Tell me, are addictions sinful (computer addictions particularly).
Addiction is not a biblical word or concept. If a Christian is sinning, said Christian should stop it. If a Christian is doing something that leads to sin, said Christian should give it up (or at the very least greatly restrict it).
I believe addiction is a spiritual issue every thing we come across in this life is a spiritual issue. but this was sent to me how would you address this in a way to help.
As addicts and alcoholics we are so lost in our disease that we shut our souls off from the sunlight of the spirit. It is quite a spiritual dilemma. We have the only disease that convinces us that we do not have it. Our body cries for more. I equate it to a drowning person. You need air, will do anything to get it. Kick, crawl, struggle and steal. Every cell in your body screams for more. You will give anything for just one breath. We cannot help it, we are without defense. When we have it rock bottom, if we are still alive we surrender and true recovery begins. We have to admit we are in fact powerless. Our lives are unmanageable one day at a time. In my deepest of thoughts, I believe it. I called out to God and prayed and prayed for him to take away the want/need for alcohol. But I sometimes find myself replacing it with shopping. I have a void in me. The dream and desire of having four children. I sometimes find myself questioning whether I made the right choice in having a hysterectomy as per my OB/GYN. It still hurts and I find myself dwelling on it. I am angry with family because they do not see how alcohol is destroying lives. After everything we have been through. It's time to grow up and enjoy ourselves sober. I guess I do question whether addiction is a genetic thing. Like anxiety. I struggle with anxiety.
There is no question but that any sort of habitual sin is a spiritual issue. It may also be a biological issue. I have no doubt that some are more prone to behavior X and others more prone to behavior Y. When we give into the sinful patterns that most tempt and attract us, getting back out is often very difficult, and especially if we have indulged deep and long enough to set mental and biological patterns that make recovery more difficult. I would never wish to tell anyone that changing is easy or that it is not painful or that it may not require some sort of serious help. I do know that there is no limit to the power of God, and that He most certainly can and does help those who have actually determined in their hearts to change for the good. That sort of change is entirely spiritual, from the inside out. A person who is not a Christian will only be helped in this way if and when he/she converts to the truth of Jesus Christ. If a person is a Christian and has fallen under the spell of any sort of sinful behavior, repentance, prayer and absolutely implacable determination not to sin in this way again are necessary for success. It will not be easy for either type to change. It is unusual when they do. But it is possible. Question is, is the person in question willing to pay the price? Christ paid the real price. Whatever suffering we have to endure here in this life either in a good cause or in a good-hearted determination to recover from a bad habitual pattern, is nothing compared to the smallest thing Jesus did for us on the cross.
Everyone's situation is different. I think sympathy is appropriate for those who are suffering, but not to the point of enabling their bad behavior or excusing it. To escape the negative gravity of sin any sin a person has to confess in truth, and determine not to go there again. That requires willpower. But it is possible to do. The Lord will meet us more than half way if we are really serious about getting tough on ourselves. That resolution has to come from inside the individual concerned. No one else can put it inside of them, no matter how well-meaning. Please see the link: "Addicted to sin" (and also "Sensitive issues III").
Please do feel free to write me back about any of this.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you so much brother and I will research the material linked. Brother I am thankful I came across your sight so long ago you have truly are a big help I thank the Lord for one of His vessels "you" and that the Lord keep you and your family safe and continue to use you God bless.
Thanks much for your generous and encouraging words!
I hope things work out for your friend. I think sooner or later all of us have to "bite the bullet" and suffer through something that is hard to give up (or hard to take up) at least if we are really wanting to serve Jesus Christ in this life.
Yours in the dear Lord and Master who died for us.
God Bless you Sir! It's been a while. I pray that all is well with you and yours. I'm in a rush right now, but I've been forgetting to email this question I have that I wanted to teach on tomorrow. I know you're busy, so you may not even see this until after tomorrow but that's okay. My question is regarding Alzheimer's. I've check your website but couldn't find material on this. I wanted to know if you could provide some information on this. A debate came up regarding Christians having Alzheimer's. Many people believe that God wouldn't allow that to happen since we need to be in our right mind to serve him and also they think that a person can commit sins in this state which I believe is true. But I believe a Christian can have Alzheimer's and be saved. Since there are different stages of Alzheimer's, in the early stages of dementia people are still cognizant of their actions and responsible for what they do. They are able to repent, confess and ask for forgiveness. However, I believe that there comes a time in the latter stages when they have little concept of where they are and what they are doing. Those in the final stages can certainly commit sinful acts. But, it matters little whether or not they ask for forgiveness. According to the Bible, the blood Jesus shed on the cross covers all of our sin. Do you agree or disagree and can provide as much information on this as possible? There's not much in the Bible regarding the sickness itself except Ecclesiastes 12: 1:8 talking about the body slowing down. Your insight on this would greatly appreciated!
You are always in thoughts and prayers my friend and I appreciate all of the encouragement and guidance you have provided in the past. Stay Encouraged and Keep The Faith in the name of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Very good to hear from you, my friend. I'm particularly happy to hear that you are back to teaching the Word of God! Apologies for not getting to this sooner.
I think you have this exactly right. What I would say about this issue is what I would say about any other impediment any human being may have (and we all have some), namely, that this life is all about free will, and that nothing is impossible for God. For those born without ever attaining mental competency, there is automatic salvation. For those who do reach mental maturity, the time given is all that is given, even if by our lights that time may be very short in some cases. For those who have it and lose it, as in the hypothetical you propose, it is often not really possible for us who are on the outside looking in to discern whether or not the person in question is saved. For those in such a situation who are not saved, it seems to me that 1) they have had their time (and more time than most, if they've gotten to this point, generally speaking, since this affliction is more common in the elderly), and 2) in some cases where there is no salvation but yet some desire on the part of the person so afflicted to be saved well, nothing is impossible for God. Where there is still life, there is still hope. Like you, I wouldn't worry about the sin issue. We all fail and fall short. For newborn infants, we (not to mention God) are not going to hold against that person some behavior that is out of their control. Sin is not really the issue in salvation in any case since Jesus has already paid for everyone's sins. Where it does apply is in pointing out to the unsaved that they are not good enough to stand before God on their own merits and desperately need to access that redemption and forgiveness which only comes by accepting the Father's Substitute.
I hope this is of some small help. As always, please do feel free to write me back about any of this.
You are in my prayers day by day and thank you so much for yours!
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Hello brother, I was wondering if you could help on this matter on dementia and Alzheimer I see it as a spirit controlling the mind . And I notice it has in some ways attacking several leaders from the ministry sometimes I get a notion it's all because they believe something that is not Biblical sound doctrine if you know what I mean or people are strong minded in the way they are which opens the doorway to sin so to speak. Several months ago I heard a Pastor teach on divine healing and that he had a senior couple that wanted prayer for deliverance. The wife was battling with dementia and Alzheimer's before the pastor prayed he spoke to them about confessing sins known and unknown then he spoke to the husband telling him that since his mind was stable he would be the one in agreement to the healing for his wife but he also spoke to the wife telling her she must believe in her healing also when she can . Well about a month or so went by the husband called the pastor and gave him a praise report his wife was healed and her mind has been restored and that she is renewing her driving license among other things. When the pastor prayed in all this he rebuked the spirit out of her then asked the Holy Spirit enter in and renew the relationship in their walk with God. Would you happen to know of any material to help on the matter?
I would like to share about what happen to me some years ago. I met a man and his wife I was invited to their home but before I went that night I was pondering in my studies and a thought came to mind: Schizophrenia and bipolar. I thought why did that come across again. For several months that would come to mind and for over a couple of years I was studying the book of Mark. Well I went to the home of the couple that evening the husband was asking a lot of question on certain things in the Bible we where enjoying ourselves. But I noticed his wife was starting to get nervous or fidgety I didn't say anything then I saw Schizophrenia and bipolar in my spirit. I left it alone. For several weeks I was asked to come back the wife would ask about some things I would pray with them before we started and afterwards before I would leave. I was going over the book of Mark from time to time I believed at this time these where demons controlling this woman. About the second month visiting I asked the husband was his wife battling with Schizophrenia and bipolar he said yes and she told me right at that time can I give you this it was a piece of paper as I opened it had some names in it and some hateful words I asked her what was this. She told me these where the ones in her mind and they where also standing around her and that they told her they hated me because I always talked about God and they didn't want me around and she didn't like what they where saying about me. I looked at her and smiled and told her that's ok and I told her husband do you believe that God can heal your wife in the name of Jesus he said yes. I told them could they excuse me for a moment. I went outside it was a beautiful night no clouds full of stars. I just held up my hand with the letter in hand and asked the Lord to help in the matter as I prayed and thank God for His healing and deliverance I went back in and asked the lady they say I talked to much about God right she said yes well they don't say I talk a lot about Jesus do they because I do. She sat straight up and said yes you do but they didn't say his name. I told her it's because they fear the name. So we prayed and took authority and rebuked every foul spirit out well I went home and it was about 3 days later I was called by the husband to come over when I got there he told me there been a big change in his wife no more voices no more seeing the spirits they are gone see came up and gave a big hug and said thank you I just smiled and told them thank God I'm just a messenger but that they also needed to keep it up with their fellowship with the Lord. Two months had passed the husband told me what he told the psychiatrist what had happened because he had notice a big change in her. The psychiatrist told him they are not to talk about Jesus but it was working and to keep it up. I'm thankful take care and God bless.
I don't have any personal experience with cases of demon possession (as far as I know), though I do get many reports such as in this instance. I imagine that it is true that in many cases mental illness can be attributed to demon possession or demon influence. What I have to say about this is mostly written up at the following links: "Demon Possession (in SR 4)" and "Spiritual Warfare". However, I think it is also likely that many other cases have nothing to do with demonic influence. As we can see from reading the gospels, just as in the case of sickness and disease where there are both types of causes, natural and supernatural, and it is impossible for us to tell the difference, so it is likely to be the case with mental health issues as well.
Dementia and Alzheimer's present an interesting case. It is my observation that old age, especially for those who have outlived the "seventy years, or eighty if by reason of strength" (Ps.90:10), is a real test of faith. For those who are believers and can handle the testing, perhaps our Lord allows them to retain sound mind to win the rewards that come with bearing up under the trouble; for those who cannot, perhaps He allows the mind to be clouded so that they do not lose faith in all their old age troubles. These things were not much of an issue a hundred years ago, but nowadays many are living beyond the natural limit, thanks to modern medicine.
As mentioned above, I'm no expert in demon possession, but I think your approach of asking the Lord for help whenever this is a possibility is the right one. No one has the gift of exorcism since there is no such gift, and nothing in scripture as I read it gives us the right to cast out demons (that was a special power the Lord gave the 72 and the 12). As things stand now, we can (and should) pray, and have confidence that the Lord honors those prayers. There is today, as you may know, a growing group of people who claim to have all sorts of such special powers along these lines. They are false teachers and should be studiously avoided. Here are some links on that:
Exorcism and Healing
Third party reports
Prayers for Binding
What is Exorcism?
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I've been thinking about this for a while and this has puzzled for me for some time and I can't find any examples. What happens if someone sincerely repents and turns to the Lord for Salvation and then loses their memory? This person no longer remembers anything about the Gospel. Did they lose their salvation? Or does the Holy Spirit somehow prevents this from happening? I've never heard (in all of my research and testimonies from others) scenario.
God Bless you and your ministry,
I'm certainly no expert in this area of mental illness. I do think that I am correct in saying that this phenomenon, "total amnesia", occurs often enough in works of fiction, but is in fact extremely rare in real life. I have never met anyone who suffered it nor even anyone who knew anyone so afflicted. I think we can assume that the Lord, who knows who are His, is not going to let a believer forget about Him and that person's "so great salvation" and lose salvation because of some accident, e.g., which is no fault of the person in question. If something like this ever did happen (we are well into hypotheticals now), I would suppose that it's the same thing as being hit by a bus and put into a coma. The Lord would consider the person's actual decisions made before no longer being able or competent to make them.
A believer is a believer as long as he/she believes.
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
I am finally in the my own country after a long process of preparation to flee the US. I employ that word because it describes exactly how I felt all along. Needless to say that the obstacles were numerous and seemed insurmountable, yet in each and every instance the Lords presence softened the blow and allowed for solutions. I could not understand the hostility I felt from airline employees, customs officers after arriving home, and even backstabbing from people I believed liked me in the building where I spent two nights with my dogs while in transit to the north coast. Obviously I would have not survived had the Lord failed to send me the wonderful friends that have driven me around, who have warmly received me in their homes.
Nevertheless, during these last couple of months I have been feeling a sense of axiality, desasosiego, sadness, fright, oppression and depression that I have never felt before with such intensity and persistency. I take anti anxiety pills to calm down, but it barely scratches the surface. You might say that it is all these changes, but then, I have done this a million times, and under more strenuous circumstances, with less financial means, and more uncertainty at the end of the tunnel. This is more of a feeling of oppression, spiritual if you ask me. It is zozobra, another Spanish word I cant translate at this point. Its sadness, without any known physical or psychological reason. So what is this heaviness that I, as well as countless other Christians, are feeling these days? Impending doom, a feeling that something ominous is going on, and that we are helplessly at the mercy of the powers that be.
What can we do, but pray? How is the Armour of God realistically and practically executed? How is one supposed to put it on, when it is only metaphorically explained. Where are we now in the timeline? Please help me, and many others, in raising our awareness of why it is that we are confronting, so that WE can prepare others, and fight back.
In the love of Christ Our Lord and Saviour,
Please forgive the delay in response. I was out of town at a family wedding and am only just now digging out. As to your question, I do sense that there is a build up of opposition to all believers who are actually trying to prepare spiritually for the difficult times to come. No doubt this is both because the evil one is trying to prevent it, but also because that very opposition is "good training" for us as we rapidly approach the end and all the concomitant troubles to come (for the timeline please see the link: "When will the Tribulation begin?").
Yes, the armor of God is a metaphor, but a very powerful and meaningful one. The fullest expression comes from Paul in Ephesians chapter six where we are told that once we do put on that armor we will be able both to resist the evil one and also stand our ground (so as not to lose reward or let our fellow believers down who are counting on us). We are told to put on 1) "the belt of truth": the Word of God and what it means, its principles correctly taught, understood and believed, are the foundation of all of our spiritual combat; 2) "the breastplate of righteousness": no enemy thrust against our heart can harm us as long as we remember that we have God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ; this is not about us and what we have done or failed to do but it is about Him and what we have gained by committing ourselves to Him, forgiveness in Jesus Christ and eternal life; 3) "the [shoes] of preparation for the gospel": the readiness to share God's truth and to serve the Lord wherever He would have us to do so is also a critical part of our defense in fact it constitutes our mobility which is at the heart of any effective fight; we must be willing to do for Him what He wants us to do (and not what others say He wants or we rationalize that He might want); 4) "the shield of faith": we need to hold onto this protection "above all" because faith is both the means of growth as well as the means of application; we have to believe the truth for it to become real and usable to us, and we have to believe it in order to apply it to the circumstances we face and that requires actively setting truth down in opposition to all the falsehood of this world, including most particularly the incorrect signals from our emotions and fleshly minds as they spit back the nonsense of the world; this is the only way to quench the devil's fiery darts, namely, by believing what God says to be true over what our eyes see and ears hear and our emotions feel; 5) "the helmet of salvation": when the fight gets "hot and heavy", we have remember that we belong to Jesus Christ and that therefore we are saved no matter what may happen; even in extremis, no enemy blow can be fatal to our faith, because our salvation cannot be taken away; as long as we wear the helmet, as long as we are determined not to take it off in the middle of the fight (= apostatizing and losing faith), we are safe and secure no matter what; 6) "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God": the truth of scripture, ready to hand because we have learned it, believed it, and become comfortable with applying it in all manner of situations is the ultimate offensive weapon; with this sword we defeat the attacks of the evil one, dicing up his lies with the truth; with this sword we proceed in this life and pass the tests our Lord allows to come upon us to try and temper our faith, laying low all of the adversary's attacks; with this sword we come to the defense and succor of our brothers and sisters in Jesus, helping them in their trials and tribulations by means of the truth.
There is a good deal about such "spiritual warfare" at Ichthys (see the links below), but one point I always try to make in such circumstances is that all truth is important for this process, and that spiritual growth is an every day thing and an "all the Bible" thing; specialization only results in weakness. Everything possible must be learned, remembered, believed, so as to become familiar through use in application in order for the believer to be truly ready for anything.
Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Here are those links:
Strangers in the Devil's Realm
Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle.
Fighting the Fight III: False Teaching, Local Churches, and the Truth
Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing
Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward
Spiritual Warfare II
Spiritual Warfare III: Peter's 'Angel', Saul's Death, and Strange Events
Thanks for all your good words and also for the news hang in there, my friend, and keep on fighting the good fight of faith.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The Lord said we should hate everything and everyone "and even our own life" to be His disciple. I'm there. Literally my whole life is designed to destroy me, everything. My wife, my kids, my friends (if I had any) they all cause me nothing but turmoil and discontent. I can't have any hobbies without Satan throwing them in my face, and any new person brought into my life is only to torture me, literally ALL of them. I'm starting to despair any positive use of my life. I seem to exist only for tears and anger. Even my mood disorders were designed to torture me and I know it. I just read this weeks emails and share much of the angst over my walk. I can't count anything of joy, there's no relief that is significant and I honestly feel like I'm a mental handicap simply on display for everyone's amusement. I guess I can't see anything positive anymore except that it's almost over and I really wish I could just die and don't know what to do. I'm sorry to send you this, I just don't know how to proceed. Any help is needed.
I'm very sorry to hear that life is difficult at present. In this world we do have tribulation of all kinds, but our Lord wants us to remember that He has already "overcome the world" (Jn.16:33; cf. 1Jn.5:4). Since this very temporary world is coming to an end, we genuine believers who are doing our utmost to walk with Jesus need to remember (and need to train ourselves in the discipline of reminding ourselves) that we are not "of this world" (Jn.17:14; 18:36) and that our reward is not here but in heaven (Matt.6:19-20). Even if we had nothing but ease and plenty in this life, we would not be comfortable here. We who have accepted the truth that everything here is about to be swept away can obviously not be satisfied with "the grass that grows up in the morning but by evening has shriveled away" (Is.40:6-8). True believers can never be satisfied in this world . . . with anything the world has or offers. Therefore, our happiness has to come from another place and so it does. Our happiness is in Jesus Christ, in the truth and the wonder and glory of Him. We delight in what He did for us in dying for the sins we could never answer for. We delight in the fact that we belong do Him, having been bought with His blood. We delight in the fact that He love us, and that He has prepared for us a wondrous eternity which will be better in every way and which will contain none of the disappointments of this cruel world and it will be eternal. We delight in what the eye cannot see, and we despise what it can see, because what the eye can see will soon be destroyed.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:8 NIV
These truths are actually liberating. If we are not feeling "liberated", it is a sure sign that we have slipped into the mind-set of the world, seeing our happiness as being built on people, and things and circumstances when in fact our peace and our joy in Jesus Christ are the eternal heritage we have in Him from now until forever. That peace and joy cannot be taken away from us it can only be surrendered.
One of the themes of the posting you mention was "one day at a time", and that is a very important principle to remember, especially when we are feeling the pressure in some trial or tribulation. We don't have to worry about tomorrow in fact that is "against the rules". We only have to be concerned about today, seeing it for what it really is, namely, an opportunity to fight the fight of faith for our dear Lord Jesus Christ, to win more rewards and help others do the same. Everything else is only an illusion, because everything else will be swept away by time in time . . . and possibly in a very short time. Knowing this to be true, we need to speak to our hearts and wean our emotions back into the proper path whenever they are out of sorts and starting to take "us" with them. God has not forgotten us He is right here right now. Jesus has not abandoned us He dwells within us even now. We are not being left in the lurch whatever we are suffering is not anything we cannot bear, else God would not have allowed us to bear it (1Cor.10:13; Phil.4:13 in the Greek). So we need to bear it; more than that, we need to learn to rejoice in bearing whatever it is that comes our way. That is not natural. It is completely against the thinking of this world. It is supernatural, the point of view that God holds and that we need to learn to share through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact that we feel we have come to the end of our resources and patience is actually a good thing, an important thing. That is because only then can we really rely on God truly and completely . . . knowing that we have no one and nothing else to rely on:
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christs sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:8-10 NKJV
I know you have great potential to be a wonderful "Christian warrior" for the Lord, and you have made great spiritual strides. You have been given much, and to whom much is given, from him much is expected. Be pleased to weather this test in the power and goodness and grace and mercy of God. Coming to an end with this world and the things of this world can be very liberating, once we kick out of our hearts the sullenness and anger and self-centeredness the evil one sells and our sin natures are only too happen to buy into. When we do realize that death holds no fear for us, what other trouble in life can then disturb us? None should but that is the stuff of spiritual maturity and can only be fully grasped by mature believers through passing tests such as you are going through. Even great believers have a tendency to stumble under such pressures:
And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonahs head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live." Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" But the LORD said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their leftand much livestock?"
Jonah 4:8-11 NKJV
Whatever is eating at us, it's just a dead vine. We may lose everything, but we can't lose anything important, not even our joy and our peace in Jesus Christ. We can only allow ourselves be tricked into thinking, wrongly, that we are being mistreated, when in fact the Lord is trusting us with a very special spiritual opportunity: the chance to pass a challenging test.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.
1st Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
Hang in there my friend. I know the Lord has great things in mind for you. Give yourself over to the "program of preparation" so as to be prepared. Boot camp is never fun, but it is necessary and very beneficial.
(3) Endure hardship with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No one on military campaign becomes involved in the affairs of normal life. [He avoids such things] that he may please the one who enlisted him. (5) Likewise if anyone engages in athletic competition, he does not win a crown if he fails to compete according to the rules.
2nd Timothy 2:3-5
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I haven't heard back from you, but I hope that you are in process of getting your "sea legs" back, spiritually speaking. I understand that you have a lot to deal with believe me when I say that Jesus understands too. It is a common tendency shared by many of us who are very serious about our relationship with the Lord to be a bit too hard on ourselves when it comes to gauging where we are and where we should be. That is particularly true when opposition from the evil one slows us down, and when we estimate that we have allowed ourselves to be slowed down more than we should have done. Believers who really want to make progress need to learn to have very short memories regarding past mistakes, both regarding old ones and very recent ones; we also need to learn to inure ourselves to the pressures of the day (much easier said than done, clearly). We really do need to grab hold of the "one day at a time" perspective. If we had a bumpy ride yesterday, spiritually speaking, well, that was yesterday. If we are feeling spiritually under the weather today, if things seem impossible today, well, it's no good projecting that into tomorrow before tomorrow even comes since we really don't even know if tomorrow will come.
One thing I have learned about the spiritual warfare in which we are involved is that in order to be consistent at all in our "attack" we have to give up on the idea of perfection of any kind and also the idea of control of any kind. This is a war. In war, the enemy has a lot to say about your operations. In war, most things are really out of our control. In war, there will be loss, there will casualties, there will be unexpected and grievous situations. The good warrior learns to role with all those punches, waiting for the time when he/she has the opportunity to get in a good counter-punch. In short, we have to keep punching, even when we feel that we have been "punched out" by circumstances. And even if today we got virtually nowhere and everything seems hopeless, we know in our heart of hearts that in Jesus we have every reason to hope a hope that is no vain wish but an absolute assurance of victory in the end. It's no good agonizing about things spilt milk today, especially not after tomorrow dawns. We fight this fight one skirmish at a time, one battle at a time, one day at a time. Our eternal evaluation will not see us deprived of the rewards we legitimately desire just because we weren't always at our best, just because the evil one was able to stymie us or load us up with troubles and so slow us down. The important thing is to keep up the fight. That is how we win; that is the only way to win. Please see the link: "Fighting the Fight of Faith":
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1st John 5:4 NIV
I'm keeping you in my prayers, my friend, and I know that others are as well. Even more importantly, the Lord is with you, "both to will and to do". Don't give up the fight, my friend, and don't let setbacks, disappointments and troubles take away your joy in the Lord.
Fight the good fight of the faith.
1st Timothy 6:12a NIV
Your fellow Christian soldier for Jesus' honor and glory.
Thank you for checking up on me. Every time I get going I have a major mood shift and I'm essentially out of commission for days to weeks and can't get past the extreme up or down to continue positive growth. I'm starting to see how my mental problems would've made school almost impossible if totally not so because I was doomed to my extreme emotions. I don't even realize when Satan's schemes have had effect because one minute I'm literally "on top of it" and the next I'm a ball of tears crumbling at the first, small jab (they have been haymakers lately, doc) and I can't focus enough to even know what to do next. It takes all of me to do the right thing sometimes, and I don't know how to not kick myself worse for not staying away from certain temptations (also impossible) and forcing myself into school. I was so over focused on finding someone when I was just a kid I couldn't think past it until it was, for what I can see, too late.
I hate being so commanding and authoritative and yet so weak, I can't really be friends with even marginal believers because they grow to hate my points of view, mainly telling the truth and not giving myself excuses to sin. Unbelievers LOVE me, until they find the Lord is my God and I won't change. So, who do I help? Every major depression I go through, I can't help but regret not doing something like you did as far as schooling goes, but I know now it wouldn't have gone so well with all my lacking self awareness and unstable affective issues
I bought a book on Hebrew, I'm praying my focus will return soon and that I can sink my teeth in. I'm low income enough, I need to just put the idea of school behind me and let it die. The thought makes me cry. I often wonder how much Satan guesses who will be faithful or at the least a threat. He's probably seen enough humans to have SOME idea, however useless in the Face of The Lord and His Will. I've been slandered at work because I spoke up over some dangerous practices on top of everything else. There's little danger of losing my job, but it's just another degree of "fun" that I could do without. I basically can't say anything to anyone I work with anymore and continue to give them no excuse or reason to slander me other than proper work ethic. Everything you've said in your emails and writings ring clearly in my ears and spirit, and I thank you once again for doing your duty as my teacher and friend in The Lord. I'm not going anywhere, even though I am blind to whatever use I'm designed for. I can tell I'm still depressed because re-reading my own email is embarrassing and all over the place, please forgive me.
Your friend in Christ
You're welcome, and don't be embarrassed. As I said, we all have to learn to roll with the punches in this life, because the evil one is good at landing them. We have to remember that the Lord knows what we are up against, and so we must not get discouraged because the opposition level is high at present. In fact, we are being evaluated on the basis of what we actually can do, not on what we would wish to do if circumstances were perfect. Newsflash: things are never going to be perfect. Every day on this earth is going to present challenges; they will only vary with type and intensity. The veteran Christian warrior learns not to take on more than the problems of the day in question, forgetting yesterday and not worrying about tomorrow, and also to do what can, reasonably be done today, not fretting over what might have been. On this score, as I often say, every Christian should "do what he/she can" on a given day, and remember that "doing something is better than doing nothing". Our cruising speed will be different day by day. And if we ever do get close to full capacity, no doubt we will be hit with plenty to damp that down. Few of us are like Paul who "took a lickin' and kept on tickin' " to such a marvelous degree, doing more than we can imagine ourselves being able to do in spite of being hit with more trouble, tests and trials than we can imagine ourselves being able to endure.
If we are resolved to win this race, not only will we be fought by the evil one, but also by our own emotions. We can't do anything about the former except to ignore the opposition and press forward anyway as best as we can, and dealing with emotions is different individual to individual but we can learn to ignore them too to a great degree (with spiritual growth), whenever they are holding us back.
So please don't let yourself get depressed. As has been quipped, "when you start getting heavy flak, you must be getting close to the target". If winning the three crowns were easy, every Christian in eternity would have them. As it is, few will have even one crown (at least in my estimation of these things based on scripture). "Run in such a way that you may win . . . " (1Cor.9:24).
Your friend forever in Jesus Christ,
If it is any consolation, I receive many emails from individuals struggling with sins of the heart and various temptations, not to mention all manner of mental maladies and depression. It seems to be a very under-rated area of genuine Christian concern. I am no therapist still less a "father confessor"; what I do always say about such things in general terms is that even though it may seem at times that the control we are able to exercise on our thoughts and emotions is minimal, we are in fact the only ones who can exert the necessary force of will to change what is going on inside of us. Some people are more challenged in this area than others are we all have our own cross to bear. But the keys are the power of the Spirit, the power of the truth of the Word of God, and the necessity of our own will making decisions to lead our emotions and thought processes rather than being swept away by them. As with all things in the Christian life, therefore, spiritual growth is the ultimate answer: the closer we are walking with Jesus Christ, the better we understand the truth of scripture, the more truth we have put in our hearts by faith, and the more adept we become at mobilizing that truth for application to our lives in the power of the Spirit, then the more these sorts of issues will fade and the better we will be able to cope with them. Please see the link:
Who controls our thoughts and emotions?
Secondly, there is a difference between a temptation and a sin. We are all tempted in various ways. There are some things we can do to minimize temptation and to stay away from it to some degree, but temptation is part of the human condition and will be as long as we are in this world. We are not, however, required to succumb to temptation. Learning how to be resolute in our hearts and how to combat temptations when they come is something that, again, comes with growth and experience. The Christian life is a fight, a war, and it takes more than "time in grade" to get good at fighting the fight: it takes training (spiritual growth) and it takes "combat experience" (making use of that training in the trials of life by choosing to follow the Spirit rather than the flesh). Please see the link:
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Finally, I am firmly opposed to confession of sin to other believers. From everything I know about scripture, we are commanded to confess to the Lord, not to other people (for James 5:16, please see the link). We sin against God (Ps.51:4); we confess to Him (Ps.32:5). Confessing to other human beings is a very bad idea. Cults like this practice because it gives them power over the one who confesses. On the one hand, the cult now becomes the only means/channel of forgiveness; on the other hand, the cult now knows all manner of things about anyone imprudent enough to share all of their dark secrets with its members. These two factors together result in producing a powerful dependency on the part of the believer toward the cult which has taken advantage of them. This sort of confession is also a bad idea just from the standpoint of the believer doing the "confession", even if the person/group confided in were somehow honorable enough not to take advantage. On the one hand, the person is liable to feel resentful after the fact (because the person/group knows things that the believer now wishes had not been "shared"); on the other hand, the believer in question is likely now to feel very relieved after confession . . . but for all the wrong reasons. God forgives sin, not a priest or a church or a cult (Lk.5:21-24). And the solution to sin is indeed confession to the Lord (1Jn.1:9) and proper response thereafter to Him (enduring divine discipline, being serious about doing a better job of resisting the temptation next time, getting more serious about spiritual growth and progress which is the only way really to get better at sanctification in the long run) . . . but if a person "feels good" about an artificial confession process, then the real solutions will likely be overlooked and the warm fuzzy sense of security originating from the false process will prove incredibly deceptive in the end.
There is more about all this at the following links (and please do feel free to write me back about any of the above):
Confession of Sin in 1st John 1:9
Confession of Sin (in Peter 15)
Repentance, Confession, and Forgiveness (in BB 3B)
Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness
Sin, Forgiveness, and Confession
1st John 1:9
Confession of Sin, Fellowship, and the Filling of the Holy Spirit
Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness I
Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness II
Yours in the One who died for all of our sins and cleansed us through that death, Jesus Christ our Savior.
I want you to be encouraged in the Lord. Right now you are clearly in a difficult home situation, but it won't always be the case. Parents and family do not always understand, but our Lord understands. Let Him be your rock of refuge and you delight day by day.
I know plenty of young Christians who have had similar pressures and similar problems. It is not easy being a young person in our world today, especially if things are less than ideal on the home front. You are not alone the Spirit is in you and so is the Lord Jesus. Lean on Him.
Please do not harm yourself! Whatever problems your family members have are not your fault and you cannot solve them for them. The only thing you can do is to be a good Christ-like example until you are out from under that roof. That means joyously living for the Lord not giving into despair.
From what you have shared with me in this letter, you are experiencing some serious difficulties which may require professional help. There is no shame whatsoever in that. Scripture is the answer to all things, the truth of scripture, that is, but occasionally we do need help from others too. That is what the Church is, ideally: a collection of members who help each other when need be. I am not a counselor or psychologist, so I can't given any more guidance about these questions than what scripture provides (and scripture is not a clinical textbook). There are plenty of good counselors out there, even Christian ones (my seminary had an entire school devoted to this area). I would strongly suggest you continue to see your counselor and share with him/her what you have shared with me.
In any event, please do not do any harm to yourself! I can assure you that the Lord does not want you to do that and that such is not pleasing to Him. So whatever your concerns about spirituality such as we have discussed before, this would represent a much more serious departure from what the Lord wants from you: He is for you, not against you. Live for Him.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NKJV
Trust the Lord. The darkness will pass away and the light will again break through the clouds in time. The rainbow will appear in the sky. Wait on the Lord. Be patient. He will answer. Wait on the Lord.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Psalm 27:14 NKJV
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
Here are a few more links you might find helpful:
Spiritual 'ups' and 'downs'
Mutual Encouragement in Christ
In Need of Guidance and Encouragement
God Works All Things Together for Good
Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing
Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward
Mutual Encouragement in the Lord
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Let me remind that you Jesus loves you. God is for you, not against you He gave up His Son to death to save you, to save us all.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32 NKJV
The true Christian life is not about how we feel; it's about what we know for a fact . . . by faith. All Christians are tempted to give in to doubt and all manner of negative emotions. Victorious Christians are those who fight through those doubts, and who take hold of the peace that the Lord promises us all as our birthright as born again Christians.
So now that we have been justified by faith, let us take hold of the peace [we have] with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27 NKJV
Note that our Lord says "let not". This means that while He has given us peace, that peace does not take us over automatically at all times. Rather, we have to take hold of it (Rom.5:1). We have to manage our thoughts and emotions. If not us, then who? We are left here on this earth to choose, to demonstrate by our good choices that we do love Jesus Christ more than life, and those who fight courageously for Him are well-rewarded for all eternity. Our fight is "not with flesh and blood", however, but it is a spiritual fight and it is conducted mainly on our insides. We have to get into the habit of "speaking to our hearts" and telling our emotions how they should feel. We know the truth; but we have to believe it, to embrace it, to meditate on it, to live by it in all we think, say and do.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of mockers. But the teaching (torah) of the Lord is his delight, and in His teaching (torah) he meditates day and night.
For example, we know from 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22 that we have been anointed with the Holy Spirit so as to be empowered by Him, that we have Him as a pledge guaranteeing our eternal future with the Lord, and that the Spirit has sealed us, marking us off as God's special property for His special supernatural protection. Any one of these three blessed truths should be enough to encourage us to rally our emotions when we are feeling down or depressed, how much less all three and this is only one short passage of one epistle. Of course we do have to know this passage, we do have to understand what it means, and we do have to believe the truth of it once it has been taught to us. And after that we do have to actually engage in the fight, remembering the passage, meditating on it and its truth, encouraging ourselves by the blessings we know and believe we have received, and then get back up and get back moving forward in our walk with Jesus Christ. None of this happens automatically or without effort of without determination or without choice. And it certainly doesn't happen just because we attend a music-centered worship service once a week. Spiritual progress, spiritual growth, spiritual balance and resiliency require dedication in receiving and believing the truths taught in the Word of God otherwise we will be trying to fight this fight without ammunition, so to speak. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph.6:17), which means that Spirit must have the Word residing in us, understood and believed, to do us as much good as He wishes to do in this spiritual combat but if we are neglecting Bible reading, Bible study, and the accessing of good, solid, orthodox Bible teaching, then we are trying to fight this fight unarmed (and that is obviously not going to be very effective).
As I say, you are most welcome at Ichthys in your pursuit of spiritual growth which is the answer to all spiritual problems (no one can "win" and be an "over-comer" simply through defending against sin true sanctification has to come from the inside out through spiritual growth). The Peter series is a good place to start (see the link); and here is another link that will lead you to more: "Attaining Christian Peace".
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks for the notification. Hope you are keeping cool this time of year; it was 99 out there today in spite of the elevation.
Seems like a lot of my past fear of losing salvation is actually turning out to be connected to my battle with clinical depression; which runs in the family. That is not a spiritual thing; it is a brain chemistry thing. Did not know what it was until I started checking out the internet; bingo. Don't know why the Lord allows such awful feelings to run through my being; at times it feels so unlikely I will ever see Heaven; that other place below seems a lot more where I could end up. I know that is not true; but I battle that a lot with Scripture and all the good things that the Lord has done for me despite it all. I keep a journal and write in it all the good things that He has done, and that helps to counter the darkness. Just don't know why He allows depression, on occasion with feeling so awful that I am tempted to quit teaching at church. No, not giving in to that. It is a battle. But He keeps giving me times of refreshing, like it says in the book of Acts. Your website and writings have given me a boatload of encouragement in the Lord, bro! Thanks for keeping it going.
God bless and keep up His work.
Hello my friend,
Yes, it's been plenty hot here in Louisville too! Even in a t-shirt and running shorts, best to get off the road by 8 AM if possible in this heat and humidity.
I hear you on this other issue. I am receiving lots of emails and prayer requests from good Christians who likewise have similar problems and complaints. Medication is only a partial solution, it seems, because there is no way of determining precisely what will work and what won't for different individuals apart from experimentation. It probably takes a very experienced therapist to get the mix right (more of an art than a science). In any case, I do want to encourage you that you are not alone with these problems in fact you have lots of good Christian company. Just like MD's are "only practicing medicine" and are much better with very obvious things (like a clearly broken leg) than with more complex things that medicine hasn't or has trouble figuring out (I have "issues" with my lungs but there doesn't seem to be any health-care solution), so it is far from surprising if troubles concerning the brain and the mind (which we Christians know is not merely physical) have not been sorted out by science and medicine in anything like a satisfactory way. I do know that God heals; and I also know that, as in the case of Paul, if it is His will for us to get by and plod through rather than be miraculous delivered "from" any trouble, then He also makes a way for us to do so (1Cor.10:13; Phil.4:13 Greek). Our part is to hang in there and trust Him, remembering the key point: "My power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor.12:9).
Whenever I think objectively about the various "challenges" I have been given to face, I have to say that the Lord has picked things that I can manage, even if they do test me considerably and stretch me beyond what I would ever choose from myself whereas some things that others have to deal with are often 1) clearly not things I would bear up under well, or 2) things which seem like they would be easier than what I've got to deal with, but which, with a modicum of humility employed, I can see that such would not be the case. He deals with each of us in the perfect way, giving us just what we need to spur growth, test and try what we believe, and lead us to the place of being able to help others to get by. Why does He allow you to suffer depression? Maybe to learn how to handle it with faith and truth . . . and be a blessing to others who are having even more trouble coping than you are. Just a guess, but I have seen this pattern before.
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus who loves us so much that He died for all of our sins when dying for the least of them is already better than all our worldly blessings, and more than compensation for all our worldly troubles put together . . . and He died for them all.
Your friend in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Hi Bro. Luginbill,
Thank you for your encouraging reply; I kinda thought what you wrote was so but it is good to have a confirmation. It is kinda weird to feel like hell at times emotionally, yet see the Lord answer prayer and bring encouragement, despite every light on your dashboard flashing the word HELL in your face. Really shows how deceitful mere emotions can be, especially when they are obviously in direct contradiction to God's word. Like keeping your compass on target in a little boat despite the waves, the lightning, the St. Elmo's fire playing up and down your arm, and being seasick. Granted, not always like that; like I said there are those awesome times of refreshing and strengthening He sends when I least expect it; proof positive HE is still at the helm.
Humidity is a kicker; I grew up in out west and am used to single digit humidities with 90+ degree temperatures. You can make croutons in an hour by just leaving a slice of bread outside in the sun. Any time I visit a location east of the Rocky Mountains, I gag on the stifling steamy heat. Maybe your lungs would benefit from the dry air out here. Besides, no chiggers, ticks, supercell thunderstorms, or baseball sized hail.
Thanks again and God bless and keep you in Jesus,
You're very welcome, my friend. It is obvious from your reply that you "get" it and no doubt already "got" it, but it is nice to have our godly conclusions affirmed and to be reassured in the truth especially when the pressure is on. It is also biblical:
I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
2nd Peter 1:13-15
Not that I'm planning on going anywhere soon, but the principle is valid at all times. Repetition is the fundamental principle of all teaching, and when it comes to the truth, there is knowing it, and there is really knowing it and truly believing it (which can take reinforcement and reinforcement never ever hurts).
I love the West. The way God worked things out, however, here I am until further notice.
Know how blessed you are to be out there and enjoy!
Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
If I have free will, then that means I have the freedom to make a bad choice despite having perfect information that it is the bad choice. This is so terrifying that I have prayed to God that I would never change my mind regarding Jesus Christ, and to prevent future me from ever doing so on the basis of present me. I can't wait until I get to the New Jerusalem and no longer have to have such an enormous risk.
We all make mistakes, and, believe you me, it is definitely worth having free will in spite of that and of course if we couldn't make mistakes there would be no free will. Thank the Lord we are not like cats and dogs, but have the opportunity to turn to the Lord of our own free will, to appreciate and value what He has done for us by choosing what is pleasing to Him, and to earn wonderful rewards that will last forever impossible if all this were not a matter of choice.
Your salvation is absolutely as secure as your determination to continue to believe in Jesus Christ. Since I know for certain that it is absolutely inconceivable that you would ever renounce your faith in Him and revert to being an unbeliever, you have nothing whatsoever to fear and you can dismiss this concern as completely groundless. There are plenty of fights to fight for those who have committed to living for Christ, continuing to learn and believe the truth, pushing forward in the sharing of Christ's sufferings, and helping others do so too through ministry but that is where the crowns of righteousness, life and glory grow. The Lord will not let your feet slip (Ps.121:3). You can count on Him, so make it a point to put your entire faith and confidence in Him that is the way to banish all fear and doubt. It's not about us; it's all about Him and He is absolutely faithful.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thank you for the kind words (I also read your latest update to the Peter series). I never would want to leave Christ, and I have prayed that it would be better for me to suffer the "sin unto death" than to fall away. However, it seems to be the case that it is a natural human tendency to doubt ourselves, (cf. the eleven disciples each worrying that it is himself who is the son of perdition in Matthew 26:22)
I will most certainly be keeping you in prayer on this.
I know you mentioned that it can take some months for the body (and mind) readjust to its normal patterns after the cessation of these sorts of medications. I have received similar concerns and requests from a goodly number of other believers (so know that you are no alone). This is something you will get through. Since it is coloring everything else at the moment, the best advice I can give you is to make "getting through" to the point of full recovery your one and only priority until it happens. Do what you need to do to "get through", whatever coping mechanisms work (as long of course as they are not detrimental in any way). Don't worry about the lost time, resources, attendant "problems": you have to get better mentally to be of any use to others and to the Lord, so that is your "job #1" until it comes to pass.
Above all, have faith that the Lord is going to deliver you through this test. It would be nice if He always delivered us "from" and we never had to go "through", but the latter trial is what makes for great believers. He has not forgotten you, has not forsaken you, and is in fact right there with you. Lean on Him totally, and make this uncomfortable time into an opportunity for a great spiritual victory. For we may be certain that He is working it all out for good (even though it often doesn't feel that way at the time).
Your friend in Jesus Christ our faithful Savior,
I'm keeping you in prayer day by day. I know that the Lord is going to bring you through this. When the Egyptians were bearing down and there was no way across the sea, it was easy for the Israelites to panic. But Moses was confident that the Lord would find a way of deliverance. "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today", he told them (Ex.14:13 NIV). Soon enough, you will find yourself on the other side of this seemingly impassable sea, and then you will surely rejoice. Please take advantage of the faith you have so carefully cultivated for good to enjoy this side of the sea as well in complete confidence and trust in the Lord that He will see you through, even though all now seems dark. He is with you, even in the darkest valley of death-shadow, and He will bring you through.
You're in my prayers my friend, for a quick and decisive resolution to this trouble.
In Jesus, our faithful Savior,
How are you? I hope summer is treating you and yours well. Things have been interesting lately. My wife says my awareness of my BPD and bipolar symptoms has made a marked impact on my life, I certainly feel more calm. Since I last emailed you I've had 2 manic episodes and 2 mild depressive episodes: manic phases for me make it hard to sleep, I am super high energy, I'm more witty, more reactive, more "religiously judgmental", more gregarious, the list goes on.
My depressive moods are not extreme: I'm harder to fulfill (medications help; I still overeat when depressed) sleep is more regular, but it's much harder to "get going", I'm far more self critical and less OK with me. Also, because I'm so high energy whether "down" or not, I am more irritable.
You reply to a LOT of believers that seem to deal with major depression/bipolar/anxiety. They need more reminders that they STILL have a will no matter how "crazy" they feel, ESPECIALLY being believers, they have The Spirit (I've NEVER "seen" Him so much in my life before being fully shown just how bad my head is).
The truth is, these "mental disorders" have probably been around since Eve ate the apple (perhaps worse with the degradation of this world and polluted genetics?), so it's really just a new name for one expression of the sin nature, just more pronounced than average.
You put it perfectly in http://ichthys.com/mail-Battlefield-Within.htm response #10. Every last thing you said to that person is what we all need, but especially those of us who are screwed up mentally/emotionally like myself NEED this advice, because we can STILL CHOOSE to be better, in Jesus Name!!
I've recently become friends with a man who has a very like set of proclivities/tendencies who is not saved. He is so used to having rejection and misunderstanding, his life is always a teetering between "one more day" and "I should just be dead" (I know these well). So far, he hasn't rejected me in spite of my faith (he's used to the Bible slapping sort and is turned off of God accordingly) so there is still hope. Please pray one day he opens himself up; I have a feeling it will be the topic of many discussions and I want to be ready.
As a side note: the baby and my wife are both healthy as can be, thank you again for your intercession.
Still kicking in The Lord's Name,
You're most welcome, my friend, and thanks for the positive report. I'm keeping you in prayer for finding a good job too and thanks much for all your prayer on my behalf as well.
It seems I am answering more and more emails all the time about these sorts of issues a bit of an irony inasmuch as I know absolutely nothing about secular psychology/psychiatry/counseling. But the Word of God is the answer for all people to all things if one approaches it in faith and truth.
This Christian life is a fight to the finish. If we are not fighting it on one front, we will surely have to fight it on another. Thanks be to God our Father who always gives us the victory in Jesus Christ our Lord . . . through faith.
Your friend in Jesus,
p.s. I will say a prayer for your friend.
[severe problems with mental health issues and diagnosis details omitted]
I will be keeping you in prayer for your healing, my friend.
Allow me to throw a little advice your way and it goes without saying that you are free to reject it out of hand, especially if it conflicts in any way with Dr.'s orders:
1) Get some exercise. Jog, swim, play tennis . . . or just walk for an hour or so every day. In my observation of many people and own personal experience this is absolutely the best palliative against all manner of physical and emotional troubles.
2) Eat right. At least take a multivitamin regularly.
3) Work. Even if it is some kind of volunteering, a regular schedule keyed to being responsible for showing at point A at time B to do thing C is amazingly helpful in getting one's physical and emotional house in order.
And don't forget prayer and Bible study as well!
Looking forward to a good report of our Lord's swift deliverance of you my friend!
In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,
By the way, I am skeptical about the scientific nature of mental health. If someone is suffering from an actual dementia, like Alzheimer's Disease, it is possible to identify the culpable protein aggregates and confer a diagnosis post mortem. However, there are no protein aggregates that cause depression or schizophrenia. To the contrary, the entire mental health movement seems like a revivalism of Stoic philosophy. One could call it neo-stoicism, as it is a philosophy that, while it has a theoretical abstract foundation, is more concerned with day-to-day living.
My old seminary has an entire school of Christian psychology (not that that's a recommendation!), and I have known more than one Christian who has apparently been benefitted by counseling, but when it comes to some of the problems you list (as in the dementia of old age), physical degeneration does seem to play a role. I'm no M.D. or scientist, so I can't really opine on the question of when the physical state of a person may overrule any personal ability to intervene via spiritual means. For those not definitely afflicted with some physical malady of that sort, I do think that anyone with spiritual common sense would conclude that for believers Christian spiritual growth is the best way out of such problems in the long run (even if it needs to be supplemented with professional help in the short run we all dig ourselves into holes from time to time that take some assistance getting out of). Our thoughts and emotions are always under attack from "the world, the flesh, and the devil" (see the link), and the sooner we learn how to cope with these assaults through learning, believing and applying the truths of the Word of God, the better off we will be in any case (regardless of what we may think of the state of the secular debate of such matters).
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
What does the Bible have to say about pain?
More specifically, how does the following Hermann Hesse quote comport with the Bible? And I quote: "Listen to me. Listen to me and remember: suffering is nothing. Suffering is illusion. Only you yourself cause suffering, only you cause pain."
First, do know that I am keeping you in my prayers for your condition / recovery. I hear what you are saying about medication and the ability of experts to diagnose conditions which have to do with the mind and the emotions. Given that M.D.'s have a limited ability to diagnose physical maladies (when they are not extremely obvious, like a broken leg) and frequently get it wrong because it is no easy matter in truth to get it right sometimes (I have a problem with my lungs that no one has been able to figure out) it should come as no surprise that when it comes to something so completely mysterious like the brain and the mind that we should find them indeed merely "practicing" medicine. That is especially so since of course the brain is material, but the mind is the combination of the physical and the spiritual. Medicine doesn't understand the sin nature and doesn't accept the human spirit. Given all that, I suppose one can understand the impulse to give medicine, especially anything behavioral, a wide berth. But it is true that God provides all manner of means, and medicine is one of the things that He has provided for us. Believers understand that it is God who heals; but we also are not so full of ourselves that we do not deign to make use of the worldly means He has provided for us. The "sweet spot" here is to go to the Dr. but trust God; not to go overboard with medication or medical procedures, but not to consider them inappropriate either. I have known many individuals who have benefitted from the sorts of medication you describe; I also observe that the help received by taking them has never been any sort of total solution nor a permanent one, and that spiritual and physical solutions combining with meds usually are what bring good results: relying on the Lord and growing in Him; engaging in life in a full, good and godly way (including good diet, exercise, hard work, reasonable social life, etc.). I am confident that with prayer and all these other good things, the Lord will work it all out together for good for you too, my friend.
As to your question here, the Bible has plenty to say about suffering (pace Hesse he also imagined hell as being followed around and harassed by the bad books one had written; perhaps appropriate in his case). In no small part we Christians are left here after salvation to "share the sufferings of Christ" (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; 10:21; 10:38-39; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: ""sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience") which means to demonstrate by our conduct under all manner of pressure that we love Him more than life, demonstrating thereby to the world the power of faith and the reality of things unseen (2Cor.5:7; cf. 2Cor.4:18; Heb.11:1-2).
Here is an excerpt from an unposted response on this subject which you may find helpful as well:
As mentioned, "pain" and "suffering" are English words, albeit universal ideas variously expressed in different languages and different cultures. In English, "pain" is more of a cause and "suffering" more of a result. I.e., action X causes "pain" Y and the result is that the person upon whom pain Y is inflicted by action X then "suffers". Certain types of pain inevitably cause suffering and so "pain" can and is used in English in ways which are indistinguishable from the way we use "suffering".
Technically speaking, "suffering" is a Latin derived participle which means "bearing up under" so that "suffering" originally meant not only being caused pain but enduring the pain. For that reason, when we use the word "suffer" in English it frequently refers to experiencing some sort of trouble (or pain) which is chronic rather than short-lived. "Pain" is also Latin derived (from poena meaning "penalty), and can be used synonymously with "suffering". On top of all this, a quick look at any good English dictionary will show that we use both words in a variety of nuanced ways. In terms of the discussion you and your friend had, the best first step would be to define terms: since the two words are very close and can be synonyms in English, what aspects that seem different do you have in mind?
In Genesis 3:16, the Lord told Eve that He would "greatly multiply your pain in childbirth" at least according to many translations. KJV has "sorrow", but I think it is very clear that physical pain is meant. That word,'itstsabown, can mean not only pain and sorrow, but also the toil or hardship producing the pain/sorrow. The NLT translates mak'ob in Exodus 3:7 as "I am aware of their suffering" (NIV, ESV similar), but KJV has "for I know their sorrows". Suffering, sorrow, toil, pain, and many other words can be used somewhat interchangeably in English, and the same is true in Greek and Hebrew only with different words (possessing different semantic scope) in all three languages. Frequently in the gospels we hear of people "afflicted" by disease, and that often represents the Greek "doing badly" (kakos echon) which is also sometimes translated "suffering from" (NASB chooses that terminology, for instance).
I suppose the main point I would want to make from the standpoint of the meaning of scripture is that the Bible certainly recognizes pain and suffering (and sorrow and toil, etc.) in very similar ways as we see it today (even though the vocabulary is necessarily different), but that it is the solution to pain and suffering with which scripture is concerned. That is to say, pain and suffering are the human condition in a nutshell, and the only way out is through salvation (for the unbeliever) and through trusting in the Lord's deliverance (for the believer). We believers patiently endure pain and suffering of all types and from all sources through our reliance on the promises and the deliverance of our Lord.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
1st Peter 1:6 NIV
They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 7:16-17 NASB
The Peter series (see the link) is very much concerned with the issue of the suffering of believers, the causes and the means of coping, and I cordially invite to have a look.
Hang in here, my friend! I know that the Lord will deliver you in good time. Only keep waiting on Him.
In Jesus who is our Savior in all things.
The topic of mental illness is something that has been heavy on my heart for quite a while. It is deeply personal in the dynamics of my family, as ___ have obsessive-compulsive disorder. For a time I was convinced that many mental disorders were not much more than overemphasized problems that could be solved solely by pursuing God more closely, but as I have watched the disease destroy three members of my family I have given up on believing that alone (though I believe a relationship with God is the core of all healing still). I had a two hour conversation with ___ about how she could scarcely sleep for weeks because she had persistent irrational thoughts about not being saved [details omitted]
The thing that is prompting me to bring this up is that ___ is about to go on medication for OCD. I know she made an effort to find a Christian psychologist that she felt very comfortable with (thank goodness), but I have already had several firm conversations with her about the need for divine rather than human solutions. Bob, she is so fragile I'm afraid anything I take a dogmatic stand on will break her. ____ is the same way . . . leaving me as the sole spiritual guide for my family. __________ is at a different college than myself and the best I can do is go for long walks when our breaks from school coincide. I see __________ somewhat more frequently when I go home, and try to do the same with her. I am convinced that I am in the family I am in for this purpose, but I am so unprepared.
What is one to do when you have a family going on strong medicine just to survive the stress college is generating? How do you talk about going to God instead? I know medicine isn't bad in and of itself (it is a God-given tool, like money), but I don't think the reasons for it in this case are appropriate. _________ is attempting to follow suit despite opposition. My heart is breaking for them but I don't think they are doing the right thing.
Why? I can't see God's hand in the disease that is ripping apart my family, but I know it's there. I pray endlessly but all I seem to do is add on to my own already toxic stress level. I know you don't know the specifics, but what possible good comes out of allowing such mental disorders to run their course? To answer my own question: because suffering builds spiritual endurance. I know this. But I don't feel it.
I have put a prayer request up on the site. I made it very general, but would be happy to change it up if you like. I know many Christians who have had or do have psychological problems of one type or another, or who have friends and family who do. In fact, it seems to be getting to the point where the only Christians I know and hear from who don't are merely not talking about it. For what it is worth, I believe you are thinking about these matters in precisely the right way. On the one hand, God is all sufficient for our needs; on the other hand, He also provides in all manner of indirect ways to supply those needs. On the one hand, when it comes to behavior and choice we ought to be able as Christians to manage these matters through spiritual growth and the power of the Spirit; on the other hand there are many Christians who do have psychological problems that require therapy and medication, if only to get out from behind a problem that has become too serious to handle alone (for whatever reasons). How are we to process that? First, we can be very grateful to the Lord that we, personally, have no such need (we no doubt have other needs and other problems, however). Second, we can also be grateful for whatever medical or professional help our loved ones may receive which really does benefit them in these trials. Third, we can also be convinced in our hearts of the truth that what God does for them is so much more important than this human help, and also that if they were to totally embrace the truth, the direct help they would receive from the Lord would soon put the indirect help in the shade. Finally, we can keep praying for them with complete tenacity, and we can keep providing them with a good witness of the life, being determined to demonstrate by our own conduct and spiritual condition the power of the truth over all obstacles, and we, personally, can resolve to be men of faith who do not waver in the midst of such challenges, heartaches and disappointments. For as you say, God has this all in hand. He is working it all out for good, even though we may have a hard time focusing on that truth through our tears. So even if we don't "feel it" today, if we would continue to put what we know in our hearts through faith above anything we feel or hear or see our Lord who is merciful beyond understanding will not let us down in the end. The only real question is, will we stay faithful until that day of deliverance?
Thank you for your encouragement. I did survive the event, and am walking with Jesus, but still have lots of after effects. I suffer from clinical depression and there are mornings when I feel lost as a goose. I think some of it could be demonic harassment also. I am not talking about depression in the common sense of feeling the blues once in a while, I am talking about clinical depression that is so awful you literally feel like hell. No wonder nonbelievers who suffer from it commit suicide. Only Jesus brought me through it. He often refreshed and helped me. Depression runs in the family. Some say that believers don't get depression, but I will tell them they do not know what they are talking about. Ask Charles Spurgeon. At any rate, Jesus Christ has been my Hero throughout, and you have been used of Him to help me get through it, brother.
I have known and know of many other Christians who have suffered from clinical depression and I would never say nor wish to suggest that it is not something both real and difficult to bear. Any genuine Christian who is trying to grow is going to be tested and also afflicted by the evil one, and he has many devices at his finger-tips to make our road onerous. Blessedly, the power of the Spirit we have been given is superior to whatever we have to face:
I have the strength to endure all things in the One who empowers me to do so.
Please note the corrected translation. We can endure trouble through Him, but it is still trouble, and we still have to endure it . . . and it may be such difficult trouble that at times it seems unendurable. That is why scriptures such as the one above are so important (and so important to translate and understand correctly) we CANNOT accomplish "anything" we may wish to do; we can indeed handle what the Lord allows to come our way, if we are walking with Him, doing what it is He wants us to do, and humbly holding on by trusting Him to help us through when the fire gets thick and hot.
Hang in there, my friend. I will be keeping you in prayer.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I have recently rededicated my life to Christ . I was a very heavy drinker due to depression and past marriage experiences. I have changed so much. Now I have a very huge challenge on stopping smoking. Can you help me with some scripture's on words to help me with this addiction? Thank you
Good to make your acquaintance.
As far as I can tell from scripture, smoking, though demonstrably unhealthy and currently politically incorrect, is not a sin.
However, when it comes to doing all manner of things we ought not to do (for whatever reason), or to doing all manner of things we ought to do, the sin nature does indeed resist our better judgment just as it does when it comes to issues of genuine sinfulness. So the techniques a mature believer deploys to fight against sin, whether it is a case of a behavior one needs to stop or ought to start and continue, will largely be the same. This process consists first and foremost in recognizing that we do indeed have control over our will and our emotions (even if it is a grudging control that requires a firm hand like keeping a B-17 in formation in a heavy crosswind), that we are indeed free to determine what we value and what we do not, that holding onto a good position will be difficult when it comes to dearly loved "vices" just as gaining that position in the first place will be met with opposition, but that victory is possible because it depends upon decisions we are free to make (or not).
The key factor here is to take full responsibility for everything we do and fail to do, for whatever we successfully resist and fail to resist. The sooner we begin to accept the reality that we are the ones making these decisions, not someone else, and that no matter how difficult things may be or how hard a time we may have had this does not in fact remove either our free will or the necessity that we make good use of it if we wish to make a change then the sooner we will begin moving things in a good direction.
Finally, the more effectively we can link in our hearts this "good change" to following and serving Jesus Christ (e.g., "I want to lose weight so that I will be healthier and better able to serve Him"), the more we will come to see failure as selfishness and thus be more empowered to fight the fight. As I say, there are many things which are not sinful but yet "not profitable" (1Cor.6:12; 10:23). That "profit" or lack thereof spoken about by Paul is in the context of fighting the Christian fight to the glory of Jesus Christ.
And that brings me to the last point of overview: the more spiritually mature we become, the better we shall get at being able to do the sort of thing that you are attempting. Thus the answer to this question is the same as the answer to many of the most important questions in the Christian life, namely, spiritual growth: the more spiritually mature we become, the better able we are to evaluate and control our behavior, having changed significantly from the inside out.
There is much about all of this at Ichthys. I will give you a few links to get you started:
Spiritual Gifts and Spiritual Growth
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?
Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
In the past, I've read your site and sent email questions that you've been wonderful about responding to. I know "desperately need your help" sounds melodramatic but it is the truth. I'm at the lowest point of my life and I have no one to turn to. You're the only person or resource that I can think of so I thought I'd give it a go. A couple of years ago, I had an accident that came out of nowhere and one by one, the dominoes have been falling. Over the course of about two years, I've lost 95% of everything & everyone in my life (employment, career, health care, relationships, family, money, etc.) and my life seems completely and utterly hopeless. Earlier in the year, I became so depressed that I considered suicide for the very first time in my life. I knew that this wasn't me so I sought treatment. I really thought that I was just going through a rough patch and things would get better but things continue to worsen. I am under the constant care of a psychiatrist & psychologist which have really worked with me and helped me to understand how bad things really are. I have been diagnosed with severe anxiety, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, PTSD (post traumautic stress disorder), OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) and a few other physical conditions that I did not know about. I have also been told that I am currently disabled and may never work again. Every day just gets worse and I see no possible future. In fact, my doctors have told me that during this "crisis", I am not to trust my own thoughts, feelings or emotions. All of that background to say this: I was raised in a pentecostal/holiness type of religion and have always considered myself a Christian. I've had many trauma's in my life and I have always been able to pray, believe, utilize positive self-talk & move on. For the last few years, I just can't seem to "pull myself up" & now, for the very first time in my life, I am actually questioning whether God is real or not. Honestly, I can't even believe that I'm even considering that there is NO GOD, but I am truly starting to question everything because of the medical advice of "you can't trust your own thoughts, feelings or emotions".
How do I know God is real?
If I were to euthanize myself, would I go to hell?
I tried to flip through your site but it's so comprehensive and my ability to focus/concentrate is so brief that I'm just overwhelmed. Could you point me in a direction on your site that might be helpful or provide some sort of theological guidance?
First, let me apologize for taking so long to respond. I was out of town attending a family wedding, and only just got back.
Second, please do not do yourself any harm. I think yours is a more typical Christian experience than many realize at least for Christians who are really making a difference for Jesus Christ. It is far from uncommon for Christians to get to the "end of their rope" from time to time, and often in a very serious way. Circumstances differ, of course, and so do the precise reactions, but needless to say the evil one is always looking to throw good Christians off their stride, and he has a lot of experience in doing so. If Elijah can be tripped up (running off to Horeb), if Moses can be tripped up (getting so upset he hit the Rock contrary to orders), if Job can be tripped up (blaming God for everything), then the rest of us need to approach our own times of intense crisis with humility even if the sky seems to be falling (or is).
Third, giving up is not an option. There are lots of ways to give up, but giving up is not the right course no matter how bleak things may look. The devil wants us to give up. God, on the other hand, allows us to be tested to the point where we often feel like giving up and that is precisely when it becomes clear just what our faith is made of. If we throw off the pain, the hurt, the despair, the anger, the fear, and instead make it our business to embrace the peace, the joy, the hope we have in Jesus Christ, focusing on "the things above" especially whenever the "things below" are so depressing, we will find the grace to persevere and pass the test. In the end, we will never be tested beyond what we can endure (1Cor.10:13), even if it may seem so. God will come to our rescue, if we wait for Him faithfully to do so. He can reverse any situation. He can even raise the dead and He stayed Abraham's hand before Isaac was slain.
And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
Genesis 22:12 NKJV
Fourth, please do not feel bad about being tested. Being tested is not "our fault", and that has to come to us a pleasant notion, one that brings a certain amount of peace. Once we understand that this is not about us rather, the devil is attacking us because we belong to Christ, and the Lord is allowing us to take a bit of heat to demonstrate that we love Him more than anything else then we can relax even in the midst of the spiritual shot and shell, knowing that "if God is for us", then no one can stand against us (Rom.8:31).
Fifth, of course God is real He is more real than anyone or anything in this temporary world, a world that only continues to exist because it subsists in Him (Col.1:17). Doubting Him is really only an inverse way of expressing our anger at Him, anger in not doing things the way we prefer and working things out the way we would like when we would like it. But if we could only see the end, see the reward that is coming, see Him face to face and experience the glory of the "well done" for persevering, then we would avoid Elijah's fear and pouting, Moses' anger and precipitousness, Job's resentment and presumptuousness and we would instead "calm our hearts" within us (Ps.131:1-2), giving ourselves over to complete trust in Him in anticipation of all the wonders to come.
Sixthly, I certainly do not in any way mean to belittle the magnitude of the "fiery trial" that has come upon you; I merely wish to remind you that all advancing believers are (or will) face similar things, even if they don't seem to be as severe as what we ourselves are enduring (1Pet.4:12-13). We all need to be sympathetic to each other's suffering. After all, "Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy" (Prov.14:10 NIV).
Lastly, the only true help for the tests of maturity which come our way is the disciplined and courageous application of the truth of the Word of God to each and every test and trial and trouble. We need to remember what we have believed, and determine to believe it even when the world and all material creation seem to contradict it. The truth is the truth. The only question is, do we really believe it, and how deeply? To that end, here are some links (as requested) which deal with some of these matters in what I hope you will find to be a helpful way:
Mutual Encouragement in Christ.
Christian Trials and Testing
On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials
Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.
In need of encouragement.
Waiting on God
Spiritual 'ups' and 'downs'
The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle
Please excuse the brevity of this response, but I felt it was essential to send you something straight away. Please do feel free to write me back about any of the above.
I am keeping you in my prayers.
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ, our ever faithful Shepherd and Savior,
Me and my family are going through various trials. This morning my mom was extremely upset with the idea of me going overseas, and said that I would be ruining my life and that I wasted my time going to university. The truth is, I still feel that God is calling me to go there, only now I have the additional opposition of my parents, which adds emotional distress and confusion to the situation. God commanded us to honor thy mother and father, but it feels that my life is pulling me away from the track that my parents want to place my life in, and I fear that I may be inviting the "sin unto death" if I disobey my parents. Sometimes I get anxiety attacks that I am dying of an extremely rare, incurable neurological disease and that my depression and anxiety are early symptoms of this horrible disease, even though I pray to God that He prevent me from such a fate.
Worst of all, my Dad lost his job and my mom is trying to get her company off the ground, with currently our only source of income being unemployment benefits. I have rather bad depression and anxiety at the moment, with my normal zeal to do things almost having completely disappeared, and worst of all, one of my medications (which treats anxiety and ADHD) is only partially covered by my insurance, with the company demanding $300 copay (which we really cannot afford). Even though I have a BS in Mathematics, I don't really know where to apply for jobs here in the USA.
I have faith in God that He really is working everything for my good, but it's almost impossible to see the light and the end of the tunnel here.
I throw myself before the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, please deliver me from this fiery ordeal and fill me with a healthy, full life. O LORD, if I descend to the grave, how will I fear you and give praise to your name? For there is no worship and praise where the dead go.
Thanks for the pictures. I am very proud of you, persevering to get this degree when I know that the last year or so was tough sledding from a motivational point of view. Good for you!
As to future plans, we are to honor our parents, but that does not mean that we have to follow their wishes in every instance. If we are still under their roofs, being supported by them, then even if we are at an age when we would normally make our own life decisions, we do have to take their wishes into serious consideration. If, however, we are out on our own, then of course our career choice, marriage choice, spiritual choices (most importantly) are ours to make, even if we do choose to give some heed to what they have to say in terms of wisdom and loving advice.
In terms of your health, I am confident that the Lord has a plan for your life which would not be accomplished if you were to be completed debilitated by some sort of unusual disease. Almost every Christian I know has health concerns, some much more serious than others, but I have observed and personally experienced many times our Lords merciful provision for all actual troubles of this sort we are called upon to face how much more will He not protect us from fears about what might happen. Trust Him.
I'm sorry to hear about your dad and general situation in this regard. I have a good number of contacts and close friends who are also out of work, some for a very long time. This is a very difficult time, but God knows that; He knows everything and has made provision for everything. He often uses "trouble" to accomplish spiritual victories, both in demonstrating the faith of those who persevere through such testing and also in turning others back or towards Him with an undivided heart through His Son our dear Lord.
I will be praying for you on this. In the meantime, please take at least a few days to feel good about what you have accomplished (whatever the future may hold for you) and remember the One who brought you through: He will bring you through everything that lies ahead as well.
In the Name of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,