All Posts Tagged: Paul

Mental Health Monday – Define Your Fears not Your Goals

 

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Philippians 4:6-7

 

Note Paul’s formula for dealing with worrying! It’s purpose is to allow “Jesus to displace worry at the center of your life.” The first step is: “Instead of worrying, pray,“; that is, change the activity of your mind. How? “Let praises shape your worries” and so alter the center of gravity in your mind. Once this process is commenced, one is positioned in a more positive mental framework to “make known to God your concerns,” those things that are at the root of  ones anxiety.

In the following Tim Ferris explores a practical method by which the self-paralysis of fear can be immensely lessened or absolute eliminated. It somewhat parallels what Paul suggested. Tim “discovered” this tool as he dealt with severe bi-polar condition and several suicide attempts. He encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls “fear-setting.”

 


 

 

 

 

Mental Health Monday—not so “full disclosure”

My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Why are You so far away from helping me, so far away from the words of my groaning? My God, I cry out by day, but You do not answer—also at night, but I find no rest. (Psalm 22:1-2)

KeithHere are two men that I knew—

  • Keith was rather young while the other, well, George was as old as me … and that’s ancient!
  • Both were energetic extroverts!
  • Both were enormously talented!
  • Both were extremely industrious!
  • Both suffered with chronic depression!
  • Both walked the wasteland of despair never to return!

george 1Sometimes reporters will offer a “full disclosure” statement before relating a story, acknowledging their personal relatedness to the news. So, here’s my disclosure … though perhaps not so “full.” Shortly after I retired from pastoral ministry I had a psychotic break; or, as Archie Bunker might say, I “cracked up!” Diagnosis: acute anxiety and chronic depression. I spent five days in lockdown at Pine Rest, a wonderful psych joint (I mean that sincerely!). I’ll spare you all the other details. Suffice it to say—I often wander in the wasteland of despair.

So, when I began the Basics of Life blog, I determined to do a little part in mental illness / health awareness via Mental Health Monday. My intention is to connect with those who identify with the words of the Apostle Paul: “We do not want you to be unaware the trouble that happened in Asia. We were under great pressure—so far beyond our strength that we despaired even of living.”

Secondly, I hope to shed a glimmer of light in the devastating darkness that hovers over mental illness. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and more difficult to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”

By the way, the young man is Keith. From early childhood he was a part of our church fellowship. He became a talented carpenter. George was a seminary classmate and ministerial colleague for 25 years. Without exaggeration he was one of the most influential leaders in our denomination.

Tomorrow I will share both an inspiring testimony and positive news about mental illness research that the National Institute of Health is finding. Stay tuned! In the meantime note this word from Henri Nouwen: “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”

With deep empathy I offer this post to Gary, Camille, Dale and Bonnie.

Mental Health Monday—John Tesh and the struggle that nearly took his life

The people of Capernaum heard that Jesus was at home. Jesus was still teaching when four people came, carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. Because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So they made a hole in the roof above Him and let the man down in front of everyone. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, He said to the crippled man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.” The man got right up.  He picked up his mat and went out while everyone watched in amazement. (Mark 2:1-12)

Four people came, carrying a paralyzed man.” There are times when we’re spiritually paralyzed, unable to get ourselves to Jesus. Consider David’s words: “I am sinking in deep mud, and there is no solid ground; I am out in deep water, and the waves are about to drown me. I am worn out from calling for help, and my throat is aching. I have strained my eyes, looking for Your help.”

Jeremiah also described the condition: “He shuts me in so I’ll never get out, manacles my hands, shackles my feet. Even when I cry out and plead for help, He locks up my prayers and throws away the key. He sets up blockades with quarried limestone. He’s got me cornered.”

And, the great apostle Paul said this to the church at Corinth: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”

At such times we need others to carry us to Jesus. We need others to bear our burdens—“Carry one another’s heavy loads. If you do, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This is the time and place wherein Christian fellowship is tested. Will we do what Jesus did?

This is the story and testimony of John Tesh; yes, THE John Tesh. Listen carefully because someday YOU may be spiritually paralyzed!

Faith on Fridays—Faith and friends

Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.

Some men came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:1-7)

We know little about the people in this episode. One man was paralyzed, unable to get to Jesus. He had four male friends that would literally do anything to get him to Jesus. (Today, they would have been arrested for B&E.) The shocker of the incident is Jesus’ words: “When Jesus saw THEIR faith….” One man’s healing was rooted in the faith of four others. What do you make of that? Isn’t faith a very personal matter … like between me and Jesus?

Obviously, faith is personal. To a blind man Jesus said, Your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52). But, apparently faith is also corporate in nature—“When Jesus saw their faith….” The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be savedyou and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). The disciple community offers the same evidence. If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to walk with Matthew, the despised tax collector. So, to state it profoundly, there are no “Lone Ranger Christians!”

Seriously, what shall we make of this faith phenomenon? Let’s return to the foundation! After the Creator pronounced seven “goods” we read this startling statement: “It is not good for the male person to be alone.” The human spirit was fabricated for fellowship. Furthermore, whereas in our dis-eased condition we pretend that we’re solitarily invincible, the truth is that we need another more than ever. Of the Gethsemane experience we are told: “Becoming anguished and distressed, Jesus said to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me’” (Mark 14:33-34). And then this: “At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” (Mark 15:34).

Now this fact becomes understandable: there are no less than 59 “One Anothers” in the New Testament. Here are a few examples: “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16), “…Build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The point is this: as with the original Twelve the journey of faith is built upon the foundation of community, of togetherness, of one another-ness!

When Jesus saw their faith ….” Faith and Friends! They go together like “peas and carrots”!

Check back as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.

Snapshots of the Cross in the Old Testament—the high priest

The activities on the Day of Atonement took place around and in God’s dwelling, the tabernacle. Though many priests were involved, the High Priest played the central role. I want to concentrate on two objects that the High Priest wore when he walked into God’s presence.

ephodThe ephod was similar to a pair of suspenders.  Have the Ephod made from gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen by a skilled craftsman. Give it two shoulder pieces at two of the corners so it can be fastened. Next take two onyx stones and engrave the names of the sons of Israel on them in the order of their birth, six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Then mount the stones in settings of filigreed gold. Fasten the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the Ephod. The High Priest will wear these names on his shoulders as a memorial before God” (Exodus 28:6-13).

The breastpiece was similar to a baseball catcher’s vest, though much smaller. “Now make a Breastpiece, using gold; blue, purple, and scarlet material; and fine twisted linen. Make it nine inches square. Mount four rows of precious gemstones on it. Set them in gold filigree.

breastpieceFirst row: carnelian, topaz, emerald.
Second row: ruby, sapphire, crystal.
Third row: jacinth, agate, amethyst.
Fourth row: beryl, onyx, jasper.

“The twelve stones correspond to the names of the Israelites, a name engraved on each. The High Priest will carry the names of the sons of Israel over his heart as a memorial before God when he enters the Sanctuary” (Exodus 28:15-30). 

Now, let’s proceed to the “main event.” A spotless lamb is slaughtered. Its blood is drained. The High Priest takes the blood into the Sanctuary of God’s presence. God observes the stones (names) through the efficacy of the blood. He views the names over his heart—the symbol of love, compassion, mercy and grace. In a similar fashion He observes the names on his shoulders—the symbol of responsibility (as in, “he shouldered the whole task”).

Who is Jesus? He’s the Lamb of God who was slaughtered so that His blood flowed profusely. He’s the Great High Priest who presented His own blood to the Father for our redemption. Ah yes, what about the stones? Jesus bears on His shoulders and over His heart the name of every person who has received Him as Savior!

In a single sentence Paul beautifully summarizes the meaning of the Ephod and Breastpiece: “I am absolutely convinced that there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:30-32).