Sheepy Wolves

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“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.”

Matthew 7:15

The old King James Version says, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  There is something to be said about both translations.

Being aware.  Jesus commands this awareness, this discernment that our world is a dangerous place and dark things come out of it.  Deception is always working, the true believer must keep learning.  We must identify sheep, who are not really sheep after all.  They look like sheep, unless you get close.  They smell like sheep.  They appear gentle and kind.

But they are malignant and treacherous.  Jesus chose the word, “dangerous.”  We pretty much avoid anything dangerous. If there is a sign on the beach, and if it says “Dangerous Undertow,”  most of us will comply and our time in the water is alert and quite aware.

There are people in the world who should have that sign, as they are treacherous and deceitful.  They say many things, and there is enough there to seem authentic.  As simple believers, we feel we should trust without questions. We avert our eyes to anything unseemly or aberrant.  Isn’t this what a loving Christian is supposed to do?

Jesus never told us to be tolerant, at least not like this.  He understands that wolves will tear apart sheep, ripping them into ribbons, if given half the chance.  He commands us to exercise caution.  But already there has been way too much “sheep dismemberment” in our generation.  The flock has been chased and separated, many have already been devoured.

Jesus is encouraging us to become discerning  and aware,  and teach it to our children and friends.  We shouldn’t be paranoid, or frightened by the world that swirls around us.  And there will always be people with mixed motives and confusing thoughts.  If we are honest, we ourselves have these same things, as we are His work in process.

Exteriors are always a big question mark.  The main issue is the delicate art of observation.  The more we get to know Jesus, the more we will identify what is a lie, a trick or a deception.  The Secret Service of our country, in learning to understand counterfeiters will study at length the real currency.  It’s interesting, they don’t study the false bills, but the real ones.

Be encouraged.  He is standing right in front, making intercession for you before the Father.  The Word is ours also, and there are pastors and teachers, who are shepherding the flock.  You are targeted, but never forsaken.  Our enemy is defeated.  Do not fear, never ever fear.  We have angels in high places who are our friends.

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The Scum.

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“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”

1 Corinthians 4:11-13, NIV

The apostle Paul isn’t ashamed to be called ‘scum.’ He realizes that this is his ‘standing’ in this world’s opinion. He is regarded as a nobody and of little value. A tension exists between the believer and the world system. The expectations that the world has is part of the package that we have been given. The message of the Cross is the ultimate foolishness. Jesus told his own disciples that:

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”

John 15:18-19, NLT

The world hates us because we belong to Jesus. It is his reproach we bear. We should not see the trial and sorrows as our issue, and we shouldn’t get upset by the world’s snub. The tension is real and we can expect being ostracized. In fact, we should anticipate it.

Hatred is a hard word. And the stigma should humble us— it has a supernatural orgin. We shouldn’t expect otherwise. To follow Jesus means we will only experience what he is already gone through. Some of us will follow him even to martyrdom. The hardships and challenges do not invalidate our walk, rather they confirm what he said would happen. The world is under seige by Sattan,  the unband it is his spirit that controls the unbelieving world.

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Father of all comfort, please come to your servants who are suffering for their faith in you. Meet them and hold them close to you. Give them boldness and awareness. Seek them out and make them your witnesses in a hostile world. Give them the Spirit of Jesus and help them overcome by their love. ~In Jesus Name, Amen

 

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Q & A: Will I need to stay on my depression meds forever?

Asked by Ally, Washington

“I am 26 years old and have had four major depressive episodes. I did not seek treatment until the last (and worst) episode and have since been taking two different antidepressants.

My question is this: Will I ever get off these meds?

To be honest, my last episode was so bad that I am not too keen on the idea of going without. However, I am aware that the more episodes of depression a person has makes the person that much more likely to have another one and that the severity of the depression gets progressively worse with each episode. I shudder to think what a worse episode would be but at the same time do not want to take medications that I do not need.

Expert Bio PictureMental Health Expert
Dr. Charles Raison Psychiatrist,
Emory University Medical School

Expert answer

Dear Ally, let me start by applauding your very accurate understanding of depression, terrible illness that it is. Your question is an interesting one because, of course, you could get off the medications any time you like simply by ceasing to take them. But what you mean, of course, is whether you will ever be able to stop taking the medications and not have to worry about falling back into another depressive episode.

This brings up a very important point about psychiatric disorders: Anything is possible. So anytime someone asks a question that starts with some variation of “Is it possible …?” the answer is always, “Yes.” Why? Because all psychiatric illnesses are probabilistic, not deterministic. Probabilistic means that although some things are a lot more common than others, nothing is certain and nothing is impossible.

I sometimes resort to physics as a metaphor to explain this idea. Isaac Newton used mathematics to paint the universe as an absolutely rigid machine in which causes always led to results in a predictable manner. In his view of the universe, if you knew what every particle in the universe was doing at this second, you’d be able to predict all future events flawlessly out to the end of time.

This way of thinking about things works very well for many practical things like firing cannon balls, sending rockets to the moon or building bridges, but it turns out that when you look really closely at matter, it only approximates the certainty that Newton described. This realization has become enshrined in a theory called quantum mechanics, which — in essence — says that no final certainties exist in the physical world, only various degrees of likelihood.

For example, although most of us think of atoms like little solar systems with the nucleus being like the sun and electrons swirling around it like planets, the physical reality is much weirder. In fact, an electron only tends to stay close to the atom of which it is a part. The further away you go from the atom the less likelihood there is for finding one of its electrons, but the chance isn’t zero, and it is possible that you might find an atom’s electron on the other side of the universe. It’s not impossible, just so unlikely that it might as well be impossible.

 

To get the rest of this article you will need to go to: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/expert.q.a/12/08/

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The Ugliness of Self-Pity

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14 “Yet I curse the day I was born!
May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15 I curse the messenger who told my father,
“Good news—you have a son!”
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old
that the Lord overthrew without mercy.
Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17 because he did not kill me at birth.
Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb,
that her body had been my grave!
18 Why was I ever born?
My entire life has been filled
with trouble, sorrow, and shame.”

Jeremiah 20:14-18, NLT

One of our most common battles is with the sin of self pity.  I looked “self-pity” up in the dictionary and found the following definition: “A self-indulgent dwelling on one’s own sorrows or misfortunes.”   When we view ourselves, we will engage things that are hurting us, and when we dwell on those things we are saddened and depressed.

Believe it, or not, our pride is at the center of self pity.  When we start to dwell on our hurts continuously–whether they are real or imagined–we start to push out the Holy Spirit.  For years I have been victimized by pain, and hurt.  I perceived the “slights” from people to be worth dwelling on to a morbid degree.

I live in Alaska, and one year, I went commercial fishing for halibut.  It was very hard work.  When we made it back to port, the captain cheated me out of  some of the wages that I was due.  I was so angry, I felt I would explode.  And this man professed to be a believer!  Even though it was only $400.00, I carried an anger and a resentment over those stolen wages. I was hurt and bitter, and things festered.  I tried to forget, and forgive but things only grew worse.

Our hearts are like a ball of soft wax.  They get “rolled” around through the dirt, and the gravel.  They pick-up things that are embedded quickly, and the clean wax becomes full of dirty ugliness.  This was never the intent with the Father.  And rather than clean up we choose to be hurt, dwelling over all injuries that we have absorbed.self pity

Full of self pity, we feed on ourselves.  And we have a voracious appetite.  The prophet, Jeremiah turned on himself.  Afflicted, and miserable he wanted to die.  Everything inside was filled with misery.  A few years ago I went through an exceptionally dark time.  I had this mental picture of a huge fountain in a city square.  Rather than flowing with fresh water, it spewed out filth.  It was a “feces fountain.”  A sewer bubbling in a beautiful place.

That is how I once pictured myself, full of stink, the feces fountain.  Bursting out a stream of sewage.  So much of this is based out of self pity.  I was dealing with many morbid feelings and thoughts.  I would dwell on the past, and combined with present issues created a nasty concoction.

Self pity is evil, it is a form of self-destruction.  We come to the place where we can’t imagine forgiveness.  To be forgiven means self-acceptance.  And we simply can’t accept ourselves.  We are way too evil, we are filthy, and we seem to want to be forever filthy.

Self pity is pride.  Humility is repentance.  We honestly need to move through this, and start liking ourselves.  There is no question we have operated out of ugliness and our personal sin.  But all of a sudden in the midst of our evil, faith steps out and we must believe that every sin is hidden by the blood of the Lamb.

 

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