Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In Process

There are times I think I could bear up under the reality of suffering the loss of all things. In those moments I also look around at the collective total of all the junk I have amassed and can believe it is “rubbish.” I think it would be neat to be completely and totally un-tethered and rootless.

In those moments I imagine what it would be like to have the freedom to pick up and go on a mission trip if we desire to do so. I think about how wonderful it would be to not care at all about where I live or what I possess.

Then reality (the other reality) hits me, and I think of how much I love to entertain, and have the ability to bless others with our warm home environment, to have a place for our children and someday grandchildren to stay when they come.

I am still so conflicted in mind and heart. Yet, I have come so very, very far.

I think that all the stuff of life does distract me and cause my focus to be everywhere but on Christ. One thing Paul had going for him in all those circumstances is that he had nothing and no One but Christ. I am not sure I am ready for that yet. There is still too much of my flesh that lives.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

That pressing on toward the goal of being like Christ… Christ, the suffering servant. Christ, the man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief. Christ, the man who created the whole universe and yet had no home in which to live and no bed to rest His head. Christ, the incomparable and indescribable One- sinless and perfect.

I am fearful to fully and completely offer myself in this way because I know that the suffering would increase as the love of the world is stripped away from my heart.

The only way to kill it off is through the sufferings and trials that we dislike so much. Through them we learn how to be content. You know that verse I think. This is another aspect of the process of sanctification.

My brain understands that this process is needed, and much of me wants it to go forward but there is much trepidation.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Being Like....

I wish God would have put Paul’s struggles, his mental and emotional ones in the Bible for us. Particularly the ones where he really doubted the wisdom of what he was doing. I don’t intend to be blasphemous here, not one bit so please do not misunderstand me.

Paul was human, he was a normal man like you and I. He was indwelt by the Spirit like you and I and he had strengths and weaknesses like you and I. He did not sign up to be a superhero and I seriously doubt he ever realized the depths his posthumous fame would reach!

He led a very hard life after meeting Jesus Christ. He details some of his struggles and sufferings in the book of Acts, and in his epistles.

23…in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

22The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. 23When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Acts 16:22-24

8For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

14Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 2 Timothy 4:14
So I wish God would have put Paul’s thoughts in the Bible like He did David’s. The Psalms are full of David’s lamenting about his circumstances…but not Paul’s.

I believe this was intentional. All we read about with only a few exceptions is the overcoming that Paul did. He met the challenge, overcame, and adapted to the new “normal”, whatever that was. I desire to be that flexible and loose in the hands of the Master Potter. I wish I would not care at all about the things of this world, but my flesh is still too strong.

I wish I could have the same kinds of responses to the trials and problems of life, that in spite of them I would press on seemingly mindless of them.

Paul came to that place only over time, he must have! To begin so prosperous and respected by the Jews and to descend to being hated and abused in the ways he was- it had to be a major adjustment in his thinking. He suffered a terrible human cost, and he considered it all “nothing”

8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11

I am not there yet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Intimacy of Faith

I have wanted to give up at times, and in fact, I have cried out to God that I must have been crazy to seek such a thing, it was all a mistake, and never mind what I said! What I knew before was that the Bible chronicles the trials of Paul (2 Cor. 11:23-28) and that in spite of them all he persevered and stayed the course. He suffered the loss of all things (Phil 3:8) yet finished well; and all it cost him was his life.

I have had many conflicted discussions with myself over this because frankly, I am tired of suffering and trials. I admit there are times I long for the apparent ease of the lives of those people who do not have the same desires I have for Christ. And yet, no matter what I come up against, it is always HIM I run to, HIM I desire, HIM I proclaim.

Please be clear, I am no super saint, I am not perfect (far from it!) and I have plenty of areas of my heart that need changing like any of you. I cannot explain this desire I have to know Him, to be intimately in tune with Him so that I may serve Him faithfully and glorify Him with my life. What I have learned thus far is that the things that once meant everything to me had to become nothing. Paul said: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:7-8).

I have a beautiful home that we have poured the last 18 years into refurbishing. It once meant so much to me to have this home, and now I cannot wait to sell it! It is a hindrance to me, to my service to the King. It takes up hours of my life to maintain that I would rather spend doing things that are Kingdom oriented. Overall, I have sincerely lost the desire for material things as compared to my former self. For this, I give glory to God! It is truly His hand in this change.

That is the bright side of this equation, the things that have been easy to surrender. Others have been and continue to be incredibly, miserably difficult. I could literally write a novella on them all, but I will spare you that. The point is that when God begins this process and brings these desires to you there is a cost. The old hymn I Surrender All contains this verse:

All to Jesus I surrender

All to Him I freely give

I will ever love and trust Him

In His presence daily live


I surrender all

I surrender all

All to Thee my precious Savior

I surrender all

I have learned that when you say that, God takes it seriously.

More next time

Thursday, September 25, 2008

True Worship

I was having a discussion with someone the other day and we were talking about having intimacy with Christ. My class mate commented that I seem to have a deeper level of intimacy with God than he did and that got me to thinking….

What does it mean to “know Christ” in this intimate way, and is that something we really can possess? I believe Paul knew Christ; he just was not satisfied with the depth of his knowledge! I don’t think he was asking for special signs and wonders or for God to whisper in his ear, what he wanted to know was the power of Christ’s resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to His life before identifying with Him in His death.

Too often I am presented with folks who are waiting for “THE EXPERIENCE” to overtake them, throw them to the floor in a holy fit of some kind, or to receive a special warm and fuzzy feeling from the Almighty. Ladies, none of this is emotional, it is all theological. There are no mysterious communications or secret signals that God sends to some of us. God has chosen for this period of time to communicate who He is and what He is about through His Word.

Many don’t realize that the Gnostics were waiting for these kinds of experiential things, some secret wisdom beyond Scripture, and that is heresy!

When I speak of having intimacy with Christ, there are a few things that come to mind. One is the matter of how we worship Him. Our idea of worship is rather narrow and we tend to look at it as the songs we sing on Sunday mornings. Others think of worship as burnt offerings, sacrifices, and ceremonial rituals. However, one look around the congregation while “worship” is taking place often reveals the attitude of the worshippers. Many stare off into space, or absently mouth the words while thinking of anything but worshipping the Living God.

We also think of “doing my devotions” as worship. Sadly, “my devotions” have been reduced to a small book with one verse taken out of context and made to be all about me and how God can make me feel better. Or they are hurried times of speed reading that chapter in the Bible – doing my duty so I can check it off the list for the day.

This is not true worship. Real worship does not consist of rote recitation of prayers, songs, or Bible verses. Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

Real worship is grounded in the right knowledge about God. You must think rightly about him and the only way to do that is to know Him as He is revealed through Scripture. If you want to know God, truly know Him, you must become familiar with His Word. It is essential to having true intimacy with Him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Entrust Yourself

I am literally shaking with anger at the moment- it is anger at injustice. I really wonder how some people sleep at night. How can people be so powerful that there is no way to hold them accountable? How can the system be so messed up that right people are wrong even when they are right? Innocent people convicted of crimes they did not commit? People with all the evidence of innocence on paper, in black and white, completely obviously not guilty- how can they still be convicted? How can there be no recourse to right a wrong? Lives ruined, careers ended, reputations sullied, on the basis of one person…

I have seen this before…one person is jealous of another and they do their best to ruin their reputation among their peers, on the job- a person carries a grudge and sets out to destroy the other person’s job status. It is evil and wicked and horrible. With every single bone in your body all you want is revenge at any cost. Your mind thinks of a hundred ways you can get even with them, you want to lash out and start telling others bad things about that person who has hurt you, or the system that did not allow you to defend yourself. You think about anonymous ways to get even with them, some of them may not even be legal but at that moment you don’t really care because they have hurt you or someone you love and you have taken up that reproach and are determined to strike back and hard. If you had a MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) you would drop it right on their house.

But that is not God’s way.

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:18-24

As hard as it is to swallow, this is God’s way. These are some of the most difficult verses in the Bible for the Christian. It is a most difficult thing to be wronged and not fight back, to be falsely accused and just not retaliate.

Peter says that when we suffer in this way and patiently endure it this finds favor with God. I had to look up this phrase “patiently endure it” the crux of the phrase rests on the Greek word hupomeno which means stay under (behind), that is, remain; figuratively to undergo, that is, bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:—abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind. (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries). Now, maybe that was already clear to you, but it helped me understand what God is asking of us when things go this way. God wants us to stay the course in spite of how we feel about it. He wants us to humble ourselves and remain where He has placed us until He moves us.

Oh this is so very, very hard! Our flesh cries out for justice! We so badly want righteousness to prevail! We want to win! And there are times when God says, “No” and we are allowed to be harshly treated. (FYI- I am not in any way speaking of a physically abusive marriage or relationship here) Somehow, in a way that we may not understand, or even care about right now God is having His way with us. This experience is conforming us to Jesus Christ.

Continue to entrust yourself to the righteous judge. God is not mocked and God will avenge and vindicate you at some point in time. Always remember, God is aware of all of it, God has a plan within the situation, and God is sovereign and is not allowing anything to happen to you that He is not in control of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Refined Like Gold

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9obtaining as the outcome of £your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

This passage and many others in 1 & 2 Peter have meant a great deal to me over the years of my life in Christ.

Particularly as I hear of the suffering of those I come in contact with as the economy fails, the love of most grows cold, and hearts are hardened toward Christ. I often turn people to these 2 books to help them understand the “why” of suffering, and disappointment as well as the “why” of why things are what we consider to be unfair. I often turn here myself when circumstances get the best of me.

I need these letters Peter wrote so long ago. I need them to remind me that my hope is not found here, my living hope is found in Christ. You know I write of this often because it is so vitally important. We have a living hope- it doesn’t end for us when we leave this earth, it is only just beginning! The inheritance awaiting the believer has no expiration date and we do nothing but pass from one life into the next to obtain it. And to assure us of this, despite our ongoing struggles with sinful behavior, Peter reminds us yet again that we are protected by the power of God through faith (v5).

No struggle can take you away from Him. Paul reminded the Romans of this in Romans 8:37-39

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Recently, I was involved in a situation where a person had been falsely accused of something on the job. Written procedure was not followed in this process and a complaint was lodged against them. The situatio

n has the possibility of ending this person’s career, and eliminating their livelihood. There is proof the accusation is false. However, the allegation goes forward.

This is confusing at best and criminal at least. The person involved here is a long time, well grounded Christian and this situation threw them into a tail spin of doubt and despair. Suddenly everything was being doubted! Questions like, “Does God really love me?” “How could He let this happen?” “Maybe this (Christianity) is not all it is made out to be..” “Why do they (unbelievers) always win?”

Here, Dear Reading Friends is the reason:

7so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Mmm, this is hard to swallow on the surface. All these crummy trials are proof of our faith. Our endurance is the proof of our faith.

I am going to continue this next time!

Monday, September 22, 2008

In Christ

Being list and detail oriented is a blessing…and a curse. God has gifted me administratively and by His grace I use this gift to minister to others.

I have a PHD in details. PHD as in Piled Higher and Deeper. Occasionally, the details could swamp me if I let them. When I find myself being overtaken by all life brings my way my emotions threaten to take over and throw me about. I want to give up, I want to run away, and I do not believe I can handle another thing.

These are times when I realize (hindsight) I am trusting in myself and in my own power and ability to make it, and that is a deadly mistake! Jesus Christ is the “power source” of the believer’s sufficiency and perseverance. Because of Him I will persevere and I will grow in my faith because I have received all that it is necessary to sustain me through these trials and to eternal life through the power of Christ.

To experience the reality of my position, I must closely identify myself with Christ. It is in Him that I “…might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4) This means I must put on in practice who I am In Christ…

When I say: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20) It means that the part of me that had to sin is dead and gone and lives no more! That verse means that I am no longer under the obligation to sin- ever. Before I was saved, before I was crucified with Christ I was under obligation to the flesh, I literally had no choice but to sin! (Non passe non peccare Lat. Means: It is not possible to not sin) But now I have the ability to refuse to sin (posse non peccare Lat. ability not to sin)

I pray this brings you incredible hope today! You have the ability to refuse to sin, even in the midst of trials, discomfort, pain, misery, sorrow, disaster, and anything else you can think of. You and I have been thoroughly equipped to say “no” to the flesh when we are tempted to sin because we are “in Christ!”

Oh dear Reading Friend, I pray earnestly that you will grasp what I am saying here! I am showing you the freedom you have to live life above the discouragement and sorrow of this world. Not that you will be sorrow free, none of us will ever be that but in Christ we can face these worldly difficulties with a godly perspective.

Christianity offers more than “just Christ” – it offers life, freedom from performance driven living, freedom from condemnation, freedom from shame and guilt of sin.

“Without Christ you have nothing. With Christ you have everything.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our All Sufficient Christ

Even in emotional suffering Christ is sufficient. The danger of being lured away by worldly philosophies is it causes us to refocus on temporal things, and to loose our desire and vision for God.

My Pastor says, “Once we lose our vision for God, who He is, what He has done through His Son Jesus Christ, we get a vision for something else. God is put on the shelf, an abstraction. Christ’s work on the Cross becomes a footnote in history that has application when I die but is irrelevant now.”

Has this ever happened to you? Have you lost your focus on Christ and begun to look at temporary situations as all there is?

I want to redirect you today from focusing on yourself, and your situation, the things that get you down, and cause you to feel bad to focusing on Christ in the Bible.

In the NASB the terms “in Him” appear 94 times. The terms “with Him” are there 114 times. If something is mentioned that many times, it has got to mean something! So let us look today at Him and discover some of the realities about Jesus. It is inevitable that we relate some of them to ourselves but it is important that you understand that these things are true about Him regardless of how they do or don’t affect you.

. …in Him you have been made complete… Jesus is able, by virtue of who He is to make us complete. I have heard women and men say of their spouse, “He/She completes me.” While I have no doubt that we can find someone who so matches our personality that it seems that we are incomplete without them the only One who can truly complete you is Christ.

Remember that you are born with that God-shaped void in your spirit. You and I were born sinners, spiritually dead, without life, unable to do anything about it at all. We are helpless and as hard as we may try, as many good deeds as we may do we are still insufficient and incomplete without Christ.

Who else in the history of all the world can make a person complete? No one but Jesus.

When we are complete in Him, we are also immediately positionally secure. This means that no matter how you may feel about it God says that you are secure. Recently I was watching the hurricane recovery efforts in the south, and I watched a man being hoisted into a helicopter in the arms of a rescuer. The man had some security line around him, and he was being held tightly by the other man but I can only imagine that he was a little concerned about how secure he truly was as he was lifted hundreds of feet in the air.

The man who is the rescuer knows exactly how secure his charge is. He knows what it takes to rescue him, and he has done all that is necessary to harness the man in. Regardless of how that man being rescued feels, he is safe.

Jesus knew exactly what was needed to rescue you and He went the whole distance. He did not stop short of the necessary sacrifice to secure your eternal destiny. This is why as he hung on the cross he cried, “It is finished!” because all that needed to be done was done.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)

You and I cannot add nor subtract from that in any way because we did not do it! Our salvation was monergistic meaning it was a work done by One. We are passive in this process because we have been saved by someone else. Just like that man could not get up into that helicopter alone; you cannot get saved from your sin without Christ for He is your rescue.

More next time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So What Do I do Now?

I have taken these last several entries to (hopefully) open your eyes to these realities of emotions and medicating them. I wanted, Christian, to remind you your hope does not come from a bottle or group therapy. Now, I want to give you some hope and remind you where it does come from.

First, may I ask you a question? Do you believe Christ is sufficient? That word, sufficient, means enough. Do you believe He is enough? If not, why not? If not, where is His in-sufficiency? Exactly what is He not able to do? You see if you do not believe Christ is sufficient then you cannot expect to be helped. Not like Christ’s ability is limited by your beliefs- He is always sufficient and you must trust in the sufficiency of Christ.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

The world says that Christ is not enough and that the Bible is fairytales and a bunch of stories we poor delusional Christians use to placate ourselves. Their methods are philosophical (example: you never step in the same river twice) and full of empty deception (example: all pathways lead to God). Philosophy means to “love wisdom” broadly speaking and when Col. 2:8 says “takes you captive”, it literally means to kidnap, or to carry you off as booty or spoils of war. That is the goal of this present world, to carry us off with deception. Satan knows he can never have our souls but he can ruin the productivity of our lives while we are here.

It is an imperative or command of Scripture that you and I do not buy into what the world’s wise philosophers are peddling. Often they offer Christ plus something else as necessary for salvation. They are deceivers and want you to believe that Christ and the Bible are not enough!

Friend, you have Christ, why bother with this nonsense?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why Do We Medicate Emotions?

What is the reasoning behind medicating emotions? Sometimes it is necessary on a temporary basis because there are certainly times when a person is so crippled by their emotions that they appear to be non-functional. They are not sleeping or eating or practicing any kind of hygiene. We have to help this person to a place of at least being functional so we can deal with the underlying issues.

A person so severely depressed that they are catatonic is not going to communicate with a therapist or a counselor of any kind. Medication is helpful in the short term in such a case. If a person has a terminal illness, or a chronic illness, medication for no other reason than to make their last days more bearable may be beneficial to enable them to enjoy what is left of their life.

However, most times these medications are prescribed to otherwise healthy people because they are feeling bad, or sad, or because of a traumatic event in life that they felt they could not cope with alone.

People do many things to medicate their emotions. The person who drinks or uses drugs for the purposes of escape, the teen that cuts or self-mutilates in other ways does it as a way to medicate emotions. They are trying to create a temporary relief of stress and create the happy or euphoric feelings they lack.

There maybe a desire to relieve guilt or shame from activities that violate the conscience. Women who have realized too late that their abortion did indeed kill a living human being carry an overwhelming sense of guilt. Some of those women cannot cope with the reality of what they have done and they turn to medication to sooth the conscience. Young girls who have been abused may carry guilt after being wrongfully told they asked for their abuse, or that they had it coming. This brings additional scars and often these girls are medicated in attempt to make them feel better while time heals the wounds. Older women in menopause are being prescribed psychotropic medications with increasing regularity! The normal course of this time of life with its emotional ups and downs is suddenly unacceptable and as long as we have a pill to make her feel better…why not?

I have several good reasons for “why not.” Medication should be reserved for illnesses. The common cold is proof of how schizophrenic the medical community is on this subject of medications. When you go to the doctor feeling like you are going to die, stuffy, coughing and congested and ask for an antibiotic (because you want to feel better!) you are denied! The doctor tells you no antibiotic because he cannot prove that you need them. Your blood work is normal, and no medical scientific testing proves there is anything wrong with you that time won’t cure.

The same protocol is not applied to the prescribing of these drugs that affect your brain. Even though at this point in medical science there is no way to test that a person is “mentally ill” these drugs are handed out like candy. There are no medical tests to prove a person is mentally ill…honest.

So if there are not medical tests, what methods are used to conclude that a person needs medication? Subjective questions are asked by the doctor. The patient goes to the doctor and he uses a interview questionnaire that is based mostly on how the person feels as compared to anyone else.

In no other realm of medicine is this method for diagnosis or treatment employed or is this

considered acceptable. Only in this special category of pseudoscience is this accepted.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Overcoming Feelings

I know that so many women tend to live by their feelings. This is one of the reasons we suffer so with emotional ups and downs. I have been told by women who struggle with depression, anxiety, PMS, and other issues that how they feel determines what kind of a day they have. Often, the first thought of the day is, “How do I feel” and if it is anything less than “good” the day is ruined before it even begins.

To overcome, we must look at feelings biblically. God has given each person a “package” of feelings and emotions. They are a part of the hard wiring that makes us who we are. Some women have more awareness of their feelings and some have less. Having feelings is not a problem- they are good and God given. If we had no feelings we would not enjoy sunsets, picnics, music, love, family, or anything else God created. Some women wish they only had happy feelings. I know this because I hear this phrase constantly from people, “I just want to be happy.” However, what they don’t realize is that if we did not experience sorrow we would not know joy. If we did not experience the ugliness of life we could not appreciate the beauty.

So let us discuss feelings for a bit. What do our feelings tell us? Generally speaking, feelings reveal hearts. This is an important point for you to realize. If you want to correct your unhappy or bad feelings, you have to address the issues of your heart!

We learn about ourselves by asking questions. Not “why” questions such as “why do I feel sad” but what questions, such as:
  • What do I want that I don’t have?
  • What do I believe I am entitled to?
Other questions such as:
  • Do I believe I am entitled to happiness?
  • Am I waiting for something magical to happen to make me happy?
  • Is the goal of my life supposed to be being happy?
These are just a few out of dozens I would ask. You see, asking questions reveal your motives, it reveals the heart of the reason you are feeling this way. Then once you know what is going on in your thoughts you can apply correct theology to your wrong thinking. (That is assuming you have correct theology! That is a topic for another day…)

If you want to overcome, you must retrain yourself to think rather than to simply emote. I would also tell you to be aware of the need for balance. It would be unwise to examine every thought, or mood. You would never get anything done!

When you experience feelings that are particularly strong or problematic, do some self-examination and determine what the cause is. Use objective, biblical questions that will lead you to a biblical conclusion. I also suggest you seek wise counsel and accountability from someone who knows you and will help you to apply God’s Word to your life. Choose someone that can help you by telling you what emotion they see in you most often. Then ask the Lord to help you to understand how you are responding as a result of these emotions, and how you can overcome them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Chemical Imbalance Theory and Emotions

Dear Readers, I freely admit I am going to step on some toes today. I intend to challenge your thinking, and provoke you to thought and to action. I don’t want to you be a lemming and follow the rest of them off the cliff into mind-numbed living.

What I say here is provable although, the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know this. They would prefer you believe and buy what they are peddling. My challenge to you is to think and verify what I am telling you. I can back up every word I say.

Also, this should not be considered “medical advice” nor do I ever advocate the starting or stopping of any medication prescribed by your physician without his or her advice.

The chemical imbalance theory says your brain chemicals are out of balance and that causes you to feel depressed or manic or any other range of emotions. The reason it is called a theory, is because it is not provable. There are no tests, zero tests that prove something like a chemical imbalance exists. It is frankly an invention of the pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs. Testing is junk science unreliable and not reproducible.

In the majority of the cases of diagnosed emotional disorder or mental illness there is no objective evidence to prove the body is functioning abnormally. There are no tests that exist that will produce definable and measurable data; therefore there is no basis to prove that an organic illness is present. The current method of diagnosing all of these mental illnesses and disorders is based only on subjective reasoning and thinking and not on changes in the body. Currently, nothing exists in the way of objective medical testing to prove there are such things as mental illness or disorders.

I was recently given an article that says: Study: Blood Test May Determine Bipolar Disorder. I researched the study, read the report on it and was not surprised to find that it is more of the same- inconclusive results coming from studies and data that is cited as having “discrepant outcomes*.” It appears that that they used former studies that were inconclusive in their conclusions as baselines for new research!

When it is determined that there is no medical basis for the patient to feel “bad”, depressed or anxious, the default diagnosis has become one of the previously mentioned disorders.

This is where the controversy lies from my perspective as well as the other respected physicians, psychologists and neurophysiologists who share my concern over the explosion of these diagnoses. To be clear, I am not questioning the desire of medical professionals to help their patients.

Something we can prove is that various medical conditions will cause chemical changes in the body. For example, a person who is diabetic has a chemical imbalance, they have too much or too little insulin. Blood sugar that is too high or too low causes the person to experience various emotions, and display behaviors uncharacteristic of their usual selves. They may become combative, abusive, or lethargic.

This is a key to the people around the person that something is wrong and needs to be checked. Once the blood sugar is corrected and stabilized the chemical imbalance is corrected. We don’t say that person has a chemical imbalance, they have diabetes. When the blood sugar level is corrected the imbalance disappears and thoughts return to normal. Another case would be a person with endocrine disorders, like Graves Disease or some other disease of the thyroid. These illnesses also cause emotional responses.

What I do question is the treatment of feelings and emotions with medications that are not treating true abnormal physiology. It is right medically and morally to pump people (including children) full of medication that alters the brain chemicals, brain wave patterns, and physical structure of the brain when there is no medical basis for it?

In the opinion of many respected medical professionals (and that number is steadily growing) it is not good to be handing these medications out so people can “feel better.”

If you would like to research these issues I suggest the following resources from an abundant list on this topic: Psychology Debunked (lisaandryan@psychologydebunked.com), Toxic Psychology by Dr. Peter Breggin, Deceptive Diagnosis, by Dr. Kurt Grady

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feelings Pt 2

Emotions are actually chemical reactions in the body brought on by thoughts in the inner man. For example: when you think someone is in the house in the middle of the night, you sit up in bed, your hearing becomes acute, your heart begins to pound faster, your respirations increase, you begin to sweat. All of this began as a thought. Your thought will either prove to be right or wrong, but in either case, your body responded the exact same way.

What has taken place in your body is that when you thought you were in danger a series of chemicals were released from your endocrine system, adrenaline and epinephrine which trigger the release of a hormone that triggers the release of approximately 30 other hormones that prepare your body to fight or take flight.

The point I want to make here is that all this reaction began with a thought. Your outer man is along for the ride. Our brain almost always functions as it has been created to: reflecting our hidden inner thoughts.

The brain is an organ, it serves the body. It is like the hard disk drive of the body. It constantly is receiving information, taking in data and converting it through amazingly complex series of chemicals and electrical impulses into vision, smells, motions, and sounds the body makes.

You may have heard someone say about an elderly person, “they just gave up their will to live.” This is an example of the brain following the inner thoughts of a person, it is the brain carrying out the desire of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12 says “the word of God is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Sometimes our feelings result from a combination of physiological problems and /or our interpretation of them. It is true that certain medications/illness/injury/constant pain can cause uncomfortable emotional feelings.

A personal example of this would be my own mom. In the last 3 years she has gone from an independent, active woman will all her abilities and zero restrictions to someone who cannot see from AMD, is in constant pain from arthritis of the spine, and has lost all freedom and independence due to this and to being on oxygen 24/7. Before this recent hospitalization she went to the store and the doctor and the senior center for lunch and that was pretty much it. Currently, she goes no where.

She has many sad feelings. She also has anxious feelings. She is fearful she will go completely blind, afraid she is going to be alone, and the constant pain is wearing and frankly depressing. She has genuine physiological issues that cause uncomfortable and sad feelings in several areas.

Lack of sleep, too much or too little food, over-work/ and lack of exercise can also cause a depressed mood. Have you noticed that if you are not well rested your mood can be affected? Tired people are cranky people.

Add to that our Hormone levels that vary from day to day.Ladies notice this more than men I suppose, but believe me guys, we notice it in you! We have constant hormonal changes in our bodies throughout the day. And these changes can affect our feelings and moods. This is one reason we cannot allow our decisions to be made based on feelings.

Certain chemicals can cause change in mood, i.e. caffeine/sugar/alcohol. If you overindulge in any of these things, you will experience results. If you make overindulging in any of them a lifestyle the physiological effects become obvious as well as the emotional responses to the abuse.

Now, here is the point that is most often abused: In very rare instances the body can malfunction and cause the brain to release mood altering chemicals into the bloodstream causing moods that don’t correspond with thoughts or circumstances.

Next time: Chemical Imbalances

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In the 1970’s there was a very sappy song entitled “Feelings” sung by some sappy guy who moaned his way through his song while he was trying to forget his feelings of love.

We are going to look at feelings and emotions. This is one of my favorite hobby horses and I can get quite animated, so hang on!

Our society has become almost completely feeling oriented and I think this is very bad. I have said before that it seems that we have lost the ability to think, and reason. Rare is it to find someone who is willing to risk sticking their neck out for a belief or a thought. Feelings are sacred ground, especially for women. I can say that, I am one of you.

I have a friend who I love dearly who is very feeling oriented and I kid her all the time about it. She feeeeeellls everything. We make each other nuts as she tells me I am an ice princess and I tell her she lives in her emotions. We balance each other out very well as she comes to me to get balance on her thought life, and I check with her to be sure I am humane in my dealings with people :)

So ----we are going to dive into our topic with some gusto here- are you ready?

First thing I want you to think about is this: what are emotions? Have you ever thought about that before? Are they physical? Are they concrete? Where do they come from and why do we have them? These are all questions I hope to have answered for you through this blog.

I believe that emotions are the physical experience of our thought life; the body’s response to thoughts that either please or displease us. I am sure you would agree that we experience billions of thoughts each day. I would further say that our thoughts often provoke emotional responses that relate to what we call happiness, hope, well being or sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.

Where do our emotions come from? To understand this, you have to hang with me a minute while I take a little side trip to explain briefly some background about the origin of emotions.

We are composed of essentially 2 parts- material or physical which is all you can see, and immaterial or spiritual and this is all you cannot see.

No one denies that these two “parts” of us, if you will – interact with each other constantly. Our emotions almost always come from the inner man. The inner man is the place of thought and reason. (Matt. 13:15) It is also the place of feelings or affections (Ecc. 7:9, Isa. 35:4) and our will. Our will is what enables us to make choices and decisions. With me so far?

Emotions are actually chemical reactions in the body brought on by thoughts in the inner man. For example: when you think someone is in the house in the middle of the night, you sit up in bed, your hearing becomes acute, your heart begins to pound faster, your respirations increase, you begin to sweat. All of this began as a thought. Your thought will either prove to be right or wrong, but in either case, your body responded the exact same way.

What has taken place in your body is that when you thought you were in danger a series of chemicals were released from your endocrine system, adrenaline and epinephrine which trigger the release of a hormone that triggers the release of approximately 30 other hormones that prepare your body to fight or take flight. (For those that are really curious on this, the website howstuffworks.com has a great detailed and understandable description of this process.)

Continued tomorrow

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Having the Answers

Today there is a deep grief in my soul.

I am aware of a situation in which someone close to me has been deeply hurt (the "rock your world" kind of hurt) and this hurt has revealed many other issues. These are all issues the world would and does refer to as "illnesses" and "disorders" and would apply their standard "therapy" of behavior modification and psychotropic medications to these issues.

While I understand that these people are well meaning and intend to help and believe they are helping, I deal with the fallout from their "treatments" every week in my office. Christians who have been led in the direction of this kind of counseling who have found no real answers, only more heartache and hopelessness.

When they get to my office they are often convinced that there is no real help or hope for them, they have been on numerous medications or maybe just one, and found that in spite of the pills, and the talk therapy, "getting it out", and "dealing with how they feel" they have found no release from the torture that has become their lives.

This is what I hope and pray does not happen to the one I know. She professes Christ, but those around her have never had need of Him before, they are self-made and self-sufficient. In my conversations with them, I have gently prodded and provoked their thinking about the "real" causes for some of these behaviors, spoken of the issue being of the heart long before it is of the activity and given them the hope that their loved one does not have to live like this forever. There is HOPE.

But I find myself up against the stiff competition of "the professionals" and the paralyzing fear that these good people close to her have of getting it wrong. They are experiencing a maelstrom of emotions and are caught in a horrific situation not of their making.

We all want what is best for this woman. We all want to help. Were it not for Christ and His ability to change hearts and lives I would have no hope to offer either; but I do have hope and help to offer!

I so badly want to reach into your life, I want to show you Christ and how nothing is beyond His reach. I want you to know that despite your confusion and despair that Jesus is with you in the midst of it. His truths have not changed, His love has not changed. He has not changed and He is still able to be your defender and advocate.

I want you to know that this way is not easy, it is demanding but worth it. You will experience freedom to be who He has created you to be and you will find that you do not need the trappings of the world to define yourself. You will know Him and the power of His resurrection which you will come to understand is more important and worthwhile than analyzing yourself. You will see that the more you do know Him, the more you will learn about who He has already created you to be. You will learn to live your position- not the position of worldly privilege but your position as a daughter of the King. You will soon understand that it is not "self-esteem" that you need, but God-esteem!

I want you to know that you don't have to live as a slave to your former way of life, that sin will lose its luster and that you will come to desire righteousness and holiness greater than fulfilling those desires of the flesh.

And I want you to know that God is sovereign. As hard as it is to grasp right now, God was completely aware of these circumstances before the beginning of time. He knew what would happen and He allowed it anyway. This does not make God cruel or mean- He operates in ways that are beyond our understanding at times and this is good! Would you want a God you could completely understand? God does intend to use this for good, He does intend to bring you through it, and He does intend to glorify Himself in the midst of your tragedy. And the glory He intends to bring Himself is through you're becoming more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

This is what I want you to know, and why I believe I have the answers. Certainly not because I am something, I am nothing but His servant and a messenger of truth. And I am frustrated that I am not helping you. My good friend reminded me that if God does not open the door for me, then He is telling me He does not want my help and that of course He has a better plan.

I hope and pray someone will give you these truths, for there is HOPE!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scripture's True Standard for Communication

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NKJV)

The only place we can find a true standard for how we are to communicate with each other is in Scripture. There must be a putting off of self-centered talk, poor listening habits, and corrupt communication methods of thinking and behaving and replacing them with Godly, honorable, holy thoughts and communication. There are some very basis rules in communication. The first one we looked at last time, it was to be a good listener. This time we are going to look at being honest in our communication.

I have a friend who has dubbed me “Truth Telling Woman” because of my dedication to speaking the truth, even when it hurts. I am committed to honesty, and in fact I despise lying. Before I was a Christian, I was a practiced and accomplished liar. I saw the devastating effects my lies had on other people that I loved and cared about and once I became a Christian some 23 years ago I determined in my heart lies would not be a part of my new life.

Being honest is more than not lying. You know that we can still lie even without speaking; we can lie by simply omitting the truth! Do you have problems in your relationships? Do you want to solve problems and improve your relationships? If you want to change the problems in your relationships with people you must begin to speak the truth in the right time and in the right way. Your problems will not be solved unless they are discussed.

While you are thinking on that, let me also tell you that speaking the truth is to be done 100% of the time, not 80% or 90%. The biblical standard for truth telling is continually. Please remember that
- one liar in a family can wreak havoc on the family...
- one liar in the office spells trouble for everyone...
- one liar in the neighborhood can ruin friendships...
- one liar in the church can split the fellowship...

The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17

If you are going to speak truth, be sure you are only speaking it to the appropriate person.
That doesn’t mean:
- the person who lives next door to you...
- you have to be honest with them but you can lie to everybody else...
- it does mean, speak the truth to the appropriate person in that particular situation...
And now a word about gossipy communication; gossip is talking to someone who is not part of the problem or not part of the solution. This means if you offended another person, you ought to be talking to them not your friend about them. If they offended you, you ought to be talking to them not a mutual friend. If you have a concern about the way someone is living, you ought to be talking to them not your neighbor. Gossip is destructive and evil. It is one of the seven deadly sins in the Bible so God takes it very seriously!

While you are speaking truth, be aware of how you are saying what you are saying! I know some people are very harsh and cutting with their words. And remember, you can say the same words, but the delivery means everything. What you are saying might be factually true and possibly the hearer is stubborn and rebellious but when what is communicated is done so in a cutting and caustic manner it is not biblically accurate because biblical truth is always wrapped in a package of love...biblical truth is always to be spoken in love Eph 4:15.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Communication Involves Listening First

One of the common things I see women (and men) struggle with in the area of communication is listening. Listening is the first key to good communication!

Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)

What a great statement! I love Proverbs. They are full of wisdom, and reveal to us how we can detect a fool. This verse is the antithesis of a fool- someone who loves to talk and does not listen- unless he is listening to himself talk!

The poor listener is not listening to understand, nor are they engaged in the conversation. If he listens at all, it is not because he “has interest in understanding” it is because it gives him a chance to speak. This is an arrogant person and one who wants to be center stage. He delights in calling attention to himself. The poor listener is quick to give advice or counsel.

He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13 (NIV)

“A quick retort can ruin everything.” Don’t be too fast to answer. Proverbs 13:3 9 (NLT)

A fool loves the sound of his own voice. A poor listener will not hear what you do say. The poor listener is frequently an argumentative person.

The Apostle Peter has been described by some as the disciple with the foot shaped mouth. Peter was impetuous and hasty in speech, and often he spoke without thinking. So many times while he walked with Jesus he said foolish things that he soon regretted. The greatest of these was when he denied Jesus those three times by the fire after the arrest. He lived with the shame and regret of his words until after Jesus rose from the dead and came to him as he was fishing.

Friends, how often have you lived with similar results of shame and regret after speaking in haste? How many times have you wished in hind site that you had just held your tongue another minute or two?

He was too swift to answer, and replied out of fear for his own life. You might think that is completely reasonable considering the circumstances, however, an attentive listener demonstrates patience and an active listener demonstrates humility.

“…consider others better than yourself...” Philippians 2:3(NIV)

It is extremely humbling to have much to say and wait courteously until the other person is finished speaking. What you have to say can probably wait until the other person is finished, and you may learn in the meantime that what you would have offered is covered, or you would have embarrassed yourself by speaking up sooner.

Please understand that active listening is not a passive activity!

There are so many distractions, that it is easy to zone out while someone is speaking. To remove that temptation, remove yourself from the enticing distraction! Turn off the TV, go into another room, don’t attempt to do another task that requires concentration if you have indicated a willingness to listen to someone.

Good listening requires attention. If you really can’t concentrate tell them so! It is much more polite to tell him that you are in the middle of something and just can’t listen attentively right now. Offer to call back or stop by in a designated amount of time, and then be good to your word.

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. Proverbs 18:15 (NIV)

Good listener’s seek out and probe for accurate and adequate knowledge of what the other person is trying to communicate. To be a good listener you must seek out and probe for accurate and adequate knowledge of what the other person is trying to communicate.

Ask the following types of questions of the person speaking to clarify points that are unclear.

  • What did you mean by that?
  • What is your understanding of that word, phrase?
  • What does this mean to you?
  • What the Bible say about that?

It is a devastating error to draw conclusions without all the facts! Many arguments could be avoided, and many relationships salvaged if the people involved would just gather facts before making conclusions! You must listen
to what is being said to you with “clear ears.” Clear ears are ones that are not waiting to pounce on everything being said and reply in attack mode. Clear ears are those that are not twisting and manipulating the words they are hearing!

Listen carefully to the choice of words of the speaker and ask clarifying questions when appropriate. These responses will indicate to the speaker that you really are listening, and that you care about what he is saying to you.

Once you have learned to listen, you have earned the right to speak! Listening is an art, it is something that must be cultivated, practiced and learned. You want to learn how to put off poor listening skills and put on good ones…biblical ones.

That comes next time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Changing the Way You Communicate

Changing the way we communicate is challenging

…but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8 (NIV)

Without the change of the heart no lasting, real change in any area will take place. Heart change is not something you can do to yourself or for yourself - your heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9), and you cannot possibly know the depths of its depravity, nor can you conjure up enough goodness within yourself to truly change.

The way you communicate is a reflection of what is in your heart. Ask yourself some hard questions- what is your speech like? Do you freely curse and swear? Do you gossip, backbite and use your words to hurt other people in the midst of an argument and then say, “I didn’t really mean that”? Do you manipulate to gain the advantage, being superficially nice only to “turn on” that person? These are all sick, sinful and ungodly methods of communication. And even if you don’t want to believe it or agree with me, you really do mean every word you speak.

These words come from the heart. The heart is like the roots of a plant or a tree. If the roots are healthy so is the tree, right? What is at the heart level is what is guiding your thoughts, beliefs, actions and desires and directly affects communication. None of these things operate in a vacuum or independent of each other.

If the heart is the root of the communication problem, how do we correct it? First you have to be sure your heart is right with God. Because apart from God. His truth and enablement, change here will always be elusive.

Heart change is not something you can do to yourself or for yourself. Remember that your heart is deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9), and you cannot possibly know the depths of its depravity, nor can you conjure up enough goodness within yourself to truly change.

Only God can change the human heart.

And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

I often tell my counselee’s that the goal of their lives is to live in a manner that brings glory to God. This means, to cause others to speak well of God. That as others witness how they act, speak and conduct themselves they would say, “Wow this person is different, and it is because of God.” Truly, it is because of God! It is a result of being “in Christ” that we are enabled to walk worthy. It is fruit, evidence of the changed heart of the Christian.

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph 4) means setting a good example of Christ to others. Make it the goal of your life to live in a manner that brings glory to God. This means, to cause others to speak well of God.

These things are results of being “in Christ” they are fruit, evidence of the changed heart of the Christian. You cannot fake them or manufacture them yourself. They come only as a result of being united with Christ in a truly salvific relationship.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Parenthetical and Personal Application....

God has used the occasion of my mom’s recent illness to reveal to me more areas in which I need to grow and change.

Being the youngest of the children in my family, I have spent more time with my parents on a continuum over my lifetime than my siblings. My mom and I have been very close throughout my adult life and for the first decade of my adulthood she and I did everything together being more like friends than mother and daughter. In their later years, I have been the one who has been there almost daily for my parents. I accompany them to the doctor, and help with what they need in many respects. I know how they think and what they want simply because I have been very involved in their lives and they in mine.

When my mom’s illness really asserted itself I was out of town for several days and my older sisters and brother (who are not Believers) were watching over my parents in my absence. They took care of getting her to the hospital and consulting with the doctors and assisting my dad in the midst of all this.

When I arrived back home I learned my mom’s illness was severe and it appeared that she was going to die. My sisters really inserted themselves into all the affairs of my mom’s condition. They were talking to the doctors, making decisions and handling things in my absence. When I came back I was surprised to see that I really wasn’t needed here, nor was anyone consulting me or asking my opinion on things. I confess to being out of joint over this, internally, from the beginning.

I know the things my parents are used to; the shortcuts, what they like and I suspect that although my mom loves us all the same, she prefers that I help her. It was making me nutty that they were doing things for her, and she was asking them for things. And, when they didn’t do it my way (the RIGHT way ha ha) she didn’t care! She was happy just the same! One night early on in the hospital stay she didn’t want my sister to leave, and she told her that she was the only one who knew how to take care of her! That really hit me hard…

By God’s grace, mom recovered and went to rehab for therapy. My “out-of-joint-ness” continued there as no one seemed to care about my way of doing things, or what I thought. They were not interested in my opinions on what they wanted to do or how well I know my mom.

When all this began, I was really sore about it. I thought others were moving in on my territory. I was miserable and angry and ugly inside. It took a while, but I realized in the end that it was my problem and no one else’s. It was my heart issue to deal with. I wanted to be indispensable! I wanted to be “the go-to girl” for them. And I wanted it because I was prideful and my flesh was deriving some sort of gratification from being that presence in their lives.

All of this has been very difficult for me (any everyone else!) and God has used it in my heart and mind. I have struggled to understand why I have been so out of sorts and not at all myself! Even as my mom has improved I have been wrecked emotionally. Spiritually I have the sensation of desert wandering, and physically the staying in the hospital every other night has run me ragged.

And God, my sweet wonderful God has used it all. He has used it all to humble me. He has used it to remind me that I am nothing more than a clay pot and that He has plenty of others besides me and can use any of them He chooses.

I had to give up the idols of my own heart in this and accept what He was doing in me through my unsaved sisters. It was not about me. It should not be about me. It cannot be about me. I am only the vessel, the servant; and He is the one who makes kings and deposes them so I am sure He is able to do that for daughters too.