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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Hold Me Close, Through this Present Moment

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

James 1:2-4, NLT

There are many different points where our Lord connects through our desperation. Our sorrow and confusion can be how God ‘wires us’ for additional contact— my pain becomes His copper wire. It is how He touches my heart as He flows through it.

It is helpful to see our issues in this way.  There is a current that must work through us, making contact and ultimately to create a circuit.  We have to experience pain, in order to know His presence.  If you see a brother struggling, you should anticipate an additional special touch to follow after him.  We must be aware that our distress allows us access to His careful grace. Our trials, properly received, endow us with a special and supplemental power.

When it gets dark, any light becomes exceptional.  In a book by Stephen Lawhead, (I think it was “the Silver Hand.”) we see a man, the hero take up stones who have at one time been infused the creative power of the universe.  Standing on the walls of a besieged stronghold, the desperate hero throws the stones down on the attackers.  And as each stone smashes into the ground it releases a part of a song, which destroys the enemy, and defeats those strong in the darkness.

His Spirit infuses into our hearts.  He has imparted something in us that is both precious and powerful.  He works through the pain and struggles that we encounter.  These are terribly ugly, no question.  But it is through these we plug into something real and eternal. I suppose when the tragic finally brings real life it’s a most precious thing. We treasure all this that has come at such an exorbitant price.

Pain has a purpose, and comes  at a high cost.

This is our destiny. It is what we’re called to be. It is said that Queen Victoria, (who reigned the U.K. at the turn of the century) resisted vehemently her future coronation as the sovereign of England. She became rebellious and there were many who were frustrated in this.  Once when Victoria was shown a lineage that directed her and revealed her place in England’s future as queen.  She responded with an astonishing simple awareness, “I will be good.”

“Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with His Presence.”  

Paul Claudel

 

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The Fellowship of This Misery

Everything is broken.

“In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Luke 5:12, NLT

 

Let’s jump right into this passage from Luke 5.  A very sick man desires to become well.  The Bible text reveals that his condition is agonizingly desperate.  His leprosy has advanced; he is covered with it from ‘head-to-toe.’  He is completely infected; he is ‘unclean’ and without hope. There is no treatment for what he has, doctors can do nothing, so he comes to Jesus.

We must emphasize this, the leper has no illusions of wholeness.  He knows it; he doesn’t need to be convinced, or persuaded by anyone else.  It occurs to him, that Jesus the healer (of lepers, and the like) may provide healing, or at the least a morsel of comfort.  This leper approaches the presence of Jesus, with such humility it is almost painful to witness. This man is completely broken; he has no hope, except Jesus.

There is a fellowship of misery–some of us are “card-carrying” members.  Our diseases differ, but they have affected us completely.  Our pain, and our darkness vary.  Some have physical pain, others have a mental illness.  When we meet, there should be a secret handshake or a password. We share a comradeship— we are all part of the same community.  We are a broken club of tired and decidedly unclean misfits.

How do we measure our pain and desperate darkness?  What do we use to measure it? For the most part, our lives have been destroyed. I think we can understand it by looking up at Jesus.  Lying in the dirt, we believe the unbelievable.  Our faith doesn’t activate his healing as much it guides it to our greatest need.  The presence of Jesus drives away the pain.  His love for us echoes into our emptiness. And he wants to do this!  He has come for us. He carries us through this.

I struggle with deep depression and despondency.  I have been on meds for a long time.  But when I come into Jesus’ presence, all this melancholy is driven out. He comes and injects a true hope into my spirit.  Am I a stellar example of perfect discipleship?  I think not.  (My wife could tell you this.)  But isn’t about us becoming “angels”, it’s about us becoming intimate with Jesus.

“The power of the Church is not a parade of flawless people, but of a flawless Christ who embraces our flaws. The Church is not made up of whole people, rather of the broken people who find wholeness in a Christ who was broken for us.”   

–Mike Yaconelli

The leper would be healed by the authority (and touch) of Jesus Christ. What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

“Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.” (v. 13)

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