissus. At least not in real life, however, it is a term that I have heard in movies. Usually referring to someone who is extremely self-centered. I think they may have even been the bad guys in the storyline. Someone this self-centered would have to be a bad guy, right?

Let me ask you a question concerning the last statement. What traits would a person have to display in your mind in order to qualify them as being a bad person, or in the movies a villain?

Here are some names of people in the Bible that may have been Narcissists and they may have been seen as the villain in the part that they played in history.

King Herod (Agrippa): In chapter 12 of the book of Acts, we read that he violently killed James and threw Peter in jail. Now neither of these things would qualify him as being a Narcissist however at the end of this chapter he drops dead from refusing to give God the glory (v23). It is kind of funny when you think about it, but Narcissism must have run in the Herod family. Herod the Great murder Jewish boys at the time of Jesus’ birth because of his fear of losing the throne. Herod the Tetrarch (the father of Herod Agrippa from above) felt he was above the law and took his brother Philip’s wife to be his own.

However, these guys are not the droids we are looking for. In fact, the Homecoming King of the Narcissistic ball goes to King Nebuchadnezzar.

I don’t know how well you know King Nebuchadnezzar or how you view him, but at his time the Jewish people viewed him as a villain. He murdered kings, princes, guards and anyone who opposed him. He torched Jerusalem and destroyed the temple of God. Remember Nineveh from the book of Jonah, well he destroyed it.

At the time he was unstoppable and for good reason. In Books like Jeremiah (27) and Nahum, God tells his people as well as the people of the other surrounding kingdoms that King Nebuchadnezzar is going to come and that he will execute God judgment upon them for their disobedience.

I want to lay this all out for you; no army in the Middle East was able to stand against him, not even Jerusalem. Assyria, Egypt, the Ammonites, the Moabites, etc. all fell at his feet or by his sword. And God Himself told all these nations that Nebuchadnezzar was coming and specifically used Nebuchadnezzar’s name. This would give me a god complex how about you?

It did for Nebuchadnezzar. He ended up making for himself a statue of gold in his likeness which was 90 feet tall. Then one night while he was walking in his gardens he looked up and gave himself credit for how big his kingdom had become instead of giving credit where credit was do. To God!

One of the reasons I picked Nebuchadnezzar as the Homecoming King of the Narcissistic Ball other than meeting some criteria on a website is that he is me and I am willing to bet at times he is you. See anytime that we put sin above God and choose to gratify our fleshly desires in some part we become Narcissists. Praise God for sending his son for us, and washing away our sins. Now and forever! So let us draw near to the throne of God and allow His glorious presence to change us.

Prayer

Abba, Father please forgive me for being short-sided and thinking only of myself. LORD help me to desire You above all else.

In Jesus name,

Amen!

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

.

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