Easter Impact – 3

I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.
Philippians 4:13

(NOTE: as compared with English, Greek is a profoundly rich language.)

Easter means Energy!

This power produces an ATTITUDE. “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Herein Paul employs two Greek words for power, the first of which is ισχυω. The root of this word envisions military action: a combative, confrontive force that faces resistance to bring about victory (success). Notes three elements: 1) resistance 2) combative force and 3) success. The second Greek word is ἐνδυναμόω, meaning to be empowered to face resistance, the result of which is success.

OK, enough Greek. Here’s an illustration. In World War II the goal (success) was to overthrow Hitler in Berlin. Starting on the shores of Normandy, the allied troops encountered German resistance, requiring a fierce force of military action. Though history tends to emphasize the “Big Battles”: Bulge, Midway, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Bataan and Caen to name but a few, there was constant resistance all the way to Berlin. Finally, throughout the campaign the allied forces were empowered with equipment, both old and new. However, the primary weapon was the will of the human spirit!

In following Jesus we will encounter resistance. In Ephesians 6 Paul succinctly delineates our situation. “Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength. Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way, you will be able to successfully stand against the devil’s strategies.” This is the subject of Paul Bunyan’s classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress.

 

So, here’s the picture. Your Enemy resists God’s purposes for your life. Via various methods the Monster of Life intends your failure as a disciple of Jesus. Though the resistance is intense, possibly involving grave wounds, your success (the Creator’s design for YOU) is guaranteed IF you will recognize and draw upon the power that’s in you. Remember! This inherent power is nothing less than that which the Father released in raising Jesus from the dead.

So, Paul writes: “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Now, that’s ATTITUDE!

Mental Health Monday – Stigmatizing People with Mental Illness

Nine reasons why you need to stop stigmatizing people with mental illness.

It makes people resist getting help.

I remember how hard it was to admit that I needed help. When the words finally escaped from my mouth, they were disguised in a lot of, “I thinks” and “maybes.” When we make people feel like there is something odd/shameful about struggling with a mental health issue, we make it extremely hard for them to ask for help. When they finally do, often the effects of the illness have already wreaked havoc in their lives. When getting help should have been their first step, it’s their last resort. Adding shame, guilt and fear on top of already unbearable emotional pain is the worst thing we can do. When people don’t ask for help they continue to suffer and suffering is exhausting. It can lead to suicide.

It makes people feel like monsters.

The stigma can cause people with mental illness to feel like scary monsters instead of the awesome human beings that they are; human beings who should be celebrated for their courage and resilience!The media falsely links mental illness with violence and never shows you all the people with mental illness that are doing phenomenal things in this world. Fear gets higher ratings than brilliance so the positive stories aren’t shared. The media does such a disservice to those to suffer with mental illness and continually misrepresents who they really are. Studies show that people with mental illness, as a group, are no more violent than the general population. They are more likely to be victims of crimes. 
Stop shaming. Shame is poison to the human spirit, both to those who shame and those who internalize shame. Shame, guilt and fear corrode our dreams that need to be nourished to become reality. (Sorry, I get really Indigo Child sometimes)

It makes you accidentally hurt people you care about. 
Recently I heard a professional joke, “Someone didn’t take their meds this morning!” I was offended because this joke always describes someone acting like a total tool. People who forget to take their medication don’t suddenly act like the people you’re insulting for acting “crazy.” No one jokes about medications for physical problems, because it’s not funny. Think of all the people you interact with and care about in your life. Ok, so one out of four of them have a mental illness. You never know who is listening and how your joking or comments affect them. Educate yourself about mental illness before you make hurtful jokes or get on your soapbox. All the cool kids are not stigmatizing anymore, so you don’t want to look like a goober. (All the cool kids are also not saying goober… Opps) Anyway, you don’t see me writing an article about astronomy because I haven’t read any research about it and I’m not an astronomer… Don’t preach about what you don’t know.

It makes people feel alone.

Person 1: (tentatively) Well, I’ve been struggling with depression. 
Person 2: (awkwardly) Oh.. Cheer up! You’ve got a great life. You shouldn’t be (whispered) depressed. Try thinking positive. Well…. I have to get going! 

When people don’t talk about mental illness (or whisper it like the word itself is dirty and ugly) it makes people feel like it’s uncommon and that they are a total anomaly for not being cray-cray happy all the time. It makes them feel like freaks because they can’t, “Just smile!” and like they are the only ones who have ever felt this way since the beginning of time. It’s isolating, when community and connection are so important in healing.

It makes people go off medication.

I heard so many lame comments from people that I trusted (with no medical background) about medication, that I went off of my medication many times. I tried every alternative therapy known to man and gave 100 percent each time, but I always ended up in the same position without the medication. Each time I had to go on again I felt guilty and like a failure. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a hippie-indigo child. I did not want medication! It was a brilliant, compassionate psychiatrist who sat me down and said, “Stop it,” who finally changed my life and my attitude. She said it wasn’t weak to take medication; it was strong. It wasn’t cheating at life by taking it; I was cheating myself and everyone else by continuing how I was. She explained to me intellectually what was going on and why I need it. She changed my life.

Mental illness is not just sadness or experiencing negative emotions.

You can’t give someone advice about their treatment if you are comparing it to your own sadness. You don’t know what it’s like to be legally blind because you wear glasses, and you don’t know what it’s like to be depressed because you’ve been sad. Yes, some people use diet, exercise and alternative medicine but never shame or act like someone is weak if they need medication. It can have devastating consequences. Before you tell your cousin Mary to go off her meds and try berry smoothies and yoga, think about it. Before you tell your BFF that your friend Joe eliminated gluten (but he has amazing willpower) to cure his depression, think about it. It’s inappropriate.

It makes people feel weak.

Person 1: I had depression once.. but I was just so strong and cheered myself up with positive thinking and by readingThe Secret.You attracted your depression and with strength and being diligent about your thinking you can get over it. 
Person 2: I would like to stop talking to you now. Good-bye. 

When we shame people for needing to ask for help and get treatment, it makes them feel weak and embarrassed. We need to change our perception of this because it’s wrong and super old fashioned. It takes tremendous strength to ask for help and stay with treatment. It takes so much strength to go through the nightmare of figuring out which treatment will work, read magazines in waiting rooms from 1998, tell your story over and over, have people treat you like you’re the Hunch Back of Notre Dame, feel like you have a war inside of you, and keep up with the care that goes along with having a chronic illness. It’s bad-ass. It’s not three little kittens lost their mittens, it’s warrior status.

It makes people get crappy care.

Resident: (pumped) Hi! Great to meet you. I’ll be here about a month so I think we can develop a really solid relationship. I can meet with you for about 5 minutes today to hear your entire history! 
Patient: (sarcastically) Super. 

Care for people with mental illness should be top-notch (I mean.. wait… we are talking about the brain, here, right?) and it’s so bad. It’s expensive, crappy or just completely unavailable. We get treated like we’re kids, talked to in condescending manners, and treated like we are subhuman. The insurance companies put us on hold and play music from an elevator from the 80s for 45 minutes to then just deny our claims. Their favorite line is, “There’s nothing I can do, ma’am/sir!” (Is it in their manual or something?) The only doctor in our network is Dr. McDoesn’TGiveACrap. The psychiatrist sees us for 10 minutes and then expects us to take and stick with medication for the brain without any hesitation. The secretaries tell us nothing is available for three months but we can try the ER. Compassion and humanism are missing, and they are everything.

It makes people not know what’s wrong with them.

We have to educate kids, teens, and adults about mental illness or they may not even know that what they are going through is common, treatable and has nothing to do with their character, who they are, and all that they can be. When we are silent, they stay suffering and silent. They mirror how we feel about it.

Stop trying to decide for people who they are, what they are capable of, and what their treatment should be. Stop defining them. It’s not your job. We have to have compassion for people with mental illness and compassion for ourselves. We have to have compassion for what we don’t understand. We need stop stepping on people and see their potential. People are like flowers. They aren’t meant to be crushed, they are meant to bloom.

Rachel Griffin

Mechanics of Life – Faith in Jesus

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We live by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7

If you spent money today, you operated by faith! A one dollar bill is only paper. Nonetheless, it has power. Why? Note the words “The United States of America.” They represent the authority of the federal government. Second, observe the words “Federal Reserve Note.” The government promises that your piece of paper has $1 worth of purchasing power. The third element is trust. If neither the seller nor buyer has trust in the governing authority, the paper becomes worthless! Finally, the system requires action: selling and buying. These are the mechanics of faith: authority, promise, trust and action.

A rather humorous Bible story demonstrates faith. Abraham and Sarah had been childless their entire marriage. At age 75 Abraham was promised a baby boy by the Maker. Sarah laughed at the promise. Can you blame her? Nonetheless, “The Lord was good to Sarah and kept His promise. Although Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah had a son exactly at the time God had said. Abraham named his son Isaac (meaning he laughs).”32

Years later Paul commented: “Abram never wavered in believing God’s promise. He was fully convinced that God has the power to do whatever He promises.”33

God, the governing authority, made a promise to Abraham who trusted the promise. We’re left with action. Inquiring minds want to know: what exactly did Abraham and Sarah DO for 25 years? Get it? The Maker is not a killjoy, lacking a sense of humor. Just ask old Abraham and Sarah! Oh, by the way, undoubtedly God got the last laugh!

32 Genesis 22:1-3
33 Romans 4:20-21

 

Check this out read more about the Mechanics of life in our Faith on Fridays series—

Originally posted 2015-07-31 10:00:47.

Means of Life – Connection to Jesus

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God gave us eternal life; this life is in His Son. So, whoever has the Son has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.  1 John 5:11-12

Imagine a solid gold table lamp. It has a cord at the end of which is a plug designed for connection to an energized receptacle. However, the expensive lamp is UNplugged. It can be seen and handled. But, from the perspective of purpose the gadget is LIFE-LESS! It merely exists. Everything changes when the cord is plugged in. Energized the lamp fulfills its purpose. The conclusion is simple: connection means power for purpose whereas separation signifies a lifeless existence!

God gave us eternal [living at 100% satisfaction] life; this life is in His Son.”25 Provided by the Maker, Jesus is the source of power uniquely generated for humankind. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never become hungry….26 “God invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline. It would not run properly on anything else. God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn,” 27

So, whoever has the Son has life….”28Jesus said to the fishermen, ‘Come, follow ME!’ At once they left and went with Him.”29 “When we are called to follow Jesus, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to His person” 30

“Jesus came into the created universe, bringing with him new life. Everyone who gets it gets it by personal contact with Him” (C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity).31

Getting connected to others via phone, computer, car, train, or plane is costly. Attachment to your Maker is free of charge! Just get connected to Jesus. But wait! There’s more. You’ll also receive LGS without charge! It’s an offer you can’t refuse!

25 1 John 5:11
26 John 6:35
27 Mere Christianity, p 50
28 1 John 5:12
29 Matthew 4:19
30 Cost of Discipleship, p 49
31 Mere Christianity, p 221

Originally posted 2015-07-29 10:49:08.

Mentor of Life – The Spirit of Jesus

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The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, will remind you of everything I have said to you.  John 14:26

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a common feature on cell phones. With it you can be guided anywhere. Directions are provided both visually and verbally. And, if you mistakenly or willfully choose the wrong road, the program will immediately reveal your mistake and provide a course correction.

We’re all seeking happiness. However, most of us are clueless about the best route, the one that guarantees optimum fulfillment … eternal life. So, we waste time and energy on detours that only lead to increasing levels of disappointment, frustration and emptiness. Aware of our situation, the Maker designed a Life Guidance System, LGS, called “The Jesus Journey”.

Originally “Jesus recruited a band of twelve to be his traveling companions.20Come, follow ME!”21 On this journey Jesus is the North Star, the only point of navigation required.

At the end of his earthly journey Jesus told his followers: “The Father will give you another guidance counselor who will be in you”22 and “make sense out of all that I have done and said.”23 The Spirit of Jesus is an internal LGS app. The Mentor’s task is to keep you “focusing on Jesus”24. He receives data from the Father that are meticulously tailored to your journey with Jesus. His primary methods are coaching, counseling and correcting.

That’s the Life Guidance System. And, here’s the best news. LGS is a free gift from the Creator! All that’s required is connection to the system. More about that later!

20 Mark 3:14
21 Matthew 4:19
22 John 14:16
23 John 14:26
24 Hebrews 12:2

Originally posted 2015-07-27 08:37:25.