Ministering to Yourself, [Self-Encouragement]

Why are you cast down?

The Psalms are a classical example of self encouragement. The writer sometimes fell in to some moments of depression and he would write encouraging words to uplift his spirit. Today these have become encouragement verses or scriptures for us to emulate. Read Psalm 42. It is somewhat an unusual portion of scripture, in as the writer addresses his/her own soul.  That alone makes it unique. And if we think it out, we become aware of an awesome truth.

“I suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression in a sense is this, that we allow our self to talk to us instead of talking to our self . . . Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.’ Do you know what I mean? If you do not, you have had but little experience . . . We must stand up as this man did and say: ‘Why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted within me?’ . . . instead of listening placidly to him and allowing him to drag you down and depress you. For that is what he will always do if you allow him to be in control.”

D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), pp. 20,21.

When I allow myself to indulge in anger, impatience, worry, pride, or spite, I provide an entrance for Satan to enter my life and run rampant through my mind. He doesn’t have to scheme, plan or deceive me. He can walk right in and begin chasing my self-centered emotions all over the place.

Notice the flow– My impatience breeds irritation; irritation– anger. Anger chases bitterness, and bitterness– unkindness. Satan just keeps bringing more and more situations and circumstances in my life that wreak havoc with fruit of the spirit. In my weakened state, my heart is left vulnerable to more and more assaults.

“He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.”

–Proverbs 25:28

The Bible teaches us that we are responsible for our behavior. As believers we simply do not have the option to allow depressive self-talk to go on unedited and unchallenged.  If we think about it, as we are depressives and the mentally ill, we must take a stand! This idea can help us through much anguish of soul. The concept of ‘kindling’ a depressive bout can lead us to ‘flare up,’ and get out-of-control. Remember, depression is both physical, emotional, and spiritual issue.

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Testimony of the Scars

 

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At the crucifixion, Jesus suffered great injury. He was beaten, flogged, spat upon, and had a crown of thorns jammed into his brow. Then He was nailed to the cross through His feet and hands and then pierced in the side with a spear causing blood and water to flow from His body. He was covered in welts, bruises, and blood so that He was almost unrecognizable.

After His resurrection, when He appeared to His disciples in the upper room, the welts, bruises, and blood were gone. His body showed very little of the pain and suffering He had endured. He did not have scars on His face or across His back. He was once again beautiful. His resurrected body testified to the resurrection we will all one day know with new, healed bodies that are once again beautiful, even in our own eyes.

The exceptions to this miraculous healing of His body were the nail scars on His hands and feet, and the scar from where He was pierced with the spear. “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’” John 20:27 (NIV).

These scars testified to His death and suffering on the cross. They testified to the love and mercy we find there. They testify even now to the greatest gift God has ever offered mankind: the knowledge that He was one of us, faced death as we do, and came out on the other side victorious as we one day will be if we trust in Him.

We all experience suffering and injury. We all bear scars, some physical and others emotional or spiritual. We tend to hide our scars from the world, thinking we are the only ones who bear them.

Our scars long to testify to the love and mercy of a God who saw us through our trials and helped us come out victorious on the other side. They long to testify that we were not defeated because God was on our side.

What if, instead of hiding our scars from the world, we shared them for all to see just as Jesus bid Thomas touch the scars on His palms and His side? What if we let our scars testify to the love and mercy of our God? What if we helped share the greatest gift God has ever given mankind, a gift that our scars testify to?

What victory do your scars testify to? Are you willing to share them, to let your scars testify to God’s love in your life to someone who needs Him desperately? Maybe not every scar all at once, but one little scar at a time? Remember, God will be with you when you do, and then He will be with the one with whom you share the testimony of your scars and His.

Linda’s home page is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

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Making Pain Work for You, [Trials]

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“Then they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. 22They encouraged the followers and begged them to remain faithful. They told them, “We have to suffer a lot before we can get into God’s kingdom.”

Acts 14:21-22, CEV

Paul and Barnabas, together are perhaps the most gifted men ever to minister the Gospel.  They have an amazing love for the Church.  They operate out of great difficulty, but the deep work they do, proceeds out of encouragement.  I looked at a dozen or so translations of the Bible–all of them translate this, “encouraged.”  Every single one!

Earlier in chapter 14, we can read about the brutality and ugliness they had to walk through.  It was very bad, beyond belief.  But these two never ever lose their love for the Lord, and for His people.  Their ministry continued to be full of optimism and comfort.  They simply can’t be poisoned by the nastiness and bitterness just days before.

They understand something.  What they have to say (as they minister that comfort) kind of boggles everyone’s thinking.

They said, “We must suffer many things to enter God’s kingdom.”

Comforting and strengthening, isn’t it?  Sometimes when I read this passage I can’t believe what they are saying!  It doesn’t make any sense at all.   I believe there are three things we must process to fully understand these verses.

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1)  What comforts us is not always comfortable.

 I’m slowly coming to the place of accepting pain and sickness as my personal doorway into the Lord’s kingdom.  I know my mental illness has opened an entrance into something wonderful.  My months of being institutionalized in different hospitals has seemed to have filled me with grace, gentleness and love–in other words, the kingdom. At least that is what I think.

2)  What we think is the best way often is not.

No one chooses one’s particular path.  If we could we would all be driving a BMW and our homes would be palaces, we would win the lottery on a regular basis.  Our children would be little angels.  We would never be sick, or have a chronic illness.  But–we can’t enter His kingdom, unless there are trials.  They have to be there, they must.  Somewhere it says,  if we suffer, we will reign.

3)  What we need from our elders and pastors is the truth.

 Often the leadership of the Church keeps this one in the closet.  They communicate very well other subjects that are enjoyable.  And we pressure them to do this, gently and subliminally of course.  And everyone wonders why we don’t mature in our faith.  Paul and Barnabas are tremendous leaders, but they don’t roll things in sugar, and their ministry carries on the sufferings of Jesus.

Often it seems, when God chooses to bless a man or a woman greatly, He will send a trial to prepare them deeply.

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The Toughness of Prayer

  “Pray as you can, not as you cannot.”

-Dom John Chapman

This is a Reprinted Article.

 by Dom John Chapman

Every so often I find something so sublime and so wonderful that all I want to do is make it available to a whole other audience.  This is so rewarding for me, to introduce to you an author and believer who has something to say.  However, I must tell you that you need to watch the cadence of what you read, be slow at first and then push forward.  Remember that there are lots of echoes, but “few voices in the wilderness.”  Anticipate a blessing.  I don’t know much about Mr. Chapman but I feel like I know him.  In eternity, I plan to seek him out and talk. 

—And then I plan to thank him profusely. Bryan

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Prayer, in the sense of union with God, is the most crucifying thing there is. One must do it for God’s sake; but one will not get any satisfaction out of it, in the sense of feeling “I am good at prayer. I have an infallible method.”

That would be disastrous, since what we want to learn is precisely our own weakness, powerlessness, unworthiness. Nor ought one to expect “a sense of the reality of the supernatural” of which I speak. And one should wish for no prayer, except precisely the prayer that God gives us — probably very distracted and unsatisfactory in every way.

On the other hand, the only way to pray is to pray; and the way to pray well is to pray much. If one has no time for this, then one must at least pray regularly. But the less one prays, the worse it goes. And if circumstances do not permit even regularity, then one must put up with the fact that when one does try to pray, one can’t pray — and our prayer will probably consist of telling this to God.

As to beginning afresh, or where you left off, I don’t think you have any choice. You simply have to begin wherever you find yourself. Make any acts you want to make and feel you ought to make, but do not force yourself into feelings of any kind.

You say very naturally that you do not know what to do if you have a quarter of an hour alone in church. Yes, I suspect the only thing to do is to shut out the church and everything else, and just give yourself to God and beg Him to have mercy on you, and offer Him all your distractions.”

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Source athttp://www.unionlife.com/Struggle.html

Background at—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chapman_(priest)


Taken from The Spiritual Letters of Dom John Chapman, osb.
© Copyright 1938 Sheed and Ward, London, England.
This reprint appeared in the Jan/Feb ‘97 issue of Union Life Magazine.

Jump Me! The Vital Ministry of an Encourager

We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but also in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or the added momentum to mortal neighbors.

        — Neal A. Maxwell

“One of the highest of human duties is the duty of encouragement. …It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others.  The world is full of discouragers.  We have a Christian duty to encourage one another.  Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.  Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.”

 —William Barclay

 “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.” Philemon 1:7

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Living in Alaska, jumper cables are crucial necessities.  The winters here are challenging on cars, and I’ve pretty much determined to have the best just in case.  Whether I need a jump or can give one, they have already paid for themselves.

For the non-initiated, jumper cables are used to essentially replace a dead battery.  A car that is running can hook up and provide current to a car that is not running so it can start.  It just takes a couple minutes with the cables and it is fairly easy to do.

The ministry of encouragement has been key in my life.  There are several people who have been used by God to encourage me.  A Christian brother named John Yokela, who is in his 90’s, comes to mind.  He is a solid stalwart of faith, and has helped me on my way many times.  I don’t know where I would be without his caring words.

The ministry of encouragement is similar to jumping a car.  There are people in God’s Kingdom that intervene in our lives.  They are equipped with spiritual jumper cables, and just seem to come along when we are dead and are unable to make it work.  They come alongside, eager to help and not inclined to judge.  They are there to get you moving again, and they seldom will show irritation.

We need to learn how to connect with the discouraged brother or sister.  Some of our issues are deadening, they frustrate us to the point that we just want to walk away.  Our hearts start to toughen and get hard.  Life is full of futility and coarseness.  But along comes someone with cables, and in just a few moments our situation has completely turned around.  What they’ve done seems miraculous, and the grace they carry with them is profound.

Father, send to your Church gifts of encouragement.  We are needy and we could use a jump from time-to-time.  Please provide what we need, and help us to bless others.  Give us wisdom, power and grace to reach out and connect others to your Presence.  Amen.

ybic, Bryan

 

FYI. How to Jump Start a Car:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4500480_use-jumper-cables.html

http://www.carbuyingtips.com/jumpstart.htm

 

Take the Ministry of Encouragement a step further:

http://internetpastoronline.com/

Speak to Your Brother

Galatians 6:9,  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Wilberforce, the mind of Emancipation

The United States has entered a new season of political change. With  the election coming I’ve received several emails from political colleagues of mine discussing the impact of this new climate upon issues which strike at our core as believers, such as abortion, Israel, and conservative values in general.

All of this has reminded me of William Wilberforce and his campaign against the British Parliament to abolish slavery. During the course of his intense efforts, Wilberforce came to a desperate place of discouragement, feeling he had absolutely no more strength to continue.

In this condition he was about to give up, when his elderly friend, John Wesley, lying on his deathbed, was informed of his friend William’s distress. Wesley requested pen and paper, and with a quivering hand, wrote these words,

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? Oh be not weary of well-doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery shall vanish away before it.”

John Wesley died six days later, but William Wilberforce fought for forty-five more years, and in 1833, three days before his own death, witnessed the abolition of slavery in Britain.

 Do not grow weary in well-doing, for we can still triumph! It’s exactly when everything looks hopeless that our God has opportunity to display His awesome power. Even the great men that changed history needed a word of encouragement now and then – so be encouraged, and be an encourager! You never know when you may enable another saint to continue pressing on, or how that may change the world!

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Source: http://www.worthydevotions.com/christian/depression

Listening to the Spirit’s Nudge

Did you ever get the urge to call someone you hadn’t talked to in a while? Or to send an email to a friend you hadn’t seen in ages? I know you have — we all get those thoughts and urges seemingly out of the blue.

The more important question is, do you listen and follow through? Do you pick up the phone or compose that email? Or do you just let it pass?

The older I get the more I realize that those thoughts and urges to contact someone I haven’t thought of in a long time is really the Holy Spirit nudging me to be there for that person when they need it most. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with others, and He delights when we heed His nudge and provide support to others when He knows they need it most.

This kind of Holy Spirit nudge happened to me just last week. It had been over a month since I had posted anything here at Broken Believers, and hadn’t really thought about Pr. Lowe or the folks who read this blog for a while because I was wrapped up in my own life. I guess I figured Pr. Lowe had it handled and would keep the fires burning here for the many Christians struggling with mental illness and in need of support.

Then last week I had this overwhelming urge to post something here, and the phrase “melancholy beckons me” kept running through my head as a post topic (which I did post last Saturday). I heeded the Spirit’s urging to post something, only to discover that Pr. Lowe’s computer had died and he was unable to post anything, and will be out of commission for a few more days at least.

I didn’t know that Pr. Lowe was experiencing this problem, but God did. And I believe God knew that it was important for the lifeline that is Broken Believers not be set adrift even for a week.

So I am here to help because the Holy Spirit nudged. He does that, you know, more often than we’d like to admit. For the broken believers of the world, and those who know and love them, I believe that heeding the Spirit’s nudge is of the utmost importance. He made us to be in relationship — to uphold, encourage, and strengthen one another in times of trial and darkness — and what a blessing it is when we follow His lead.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV).