Can Christians Be Depressed?

Psalm 143:7-8 (ESV)

Answer me quickly, O LordMy spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

The Lord is CloseSo there I am sitting in my therapist’s office and we are chatting. It is how every session starts.

I’ve told her many times before, “don’t let me just ramble on for an hour”.

Why would I tell her that?! That’s like giving the enemy your best battle strategy and then being surprised when they cut you off at the pass.

The reality is, being in my head is my defense mechanism, it is what helps me avoid the bad feelings, sadly, most all feelings really.

When I’m playing the intellectual, I get to look smart, maybe even impress occasionally by how cognitively aware I am of how the shadows from my childhood abuse manifest in semi-translucent beings and beckon to go a few rounds with my amygdala.

So imagine my distress and annoyance when she pulls her proverbial handbrake from the passenger seat of my story as I’m skimming the surface while describing “how my week was going so far.”

What I saw at that moment was my brambling through the baren and featureless landscape of Highway 15 east of the Mojave Desert, but somehow she just caught a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

Crap, here we go, “uhh, what… uhhh… where did you say you wanted to stop at and explore more closely?” I ask.

It, of course, was something I said, a self-betrayal to the “it’s a good week so far” that I opened with.

“You mentioned something about how you are becoming more aware of your negative self-talk, that even when you try and do fun stuff it doesn’t seem like much fun. Can you give me an example?”

“Well”, I reply, “it’s just that it seems like I’m doing all the right stuff, that I’m doing what I should be doing in trying to be good to myself and find relief from the chronic fatigue symptoms by doing fun stuff, but somehow I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something else all the time”.

“That’s interesting” she replies.

Of course she said that; that’s what they all say, isn’t it?

“So, can you tell me what it feels like when you are doing something fun or relaxing?”

“As I said, I just feel distracted, like I’m supposed to be doing something else.”

“What else are you supposed to be doing,” she asks.

“That’s the thing, I don’t know. I’m unemployed because I’m sick and although I’m living off my 401K 20 years too early in life, I’ve got a few years of sustainability in the worst-case scenario.”

“I’ve started writing more which is rewarding and productive toward my new coaching/mentorship business that I’m trying to start up”.

“I’m eating healthier, exercise when my symptoms allow it, connect with friends from the church and recovery ministries daily”.

“I’m doing all the right stuff, so when I decide to take a break and just do something recreational I figure it’s fine, but it’s not for some reason”.

As I finish up my response, I realize I’m starting to feel something, something I didn’t give permission to come up. It’s just a mumble in a giant warehouse with the sound faintly echoing off the metal walls of my soul, but it’s there.

She pauses… dammit… that means it’s still my turn to talk.

But I don’t give in, I make her work for it.

I rarely volunteer to “go there” on my own, she’s gonna have to earn the privilege of having me put her kid through college on my 401K one week at a time.

She finally breaks the silence with the other weapon we are all defenseless against, “why do you think that is?”

Hmphhhh….

“Well, I’m not sure.” I reply.

And then it hits me. This isn’t just another casual conversation where we are going to squish a cockroach that just ran across the kitchen counter after turning the light on before the first cup of coffee.

I’ve already come to know that if I don’t cognitively recognize the link to my past traumas right away, then this is a different kind of animal.

This is a damn elephant in the room.

Shit, I wasn’t ready for this. This is why I don’t like coming here.

Not that this isn’t good and necessary. It’s just that I can never properly prepare for Pandoras Box, nor can I control when “it” decides to give me (us!) a peek inside.

The reality is, I’m beginning to reluctantly accept that these elephants are the things driving my chronic fatigue syndrome and keeping me unable to live life abundantly anymore.

Of course, doesn’t that beg the question, have I ever really lived life abundantly? Or is it more likely that it has all just been a survival act?

When I was a young warrior crushing my IT Career of 30 years, I was strong enough to live WITH the elephants on my chest.

I became a master at keeping a 1/2 dozen beach balls under the surface at the same time.

I look really good on the outside, but inside I’ve always known there is a bubbling cauldron with a constant flame keeping the ugly mass above room temperature.

And apparently, now, at the age of 54, when I should be at my “no, thanks, I got this” stage of life because I’m now wise, I instead find myself losing grip on the damn beach balls.

Why now?

This feels like Jonah being asked to go to Ninevah. It’s not that I think I will fail, it’s that I know God will succeed.

This therapy stuff and peeking inside the cesspool will bear fruit, but it isn’t going to be easy. In fact, it likely will be the hardest thing I’ve ever taken on.

And it’s apparently something I have been avoiding my whole life.

And I hear God’s reply to my silent plea, “why now?… because it’s time”. “Because I love you.” “Because you are ready.”


I must pause here a moment. As I just typed the words “because you are ready”, I literally got a rush of emotion and started to cry.

The reality is, I don’t feel ready, I’ve never felt ready. I’ve got over 40 years of not being ready… but I will trust you, Lord.


I had planned to go on further from this place, to share the insights I gained from that session. But honestly, with that wave of emotion that just washed over me, I’m not ready.

This is what my ministry, blog, and coaching endeavors are all about.

Helping others clear away the wreckage of their own past. And I’m sure that the insights from that therapy session will surface somewhere in the days to come.

But right now… I guess, I still just need time to sit in this.

The fear, the sadness, the loneliness, the darkness.

I think the bigger picture right now, is for me to acknowledge my lack of acceptance.

You’d think after 8 years of sobriety and being a self-professed all-in Christian and even leading Men’s Recovery Groups for many years, it shouldn’t still be this hard.

In many ways, I’m just now realizing, I’ve still been in denial.

I thought when I became a Christian that I instinctively put down all the masks and this was the real me.

But in reality, in many ways, I have just supplemented my workaholism and addictive behaviors with a religious mask.

Playing church makes me look good, makes me feel good.

But how much of it is really just more mental masturbation to help me avoid the pain that Jesus wants so desperately to heal.

I swear I’m not the one hanging on to the childhood hurts, fears, and negative beliefs. But they are there, and they are real.

These aren’t simply ghosts of a time long past that I can just quote scripture at and make disappear… “the old is gone the new has come”.

No, these are demons, and they are present and thriving in the darkness and stealing the life that God set me apart for.

I need help, I need love, I need compassion. I need acceptance. I need Jesus.

And I need others.

Those aren’t things I ever admit.

And maybe, just maybe, this is where my deeper healing will begin.


Father God, you know my heart better than me. So when I tell you I don’t feel ready, you know my honesty in that place. I sense you did it again, that even with today’s blog my desire was to teach some profound truth that I discovered which might help set other captives free, but instead, you lead me to FEEL my own prison walls, and not just describe them to others. They are cold, rough, forboding. And the bars are thick, and black and made of the same steal that surrounds my heart. I now realize it was I that erected those bars many decades ago as a little boy. They are not something that keeps me locked in as I always believed, but I’m now seeing they are in place to keep others out. I’m afraid Father of what will happen if I let people know I’m not the strong Christian guy who has it all figured out. I may say I’m the “here to help” guy, but instead, I’m the sad, fearful lonely guy whose still trying to hold up the walls of Jerico all by myself. I know the walls are meant to crumble Lord, that they must come down, and I want to trust you, so please, please God, help me trust you first, then show what it means to trust others with my heart. 


Mental illness is real, Christian or not.

It doesn’t discriminate, and it’s not shameful to have it

But it can be deadly to not admit it 

The first step is acceptance. And the second is honesty. 

If you’ve been trying to “hold it all together” on your own, and pretending everything is better than it really is, know that you’re not alone 

And if you have the courage, I’d love to know that I’m not alone either

I’m a Christian, and I battle depression, anxiety, self-acceptance and I live with a lot of fear, sadness, loneliness, and shame 

And that’s OK


Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 

Posted in Addiction, CFS, depression, hope, Jesus, love, my story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

SOAP: Day Eleven – Free Indeed

Being a born again recovering addict creates all kinds of conflict.

When you think about it though, it really shouldn’t. God’s description of “old things passing away” you’d think would mean that our old natures (addictions, fears, self-worth issues, etc…) would be on the list of old things that died.

But I don’t think I’m alone in saying that once the newness of relationship with Christ wears down (and ideally that should never happen!) then the old emotional baggage of traumas, negative thinking patterns, fears, and resentments seem to bubble back up from someplace long dead and buried.

What I think is happening is that once Jesus’ Spirit joins with our spirit at that beautiful moment of conversion and Justification is 100% complete, then the rest of ourselves (mind, body, and soul) begins the process of believing and obeying in varying degrees.

The process of Sanctification is a different beast than Salvation. It is made up of our intentional acts of the will, acts of faith, acts of mercy, acts of patience, acts of grace and it simply takes time.

Jesus wants to heal every aspect of our body, mind, and soul to match that of our fully redeemed Spirit within us. The question I believe is what parts of me am I willing to give to Him.

I have no idea if any of that will have anything to do with today’s SOAP journey, but it’s where my heart and mind are this morning and I just wanted to share.

Embrace

Scripture

John 3:22-36 (ESV)

John the Baptist Exalts Christ

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Observation

  • v22 – He was baptizing
  • v23 – People were coming
  • v26 – all are going to him
  • v27 – cannot receive one thing unless it is given from heaven
  • v29 – rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
  • v29 – This joy of mine is now complete
  • v30 – He must increase, I must decrease
  • v31 – He who is of the earth.. speaks in an earthly way
  • v32 – He [from heaven] bears witness to what he has seen and heard
  • v32 – no one receives his testimony
  • v33 – Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal that God is true
  • v34 – whom God has sent utters the words of God, gives Spirit without measure
  • v35 – The Father loves the Son
  • v36 – Whoever believes has eternal life
  • v36 – -Whoever does not obey shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him

Application

v22 – The works of baptism are important to Jesus. God, Himself is doing hands-on ministry work, not just preaching, teaching and healing. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus said as he baptized people. Do I value the works of ministry and celebrate the baptism ceremonies at church just as Jesus did?

v23 – The imagery of the first revival, the initial gathering of people coming to see Christ, to be baptized, to follow and learn from Abba Father directly. What a time this must have been. Is my life an attraction that draws others around me to want to come to Him? 

v26 – All are going to him? My psychology red flags are going off here. John was baptizing also, so clearly not ALL are going to him. And what’s your point, other’s can’t get baptized by someone else, especially Jesus himself? This is clearly an example of extreme thinking and jealousy and it is toxic. Are there any areas in my life where jealousy creeps in and bitters my heart toward the good works of others?

v27 – Cannot receive one thing! I think of Psalm 112 “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord…” God is at the center of everything and so far beyond my understanding. Do I place all my thoughts and actions at the foot of the Cross for His approval and blessing? How often am I serving me and expecting Him to supplement my plans?

v29 – Rejoices greatly at His voice. I feel every ounce of complacency being called out in me. Is not the Bible the Word of God, is it not His Voice? Is not the times when I pray expecting to “hear from God” me waiting on HIS VOICE? Is not the times when I’m in the company of other believers who are praying for me or speaking life into me the very voice of God? Do I rejoice when engaging with God in all forms? And not just rejoice, but rejoice GREATLY? God is not just some dude who helps us out and my pastors and Christians peers are not just “good people”. These are the ministers of God Himself in my life. 

v29 – This joy of mine is now complete. Is my joy complete? What is the status of my joy, am I filled with praise and worship more than I am fear and doubt? Am I complete or am I still waiting for something more?

v30 – He must increase, I must decrease. It’s not about me, it’s not about me, it’s not about me, none of it is about me, when will I truly understand that my life, my testimony, my ministry, my dreams, my salvation, … none of it is about me.

v31 –  Humans can only speak of earthly things. We will get glimpses of God’s goodness but we can only speak of God in terms that our finite minds can understand. The ways of God are so far beyond my comprehension. How often do I run the risk of believing my thinking and writing adds wisdom to the Gospel instead of always recognizing humbly that I will at best only poorly be describing the Indescribable greatness of God?

v32 – He bears witness to what He has seen. How much more has God seen and heard than we will ever see this side of heaven? How could I come to God’s Word and not be filled with a desperate need to absorb everything He says? This SOAP process is a good step. EVERY WORD MATTERS! Do I believe that with such desperation that it’s like a longing for air when being held underwater? 

v33 – WHOEVER. Again, it’s a choice. God’s knowledge, power, mercy, and love is available to EVERYONE, but only those who chose to believe and proclaim receive the promises. Do I count myself among those who have set my seal on the Truth of God? 

v34 – Jesus was sent by God and He was given unlimited access to The Spirit. Again, does this message strike deep to my core that there is no one more beautiful, more wonderful, that there is no one like Him? Am I overwhelmed by God?

v35 – The Father loves the Son. I can’t tell you the hundreds of hours I have in counseling in dealing with my earthly father wounds. Have I gotten past my own father’s limitations to come to trust and love my true Father’s heart and love for me? Are we not adopted son’s and daughters and in that not loved by the same measure that God loves His own Son?

v36 – Again! Whoever believes. Depending upon the translation there are more than a dozen passages stating “whoever believes”. The Kingdom of Heaven opens to those who believe. Am I truly among the believers?

v36 – those who don’t obey (by believing) shall not see life but receive wrath. Uh, no thank you! 

Prayer

Wow, Lord, I’m not sure what is stirring in my heart but I feel a big shift this morning. So much of my recovery journey has been about believing that Sanctification is the difficult process of moving from unholiness to holiness and that belief has actually perpetuated my self-condemnation in the areas of my heart and mind that are not fully of You. The beautiful message blossiming within me is the reminder that this is about You and not me. And that the battle is not with my flesh and bones but with believing that everything You say about You and me is true. I have been set free, I am a child of God, I already have everything in me that is needed to live a holy life, I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The old is gone, the new has come. My battle is to believe there is no battle. There will be hardships, but You are bigger than anything this world can throw at me, even unto death. Any old thoughts, feelings or lies about myself or my future or even about You that I may have believed for decades is just that, ghosts of an ignorant past that no longer exist. You are mighty to save, and I have been saved. It is my faith that sets me free, thank You Jesus!


Wow, it may not show up on the pages, but that turned into a couple hours of intense revival in me. During this time I received a phone call from another brother in recovery who was battling temptation and the gospel message that came out of my mouth and heart for him mirrors much of what is shared here today. I saw him as shadow boxing with his old man who is dead. My belief that sanctification is supposed to be really hard was challenged head-on and I saw for the first time that claiming “it is hard” is where the problem begins. If I think this walk with God is hard then it will be hard. But if I believe He has set me free then my battle is with believing “it is done” and not focusing on “what still needs to be done”.

We can do all things through Christ who sets us free. Glory to God!

Blessings in Christ,

George

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
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SOAP: Day Ten – For Whoever Believes

It’s probably not an invalid assumption to say that John 3:16 is one of the most widely known Bible verses by everyone, believer and non-believer alike.

The temptation, of course, is always to focus only on this verse which reveals His incredible love and sacrifice for us. Truly there is no greater love, nor will there ever be. One Death, One Atonement. Millions upon millions saved.

I, however, before I even press into these passages today want to open my heart, mind, and spirit to the accompanying verses around John 3:16 to see if there is a lesser-known story that holds equal significance and relevance.

So Father, come. May you be the inspiration that peels away the veil over our eyes. Draw us into Your Word as only You can. 

Scripture

John 3:16-21 (ESV)

For God So Loved the World

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Observation

  • For God
  • So loved
  • the world
  • he gave
  • his only
  • whoever
  • believes
  • in him
  • God did not send his son… to condemn
  • whoever believes
  • light has come… people loved darkness rather than light. Everyone who does wicked hates the light, lest he is exposed
  • whoever comes to the light reveals his works have been carried out in God

Application

  • For God – This is His doing and His Story. It’s not about us (yet). How easily do I get stuck thinking our relationship is about what I want or bring to the table?
  • So Loved – This is still solely His Heart and His posture towards us. And He didn’t just love, He SO LOVED. When I love, do I love with that kind of intensity? 
  • the world – There we are, His love reaches out to all of creation; everyone throughout all time and space. He chose whom He loves, and He chose the world. If God is our model for our own behavior, do I love everyone? Or am I more selective who I call “my neighbor”.  Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself)
  • He gave – Again, this is His choosing His actions for His desires and pleasure. He didn’t take, He gave. How do I give of myself; my time, my treasures, my talent? How often do I give?
  • His only – the supreme sacrifice is to give away all that you have. To give even one is to leave yourself with none. Do I come even close to giving my last, my only? Or am I more likely to give from my excess and convenience?
  • Whoever – this is an open invitation. He so loved the world that He gave His only to… Am I a “whoever” who has chosen to receive this gift? Or am I still questioning, holding back, trying to decide if God is real or trustworthy?
  • Believes – once I consider myself to be a part of the “whoever club”, my call is to believe. Beliefs are ground zero for every thought, emotion and behavior we have in life. Do I truly believe?
  • Believe what? Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, God Himself, and the Second Person of the Trinity. Do I believe Jesus died and rose for my salvation?
  • God did not – this is important. We mostly hear what God did do, but this was so important that He wanted to make sure we didn’t misinterpret his intent. Jesus did not come to judge but to save. When I think about my standing with God, do I feel condemned for my sin-nature, failures, and weaknesses… or do I feel saved through the atoning work of His Son on the cross?
  • Again, whoever believes – this is the second time God has made it very clear that it doesn’t matter who we are, where we come from, or what we have done… the offer is extended to WHOEVER BELIEVES. Am I a true believer? Or maybe just a critic, fan, or curiosity seeker?
  • People loved darkness rather than light. Where do I fall in this category? Do I have people in my life who know all of my darkest hearted thoughts and/or behaviors? Can I look at God in the face when being exposed to my own sin? Does shame keep me hiding, or does the Goodness of God draw me into the light of honesty and confession no matter what I say or do that I’m not proud of?
  • Again, whoever does… who? Whoever… does what… comes to the light… Have I and do I regularly make the commitment to live in the light? Am I honest with myself and others? 

Prayer

Lord, there is no greater sacrifice than to give up “our only”. I can’t even imagine in the light of day what would drive a parent to let his son be mocked, tortured and savagely murdered for the comparatively few people who truly are receptive and grateful for the price Jesus paid. The gospel creates so much tension in the heart, to confess not hide, to surrender not fight, to love not hate, to give not take, to sacrifice not horde. Our one choice to receive salvation then frees us to then give up everything else. It seems like such a high price for us to pay when in fact it still pales in comparison to all that You have given. I’m so grateful for the places I have said yes and am equally aware of the things, the pleasures, the safety, the idols that I still cling too. Father God, thank You for Your Mercy that each day offers me the opportunity to surrender more of me to glorify more of You. May we all be continually willing to reach deeper into our own wellspring for others in response to the bottomless Wellspring You have given us. 


Well, so much for not overly focusing on 3:16. Each word carries so much relevance. There is likely no greater love story than the one God has written to us. May we all be filled with gratitude and inspiration in our shared journey of redemption.

Blessings in Christ,

George

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Posted in bible study, conviction, encouragement, faith, God's story, gratitude, hope, Jesus, love, my story, S.O.A.P, Salvation, The Cross | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Saturday Morning Mindset

3 blogs in one day, it’s a new record for me! Just whipped this one out on my coaching website, might be something interesting there for ya?

N I K A O S*

I’ve had this nagging experience lately that I just haven’t been able to put my finger on, but it is now, I believe, slowly starting to take shape and I figured I would share it with you guys and see what you think.

I got sick over a year ago and was forced to leave my 30+ year career. That was hard.

For men in general, we derive much of our self-worth through our careers. We are providers, we are problem solvers. We are meant to work, to have an impact and for many to be a leader.

To not have the health to perform the typical 40-hour work-week (ok, mine was 60+hrs per week which influenced my illness but that’s another topic) meant I needed to now reinvent myself.

That in itself was not an easy transition, letting go of the traditional employee mindset is completely counter-intuitive. But I believe…

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SOAP: DAY 9 – To See The Kingdom Of God

For me, SOAP is a personal journey into the Word of God. Today is a good example of how “there are no rules” when opening the Bible.

The Observation section is about extracting the few verses or even clips of information that stood out to you. I believe this is how God speaks to us.

Today’s selection is long, with more red letters than anything we have stepped into before. I felt anxiety when first looking at it thinking this will be 100 pages long and take me a dozen hours to properly expose any relevance.

That is not the case however, I was reminded that as I move through today’s text, I am looking for anything that jumps out at me. SOAP is not a bible study in the sense that you are looking for deep theological and historical accuracy and teaching truths.

It is about finding what is relevant at the moment. What is God trying to reveal? What does His Word spark in your soul? 

So for that, it is organic, just let it flow. It can be as in-depth or shallow as you feel led to step into each time you come to the plate. This likely won’t be the last time you ever read this verse, and the next time something completely different may jump out.

SOAP should never feel like a “have to”, it should always be a “want to”, filled with expectation that God will indeed meet you there, as I know He will for me right now.

Scripture

John 3:1-15 (ESV)

You Must Be Born Again

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Observation

  • unless… he cannot… see… enter…  the kingdom of God
  • the flesh is flesh… Spirit is spirit
  • are you the teacher… yet you do not understand
  • we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive…
  • whoever believes in him may have eternal life

Application

  • UNLESS. This is an action item. It is saying without doing A you cannot experience B. Yes it is God who calls us to him, reveals himself, it is his faith that runs in our veins, and his blood that cleanses us, but still. We must be born again! Am I born again? Have I experienced revelation in the Spirit realm of which I had never experienced before being born again? Was I blind and now I see? If the bible and God and spiritual matters seem like folly, then I would hazard a guess it is because the Holy Spirit has not overtaken our own spirit.
  • There are two worlds at war, much like it explains in Galatians 5. The flesh will always be the flesh, with its desires and schemes. But the Spirit is regenerated. It is 100%, whole, completed works of Christ with us. The only way to overcome the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. That doesn’t mean that our humanity ever dies, but Christ in us wins every time if we choose Spirit over the flesh. In what areas do I still not surrender to the good and perfect will of the Spirit in me?
  • A teacher that doesn’t understand, that hits a little close to home honestly. How easy it is to regurgitate the bible and yet not live out its precepts. Hug someone at church and flip the bird to someone on the freeway. I receive grace and mercy on my knees and then offer judgment and resentment to those I’m in conflict with. Paul stated he kept his flesh in check so that after he preached he would not be disqualified. In what ways am I still hypocritical in my faith?
  • The theme continues, we bear witness to the explainable things we can see, hear and feel… but how much do we still not believe in the unknowable things of God? How much do doubt and near mockery of spiritual things still hold residence in the deepest recesses of the mind or heart?
  • Whoever believes… I can’t express enough in my own life how I’ve discovered that “hidden” beliefs are at the core of everything that ails mankind. Buried deep in our subconscious are the voices of self-doubt and condemnation, fear and worry, judgments and unforgiveness. In what ways do I profess belief yet still have evidence of disbelief in my life? Self-worth? Ability to resist temptations? That I’m a new creation and the old is dead? That I have everything I need to live a holy life? The word tells us who we are and what we can do, do I live as if that was true in every way imaginable?

Prayer

Father God, Your Word continues to be deeply probing, exposing, the two-edged sword. And I welcome it Lord, for this is what sanctification looks like. May I always give you permission to expose the areas in my life where hypocrisy or worse heresy seeks to thrive in a mind and body that I profess to be dead to sin. Only You know the true depths of my heart Lord, may you continue to reveal to me the areas in my life that are not living and loving free through the mercies and wonders of all that You have done for me. May this day You be glorified in all ways through our total reliance on the Gift of the Holy Spirit that is You within me, may we all live as the born again beautiful miracles that we truly are.


As mentioned before, there are so many deep theologically significant relevancies to our daily life found within God’s Word that 50 people could look at the same passages and come up with 50 different viewpoints on relevancy. For today, these are mine.

Did you become aware of something different?

As always, my prayers that each of you have a wonderful day, let’s all go love on someone today.

Blessings in Christ,

George

Posted in bible study, conviction, encouragement, faith, God's story, hope, Jesus, love, my story, S.O.A.P, The Cross | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everyday Parables – Clean Sheets

I don’t know why, but for me everything has meaning. There is a deeper message in the patterns of life or a quote taken out of context. It’s the way I think, feel and make sense of the world.

Many times when I try and share the relevance in the seemingly irrelevant things of everyday existence I get comments like “you make my head hurt” or “can’t we just hang out for a change”.

But my mind is never off, it’s always trying to figure out the deeper lessons in life. And it’s become so prevalent that it happens to me all day long in seemingly ridiculous ways.

… is it a gift?

… a curse?

… Is it God?

Maybe even mental illness or just flights of imagination?

I’ve decided I would let you guys decide for yourself and open the door on another part of me.

The good news is, these will be short, very short, not like my typical 2,000+ word essays.

Prayerfully something in these diatribes can prove useful, insightful or simply anecdotally amusing.

And if you think I’m nuts, share that with me too. I would love to get your feedback on these or hear some of your own.

This one came to me as I crawled into bed last night and is still resonating with me this morning. It has the honor of being the first parable I’m sharing with my WordPress family and I’m not sure how I feel about that, you will understand more as you read it.


sheet fan

Sheet Fan $99  | Image Source

Parable #1 -Clean Sheets

It has been a difficult stretch, my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) has been in a flare-up and when that happens I can be bed bound for days straight, housebound for a week or even longer.

And during the last few days, something has been feasting on me overnight. I wake up with fresh welts all over my lower legs, arms, and even kneck and face. I don’t have pets, have never had fleas, don’t see any flying critters, it’s not bed bugs.

I don’t know what it is, BUT IT HAS GOT TO STOP!

So yesterday I made the extraordinary effort (for me) to strip the bed and head down to the local laundromat for the $5 per load giant machines to wash the comforters, sheets, bed wraps, cases… EVERYTHING.

And although I am a morning shower person, last night I showered before bed.

I then put on clean jammies, burned incense and even listened to Indian flute music through Alexa… this night NOTHING was going to get to me!

Can you imagine the scene?

A hot shower, fresh clean bedding, fluffed pillows, clean clothes, lavender scent in the air.

As I crawled into bed I literally felt like I was on vacation and this moment was one of pure paradise.

I buried my face into the pillows and inhaled deeply, wrapped the comforter up tight around my neck, and almost cried at how beautiful this moment truly felt.

And then it happened… small stomach cramps… a shifting intestinal bubble… a bead of sweat on the brow… and the release… paradise lost in a flash as this olfactory bliss became a dutch oven.

And then it hit me, how much is this just like our faith walk?

We come to the cross, covered in shame. We blew it again, our sins exposed until our emotions are raw. And God, as always, responds with “what sin” and we are washed clean by the atonement of His Son.

It is never about us, we can’t out-sin the cross.

And just how long does it take before our white-robed, written-in-the-book of life freshly clean, confessed, repented and redeemed bodies go out and stink up the neighborhood again with the stench of pride, lust, anger, resentment, entitlement, selfishness, fear or some other “human condition” that can’t be easily controlled… just like flatulence in clean sheets. 

Welcome to the place where Christianity meets humanity, nobody said it was pretty. 


So, what do you think, silly? profound? rediculous?

As I mentioned, these come up all the time. Being that this is the first one I’m sharing, it will be the anchor for a new themed series I will link in the menus above. All future parables will be short and to the point, and you can draw from them whatever you may.

And hopefully, I don’t begin to make your head hurt.

Blessings in Christ,

George

Posted in Addiction, CFS, Everyday Parables, my story | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SOAP: Day Eight – Do You Remember?

Boy, just getting in under the wire here. I can’t say I recall ever doing a Bible study at the end of the day – morning is my sweet spot. It is now late and I’m tired and my desire (and path of least resistance) is to let it go, skip today. Who will notice or care?

However, I made a 30-day commitment with myself to do a SOAP entry every day in October and remembering that original desire (goal) gives me the extra motivation to get it done at any cost.

And I’m grateful that I’m now sitting down to dive for it is this level of steadfast commitment that is needed to succeed in every endeavor throughout our entire life. It’s not a strength of mine, and it’s a good muscle to strengthen.

cleansing the temple

Jesus Clearing the Temple | Image Source

Scripture

John 2:12-25 (ESV)

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus Knows What Is in Man

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Observation

  • And they stayed there a few days
  • He drove them all out of the temple
  • His disciples remembered that it was written
  • It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three?
  • the disciples remembered… and they believed the Scripture and the Word Jesus had spoken
  • they trusted him, but he did not trust them, for he already knew what mankind was like (NLT)

Application

  • This first one sparked a memory of when a close friend had passed away and several of us stayed with his widow for 3 days and nights. It was such a heavy time of grief but I also remember the laughter. The only way we get through this is in community; the suffering is made easier and the celebrations are made sweeter. How am I moving towards building deeper intimate communities around me?
  • What a drastic contrast! From a loving supportive community to now a different kind of community, filled with greedy money-changers and an immoral marketplace, all under the approval of the “religious elite”. Their motives are dark, self-serving, filled with justifications for their oppression of the common people who are there simply in faith to the religion and God they love. Jesus, as man, did not use miracles to confront this evil, he used righteous anger, courage, and boldness to stand up for the oppressed and confront the evil practices. How often (or ever) do I rely on God’s Spirit within me to boldly stand up for the meek and oppressed? 
  • This is the first of two times it is said that “his disciples remembered”. Do I remember what I read in the Bible? Do I remember the lessons of my trusted pastors and esteemed colleagues and elders in ministry? Do I remember all the blessings, protection, grace and guidance I have received over the years? Our strongest and most embraced memories should be that of God’s mercy and goodness and not that of the places and times that evil took a swipe at us.
  • It took 46 years for man to build the temple and only 3 days for God. How often do I rely on my own plans and timelines thinking “it is my best” when it pales in comparison to what God could do if only I leaned on Him with greater faith and patience?
  • they remembered and believed… Nuff said!
  • This last one I’ve chosen to reflect on is interesting. He came to die for mankind, and in this place, there are many who believed, yet “he didn’t trust them”. God has always known our hearts, he knows MY heart, and yet he still went to the Cross, he still loves me, he still wants us as ambassadors of grace, truth, compassion, protection, and restoration, as best we can with what he gives us. Am I filled with such immense gratitude that I can think of nothing else than how to serve, honor, worship, obey and glorify Him?

Prayer

Abba Father, the price was too high, but You paid it anyway. I do remember all that You have done for me, I remember Your word when I’m faced with temptations and Your power within me when I’m faced with unbeatable odds. I trust You in the seasons of longsuffering and now know that You were with me long before I even fully believed you were real. I confess however I still rely on my own understanding and believe in my own strength far too often. Thank You that You promise to finish what You started in me and that You stand in the gap where in my weaknesses I fail.   


As I reflect on this, I realize that remembering the good is the shortest path to gratitude, and gratitude is the foundation for peace, joy, and love. May we all remember the goodness of God this, and every day.

Blessings in Christ,

George

Posted in bible study, God's story, gratitude, Jesus, my story, S.O.A.P, Salvation, The Cross, trials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment