Friday, August 19, 2005

Possible Future Posts

  • Anger - Defense or Offense

  • Anxiety - Pain in Advance

  • Wives, be subject...

  • Sex Abuse - How to deal with History

  • Self Abuse - How to deal with the Present

  • Please e-mail or post other ideas or requests.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Depression - Medications

I don't have a "flagship" verse with this because I want to be careful not to influence people too strongly with this topic. I've been thinking about depression a lot lately, and I'm going to try to tackle it in chunks. This chuck is about medication.

Note: I must ask you to please be a good Berean and look these verses up on your own, talk to your Pastor, pray to God for guidance on these issues. I am not trying to usurp your Pastor's authority in your life, and I am not trying to be the Holy Spirit in your life, either. As always, these are my own thoughts on the subject derived through my own study and prayer. Please take them as nothing more than that.

My goal with this is to answer the question, "As a Christian, should I be taking depression medication?"

As Christians, we are supposed to trust that the Lord will take care of us, and I absolutely do. I believe deeply that the Lord will cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), but I also believe that there are times when He chooses not to miraculously heal us. I don't know why, but I believe it is because there are reasons and seasons for everything in God's universe.

John 11:14-15 So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe [underline mine]; but let us go to him."

Mark 2:5-11 5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?" Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, "Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, `Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'? "But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the paralytic, "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home."

John 9:1-3 As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

I don't believe I'm taking these verses out of context to say that there are times when we have illnesses that have purpose other than for punishment or because our faith isn't strong enough. People are watching, and when we continue to trust Him in our illnesses, people learn the reality of our God through us. 1 Peter talks a great deal about suffering. Suffering is part-and-parcel with being a Christian. I don't happen to believe that physical illness is somehow separated out by God as being a special, "off-limit" case.

Or mental illness, for that matter. I have no doubt whatsoever that God is capable, and sometimes willing, to miraculously cure illnesses of all kinds. I also have no doubt that there are those He chooses not to heal for a reason known only to Him.

Acts 3:2-4 And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!"

So if this man had been brought to the Temple every day to beg alms, didn't Jesus see him? Why didn't Jesus heal him? I believe the answer is that He knew Peter and John would, and He left him for them. It glorified God. Jesus could have healed him just like Peter and John did, but allowing them to do so glorified God.

I also believe there are times when God wants us to go through the process of recovery. Lazarus was dead and Jesus raised him from the dead. He had breath, life, heartbeat. But what's the first thing Jesus said to him when he came out of the cave?

John 11:44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

"Unbind him." Lazarus didn't emerge from his resurrection unbound already. He wasn't told to unbind himself. He said to those around him, "Unbind him and let him go." Lazarus had to go through a process of unbinding to be fully restored, fully resurrected. And the man who saw "men like trees walking around" (Mark 8:24) Jesus didn't fully heal him with the first "healing." He didn't see clearly until Jesus laid His hands on him a second time. And the man who had to go to the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7) to wash after Jesus applied clay to his eyes. Jesus could have healed him outright, but chose to ask him to participate in his own healing.

I believe these events are pictures of "process." We have a process to go through as Christians when we are first saved to put off the "Old Man" (Col 3:9-10 KJV) and put on the New Man. Similarly, when we are ill, there are seasons when we must go through the process of healing because, in some cases, the illness and the process of trusting God anyway glorifies Him.

So how about us? Does our illness glorify God? Sometimes, I think. Does our recovery glorify God? Sometimes, I think. Does the process glorify God? Sometimes, I think. But only if, and that's a huge IF, only if we continue to love Him and trust Him through it. People are watching.

So where does medicine come in? Is there a Scriptural basis for the use of medicine? I think so.

1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

Luke 10:33-34 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them;

Wine for the stomach, oil and wine for the Samaritans wounds, oil for the sick. These are all clearly medicinal in the Greek. They are not spiritual anointings. They are medicinal. This sounds to me like God is showing us that He intends for us to use the medicines that are in use for the day for healing. Sometimes He will heal miraculously, and sometimes not. And when He doesn't, then I believe He has left the way open for us to avail ourselves of medical assistance. I don't see any Scriptural basis for excluding mental health pharmaceuticals.

Science is becoming more and more clear that depression causes (in a chicken-and-egg sort of way) chemical changes in the brain that cause thinking, reasoning, functioning to deteriorate, exacerbating the depression. When that happens, you have a tough time using your God-given wisdom to get yourself to the "Pool of Siloam." You're still just too blind. I believe that using medications adjusts that chemistry enough to allow you to do the work, with the help of God, to resolve the problem and readjust your life. Once you have made the life changes that need to be made, then slowly, with the doctor's guidance, you can start the process of eliminating the medications.

Clearly in a perfect world and with perfect faith, medication would not be necessary. But God gives us our faith (Romans 12:3). We can't give ourselves faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 17). Great faith takes time. It was meant to. It took Abraham 40 years in the wilderness to have great faith. We can't strain and grunt to increase our faith. Our faith is a gift from God. We can, and certainly should, pray to God for an increased measure of faith. Whether or not He gives it to us, and the timing He chooses, is up to Him. In the mean time, He has provided our relationship with His Son, our community of believers, and medical science to help us through it.

I say again, please do your own study and come to your own conclusions about this. It's just too important an issue not to.

Thank you, and God bless,


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Index of Posts

Introduction to Biblical Therapy - Please read this first

The Bible and Divorce - Does divorce create adultery?
The Bible Applies to Everybody But Me - An essay on Self-worth
Christian Giving - Treasure or Trap? - What exactly are 'blessings?'
Depression - Medication - Should you or should you not?
Depression - The Way Out - How do I receive the abundant joy God has promised me?
The Devil, Your Adversary - The devil and your mental health.
Do You Wish to Get Well? - What bad habits are you holding on to?
Envy vs Coveting - What's the difference? Why do I care?
For That Special Child - To those who love the Mentally Retarded
Forgiveness - How to forgive when you REALLY don't want to
Fruit of the Spirit - What it (not they) really is
God - The Cosmic Kill-Joy - How to read the Bible and love God
The Gospel of Jesus Christ - How are we saved?
I'm a New Christian - Now What? - The next steps in your new faith.
Is Christian Therapy Biblical? - How does Christ see Therapy?
Is God Punishing Me? - Is it Punishment or Discipline or what? When will it end?
Greek or English? - Do you really need the Greek to get it?
Jesus Crucified - Why do I care?
Jesus - God of Dead Things - What needs resurrection in your life?
Jesus my Friend - God loves me, but does He like me?
Jesus False Prophet - Do you believe Jesus is dead? Ponder this.
Jesus in the Old Testament - The ultimate "treasure hunt."
Jesus, You let us down! - Unfulfilled expectations.
Judging others - A Mental Health perspective.
Making Peace with Your Pain - Finding purpose in daily living.
Memorizing Scripture and Self-Esteem - What "Esteem" does God want you to have? (Check out the Scientific American article on The Myth of Self-Esteem here).
My Struggles Are About Him - Max Lucado
Nuggets and Pearls - Single verses that can change your life
Ruth - A Great Fertility Story - Finding peace in the pain of infertility
Who Am I In Christ? - What does God see when He sees me?
Who Are You? - How do you see youself? Who do you see yourself to be?
Why Do We Worship God? - The Mental Health of Worship
Why Does God Allow Evil and Suffering? - God tells you why

Nuggets and Pearls

Single verses that can change your life: It is my intention with this section to give short sections of Scripture that I have found to be particularly useful in dealing with everyday stuff. These are great memory verses. I will be updating this section regularly, so come back here often for whatever is new. God Bless...

Luke 8:14 The seed which fell amongh the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
Two out of the three things that "choke the fruit out of us" are viewed by society, and oftentimes us, as being positive. Are your riches and pleasures choking the Christian life out of you?

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord
Hate the sin and love the sinner? That's not what this says. If you're proud in heart, you - not your pride - are an abomination to Him. Check your pride at the door. Purpose to be aware of it every time it rears its ugly head and make those thoughts obedient to Christ. Die to self, and make other's more important than yourself, and win the favor of the God of the Universe.

Psalms 18:24-26 Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.
With the kind You show Yourself kind;
With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You show Yourself pure,
And with the crooked You show Yourself astute [lit: twisted].
Are you kind? God will be kind to you. Are you blameless? He will be blameless with you. How do you want God to regard and treat you? Be that person to others.

Proverbs 10:19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
Do you use too many words? Do your words edify or cut down? Do your words praise or complain? God says the more words you use, the more likely it is that He will not be glorified through them. Watch your words. Remember, you'll be held accountable for every one of them.

1 Timothy 6:6,8 "But godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment... If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."
There it is. The secret of Christ's "abundant" life. When you are content with what God has provided, you are living the abundant life in Christ. Is that true of you?

1 Peter 4:12 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation."
Peter says that your trial is for your testing. He says that if you share the suffering of Christ, rejoice, because your suffering has purpose in the Kingdom of God, as did Christ's. Find joy in that.

Matthew 15:11 "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
Does what comes out of your mouth glorify God and edify you and others? If you want to cleanse yourself from defilement, guard what comes out of your mouth. Be alert.

Genesis 3:11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, " The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Blame-shifting. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve, and even God - "That woman YOU GAVE ME!". Do you blame-shift? It's in us. Be alert to it. Catch yourself. Take responsibility.

Micah 7:18b "He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love."
God will not stay angry at you forever no matter what you've done, because loving is far more delightful than anger. Know it and live it. Give up the anger and grudges and delight in the freedom of love.

Matthew 10:39 "For he who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it."
Are you in the process of finding your life on your own strength or losing it to Christ's will?

2 Corinthians 4:17 "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Now check out what Paul viewed as 'momentary light affliction' in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.

Forgive them?!! Didn't know what they were doing?!! What on EARTH is He talking about?! Of COURSE they knew what they were doing! Forgive them? I don't think so...

[This is such a hard topic. Anyone reading this knows I'll need extra help from the Holy Spirit this morning for this one. And I promise I will NOT be wagging my finger at you reminding you that you're supposed to forgive. I know you know that. That's not what this is about.]

Why is forgiveness such a hard topic? Why is it so hard to forgive? Because they don't deserve to be forgiven. I know Jesus wants me to forgive, but I don't understand. I don't understand why; and I don't understand how. Just because He did doesn't mean I have to too, does it? They really don't deserve it at all.

Let me define forgiveness first. Forgiveness is canceling the debt and promising not to dwell on it in our mind when it comes to mind. When God forgives us our sins, He is canceling the debt we owe Him. He is canceling our judgment of eternity in Hell. Christ paid the debt so we don't have to. When someone hurts you, you want them to "Pay!" You want them to feel the same pain you felt at their hands. You want Justice and you want vindication. Forgiveness is letting all of that go. You can't forgive them on God's behalf. They'll still have that debt to face regardless of what you do, but you can forgive the offense and injury to you.

What it's not: Forgiving is NOT forgetting, reconciliation, or condoning. They are all different and separate things. Forgetting is not possible, and reconciliation may or may not result from forgiveness depending on whether or not the offender is safe and willing. And we would never condone such behavior. They are all totally separate issues. Don't let the enemy convince you otherwise.

Forgiveness is saying, "I no longer expect or require you to suffer because of what you did to me. I no longer want you to Pay. That debt is canceled. Forgiven. My hatred is gone. And when I think of it, I will push it away, I will not talk about it, I will not remind you of it. I will make the thought obedient to Christ and I ask God for blessings on your life." God says that He will "remember our sins no more." Does God actually forget? Of course not, and neither can we. But in forgiving, we purpose to "remember the offense no more."

Let me speak to your heart. What do you want out of life? If you're a Christian, then you want the joy that can come only from knowing Christ. Non-believers can be happy, but it's conditional. If the conditions in their lives are right, then they can be happy. If they're not, then they're miserable. Happiness is based on ones' conditions. Christians can have joy regardless of their circumstances.

How is it we achieve and receive that joy? By constantly reminding ourselves that life on Earth is a blip in time. A dot on a whiteboard. We're all about eternity. We're ambassadors here (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our home is in heaven. Now. Just like the Chinese Ambassador spends years on American soil but knows his home is in China. He is expected to maintain his Chinese heritage and not become a "part" of American culture. He is not to become Americanized. He is Chinese and he is expected not to forget it nor forsake it.

When we can keep our eyes focused on things above (Colossians 3:1), then we will know to whom we belong and the things of this world will seem small. We are children of the living God. Inheritors with Christ of Heaven and Earth. As such, we have a great and wonderful purpose here on Earth, and we have hope for our future that only we can have. There is no greater joy than that.

Philippians 3:8 More 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...

I know it doesn't seem like it now, but physical life is a blip on the radar screen of eternity. Inconsequential except as our activities relate to eternity. Whatever does not go with us into eternity - everything except our service to and love for God - gets burned up in the final judgment. We might think it makes us happy (or miserable) for a time, but from an eternal perspective, it's "rubbish" and it's temporal. Only knowing and being in fellowship with Jesus can bring us joy.

But wait... we were talking about forgiveness! How'd we shift gears to joy?

You already know. God knows us. He knows that as long as we harbor the anger and the pain and the hatred and the sickness, our fellowship with Him suffers. He wants absolute, utter, boundless, inexpressible joy in our lives, and He knows that as long as we harbor the pain of the past, we rob ourselves of that joy.

Jesus knew that, too. Why did He ask the Father to forgive them? Were they going to be forgiven by the Father just because Jesus asked? Of course not. They'll get saved the same way we do - by receiving Christ as their Savior. It wasn't about the Father forgiving their sins.

It was about Jesus not allowing them to rob Him of His joy and His fellowship with the Father. It was about not allowing His natural hatred of them (He was fully human, remember, as well as being fully God) to distract Him from loving and serving God in His final moments of His earthly life. It was so He could be an example to us as to how we can do it, too.

How? Yes, how. Forgiveness goes against everything human that we are because it "lets them off the hook." They don't deserve that, and it's like major surgery to allow it. And if I stop hating them, I might get weak. If that happens, I might let my guard down and they might hurt me again. And the Bible says I'm supposed to forgive "seven times seventy." What a nightmare.

So how do I forgive? Pray. Pray that the Father forgive them for their sins against Him. David slept with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband so he could have her and keep the fact that he'd gotten her pregnant a secret. His sin against her and her husband was huge, but when he prayed to God about it, he described it as "against You only" (Psalm 51).

Their sins against you are His business. Just like someone hurting your child would have to answer to you, they will have to answer to Him. They may or may not have known what they were doing. It's not the point. They will face Him on that day. The only control you have in this earthly life is what you do with the life you have. Jesus knew He needed to focus. He still had work to do. He had to provide for His mother. He had to deal with the thieves on the cross. He had to make it for just a few more moments and not give up His Spirit too soon. He could not afford to be distracted. He needed the full strength and fellowship of the Father and He couldn't afford to be distracted.

And He didn't want to give up a moment of that joy that is so inexpressible and so precious.

It was NEVER about them. It was ALWAYS about Him and His relationship with His Father.

And He wants that for you. Your forgiveness isn't about them. It doesn't change a thing for them when they face God. God says "leave room for My wrath." (Romans 12:19) He'll deal with them, and when He does, it will far surpass anything you've ever done to them, or could.

Your forgiveness of them is about you, and about your joy and your relationship to God.

If you haven't forgiven them and moved beyond it, then they still own you. They're still tormenting and torturing you. And the enemy loves it. Your anger and hatred and lack of forgiveness is your right. The enemy is making sure you don't forget that. And he's robbing you of your joy and your fellowship with the One that will condemn him to eternal fire, as well. Remember that he wants you, and as long as he can keep you anger-filled and distant from the Father, he has you.

There will come a point when you've experienced so much pain that you're way beyond tired of it. Don't wait for that time. Reclaim your God-given joy now. Reclaim your intimacy with the Father. Rebuke the enemy in Christ's name. Forgive them. Let it go. Cancel the debt they owe you.

Pray this prayer. "Father Jesus, thank you for the life you've given me. I know You want only the best for me, and You know that my fellowship with You will ensure that. Please forgive them for what they did to me. I know they don't deserve your forgiveness, and I know they don't deserve mine. But that's not the issue, Lord. The issue is my fellowship with You, and I don't want anything interfering with that. You know it's not in my heart to forgive them, but please help me do just that. Help me find the strength to truly let the past go. Help cleanse me, Lord. Cleanse my heart of the bitterness and the anger and the junk that just plays into the enemy's hand. Fill my heart with your love and your joy and leave no room for anything else. Give me the courage to be vulnerable to You, to be obedient to You, and to love You with all my heart and leave no room for the pain of unforgiveness. Reclaim that ground that I lost in my heart. Help me regain my focus on You and let You deal with them. Help me want this more than anything I've ever wanted in my life. And finally, Lord, I ask that you bless them. Bless their lives and I pray that they come to know You. I pray that their hearts will be cleansed and that they will receive Your sacrifice and receive You into their hearts. Thank You God. Amen."

Want the joy that God has in store for you. Want it so badly that you're willing to do anything to get it. Crave it, hunger and thirst for it. Don't give up. Pray that prayer every day - multiple times a day - for the next year if you have to until it changes your life. God will be faithful and He will answer your prayer, and you can be delivered once and for all. Claim victory over your past. It can't own you unless you're a willing participant. Defeat it. Begin today to reclaim the joy.

God bless you all, and may grace and peace and God's everlasting joy abound in your lives.