Feeling A Little Down?

BIBLE READING: Col. 1: 9 - 10 9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

BLOG: Feeling a little blue?  Down in the dumps a little?  Good news! You're normal.  Everyone goes through bouts of depression.  But that word!  Depression!  It makes you feel dirty or even worse broken.  Then when you research it, you read statements like mild to moderate depression,  severe to acute or self-destructive to suicidal.  Which one are you?

Ever felt depression because of significant loss?  King David did. 2 Samuel 12:15-23 and 18:33

How about Elijah? He said, "I have had enough Lord, he said. Take my life, I am not better than my ancestors." 1 Kings 19:4.  Ouch!

Jonah was so depressed. He ran away. Jonah 4:3 I'm sure no one has ever thought that before.

Job suffered. Job 10:1  Suffering and depression go hand in hand.  If you are going through a tough time, permit yourself to be depressed.  But know that better days are coming.

Moses grieved as a leader. Ex 32:32  Any leader will tell you.  When those who are following rebel, it breaks your heart.

Jeremiah wrestled with great loneliness, feelings of defeat, and insecurity. Jer 24:14,18  Ok, he was a hot mess.  But he was dealing with a nation that wouldn't listen.  God told him how it was going to end, and it broke his heart.

Jesus anguished over, going to the cross.  Isaiah told us that He would be "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." Is. 53:3.

So, you're in good company.  But what do you do now?

Get real.  Sometimes we can be depressed about something that we have imagined.  Take an honest assessment of your situation and choose to deal with reality.

Stop it.  Now, this doesn't work every time, but it might apply to someone someday.  Do you need to remove yourself from the situation?  Ask yourself. "If I wasn't here, would this change the outcome?" If the answer is no, move on.  Stop torturing yourself.

Accept it.  Acceptance doesn't mean that you're not going to do something about it.  It means that you're not living in denial.  Denial can cause more depression because it prevents you from dealing with it.

Understand it.  Often depression has to do with control what we can and cannot control.  Ask yourself - "Am I in complete control in this situation?"  "Am I in some control of the situation"?  Or, "I have no control in this situation?" Chances are it is the last one.  Let it go.  

Talk about it.  Just venting is therapeutic.  Find someone you trust to shut up and listen.  You don't need a "Mr. fix-it." You need someone with compassion and a kind heart who can keep your secrets.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I feel blue.  I could use your joy today.  AMEN










Finish Well

BIBLE READING:  Col. 1: 3 - 5  3 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

BLOG:  Each of us has unfinished projects waiting for our return.  Cleaning the garage, writing a book or completing a degree could be among them.  There are a few things that lead us to set something aside.

A crisis.  Something desperately needs our attention right now.  Because we cannot create time or save it like money - we have to reallocate time we have to address the need.

Change of heart.  We get bored or discouraged.  Because we forget our "why," we stop spending time and energy.

More often than not, these are the culprits that derail our dreams.

Procrastination - Putting something off indicates that you are afraid of something.  Out of everything that you could have delayed, why that particular project?  We put off what we are fearful of.

Exhaustion - We can push ourselves so hard that we can become emotionally and/or physically exhausted.  You have to pace yourself.

Insecurity - As we get towards the end of a particular project or event, we question how things will end.  You cannot be afraid of failure.  Every successful person will tell you.  Fail, fail often, and fail forward.  Learn from your failures and try again. Don't give up.

In the book of Philemon, Paul speaks of a young mentoree of his named Demas.  We don't know much about him, but Paul saw great potential in this young man.

But in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul wrote, For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.   We don't know what happened to Demas, but he didn't finish well.

How to finish well.

Prepare your body.  Get rest.  You will be surprised how this impacts your mental and physical ability to finish well. Don't sacrifice your body on the altar of success.

Prepare your mind.  Quite your mind each morning and ask yourself.  Why am I doing this? Don't forget why - it prevents you from burning out.  It also helps you to keep the focus on the main thing. Don't let others distract you.

Prepare your spirit.  Spend time in prayer and the Word.  Pour your heart out to God, and He is listening.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, Help me to finish well today.  AMEN


What Is Faith?

BIBLE READING: Colossians 1:1-2 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. 2 We are writing to God's holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.

BLOG: In my Sunday Life Group class, I've been asking the question. "What is your faith?" Can you define it? What does it mean to you? Let us make faith and adventure together. There are no lone ranger, hermit, isolated followers of Jesus. We were created for community, but community is an act of faith.  The greater your faith, the better your community.

This Sunday, I am going to ask, "How do you make faith a reality in your life?" What steps do you take to make faith an essential part of who you are every day?

We know that Hebrews 11:6 says And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

But how does our faith in Christ translate into our real world?  How does it affect our daily life?

Now I don't want to get too far into this and give away my whole lesson.  But I will tell you this.  You are gifted beyond your wildest imagination. I've heard people say, "God hasn't given me anything." Really?

He gives you time, His Word - The Bible, The Church, The ability to worship, and LOVE. (That's a very shortlist.)

So how do you love God?
How do you love those nearest to you?
How do you love everyone else?

Take the day to watch yourself.  You are answering these three questions every day, whether you know it or not.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, help me to love You, love others, and even those I don't know.  AMEN

We're Going To War!

BIBLE READING:  Phil 4: 21 - 23 21 Give my greetings to each of God's holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send you their greetings. 22 And all the rest of God's people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar's household.  23 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

BLOG:  Who do you fight?  Satan?  Yourself?  God?  Your spouse?  Maybe you're fighting the system, cultural or tradition.  Who are you fighting daily?  Did you know that you are probably fighting the wrong person or thing?  

Fighting each other is pointless.  But you and I live in a world designed to do just that.  Rather than taking responsibility for one's actions, people play the blame game.  This means that you usually end up in the middle of someone's finger-pointing.  

Fighting the "system" or culture is pointless.  God isn't in it.  All authority in Christ, not the "system." 

Fighting God is pointless.  Do you think you're going to win?  This doesn't mean that you can't vent at Him.  Pour your heart out. He wants you to.  But working against Him isn't going to get you very far.  

Fighting Satan is encouraged, but he isn't the only enemy of your faith.  Jesus taught us to pray against Him.  Paul tells us that our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against evil forces which work against us.  We have the authority and the responsibility in Christ to do so.  

Fighting with yourself is necessary, but often unfruitful.  I am speaking about self-value.  Your value is found in Christ, not your success.  Nothing wrong with being successful and working to better yourself.  But if you leave Christ out of your life, you'll never experience the richness of knowing Him personally. 

Fighting your flesh is necessary. Gal 5:17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

The book of Romans talks about this, but the reality is we live in two worlds.  There is one life that wants to drag us away from God, hope, and life, then another who wants to lead us to Him.  It is your choice every morning to make.  Are you going to follow those desires in your heart which can lead you away from God and His will - or are you going to run into His arms today and stop fighting with everyone else?  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, I lay down my arguments with others, and I surrender the part of my life that wants to rebel against You - to You.  AMEN  

God Is Good

BIBLE READING: Phil 4:18 - 20 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.

BLOG: So yesterday I told you that I was having a rough day.  When I got to church yesterday morning, 1/2 of the churches electricity was off.  No AC.  No Lights. Nothing.  So we called FPL who eventually came out to see what the problem was.  Their diagnosis, the bypass meter box was broken.  (That's the box that your meter is in.)  There was no doubt.  Call an electrician.  

This morning three electricians show up.  After some fiddling, they "accidentally" fixed everything.  They told me to call FPL and tell them their meter was defective.  FPL came out and said, "What's the problem?" I told them everything up to that point and that three experience, licensed electricians, said it was the meter.  A new meter will be installed.  

But after all of that.  One of the AC units wouldn't run. "Really?" I thought.  So I called my guy out, and he asked which one?  I showed it to him.  He walked up to it and "Viola" it miraculously came on.  It would not run for one hour, and now it is running.  

All I could think was ... 

1 Chronicles 28:20  ... "Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

Now don't misunderstand me.  I was one "stressed out" pastor.  Why was I stressed out?  No electricity, no church Sunday!  But I never gave up.  All I know is, it was broken, and now it isn't.  

God is good.  

Take time right now to thank God for being in the middle of everything that went wrong.  Sure you had to go through it, but now you know He was with you every step of the way.  

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, walk with me today.  Amen  

Ahhhhhhhh!

NOTE:  It’s late, I’m tired and I apologize.  I explain more in my blog, but for now please excuse any bad grammar.  I’ll try to do better tomorrow, I promise.

BIBLE READING: Philippians‬ ‭4:15-17. “As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.”  NLT‬‬

BLOG:  I got up this morning with every intention of getting stuff done today.  That was short-lived.
I’ll tell you more that soon.  But while I was dealing with one big problem today, ministry happened.

One such thing happened a little while ago.  As I was checking out of the store the cashier asked, “How was your day?”   My answer was honest.  “You know, generally I try to be a positive person.  While I am not having the greatest of days, I know that I am going to make it.”

At this moment, this woman who I have never met shared with me a story about the last year of her life.  Divorce from an abusive husband.  Setting out on her own.  Asking God to help her every step of the way.  While she said that she wasn’t a religious person, she gave credit to God.

I felt ashamed of my complaint.

So I leaned in and took her hand and said, “I’m a Pastor, you did it right.”

She lit up, smiled and said, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

I’ve learned that frustrations and interruptions force us to rely on God and His wisdom.

So what do you do when God wrecks your plans for the day?

Rely on people who care enough to help.  You will need their assistance.

Try to give more than you receive.  It isn’t a competition and you don‘t have to keep score.  But giving keeps you from being selfish.

Trust God.  If God wrecked your plans, He did so for a reason.

PRAY:  Dear Jesus, guide me through Your interruptions today.  AMEN