A Mighty Fortress, Understood

martin_luther2 (1)Martin’s Depression

The hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God gloriously celebrates God’s power. It was penned by the great 16th-century reformer Martin Luther, who believed God’s power could help believers overcome great difficulties — even depression. Given his pastoral heart, he sought to bring spiritual counsel to struggling souls. His compassion for those souls shines in numerous places, including his sermons, lectures, Bible commentaries and ‘table talks’. In addition, he devoted many letters to counseling troubled folk.

Luther’s writings reveal his knowledge of various emotional difficulties. For example, in August 1536 he interceded for a woman named Mrs. Kreuzbinder, whom he deemed insane. He described her as being “accustomed to rage” and sometimes angrily chasing her neighbor with a spear.

In addition, Luther’s wife, Kate, struggled with pervasive and persistent worry indicative of generalized anxiety disorder. Prince Joachim of Anhalt, to whom Luther often wrote, exhibited signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he believed he had betrayed and crucified Christ. Conrad Cordatus, a pastor and frequent guest at Luther’s table, exhibited signs of hypochondriasis, a disorder involving preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease.

Besides observing mental difficulties in others, Luther had a compelling reason to affirm their reality. Luther himself endured many instances of depression. He described the experience in varied terms: melancholy, heaviness, depression, dejection of spirit; downcast, sad, downhearted. He suffered in this area for much of his life and often revealed these struggles in his works. Evidently he did not think it a shameful problem to be hidden.

Satan as the “accuser of the brethren,” causes Christians to dwell on past sins. Such thoughts induce melancholy and despair. Concerning a friend’s depressive thoughts, Luther wrote, “Know that the devil is tormenting you with them, and that they are not your thoughts but the cursed devil’s, who cannot bear to see us have joyful thoughts.”   Luther recognized a spiritual truth about depression. One can expect Satan’s persistence until faith is destroyed, but in the midst of depression God is with us. He never leaves us alone. In the midst of trouble He draws near to us.

Sometimes the invisible God draws near through visible people, and they become the bearers of God’s comforting and strengthening words to troubled souls.  What’s more, God seeks to assure us of His love and esteem. And through His Word, He counters Satan’s lies with His truth.

Some Martin Luther Quotes

Luther's Seal
Luther’s Seal

“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired.”

“Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in the grace of God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.”

“Christ took our sins and the sins of the whole world as well as the Father’s wrath on his shoulders, and he has drowned them both in himself so that we are thereby reconciled to God and become completely righteous.”

*

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by Luther

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing. 
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.  

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be? 
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.  

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us. 
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him. 

*

ybic, Bryan

Quotes from, http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/

Mental Illness Week

Mental illness is a serious medical condition that often disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental illness affects an estimated one in four American families and can have a profound effect on the individual, their family and the community.

Many people affected by mental illness do not know where to turn for information, support, help and hope. NAMI is a lifesaver for tens of thousands of individuals and families, virtually and in local communities across the country. Through clear information resources, free education and support group programs, advocacy initiatives, awareness events and personal connections with volunteer leaders in every state, NAMI works every day to save every life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pondering Panic

For me, a panic attack is almost a violent experience. I feel disconnected from reality. I feel like I’m losing control in a very extreme way. My heart pounds really hard, I feel like I can’t get my breath, and there’s an overwhelming feeling that things are crashing in on me.”

“It started 10 years ago, when I had just graduated from college and started a new job. I was sitting in a business seminar in a hotel and this thing came out of the blue. I felt like I was dying.”

“In between attacks there is this dread and anxiety that it’s going to happen again. I’m afraid to go back to places where I’ve had an attack. Unless I get help, there soon won’t be anyplace where I can go and feel safe from panic.”

Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. During these attacks, people with panic disorder may flush or feel chilled; their hands may tingle or feel numb; and they may experience nausea, chest pain, or smothering sensations. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control.

A fear of one’s own unexplained physical symptoms is also a symptom of panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or on the verge of death. They can’t predict when or where an attack will occur, and between episodes many worry intensely and dread the next attack.

Panic attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep. An attack usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer.

Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and is twice as common in women as men. Panic attacks often begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, but not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder. Many people have just one attack and never have another. The tendency to develop panic attacks appears to be inherited.

People who have full-blown, repeated panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition and should seek treatment before they start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have occurred. For example, if a panic attack happened in an elevator, someone with panic disorder may develop a fear of elevators that could affect the choice of a job or an apartment, and restrict where that person can seek medical attention or enjoy entertainment.

Some people’s lives become so restricted that they avoid normal activities, such as grocery shopping or driving. About one-third become housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by a spouse or other trusted person.  When the condition progresses this far, it is called agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces.

Early treatment can often prevent agoraphobia, but people with panic disorder may sometimes go from doctor to doctor for years and visit the emergency room repeatedly before someone correctly diagnoses their condition. This is unfortunate, because panic disorder is one of the most treatable of all the anxiety disorders, responding in most cases to certain kinds of medication or certain kinds of cognitive psychotherapy, which help change thinking patterns that lead to fear and anxiety.

Panic disorder is often accompanied by other serious problems, such as depression, drug abuse, or alcoholism.These conditions need to be treated separately. Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, low energy, and difficulty concentrating. Most people with depression can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications, certain types of psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

 

Source: NIMH, Panic Disorder

God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle

I have cried many tears in my life. If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:

Record my lament;
       list my tears on your scroll —
       are they not in your record? (NIV)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle
         Are they not in Your book? (NASB)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
      You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)

Write down my poem of sadness.
      List my tears on your scroll.
      Aren’t you making a record of them? (NIRV)

I love the image of God keeping all my tears in a bottle. I can envision shelves filled with bottles in Heaven, each with a name on it, and an accompanying scroll documenting every tear and lament. Or maybe it is just one huge bottle with all of our tears mingled together.

Today tears are being shed in dark rooms where children are being held as sex slaves, in Africa as people remain homeless and without food and water, in the United States as many remain jobless, in hospitals and on the streets where the mentally ill are forgotten, in homes around the world where people are spiritually lost and have no hope.

We live in a fallen world. Tragedies happen and humans are not always kind to one another. And so tears are shed. It is hard to fathom God collecting every single one, but He does. He notices and He records each tear and each lament.

The more I think about it, I like the idea that God has mingled all our tears together. The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. And if He has collected every tear in that bottle, then mingled with our own are the tears of Jesus. In John 11, the apostle records this event: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

In this passage, Jesus weeps when He learns of the death of Lazarus.

When they see Him weeping, the people say “See how he loved him!” John 11:36. But I don’t think Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead – He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Rather, I think He wept because of the compassion He felt for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.

So if you weep today, remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior. Not only that, but God will deliver you from the final trial that lead to tears by redeeming your soul.

For you, O LORD, have delivered 
   my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:8-9 (NIV).

 

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Linda’s blog is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/ Please check out all she has to say.  Linda tells me that it is absolutely guaranteed to bless, or your money back!

Getting Free of Anxiety

From Warren Mueller

Do you often deal with anxiety? Are you consumed with worry? You can learn to manage these emotions by understanding what the Bible says about them. In this excerpt from his book, “Truth Seeker – Straight Talk From The Bible”, Warren Mueller studies the keys in God’s Word to overcoming your struggles with anxiety and worry.

Anxiety (Worry)

Life is full of many concerns stemming from the absence of certainty and control over our future. While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible shows us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says do not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray About Life’s Worries

Believers are commanded to pray about life’s worries. These prayers are to be more than requests for favorable answers. They are to include thanksgiving and praise along with the needs. Praying in this way reminds us of the many blessings God continually gives us whether we ask or not. This reminds us of God’s great love for us and that He knows and does what is best for us.

A Sense of Security in Jesus

Worry is proportional to our sense of security. When life is going as planned and we feel safe in our life routines, then worries subside. Likewise, worry increases when we feel threatened, insecure or are overly focused on and committed to some result. 1 Peter 5:7 says cast your cares upon Jesus because He cares for you. The practice of believers is to take our worries to Jesus in prayer and leave them with Him. This reinforces our dependence on, and faith in Jesus.

Recognize a Wrong Focus

Worries increase when we become focused on the things of this world. Jesus said the treasures of this world are subject to decay and can be taken away but heavenly treasures are secure (Matthew 6:19). Therefore, set your priorities on God and not on money (Matthew 6:24). Man worries about such things as having food and clothes but is given life by God. God provides life, without which the concerns of life are meaningless.

Worry can cause ulcers and mental problems that can have destructive health effects that shorten life. No amount of worry will add even one hour to one’s life (Matthew 6:27). Therefore, why worry? The Bible teaches that we should deal with each day’s problems when they occur and not be obsessed with future concerns that may not happen (Matthew 6:34).

Focus on Jesus

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus visits the house of the sisters Martha and Mary. Martha was busy with many details regarding making Jesus and his disciples comfortable. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what he said. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary should be busy helping but Jesus told Martha that “…you are worried and anxious about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

What is this one thing that freed Mary from the business and worries experienced by her sister? Mary chose to focus on Jesus, listen to Him and ignore the immediate demands of hospitality. I do not believe that Mary was being irresponsible, rather she wanted to experience and learn from Jesus first and later, when He was done speaking, she would fulfill her duties. Mary had her priorities straight. Put God first and He will free us from worries and take care of the rest of our concerns.

From an article posted at about.com by Warren Mueller

http://christianity.about.com/od/topicalbiblestudies/a/anxiety.htm

His bio at: http://christianity.about.com/od/topicalbiblestudies/p/biowarrenmuelle.htm