Posts Tagged: scripture

Jesus Steers Hope Towards The Mentally Ill

And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.

Mark 5:5-7, KJV

Turning My Page

Hopeless is a word I hear a lot as I walk through my daily encounters with people. “It’s a hopeless situation.” “Don’t lose hope.” “Don’t get your hopes up.”

Many of us have or are currently feeling hopeless about our, circumstances, loss, desires for a better life, families, and, friends. Like me you may have exhausted all medical avenues without finding relief.

My oldest son is dead. My middle son deals with many of the same painful symptoms his brother wrestled with, and my daughter and husband are constantly battling a known genetic disease. I don’t sleep. I have days in exhaustion, I am tempted to give in to hopelessness. Yet I read in scripture and acknowledge:

When all seems lost Jesus changes everything.

In Mark 5, this poor demon-possessed man in the passage is tortured and hopeless! Maybe his family tried the medical route, maybe they asked the priests to heal him. We know for sure that he was chained repeatedly but broken the chains every time. If you and I saw him today on the street, more than likely, we would give a wide berth and we certainly wouldn’t take a shortcut through the cemetery. He might be medicated and institutionalized.

Jesus drew close enough to the tortured man for the demons to recognize that he was “Jesus, Son of the Most High.” The idea of getting so close to demonic forces that they call me by name is frightening.

Just ask the men who tried, without having a personal relationship with Jesus, to cast out a demon. “And the evil spirit answered and said Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” ( Acts 19:15, KJV). And then the demon proceeded to strip the men naked and beat them.

The more I know Jesus, the more I understand that he has given me his authority, but I honestly, don’t know how to use it yet. It certainly takes being led by the Holy Spirit. Speaking boldly most assuredly takes humility (knowing by whose authority we speak), obedience and discipline. The demons knew that Jesus had the power to destroy them.

Had those who loved the demon-possessed man struggled with wanting to give up? Most definitely. But God, had already planned to cross the grave to rescue this man through his son Jesus Christ. Rather than steering the boat away from the place of the dead and this man among the tombs, Jesus steered the boat towards him.

God steers his people towards the fight, not away from those in need.

I once lay in a hospital ICU with my wrists bound to the bed so that I didn’t hurt myself, but in the year to follow, God steered Christians my way. He showed me scripture that squarely placed my hope in him alone plus nothing. These men and women opened my eyes to his unconditional love, to his redemption, to the promises in scripture, and to the fact that I could live an abundant life praising him. I am unbound because God steered the boat of his love towards the graves, not away from them.

My current circumstances do not have the final word on my life or my family’s lives. Instead, I wait. I  cling to hope in Jesus. Heal us? With man this is impossible but nothing can stop God from healing our infirmities. Not even 2,000 demons.

 

Turning Your Page

When our enemy Satan and his minions see a Christian coming their way, do they tremble in fear? They should if we take the authority passed down to us through Jesus.

Miracles still happen today because the gospel of hope has never been thwarted from reaching its goal.

Christians must wake up every day and see that the world needs hope and that God has given us the authority to offer the truth of the gospel. God provides hope for deliverance, hope out of depression, hope for our marriages, and life to the fullest measure. Jesus came that we can have life and have it abundantly. Like the demoniac, there are so many left to wander life tortured and miserable.  Let’s offer the reason for our hope boldly!

Lord, I fear man, and as long as I speak by their authority rather than yours, any effort I make to offer hope will fall flat. Oh, Father, I praise you alone for saving me and ask that you strengthen me to proclaim freedom for the captive and release for the prisoner. Amen

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

A Counselor Familiar with Dust

You didn’t impatiently check your watch like
you had someplace more important to be.
A God who listens.
You didn’t stare down my vulnerability
in disgust. As I poured out my broken heart,
you grabbed a tissue and sobbed with me.
A God who cries.

Your counsel didn’t come down from a distant marble throne.
You stepped into the crowd, looking for me.
A God who draws near.
ME—A single lost sheep.
You took my hand
into your callused carpenter’s hand,
and walked the journey of hope with me.
A God who touches humanity.

Turning My Page

I have had counselors of all sorts through my healing process and God used every single one of them to grow me. There remains only one counselor, the Holy Spirit, who has changed me from the inside out, while all the world’s counselors have the power to do is to change me from the outside in.

Just today I was tempted to bitterness and hardness, but God softened my heart with the following words, “I know it hurts. I see you.” We live in a messed-up fallen world and we are all prone to hurt one another. It was comforting to know that He knows my pain and gives a way for me to live differently than my sinful nature. The Holy Spirit has helped me to keep a short account of the wounds I have caused and the ones received. It has taken practice, oh so much practice, to listen and discern the crowed voices of self-help advice versus the genuine voice of the Holy Spirit in me.

I have learned that the Holy Spirit will never contradict scripture. His goal is to reveal truth and testify about Jesus.

“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.

John 15:26 NLT

What a comfort to know I have an advocate who walks this journey with me.

Turning Your Page

  • List some of the voices that currently direct your path. Anyone or anything that steers you in a direction away from the voice of truth. They may come in the form of critics, well-meaning friends, religion, or enemies.
  • The world will always tell you that there is always peace in following the Holy Counselor. This is a false direction. The Holy Spirit has led men and women throughout history to stand against enemies, lay down a life for a friend, and took Jesus to the cross. Test spiritual direction against scripture and if you mishear, as all the original disciples did, pick yourself up again and try again.
  • Romans 8 lists what the Holy Spirit Does and Does Not Do on our behalf:

Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:23-27

Lord, tune my heart to your voice.  I have so many negative and destructive voices vying for my attention. Your love and direction come in a still small voice. Amen

 

Drowning in Lies

Somewhere during the swollen rush of depression,
“Predictable” became the portrait I painted.

It didn’t matter that I survived trauma, death lapped
gently at my soul, testing for weakness.
It found my mouth.
Invisible
Ugly
Stupid
Worthless

I was out of the boat, thinking I
knew God, but lies were
the lifeline my pride gripped.

Pulled under.

“Help” I gurgled, the water of despair
mocking my lungs desperate plea to
calm my flailing panic.

No one assumed I’d walk on water. Depleted.
Held under by hands proving their own power.
Broken, and bruised to marrow. No one
blamed me for fighting life,
but they tired of constant rescue. I drew
oxygen from their attempts like and addict. Desperate
for affirmation.

No expectation I would trust again.

I was born to drown. A statistic, speeding
up the slow drip of life’s faucet. An ocean
of regret would be quick. Easy.

You waited until I drowned my way, reached
into my habitual turning away. My impulsiveness.
Dying was predictable.
Living, eyes fixed on you,
resurrected truth.

Turning Your Page

You may build up twenty or more years of trauma, self harm, and lies in your mind, body, and spirit. You have wallpapered your soul with concepts about God, man, and the value of your life. Scripture says the complete opposite. Going after man’s approval is worthless, yes. But, seeking after a God who loves and wants to decorate your mind, body, and spirit with words like:

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm”

Mark 4:38-39

Lie: Jesus you don’t care about me.
Truth: He cares and has the power to take care of what we fear.

  • How do you develop the ability to recognize a lie?
  • List any lies you believe that came up from childhood. Were they planted through the actions or words or another person?
  • Spend some time looking at scriptures that speak about the lie you struggle the most with. What is the truth? Write these out, and reinforce them outloud throughout the week.

Father, I am still learning who you are. Reveal any lies I don’t yet see. Place in me your spirit of truth. Amen

Run After Me, Not Man

Turning My Page

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Corinthians 1:20 ESV

I wasn’t feeling fearful of Covid-19 at first. After endless days of news updates, cancelations, empty store shelves, battling my own respiratory infection, and my kids home for the next two weeks, I am exhausted. This morning, I was challenged to spend five minutes meditating on the following question:

What things am I running after?

After spending an hour longing for those five minutes, but instead, working on chores, and assisting children with projects, I only found agitation and more exhaustion. All of those things were good but would not refresh my spirit. My mind, body, and spirit do exponentially better at responding to the needs of others when I put Christ first.

My husband very wisely stepped in and told the kids to steer all questions to him and give mom space to settle her spirit. He gave me a breathe. The Lord gave me a lesson.

I settled into my quiet-time chair and opened my Bible and journal. ” Holy Spirit guide my thoughts and help me to lean into your answer. ” This is God’s response:

Answers do not come from the news of today, but the good news of the gospel through my son Jesus. There is no anxiousness in me. Journey towards the eternal rather than the temporal. Calamity is an opportunity to shake off the agitation found in your attempts for short term security. Discover peace and calmness through the longterm practice of keeping your eyes fixed on me.

Covid-19 is temporary. Homeschooling my children is temporary. Shortages are temporary. Work changes are temporary. This life of trouble will come to an end. But the love and freedom of my salvation through Christ is eternal. The love of God is eternal, and his will is done along this short journey. Christ, I choose to run after the things that please you.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Turning Your Page

Fear is easy. It was the first feeling we experienced after the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Fear is the consequence of knowing good and evil, but not having the omniscience to know what to do with either. What are you running to?

  • Take five minutes to sit quietly and listen to God’s answer.
  • Where do you spend the most time, scripture, or the news?
  • What does scripture say about the source of your help in a crisis?
  • Create a picture or collage of all the ways Jesus is currently loving you and helping you to remain calm.

Father, help my anxious thoughts. I confess I have not run to you, and my attitude shows it. Thank you for speaking to me and calming my spirit with the truth of your presence in hard circumstances. Amen

Take Up Stones and Trust God to Bring Down the Giant of Suicide

But Saul replied, “You cannot go out against this Philistine to fight him. You are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David replied, “Your servant has been tending his father’s sheep, and whenever a lion or a bear came and carried off a lamb from the flock, I went after it, struck it down, and delivered the lamb from its mouth. If it reared up against me, I would grab it by its fur, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed lions and bears; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

1 Samuel 17:33-36

Turning My Page

The lines are drawn. I stand on the side of the faithful who refuse to let despair take any more from us. Suicide has touched some warriors personally, others share our burden and use their skill set where needed. It is easy to grow weary against the daunting monster of despair who mocks us with his suicide stats. He is mighty and he seems to thwart victory at every turn.

But men and women have heard the threats of the enemy throughout history, fought back, and took down giants with the small stones they possess. I testify, those “shepherds” exist today. You can read about some of those warriors here.

I met with a suicide prevention team last Friday. They listened as I shared my story, asked questions and shared how they are stepping into schools and trying to equip teens, parents, and the teachers with tools to navigate depression. I was struck by their passion. I was deeply encouraged by their genuine hunger to learn and grow. I was challenged by their faithfulness.

I battle the Spirit of Despair, and it feels daunting, but just like David fought the giant as a little boy I too can obtain the same weapons.

  • A habit of protecting others from attack
  • A strategic plan for taking down things bigger than ourselves
  • Acknowledge and speak truth
  • Back truth with trust, act based on truth
  • Security, God fights for us

Taking on despair feels like David taking on Goliath. But if you are seeing the problem of despair, and reading this blog, then it is safe to say you aren’t blind to the problem. David identified the problem. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear, but David knew God could take down the giant.

How can a little person like me speak and write life under the crushing foot of over 48,344 suicides each year? I take the stones I possess and trust God to win the battle.

  • I love God
  • I have a unique perspective on God and man as a writer
  • Experience of abuse, eating disorder, depression, suicide
  • I am an encourager
  • Recognize hopelessness
  • Willing to stumble and learn

Others will follow. All I have to do is obey God’s call to me to stand firm as the enemy mocks. How can you help? Pray. Hold me accountable to the word, and truth of God, and pick up your own stones against the enemy of despair and take a stand for those around you. Despair will fall!

Turning Your Page

You may be stepping into the fray for the first time. Don’t be dissuaded by the enemies might statistics. Look around you. The giant of suicide is not going to be toppled by someone else. It will be toppled by you. Take up the stones, weapons God has equipped you to use. Fight, and trust God will defeat the giant of despair. This is a persistent enemy, don’t give up. Stand firm.

  • What are your weapons? Are you a writer? Encourage through the written word. Are you an employer? Train employees to develop an awareness of each other’s struggles. Possess the gift of hospitality? Invite neighbors who are lonely over.
  • Identify a specific aspect of the giant despair you fear?
  • What scriptures speak specifically of despair coming to an end? (King David wrote about despair repeatedly in the Psalms.)

Lord, the task you call me to is taunting me. I rely on you, guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. You say in your word that you are the living God. Come, live in me that the whole world will know you are faithful. Give victory to me over despair. Amen

Girl Dancing in a Field

Set Free Indeed (Haiku): Poetry Prompt

Dirt shaken hope, rise.
Grave freed soul dance unhindered.
—arms bathed white in life.

Poetry Prompt: Freedom

Haikus became breath prayers for me after my son’s death. They were a way I could acknowledge both the depth of my sorrow and the saturated color of God’s abundant answers.

Meditate on John 8:12:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.

John 8:12 ESV

Write a haiku, 3 lines of 5-7-5 syllables, or another short-form poem in response. Focus on your senses and describe how you observe freedom in nature, death, and life. How does God describe the freedom he gives to you?

Leave the link to your poetry response in the comments or pingback to this prompt.

Under The Influence of Resurrection

Accused.
I stand amazed,
Your amp
Electrified my soul and
Testified boldly to the audience
That you are indeed the crucified All-Mighty.

Drunk? No.
Under the influence of
Your resurrection I
Cannot help but belt out
My gratefulness. Holy Holy
Is the Lord Almighty.

Saved,
You became my passionate rift of joy,
a bridge that opens eyes to possibility
in the monotony
of daily trials. You are my
chorus to echo experience,
of resurrected life.

(Inspired by Pentecost Acts 1)

Peace Peace: Resting in God’s Promise

” The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 BSB).

It is now 1:51 in the morning and I have given up on sleep. So I came downstairs to meditate on scripture and pray. This as my go-to habit when I can’t sleep. The time has been sweet, refreshing my spirit, and reveals so much about myself and God.

The Lord prompted me to share with you step by step, as it is happening, what my time looks like.

Supplies:

  • Bible
  • Writing Utensils (Highlighter, Pen)
  • Online Commentary
  • Journal
Meditating on Scripture

Steps:

  • Read through the first time without notes
  • Highlighted verses that stood out to me
  • Wrote out thoughts or questions in margins (can be done in a journal as well)
  • Looked up parts I didn’t understand
  • Looked for context words (i.e. lots of battle terms)
  • Prayed for understanding throughout, for myself, and for you
  • prayed for rest

Perfect Peace=Perfect Trust
(What I learn about God and myself in each verse)

  • God’s Character/My Character
  • Our Salvation/Strong City
  • Open Gates/Faithful
  • Keeps in Peace/Steadfast Mind
  • Rock Eternal/Trust Lord Forever
  • Humbles Prideful/The Oppressed Win
  • Upright/Smooth Path
  • His Judgment Teaches Righteousness/Student
  • Worthy of Praise/Wait, Obey, Know Him
  • Majesty/ Experience Evil Because of God’s Grace for All Mankind
  • Authority/Protected From Enemies
  • Establishes Peace/Open to His Good Things
  • Lord and Ruler/ Honor His Name No Matter Who Rules Over Me
  • Destroys Oppressor/Temporary Suffering
  • Glorified Through the Righteous/Repent and Cry Out
  • Disciplines the Wicked/I Suffer If I Do Not Do What is Right or Bring Salvation to Others

Questions:

  • What does “perfect peace” mean? vs 3
  • What is the significance of a upraised hand? vs 11
http://www.biblehub.com

Lest you be intimidated by the fact that I am looking up the Hebrew translation of the verses, realize this, I love languages. I am a word girl. We lose some depth of meaning through our English translation, so I try to look at the original. This is a desire God placed in me as an aspect of my delight in scripture. Reading the original aids in my understanding. By no means do you have to do this, and I would actually caution, anyone beginning to read scripture for the first time to keep it simple.

At the core, my basic reading pattern looks like this:

  • Read
  • Question
  • Apply

Indeed, the Hebrew revealed something I didn’t see before. “Perfect peace” could literally be translated “peace peace”. By doubling up, the writer is implying this is complete, without a shadow of a doubt peace. It doesn’t come from man building security on high. It comes from God fortifying our lives, protecting us day and night, and trusting him to do what is right for us.

God has been chiseling away at the hard places in me where I lean on my own understanding and don’t trust him (i.e. my daughter’s health) and revealing over and over his trustworthiness.

Going back to my list again, what developed as I read is the following:

  • Read–God’s actions my response (looked for in each verse)
  • Question– What is the significance of God’s hand being raised? (I figure a kingly gesture of judgment, like a gavel)
  • Apply–God is trustworthy in my family’s health. Run to him for healing and direction. He will not let me down. Rest in his faithfulness.

Blessing and and peace peace dear brothers and sisters.

His Response

The seasick panic of blistered seasoned
fishers of men, uncontrolled swells
smashing faith against wake
of our doubts
and you
sleep
you don’t
care for us
our fear swamping confidence
in your claim to be
I AM is rocked to asleep
By the destruction overwhelming us
Awaken to our insecurity
“Silence! Be still.”
Secure control.
Peace.


Fruitful Ministry is Grafted into the Vine of Christ

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).

The needs of others press into my soul and I want to help. Almost weekly, family, friends, and strangers reveal to me the toll suicide is taking on them. My heart breaks for so many who struggle with despair, and  I desire to be present for anyone in need of comfort, a listening ear, and God’s love. But I cannot maintain, was never meant to sustain, ministry alone. I cannot be your vine.

God is a good gardener and within his care, we bear much fruit. Apart from him, we cannot do anything. Believers fall away because we attempt to MAKE fruit grow in our own skills, time frame, and energy. We count heads in the pews, facebook likes, ministries we are involved in. This is not where the fruit happens.

Fruit grows in the vine of Christ. So right now I stop trying to produce and submit to God’s pruning and cultivation. He uses scripture (currently reading Job), prayer, worship, pastors, nature, wise counsel, and music to nourish me. He is slowing me down and causing me to be more intentional in action and follow through.

Supporting, encouraging, and loving those who cross my path in their time of grief consistent connection with Jesus. He is the vine, and I am a branch. Notice Jesus doesn’t say the only branch; because many others will bear the fruit of sharing God’s love. Christ points at you in the middle of a vineyard of luscious ripe grapes and says. Abide in me, and out of that abiding comes fruitfulness.  We are nourished by his will, love, strength, and compassion. But, too often we attempt to sustain ourselves and others in our own abilities and we wither.

Our model to this vine and branch relationship is Jesus and God the Father.  He said his purpose was to do the will of the father (John 6:38). The son of man remained firmly planted where God placed him, even on the cross. As a believer, I am grafted into Christ and I will bear the most fruit by remaining in his will even in hard things.

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Suicide Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to the website at  SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.