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Monday, January 30, 2012

Did Jesus Get Depressed? Do you?: The Bible and Depression

There are a lot people suffering all around us every day, so I need to go someplace hard with you today. Let’s talk about depression. 

Why do we get depressed?

Depression and discouragement can be triggered by any number of things.  

People are still losing their homes, their jobs, their families, their insurance, their sense of security. 

We are in an economic slump, recession, decline, downturn, or slide; you pick a term you like.

The weather can be a factor many of us. Lots of people have difficulty coping with the lack of sunlight for months at a time. Here in the Midwest we have very little actual sunlight for about 5 months of the year. It is a cause for joy, when it pokes through the clouds for even a few moments.

For some of us, it is just our chemistry. Clinical depression is a physical condition that needs to be diagnosed by a physician. It may not be stem from an unfortunate state of affairs. More importantly, the symptoms of true clinical depression cannot be alleviated by one's own will, alone.

Contrary to what some may teach within religious sects, clinical depression is not always caused by sin. Depression can sometimes be caused by a physical disorder that needs to be treated with medication and possibly counseling.

Of course, God is able to cure any disease or disorder. But in many cases, seeing a doctor for depression should be seen no differently than seeing a doctor for any other injury.

Who gets depressed?

No one group is exempt from depression.

Almost no Bible translation uses the specific term "depression.”  

Instead, the Bible uses words like downcast, sad, forlorn, discouraged, downhearted, mourning, troubled, miserable, despairing, and brokenhearted.

But in its pages you can find many people who clearly display the obvious symptoms of depression.

The Bible shows us that depression can strike anyone.

It strikes the poor, like Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth.

It strikes the very rich, like King Solomon. Have you ever read Ecclesiastes?

It strikes the young people, like David in his prime.

And, it strikes the old, like Job sitting on the midden heap, having lost everything including his children. A midden heap for those who do not remember is the family kitchen garbage dump.

Depression strikes women, like Hannah, who was barren

It strikes men, like Jeremiah, known as the "weeping prophet."

Depression can come after a defeat, such as David at Ziklag.

When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. (1 Samuel 30:3-4, NIV)

It can come upon us after a great victory. Elijah the prophet defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in an absolutely stunning display of God's power (1 Kings 18:38). But instead of being encouraged, Elijah, fearing Jezebel's revenge, was weary and afraid:

He (Elijah) came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. (1 Kings 19:4-5, NIV)

Christ, yes, even Jesus Christ, who was like us in all things but sin, may have suffered depression. When the messengers came to him, reporting that Herod Antipas had beheaded His beloved friend, and cousin, John the Baptist, look at what the text says Jesus did:

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13, NIV)

It can strike any one of us!

There are people whose lives we touch every day, silently drowning in their own angst and pain.

When was the last time you reached out of your comfort zone to help someone else?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Purpose and Destiny. Why are you here?

What are we here for?

This is an age-old question frequently asked everyone, the religious or spiritual,as well as those who are not so much.

It's a thorny issue that most of us have given at least a passing thought to. Am I here for a reason? What am I supposed to do? Am I doing "it"? Where am I supposed to be? Am I living out my purpose, or have I lost my way?

Or, to paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song, "Is that all there is?"

I will never claim to be an expert, guru or sage about life (or much else), but I think we are all here for a purpose. And, I think that most of us can sense when we are in the right path. But this isn't just about my personal path, or even yours, but about the people around us as well. We must surrender to the fact that each of us has purpose and meaning for ourselves as individuals, and corporately, even if it is not readily apparent to us at all times.

Change and the wheels of progress will roll on, but we must not permit them to roll over the people in our care or those we feel responsible for. We must remember that we are dealing with individuals, many of whom we can actually help.

We cannot become so focused on fulfilling our own destiny and purpose, pushing on toward the manifestation and completion of our vision, that we forget that we are dealing with people who have feelings, emotions and history.

Every living person has a purpose. I would go so far to say that I think that for the people we come into contact with, our purposes tend to be interconnected, like a jigsaw puzzle.

We are all in this together, whatever THIS is, or what we would like to consider this to be, today.

We each have a purpose. And, I am completely wrong in feeling that my life-purpose is somehow more important than someone else's. or somehow supersedes another’s.

As the scripture teaches us, we are each bestowed with different gifts. These gifts are given to serve us as we in turn serve others inside and outside of the Body of Christ.

I may be your boss (or vice versa), but our gifts and talents should bring some level of complementation (is that a word?) or completion and wholeness; rather than competition.

We each have different strengths and weaknesses. As leaders, especially as leaders, our job is to ferret out those strengths and weaknesses, and to show people the heights to which they can soar with what they already have inside.

We are each made with and for a purpose.
Live out yours, and help others live out theirs.

Why are you here?

What have you come to do?

Do that!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tweeting… because the Bible says I must!

What does the Bible have to say about…Tweeting?

What does the Bible say about tweeting?

Actually, the bible is very specific about social media (SoMe).

Starting out

I am usually an early adopter of technology, etc, but for some reason, I have been a little slow with getting into and onto Twitter and FaceBook.

I have been on Twitter for less than a year, a veritable newcomer, a newbie.

Who are all these people?

I have met a few kooks along the way, but the nice thing about Twitter is that you can block them and remove them from your radar altogether. This is a lot less messy than Junior and Senior high school ever were.

But for the most part, I have met lots of truly awesome and remarkable people. And what is so cool about social media is that I would not have had the remotest chance in the universe of ever meeting most of these people. In real life meetings would have been difficult, at best, because of time, distance, money, different social circles, and a hundred other little things.

I have met people who are business moguls, people who quietly do great things to change the world, and people who live amazing “ordinary” live so much different than my own, people who live in all parts of the globe, and people who struggle to get from one day to the next.

Still, each of them is great and unique and perfect in their own quirky and wonderful way. Who doesn’t have quirks? But I digress…


When I first started tweeting, I made a few shy intros, stopped in a few chat rooms, checked the stream every now and then to try to learn the ropes.
One of my personal interests is leadership and personal development. So, when I first started on Twitter, most of my quotes and interactions were centered on this singular passion.

Then I found myself tweeting from the rest of what makes and keeps me a whole person- my heart, mind and spirit.

And, this continues to evolve.

My morning ritual has expanded. Along with affirmations and quotes, on my way to work, as I am listening “church” music in my car- I started tweeting out a few lyrics with the #tworship tag.

Sometimes it is what moves me in the moment; sometimes I think it must be something that someone else needs to hear.

Lately, I have found myself tweeting in church. Lyrics from a song, a sermon title, a pithy phrase, a scriptural verse.

The Great Commission

And here is where we get back to the Bible. Initially I felt badly about the tweets, but then I remembered the Great Commission, Matthew 28: 16-20.
In plain English, Jesus is saying that He has left us here to reach out (“Go into all the world”) and touch and teach people.

There are so many people in this world who are hurting and lost and lonely and living behind masks. No one sees their everyday pain. No one sees them in their quiet desperation. No one “follows” them.

If our religion or spirituality or whatever we choose to call it is not reaching out to help someone else, then what good is it?

Reach, Touch and Teach...simple.

The Bible tells us to reach out to people wherever they are and to meet them in their need.

Are you?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hit the Road Jack... But You Can Come Back Later: Taking Responsiblity

We are at the Garden of Eden. Eve has been successfully deceived. Adam has, who knows? God has shown up and flushed them from their hiding place. And, everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else for blame.

God's clearest word to them was one of condemnation, but He does not leave them without hope. Because God is love, both in the Old Testament as well as the New.

I know many people have trouble with this concept, especially in the Old Testament, but His very nature is to love, nurture and protect us, as any parent would do.

The practical lesson here is that when we are correcting people or showing them the errors of their way, we must remember to give them a way out, a way back. Have you ever seen someone or been that someone, or been that someone, who is so beaten down that you didn't know how you were ever going to face people again?

When we criticize people, we must leave them dignity and something to look forward to. Our goal in this process is not to completely break their spirits, but to show them some light at the end of the tunnel.

Everything in life has a cost or penalty; a price that must be paid.
Eve is told that she must endure the pain of travail and submission to her husband, and Adam must work and struggle to make his living in a now-hostile environment. 
Man along with his toil, is now condemned to return to dust, will one day rise above it, for the gate to the tree of life is not locked forever, but guarded by the angelic cherubim with flaming swords(Ezekiel 1:10).

In spite of the fallen state of man which necessitated his removal from paradise, there is still hope for him in the grace of God. His nakedness is covered by God himself, an act which symbolizes God’s forgiveness.
To be forgiven by God does not spare them or their descendants from the consequences of their sins upon the earth. But by the grace of God, they may find forgiveness even while they are paying the penalty for their thoughtlessness.

Here is the symbolism: The use of animal skins in clothing Adam and Eve implies that there must be death, perhaps even an animal sacrifice, to cover sins.
Here is the grace: Man deserves to die for this thoughtless and sinful deed. If you and I were God, we'd probably "poof" them away and start over with a new batch. You know, Earth project v2.1. But we are not, thankfully.

God does not allow the evil to defeat his good purpose for us. A way will later be found to get man back into that garden and back on track. A way will be made to reconcile us, bring us back into relationship with God. This section of Genesis does not tell us how.

It remains for the New Testament to tell us and show us that Jesus has fulfilled this passage. In him man has finally conquered Satan (Revelation 12:9).


Friday, January 20, 2012

Men in Black, Leadership and the Garden of Eden: Taking Responsibility

We all want to be the “best of the best of the best.” (“GIJoe” and Agent J, “Men in Black”). Everybody wants to know how to stand out as leaders, and rightfully so. Our lives are complex, and there are many areas in which we are responsible for leading their people. And, we are constantly making choices in leading ourselves.
Where does Adam fall short of his duty?

Adam has not demonstrated that he is a great leader, yet. He has not demonstrated that he has taught Eve what God told him. He has somehow neglected to give her the whole counsel of God.
If he is indeed standing nearby, why does not speak up to correct Satan when he distorts God’s words? Why doesn’t speak up to correct Eve’s mis-conceptions? He doesn’t chime in to say that God said not to do that.
He has somehow become a follower, rather than the leader of this tiny band. We can see a little later in Genesis that one of his boys doesn’t quite understand the rules either; but that’s for another day and another post.
He is a follower. Eve simply hands him the fruit, he takes it and eats it. That's it! He does not use his greater understanding, knowledge or wisdom to lead her out of this predicament. As one of my friends suggested, he was probably too busy watching my "fine behind" to pay attention to the trouble!
Then, he throws her under the proverbial bus! When God shows up (as he does every day), he says, “She did it!” and “It is Your fault because You, God, put her here!!!”

Adam tries to divorce himself from this relationship in the hopes that this will somehow save him. No longer are they working as a team, together, in unison, but it’s every man and woman for himself / herself. Ok, enough Adam-bashing...
What do real leaders do?
  • Step up to the plate, and take responsibility for everyone's action
  • Develop true relationships with the people we lead and follow
  • If we are casting a vision, explaining a plan, starting a mission, we must be clear.
    • We must cast visions that people can understand
    • Visions they can articulate, not a long paragraph of gobbledygook that no one can remember.
    • Visions that people can get on board with and defend against argument
  • We must be inclusive. Everyone is a member of the team a team effort. Everyone has something unique and valuable to bring to the table.
  • We must demonstrate the behavior we wish to see in our teammates
  • We must defend our teammates- their person, job and character
  • We must correct them when they are wrong, while teaching them how to improve
  • We must maintain open lines of communication

Adam fell short in a couple of these areas, but you know what? Adam is every single one of us. When the road get tough or the task gets hard or it looks like we might lose something we hold valuable...sometimes, as much as we hate it, we buckle.

But, the important thing is not that we buckle, and we will, but that we get back up, learn some lesson from the experience, and do better the next time.

Maybe one day, we will all be a lot more like J and K, all the time. Or better yet, more like Christ.

Agent J and Agent K stand in the gap protecting us against the things that go bump in the night.

Christ stands in the gap, restoring us to God and defending us against the Darkness.

Where do you stand?

What do you stand in the gap to do?

Are you doing it? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's a parent to Do?: Taking Responsibility

 The kids, Adam and Eve, are in the Garden, they have eaten the forbidden fruit. As painful as it might sound, Adam was probably not too far away while Eve had her dialog with Satan. There are a number of things that Adam did not do.
He, Adam, doesn’t step between Eve and the serpent to protect her. He doesn’t interfere with what Satan is saying. He doesn’t try to correct Satan’s innuendos that God does not really care about them. He does nothing.
They run and hide, because God enjoyed visiting with them, and now they are, after all, naked. Well, they were always naked. Adam and Eve were probably afraid that they would be struck dead by a blow from God after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. But His wrath, as so often it does, took an unexpected turn. They were overcome with a deep sense of guilt that made them aware of their nakedness.
They are no longer innocent. Innocence implies that we have no knowledge of right and wrong in a particular situation. It means that we cannot choose one course of action over another, because we do not understand the difference between the choices and the consequences. 
The Tree has provided them with this knowledge. And now they know. They now know they are naked. They now know that they will never be like God. And they know they have screwed up royally. So, they hide…from God?
Even in their fallen condition, God did not leave them alone. He seeks them out in the twilight of this tragic day. God finds them, and we have another interesting dialog, beginning in Genesis 3:11.
Patient father that God is to them, He wants to know what happened. “Who told you that you were naked? You didn’t do the ONLY thing I told you not to? Correct?”

So, Adam, the head honcho on earth speaks up. But what does he say? He explains that if you look at this correctly, and from my (Adam's) perspective, the fault is actually two-fold.
  • It is God’s fault because He put the woman there.
  • And its Eve’e fault because she gave him the apple…so he ate it.

And can't you just hear God making that audible sigh as He now turns to the woman to ask what happened. She says it is the serpent’s fault, because now she understands that she has been deceived. 

What's the application?

Our focus right now is on taking responsibility. This segment of the story gives lessons about responsibility both at home and at work.

Home application

Parents are meant to be the responsible parties in a family. This is non-negotiable.

As parents, and everyone else filling in this role, we bring real life experience into the relationship. Although our children never want to believe it, we were young once. We weren’t born mature, and we weren’t born holy.

Most of us have fallen into the holes our children want to explore. We have strayed down those alleys where things didn’t pan out the way we’d hoped.
As parents, it is wrong for us to abdicate our responsibilities. Yes, you can and should reach out for some assistance. But if you are the primary care-giver, you must give this task everything you have.

  • That means that you have to make rules that your children stick to; even if they are unpopular and un-cool
  • There must be systems of accountability for their whereabouts.
  • Most importantly, there must be communication going both ways.

Our children are not little bitty Xerox copies of us. And for that matter, check yourself.... Why would most of them want to be. We have hope and dreams for them, but they also have dreams, aspirations and talents of their own. Explore them together.
Help them pursue their own lives. Give them skills to survive in the real world. And, if you don’t know, find someone that can mentor both of you.

Business application…


Monday, January 16, 2012

Are You Leading or Following?: Taking Responsibility

Our subject is: Taking Responsibility
We are in the Garden of Eden. We have 2 people, Adam and Eve. Satan approaches Eve while she is alone. He comes to her as a seeker of knowledge and enlightenment. But he soon gains the upper hand, making Eve doubt the motives of God behind forbidding them this one thing. Eve is deceived.
She succumbs to the seductive thinking, and eats the fruit. She then takes one to Adam, and he eats it. It is as simple as that. Adam eats the fruit. You will notice that I’ve purposely using fruit here. Some people want it to be an apple; some want it to be a pomegranate. Whatever!
Paul tells us in the New Testament that there was a basic difference between Adam’s sin and that of Eve’s. Eve was deceived, but Adam was not (see 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14).
Why did Adam disobey?
Why did Adam disobey? And why does he carry the burden of this sin?
Who is the leader here?
If we look at Genesis 3:17, we can see that God found Adam guilty for obeying Eve. Adam did not do one of his jobs, leadership. He did not lead; he followed. He did what his wife advised him to do, rather than what God had commanded him to do.
Adam was standing where. exactly?
You know what, if you look at verse 6 it seems that Adam was actually with Eve this whole time. Read it. It sounds like he was standing right there next to her. She didn’t have to walk a mile across the garden to find him and offer this to him. He was there all along.
When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it (Genesis 3:6).
No wonder Adam so quickly ate of the forbidden fruit! He was there all the time. Adam was supposed to rule over creation. Adam was to lead his wife. His authority over her was evident by his priority in being created first. And then with her, they were to rule over creation. And yet we see Adam standing silently by as this creature deceives his wife and blasphemes God.
What was he thinking?
How could he do so? Was he so enthralled by her beauty that he simply obeyed her, and knowingly disobeying God?
We will never know for sure why Adam obeyed his wife, but we do know that he did her, rather than lead her and guide her. And for this, he was guilty of sin.
What’s the practical application?
Where is your voice when you things are being done incorrectly?
Where are your articulation and your great wisdom, when your teammates are about to fall into a trap?
Where is your ability to speak when your children are out of control and being led astray by their friends?
Do you stand idly by?
Have you been standing carelessly right next to the situation?
God is the head of our lives!
What are you doing for those who you are the head of? 
What can you do today to turn someone's life in a different direction?                                  


Friday, January 13, 2012

Taking Responsibility [3]

We are in the Garden of Eden, and looking at how Satan used his approach to Eve, and derailed an ideal system.
The lessons that I want you to see and take away are that, these are the same tactics people still use against us every day. These are the same ways they still outsmart us and outsmart “the system.”
So far, we have see that Satan has come to Eve, the helper, rather than to the boss. I am not using these as sexual of feminist terms, but in terms of who was there first, and who should know what’s going on.
He has come as an innocent, a seeker of information, seeking her wisdom.
Doesn’t that just puff us up and pump us up and move of from sanity and security, right into ego-land? Here our ego speaks to us: “Someone wants my opinion, wow! I have no clear idea what they are talking about, but I can wing it.”
He is schmoozy.  He has only her best interest at heart.
He starts out as contrite, inquisitive and teachable, but very quickly, the contrition fades and he becomes more authoritative. And, since he really cares about her, he seems like someone she can trust.
He appeals to Eve’s sense of beauty. Look at how wonderful the tree looks. It’s a shiny new toy. We must have it…
Then he begins to plant the seeds of doubt. Well, since the tree is so beautiful and good, why is God keeping it to Himself? Why is He being stingy and not sharing it with the rest of us? What is up with that? And, you know, you aren’t really going to die!
With this outside influence pulling against Eve, she is persuaded to look out for her own interests. She moves into this realm as an independent agent…but she is not! She is not the only one who will be affected by this decision.
Notice that she doesn’t stop the conversation. She doesn’t’ step away from this to take time to consult with God or Adam.
She is so like us. You know she is thinking that just maybe this will work out right. Even though I'm not taking the correct road.
Then, Satan uses Eve to lead her husband into sin.
Adam’s actions are even more mysterious than those of his wife. He takes the fruit from Eve and eats it. That's it!
The Apostle Paul tells us in the New Testament that there was a fundamental difference between Adam’s sin and that of his wife:
Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. (2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14).
So, if Adam was not deceived, then why did he disobey God?
And, why does his eating the forbidden fruit appear almost as a footnote compared to all the stuff written about Eve’s sin?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Taking Responsibility [2]

We are only 3 chapters into the Bible, and things start to literally and figuratively fall apart. The falling part only takes about 7 verses.
Adam and Eve had a perfect life. Really, what did they have to do? Tend a few trees; watch the animals, etc etc. So how did this idyllic life slip through their fingers so quickly and so easily?
Adam is the person who is held as being responsible for the fall, but most of the falling, as we read this story, seems to have happened to Eve. Why isn't it all her fault?
We are introduced to a new character, Satan. And even though this is his first appearance in the story, we can see that he is smart and crafty and shrewd. He seems to be a lot more on the ball than…

How did they get in this predicament?
What was there about this encounter between Satan and Eve that upset the balanced in their little eco-system?
First, of all we notice that Satan doesn’t come and talk to Adam. He doesn’t approach “the boss.” He doesn’t step up to the person who is supposed to know all the answers, the person that has been around the longest. Satan settles on an attack through the“helper,” Eve.
Why does he do this? I think he does this because he knows that if he can sway Eve, Adam will probably follow her.
He also probably knows that God did not give the commandment about the forbidden fruit directly to Evedirectly, but to Adam. So, the information she is working off, is second hand, and perhaps a little incomplete.
Satan also has one or two other tricks that he uses in his approach to her.
He approaches Eve as seeker, a subordinate. He, Satan, has come to her with an innocent question, merely seeking some clarification. He seems open and genuine, and he also seems willing to accept her correction.
How many times have you gotten sucked into a trap by a seemingly innocent question? It starts out with one question, quickly followed by, “Well then that must mean…” and there you go, on your way down the rabbit hole.
Satan also comes to her as an ally. He sounds as though he truly has her best interests at heart, and would do anything to help her. He just wants to know what’s up with this rule and what's up with this tree. Maybe they can sort it out together…

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking Responsibility [1]

It is important that we step up, stand up for people and take responsibility. This is a long-standing societal issue. Many people would like to point fingers at politicians, greedy corporations and claim that they bear full responsibility for the state of our economy and the state of our world. It is a much deeper issue, and for the next few days we are going to talk about it.
First, let’s all get a working definition.
What is responsibility?
  • It is being in a state of accountability. It is the state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or for something about a specific thing. Frequently this person that we are accountable is ourselves.
  • We can also be responsible for somebody or something.
  • It is accepting blame when things don’t go well, or the desired or expected outcome is not achieved.
  • It can sometimes mean having the authority to act and to make decisions independently.
Our background story is set in the Garden of Eden, with Adam, Eve and the Serpent.
Our text is: Genesis 3:1–13
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,

but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (NIV)

How quickly things begin to unravel. How easy it is to caste blame in another’s direction. Let us read the story carefully…

  • What went wrong?
  • Who is responsible?
  • And, why is this important in our lives?


Saturday, January 7, 2012


No, I'm not canceling the blog, but I wanted to be certain that you read this message.

Beginning January 9, 2012, we will change our posting schedule to Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
With more demands on my time for work, school, church, writing, etc., than "you could shake a stick at," (my Mom used to say that and I still don't know what it means), some adjustments must be made.
I hope you will remain with us, as we go through this next transition...

The only thing constant in life is change.