Two steps back

Yesterday I went through a mini-depression.  I am still wounded this morning, but I think I am coming out of it.  It was terrible.  I had no motivation and was not able to get myself motivated.  I realized that “pep talks” were useless to help myself so I analyzed what was going on when I became aware of depression.  I was feeling helpless, angry, betrayed, being forced to do something that was emotionally difficult with little sense of the appreciation of others.  It seemed like a single event triggered this mini-depression yet I can see that it was building below my “awareness” for weeks.

God says in Proverbs in the Bible:  The wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  I believe that God (my friend) gave me this mini-depression to teach me.  I realize now that what I am trying to do to help others get out of depression will not immediately address what they need.  And I have a fresh reminder of the pain depression gives and the sense that though I am constantly trying… there is no way out.

I don’t know why I am coming out of depression this morning.  Perhaps God has taught me what I need to know, or at least given me much to think about.  My heart breaks for those who are caught in depression and other mental illness.  Oh Jesus, please help them!

What’s in a phrase?

Have you noticed that some people are referred to as a “person of faith”?  And when they receive something it is credited to “the power of prayer”?  As good as these phrases are, I don’t think they go far enough.  They leave someone out.  The person doing it.  God.

Our faith (trust) is in God.  Not in faith.  It is God’s choice and God’s power that answers our prayers.  Not the prayer.  And God is so much more than power.  He is unbridled love toward each one of us:  every man, woman and child on the planet.  He wants everyone to experience his love forever.

Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Or, turn away from the things that hurt you and others and trust Jesus and ask him to lead your life.

Jesus wants to love you and help you love others.

Now the above message is good, but I left out something very important.  When you surrender to Jesus, satan gets very mad.  And the people who do not love God get very mad.  You now are NOT a slave to satan.  You now are a threat to satan.  You now are a child of God.  You now are able to resist him.  You can expose him.  And you can lead others away from his control and to Jesus and his love.  He wants to stop you. He wants to hurt you.  Because through your pain he hopes to hurt God.

You may be forced to leave your job because of a false accusation from someone influenced by satan (like I was).  You may refuse to do something immoral and be threatened with losing your job (like I was).

Some terrifying, 20-year long, chronic crisis of raising kids who don’t respond to traditional child rearing and adult influence may happen because you obey God (like it did for my wife and me).

The idea that if you become a Christian life will be problem-free is a myth.

Though satan is more powerful than us, Jesus is infinitely more powerful than satan.  And Jesus has provided a way.  Jesus said that if we put Jesus first as Lord and Savior, he will take responsibility for feeding us and clothing us and giving us shelter.  And that is all we really need.  Therefore, we don’t have to fear what satan can do to us.  Jesus has already defeated him on the cross and he will defeat him in our lives too.

 

 

How to Get the Life You Want…(Part II)

Original Photo by my son, Jeremy McNaughton
The Heavens proclaim the Glory of God and You are made in His image!

(Continuing from the last Post)…  This explains why the parable of the talents is not about developing skills – it is about giving ourselves away, loving others the way we want them to love us.  The parable of the ten virgins directs those virgins without enough oil to go to the marketplace to buy more.  Much like the servants with talents going and trading for more.  Jesus is saying that the purpose of our lives is to give our lives away.  When we do we receive life/love back sometimes from others but always from Him.  So give, it will be given back to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over the top!

How to Get the Life You Want…

This morning I struggled to give a tip at a restaurant.  I thought of, “give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into your lap.”  But it was Andy Stanley’s 1/10/16 “Your Move with Andy Stanley” that redefined the experience (http://yourmove.is/episode/ep2-something-to-show-for-it/).

Jesus wasn’t talking about money when he said to give, he was talking about much more.  He was talking about me.  Giving me away to someone.  This includes my money but so much more.  If I give my life away Jesus will give me more life back.  If I give my money, and my time, my presence, my interest, my love, my care, my concern, myself!, He will give me back Himself: His presence, His interest, His love, His care, His concern, His life!

If you give to get you are still alone.  But if you give yourself away to love other people you have Jesus and you have Life and you have everything!  

I Love God, but my Neighbor?

7fd2f-picturesandvideos125When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered with two commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (emphasis mine).  Andy Stanley made an interesting comment.  Andy Stanley said that the phrase “the second is like it” is not hierarchical, that is, the second is less important than the first.  But rather, complementary, the second completes the first, or is on the same level as the first.  I had never thought of that.  I now realize I can’t love God if I don’t love my neighbor.  And, I can’t love my neighbor if I don’t love God.  Now what Jesus said makes sense: that if I am approaching God and remember my neighbor has a problem with me, I am to first get right with my neighbor (as far as it depends on me) and then spend time with God.  Because if I choose not to love my neighbor I am also choosing not to love God.  (And remember, “love” means actively pursuing the highest good for my neighbor, not necessarily doing whatever they ask).