Reflections On Psalm 1:4-6

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

In Psalm 1:4-6 the psalmist David switches back to speaking about what it will be like for the wicked who do not follow God. His words ae not very PC according to our current cultural standards. Nor would they be seen as loving or all inclusive. However, I am going to argue that the words of David are more loving than many of us are willing to see or admit. In our current Christian climate, we desire for everything to be relevant and cool, a lot of what we know as the gospel or good news of God hardly offends anyone anymore. It seems like some pastors would rather be cool and be liked rather than preaching a sobering message. Now, myself included, I have spent a lot of time writing about the mad love of God, and how much God loves you and that it doesn’t matter how many times you sin, you can run to him for forgiveness. That is very real and true in my own life, and it’s something that I want to be real and true in the lives of others.

            However, even though God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is also just, which then means there will be a day, where people who have not placed their faith in God, will stand in account. But it will not be the same judgement that Christians go through, which is what I believe he is getting at in the first part of verse five. They will be like a chaff blown away by the wind, he says in verse four. Again, this can be seen by many as unloving, cruel and whatever other words you wanted to interject.

But if God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and if it is his kindness that leads us to repentance. That must also mean that he gives us humans, countless chances to acknowledge him as savior and king. Countless. To me, simply waking up in the morning and seeing the beauty of nature is enough for me. Paul talks about this very concept in Romans 1, of course its much deeper of an issue than that, but that’s maybe for another time. All I’m trying to say, is that if a person at the very core of who they are, doesn’t want God (and God knows that) it only makes sense that  God would give them what is actually desired. Be assured though, God does not get off on doing this, it grieves him and it should grieve us Christians as well. It should cause us to want to share the gospel with a broken and lost world. In verse six, having the understanding that the lord watches over his sons and daughters, we should only live in that in response to the amazing and gracious gift that he has given. Which is the ability to be called beloved sons and daughters. Once again, this is not because we are amazing, but because he is. This should cause us to live sober, and embrace his amazing grace. Whilst remember who we once were without him. And also be willing to share him with others.      

Christians-Gods Temple- Redeeming Health

When I was attending my first bible college, we were discussing the every quoted verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Which reads “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” Interestingly enough, there are all kinds of interpretations to this verse, anything from drugs, tattoos, suicide, sex and even health. Most of us, in our chapel discussion agreed that in had to do with our health and honoring God with our lives.

I spoke up about how I thought, that I strongly believe that as Christians we ought to be doing our best to take care of our bodies. In all all aspects: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not always in that order.

I’ll never forget it, when a rather loud black woman piped up and said “I don’t need to take care of my health, I’m dying anyway and in Heaven I’m gonna get a new body.” My first thought in that moment and even now is, that can’t be right or true. Yes, I do affirm that on the other side of life, Christians will have glorified bodies that are free from sin and decay.

But to assume that we can just let ourselves go, and let illness and death simply take us over. Is frankly sinful and a smack in the face to God, because he blessed us with life. It is then our response to honor him back. In my years of Christ, I have seen so many people walk through the church doors. Including pastors.

It’s sad that we have readily accepted this reality. I don’t think it is enough as believers, to simply ready ourselves for death. No, we still have much purpose and mission in this life. And as such our bodies need to be ready for the tasks at hand. This could mean, preparing your body and mind, for a time of raising children up. Working a job that requires heaving lifting etc.

Even if you have a desk job, guess what? you still need to honor God with your body. This could be a simple, as saying no to fast food and choosing healthier options. It could very well mean preparing food the night before. The point is, Christians need to think more broadly about how we honor God with the temples we inhabit.

It’s both the inside and the out.

Its my personal belief that Jesus Christ himself, was a fairly in shape person. After all, he walked almost everywhere and worked with his body. Who are we to be any different. We truly are without excuse.

Confronting The Double Standard

 

I can’t pin point the exact time anxiety came into my life; all I can tell you is that it has been in my life for quite some time. From little to severe. Little, as in the nagging feeling inside you that every one is upset with you and it would be better for you not to be apart of human existence. Or on the extreme side of things when your chest becomes tight, your breath becomes short and have a hard time controlling the speed your mind races at. Living with anxiety has seemed like an impossible puzzle in my life. Things seem hopeless when nothing seems to work, right? Even sitting in front of a professional counselor can see like a waste of time. Worse yet, when living with anxiety we can throw depression into the mix. And the both seem to work off each other in strange ways.

At this rate, it seems easier to start digging your grave and laying in it, right? I’m not so sure, you see as much as I am flooded with suicidal thoughts, I don’t actually want to die. I’m actually just scared and don’t feel like there are any solutions to the problems at hand. I think others are like that too, were all scared and afraid to admit that life is spinning out of control. I’ll admit that here and now, I’ll admit that the future scares me and that I want nothing more then to hide from society. But maybe it’s those of us that want to hide that the world needs most. After all the most amazing lessons in life can come from those who we least expect.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think what we need are more suicides, or people living in silence because they live with anxiety, depression or any other form of mental illness. What we first need is the courage to confess that these forms of suffering have had their ways with us for long enough. What we need is for people to actually listen, what we need is for people to jump to conclusions but to seek understanding. I believe were all looking for answers as to why mental illness in any capacity exists and how we can eradicate it from our lives. Some on the endless pages of the internet claimed that they have, whether that is true or not is beyond my knowledge. There’re even those in Christian communities that claim that God healed them of whatever mental illness they were faced with in their lives, whether that is true or not is not for me to know. As a Christian, devoted to following Christ. I do believe that Jesus healed on the pages of the new testament. I even believe that he still heals today, it might just not look the same as it does in various media outlets or conferences. Being a Christian and living with anxiety can sometimes seem counter productive, aren’t Christian’s meant to be the most joyful people alive? Well, that really depends one how one looks at joy. If you presume, that joy is always someone smiling and jumping for joy, I don’t believe that is the fullest reality.

Joy does not always have to have outward expressions; joy can sometimes be a quiet radiance. A knowing that a king knows your pain, that you are loved, forgiven and that the greatest reality is yet to come. As a Christian living with anxiety, I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how I feel about myself on any given day, it doesn’t change the fact that I am loved and that nothing can separate me from the father’s love (verse here). It’s also tempting as a Christian living with anxiety, to try harder and do more. In order for God to love me. It’s interesting to me how the most well meaning pastors say “if you just made Jesus the center of your life, then you wouldn’t be anxious.” That sounds well and good, but we don’t say that to people who are diagnosed with cancer. In fact that would be a slap in the face, because there are many devout believers that have faced the grim reality of cancer, only to be swallowed up by it. Yet they did not seize in living a life of prayer and various spiritual disciplines.

See the double standard here? We cannot allow it to exist any longer without calling it for what it is. Bullshit.

Word Vomiting on Anxiety and The Christian Life.

Breath… Breath… I tell myself as the sense of panic sets in.

My chest tightens, along with the shortness of breath.

This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I have the most peace and Joy in all the world?

Instead, I feel like everything is going into a spontaneous flat spin. And you call yourself a Christian!?  

This tends to be the inner conversation that I have with myself most days, when anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. Anxiety and depression are things that any and all people may experience in a life time. But it can be a little tricky (a lot tricky actually) if you are a professing Christian.

I’m willing to bet that there are many bible believing Christians that live with either or both anxiety or depression. But their timid about speaking up about it. I know that when I visit a new church, I tend to put my smile on and be prepared to tell everyone that greets me how great I’m doing.

Why?

Because talking about anxiety or depression in some christian communities is like a drill sergeant who goes into a room full of marines who are sleeping and decide to let loose a flash bang. It can be painfully deafening and stunning to ones vision, but that’s what it’s like when a fellow believer talks about mental illness in the church. It hurts peoples ears and blinds the perception of life. Or the Christian life rather.

I personally have reached a point in my life, where I am tired of stuffing how I’m doing just to better sooth others. Yet I am still tremble at the thought of hearing another cliche response to pain.

Are you praying enough?

In the word? (The Bible)

Are you memorizing scripture?

(even better) are you in fellowship with other believers?

Or… Or.. “oh, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you”… As the pat you on the shoulder, as if to say “there there little one, its going to be alright”

Verses will then be quoted about how were not meant to worry, and how God knows every hair on our heads. I very much understand that. And I actually believe that deep down, though the anxiety in my heart wants me to believe other wise.

Believers that struggle with anxiety are not people that simply need fixing, we don’t need quick fixes for things that we might have until the day were led home by Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia reference to Jesus). For some, having mental illness could be the Lords way of using something seen as evil, for our good.

God knows that if I didn’t have CP, I probably rely or need him as much. I few my own anxiety and depression in the same. Not in the sense that I enjoy living with anxiety or depression, but that I know that God uses these things as a way of making me a more loving and compassionate person.

The classic passage in scripture where the apostle Paul, pleas that God would remove the thorn from his side, only to have the king of the cosmos say “my grace is sufficient for you”. The key word here is grace, for a Christian, grace is meant to be our driving force. Not our mustering of effort, Not our lists of accomplishments or failures.

Something inside believes, that this is how Christians are meant to live in community and relationship to one another. Yes, there is always room to encourage and push each other to grow. But more then anything grace is meant to abound all the more.

For so long pastors, and the church as a whole has seemed to only want to “fix” those who are learning to live and cope with various shades of mental illness. And that should never be the answer, nor the motivation for the church.First and foremost, I believe that the Church should learn to sit quietly with those who are in the midst of the storm.

This is best scene through out the story of Job, job in the opening chapters loses everything he ever held dear to him. He finds himself in a place of distress in every area of his life. His friends would soon arrive on the scene of his life. There they sat quietly as their friend mourned the loss of his children and vitality, but they seemed to be silent with him for a moment.

Then they started accusing him of doing something to royally piss God off. And as a result, God was then punishing job for something that he had done. The sad truth is that we Christians do the same thing today. Rather then sitting with someone in their pain, we tend to spew at the mouth with cliche statements and things that really say nothing in the end.

Could this be because were scared of not having the answer for something or someone in life? I think so, some of the most meaningful moments in my life have been when a friend has sat beside me and just let me cry. Not giving me a sermon, although we sometimes need that too. But they let me cry and scream until there wasn’t anything left to empty of myself.

We all could be better at this couldn’t we? As I have more then likely said before. If you have anxiety or any other form of mental illness. your not a freak, your not something that needs simple repair or fixing. you are not your diagnoses. your loved, created in the image of the king and thus have more worth and value then you could ever know.  Your pain runs deeper that mere pat answers. Healing and recovery are possible with time and diligence. You don’t have to go through life alone, nor were you ever meant to.

You were created to loved and be loved. Seek help, don’t be afraid to need it. Ignore what others think, your life matters to much to lay quietly in the darkness.

 

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