Running Behind

running-substance-more-than-form

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 4:8

“For physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and the life to come.”

Being the new year and all, it seems “fit”ting to write some about health. So forgive me for hopping on the typical new year’s resolution binge. (There I go again with corny word plays, my apologies).

Running on the treadmill this week I could not help but notice my bee-hind was behind, if you know what I mean. Seems the winter months have already not been too kind. Ugh. And so, like a hamster, I hop on my “wheel” and try to counter the effect that gravity is having on my *ahem* lower extremities.

Fellas, my apologies for being so transparent, but we sisters have a little harder time keeping in shape, I think.

Why bother, you may ask? Physical training is of some value. What does that even mean? What is “some” value?

I am writing today’s post to spur myself on, too, for in everything I do, I want to give God my best and bring Him glory. Does He care if I am a little more fluffy?

God looks on the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. Our form does not matter as much as the substance from which we are made. What our mind reflects on, our heart desires – these matter much more than trying to have a perfect physique.

Yet the words, “some value” haunt me. Rats. God does care about the stewardship of our bodies – not the perfect size or shape – but the care of His temple.

Ironically, a lot of the reason for lack of good health is because of being too busy and “running behind” on all my to do’s. Taking care of self seems to be low on my list of priorities.

Here comes that “some value” phrase again in my brain. Commentaries render this phrase as actually meaning “of little value”, but there is still some worth in this statement.

In the end, if my heart longs for food that harms me, I have to ask myself if this honors God. Then ultimately, I need to die to self when my craving is getting in the way of being healthy.

Like the Israelites who were asked to choose between life and death – righteousness and sin, the food and exercise choices we make are essentially choosing life or death, too.

Being healthy (as much as depends upon us) matters because it means we are better able to serve God. These fleshly tents we dwell in will all fade away. The physical training we do here is temporary and serves our earthly ministry, but both physical and spiritual training yield eternal rewards. Physical ailments can also have a negative affect on our spiritual growth from discouragement.

So, the end of the matter is perhaps where we began. Physical training does matter and can impact how much we are able to serve God, but it does not matter as much as our souls being right with our living God. Physical training can also become an idol if not kept in proper perspective. More than our outer shell which ultimately will fail, is the building up of our inner Spirit which lasts forever.

Day 7: Facing Depression

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own. 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 41:11

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Today’s topic I tread on carefully. The “loneliness of soul” as depression has been called, is so characterized because it is often so misunderstood.

Shame and self hatred can often come with depression, as this emotional pain is just as significant as physical pain, but we can feel judged and isolated to admit such a profession.

Ever been really discouraged to the point where you just did not have any hope at all? Maybe feel as if you are gasping for air and trying to find hope and meaning, only to be confronted with a wave of strong emotions that threaten to engulf you? Add to these feelings the stigma of feeling this way and it seems there is no way out.

The battle in the mind to overcome negative or sad emotions is real. The motivation to escape the prison of depression can falter as people are overwhelmed with sadness or grief and feel powerless to affect it at all.

Depression is real. Causes can stem from circumstances, sin, a chemical imbalance, mental disorder or our own spiritual battle, to name a few. Fixing depression is not as easy as a bandaid on a physical infirmity that we readily can affect, but God can do all things.

The One Who fearfully and wonderfully made us also chose to be encased in human flesh and can identify with every sorrow and heartbreak we have.

Some of God’s greatest servants encountered depression – but they did not all stay there. David is such an encouragement to me. He confessed and was honest about being depressed, anxious and stressed. Who wouldn’t be in his situation? David knew what it was to suffer greatly, chased in the dessert for 15 years by a mad man who was also depressed. Sometimes even other depressed people can try to bring us down with them, preoccupied with self and ascribing motives to us that just don’t exist. Saul was crazed with jealousy of David and left those thoughts unchecked, fueling them with his false perceptions. Our minds can really get in a fog if we take in the lies and negativity and allow it to go unchecked.

But David’s refuge was God’s word. He did not have a local CVS to run to or Dr. Phil to cheer him up. Hiding in caves, despairing of life – His medicine was to run to God and His word and to cry out to Him.

While sometimes medicine is needed and a great help to sufferers of depression, the greatest healing balm I have found is being in God’s presence reading His word and crying out to Him, just like David modeled for us all.

My visit down depression lane has been brief and intermittent. Personal choices I made while there were what determined how long I stayed and when I would be leaving.

Recognition. A lot of times we don’t see that we have a choice. We don’t realize the state of mind we are in. Walking around in a cloud and sad atmosphere, we are often unaware of and don’t recognize that we are depressed. The first step toward leaving the path of depression was to recognize we are on that path in the first place. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going through our mind in one day, sometimes seeing the source of those thoughts can be dizzying.

Roots. Finding the root of depression helps us to see. If we take those thoughts and examine where they came from, we begin to see the culprit that served as a catalyst in the formation of depression. Painful roots can be lifted out of the dust, healed and transplanted again in the healthier soil of being rooted in God’s love, instead.

Relationship. Victory out of depression is a daily battle in the mind that we often cannot fight by ourselves. We have to fight and choose to overcome, but if we are in a bad state of mind, we might need others to pluck us out and help us gain perspective.

Rescue. Seeing motivations of ourselves and others through biblical and prayer filters helps us to release possession of our thoughts and surrender them to Jesus. Placing them in God’s hands – sometimes again and again – is when we begin to see things from His perspective.

Real Hope. We need to tell ourselves the truth. The many discouraging thoughts are not always true. They might be convincing, but lies, nonetheless. This is not going to last forever. As long as we want change and are willing to be on the hunt for healing, your hope is sure and changed. The hope we have in Christ is abiding and eternal. Where we are now is not.

Trying to escape depression with a fake hope just won’t work. Happy little phrases and anecdotes are not a real solution. But we are never without hope if we approach our internal struggles biblically. What does His word say? Reflecting on His promises rather than our ever-looming reality is a life preserver ready to be used, if we let it be.

The circumstances surrounding the revelation of my children being harmed provoked depression and overwhelming grief that seemed insurmountable. My expectations were blown out of the water and I could not see how I could ever recover. If it had not been for God’s presence before and throughout, surely I would not have survived.

The night before the revelation of sin in our family, God awoke me to write a song. Usually my heart is filled with praise when I write Him a song, but this night my soul was in anguish. Complete fear gripped my heart and the LORD began to reveal to me that my life was going to change dramatically. I did not know that as I wrote the song and sought God’s face, the father of my children was harming one of my children in that moment.

The next day the LORD walked with me as truth was unfolding that broke our hearts and rocked our world. Shock and horror filled my heart and I felt I was not even in my body. The stress added to the pain and brought all of my autoimmune diseases out of remission. Trying to function with simple tasks felt impossible. It was in this place of despair that my brain would not turn off. Sleeping was difficult, anxiety consumed me over the constant barrage of attacks, accusations and court dates. The ominous doorbell ringing again and again with more subpoenas frightened my children and I as we felt like puppets on strings being thrown around carelessly through a process we did not ask for.

Deep sadness emanates often from a place of suffering. It threatens to snuff out hope with the grim reality of its tentacles wrapping around our mind again and again, proliferating a message of doubt and hopelessness.

But we need not be trapped by depression’s lure. The choice depends on us, if we will see the escape. God’s love reaches deeper than the deepest pit and demolishes the lies that depression tells us.

At the core of depression can be unbelief formed in the chasm of broken expectations. At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own.

We become disheartened when life has not lived up to what we hoped for. We are set free when we realize it is not our life, after all. Sadness for self is removed when we don the attitude and reality that our lives are wrapped up in Christ’s. If we really believe that we no longer live but that Christ lives through us, then we see our lives as living for One.

Adopting the mind of Christ is paramount to overcoming thoughts in a mind filled with troubling thoughts. Christ sought to glorify the Father. He did not consider Himself, but only others around Him. His zeal for God consumed Him.

If we are real, zeal for self can often consume us. God knows that. He wants us to lift up our eyes to Him and see where our help comes from. Self can be a burden, but we are free when we can lay self down and see our problems as potential to glorify God in it.

Moving past depression is not easy, but it is possible. Feelings are powerful, but they are not more powerful than God’s Word, which never returns void.

Rather than desiring an escape from pain, we can ask for God to be with us in the pain and to give us His perspective as we navigate through the mire of emotions and pain. The more we seek God, the more we get answers to our questions. The more we ask, the more we receive. God is not limited by our limits and the Maker of us all has the remedy for every suffering – emotional or physical.

The song, “Draw Me Near” was the song I wrote on the night before my life and the life of my children was changed forever and now serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness at all times. If our hope is in anything other than God, our emotions ride a rollercoaster.

Lord, help us to trust You with our emotions. You made our hearts and can heal them, too.

Freedom Friday: No Longer a Slave

Freedom2

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We will never be more free than we are now – we just have to walk in the freedom.

Scripture:

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.”

Ever feel oppressed, pushed down?  We often think of freedom as being something given when a person deserves punishment.  But sometimes freedom is a choice we have.

So many things to be set free from.  Free from the fear of man, free from fearing the future.  Free from the fear of failure.  Free from other’s abuse of us – spiritual, emotional, physical, sexual.

Half the battle is recognizing that we need to be set free in the first place.  Spiritual battles are ongoing all around us, in our mindset, in circumstances – but we often look at the surface and respond accordingly.

People’s perception of us can have us trapped in the desire for their acceptance of us unless we realize we don’t need it in the first place.

Fearing the future assumes that what we are fearing will actually take place.  What a waste of energy worrying about something that may never come to pass.

Sometimes freedom is cruelly kept from innocent victims.  Even in that place, however, Christ can set us free in the midst.  Freedom does not mean we will not have scars to heal and need to continually bring our slavitude to things or people to our God Who is able to open our eyes to see the freedom we have in Christ.

Lord, set us free from all that threatens to enslave us.  Help us to see when we begin to put the shackles on again and when we forget the high price You paid to set us free.

Scriptural Sunday: We Have the Mind of Christ

Photo Credits: christintheclouds.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
christintheclouds.blogspot.com

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”  God has revealed these to us by the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”  11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?   But we have the mind of Christ.”

Philippians 2:5

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

On Sundays, I want to simply share Scripture and a prayer from my devotion time to reflect on.

Lord, what is man, that You would give us Your Spirit and reveal deep mysteries to us?  That You would grant us the mind of Christ?  Wow.  We cannot understand the simplest words from Your Word without You mercifully opening our eyes. We are humbled, oh God, by Your kindness.  We are blessed to have seen any revelation from You.

Lord, help us to fill our mind with only what pleases You, to choose to dwell on thoughts that bring You glory.  Thank You for opening our eyes to see and to know You!