Saturday, November 30, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Dealing with Depression
I went thru a very rough patch in November when this “11″ setting on my depression meter stayed there for most of a month. I didn’t think I could take much more. I shared my story with a good friend and elder at my church.WOW! That is quite the confession there - full of good points and bad points. One hesitates to dive in because it seems like a critical word will make the depression worse and an encouraging word is a means of fueling and rewarding the depression. Not to mention depression colors perception pretty severely. That's a problem with depression, that's why it is often a matter for professionals and not something the Christian community can handle.
“You? Depressed? No, you couldn’t be. You’re the most upbeat person I know.”
Well, what can I say? I wear a really good mask. I tried again with another friend and elder, pulling him out of a Sunday service to pray for me right then. He did, but didn’t ask any questions or offer any encouragement. It was pray, then head back into the sanctuary. I headed home.
Three more elders, three more “I’ll pray for you” responses, then nothing. I spoke to our senior pastor, telling him I even had suicidal thoughts (fleeting; but still) in my despair. I stood there crying as I shared what had been going on in my life and how it had stripped me of just about everything. Our pastor told me he was proud of me for hanging in there. Excuse me. Did you hear what I just said? I despair of life so very much I thought about ending it all. That was my unspoken thought. Surely he’ll call me this week to get together for coffee and talk about this some more. No call. No coffee. No talk. No care.
So why does Smokey, an adamant non-Christian, “get it” when it comes to love, but most every Christian I know doesn’t? Why is it that when I am struggling, like I am right now, I can’t get my brothers and sisters in Christ to show love without a court order, but those like Smokey and other employees and customers I work with will show love in their words and deeds? How is it that those in whom Love Himself lives bottle up love and refuse to give it while those who do not know Love are very free with their love? I really don’t get it. I am ready to quit Christians, or at least quit hoping Christians will do what Jesus commanded and love each other. Christians don’t get it. Agnostics and atheists do. Something is really screwy here.
Am I wrong? Am I placing too much emphasis on love? Should I really expect my Christian friends to show me love with their words and actions? And when they don’t, do I have the right to ask them why not? Maybe love is outdated. Maybe I’m living in a fantasy world, thinking that when I am hurting I can expect others to come alongside of me and not leave. Perhaps wanting someone to say “I love you” is a wrong desire. I don’t know. I know I love others because Jesus tells me to, and because Love lives in me and I can do no less. Is it fair for me to question whether Love really lives in those who refuse to love?
On the other hand - he has a point. The Christian community generally is a pretty cold place. Everybody seems to be more concerned about themselves than about the other. But then as we discuss here pretty much endlessly, the Evangelical church with its consumeristic focus and appeal is designed to have precisely such people in the pews.
Do I guess the question is how does on respond to Dunn? The only thing I can think of is honesty. "Jeff, you're my Cristian brother, but depression is outside of my expertise and ability to help you with directly. Do you have professional help? Can I assist you in getting that help? Is there anything else I can help you with? I am there for you." I think chances are Dunn will not find that adequately loving, but I think that would be the depression talking not reality.
action depression love
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Related Tags: Happy Thanksgiving
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Once upon a time there was a church that pleased everyone.There's a bit of the old two-edged sword here that needs careful examination. I realize the sarcasm here, but I wonder if it masks a deeper point. One the one hand, even Jesus' personal ministry was not universally accepted. On the other hand, Christ's vision for His ministry was 100% reliable because Jesus was, well, Jesus.
You read that right…everyone.
They taught nothing…
They had no pastor…
They had no programs…
They never asked for money…
They challenged no one…
They sang everyone’s favorite song…every Sunday…
No one actually attended this church, but certainly no one ever complained either.
The problem I have with posts like this is the presumption that the direction in which a ministry is headed is the right direction, and that people complaining is just an indicator that they don't get it - like the people that opposed and crucified Jesus. But none of us are Christ, none of us can have that level of surety about our decisions. We have to be constantly listening and evaluating and listening to stuff we have rejected before because we are not perfect and we WILL screw up.
Of course, one could just say that Edmondson was simply trying to point out that people have different tastes. Fair enough, but here is what I know. A ministry of genuine Christianity will somehow rise above matters of mere taste. It is not about taste - it is not about entertainment.
I know a church that is evaluating changing names and services times. My comment to them was, "If that is what you are relying upon to grow your church, your growing the wrong thing."
church discipleship growth survivial
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Funny Ministry Language, Really
twagedy: A dismissive tweet that inadvertently sends your theological rival's book to the top of the bestsellers list.Can you see the difference between that and what we looked at yesterday? This humor is self-aimed, not other aimed, and as such it points out several problems in a loving and funny way.
Humor is a dangerous weapon, we must learn to use it with care and wisdom.
Monday, November 25, 2013
An Oxymoronic Construction
Stuff Christians Like talks about Christian pick-up and put-down lines:
So I used sermon time to eye up the talent in the pews (top tip – sermons are the best time for spotting holy hot girls – all their attention will be on the preacher, so they won’t notice you checking them out, plus you can use post-sermon prayers to ask for forgiveness for your lust…) and then come the post-service coffee time I was ready to make my moves. Unfortunately I came across something I wasn’t expecting. The Christian put-down line.I am sorry, but the very concept of a "Christian" put down line is oxymoronic. That doesn't mean every girl has to accept every invitation for a date that she gets at church, but it does mean that a Christian might find a more gracious way to say "no thank you." In fact that is pretty gracious as it is.
When I was expecting to hear responses like “You can be my Boaz any day” I was hearing terrible things. Things like:
- When I read in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has good plans for me, and think of you, I feel somewhat cheated
- My love for you is purely agape
- I see you as more prayer partner than date partner
- I have the gift of prophecy, and I have a word for you – celibacy
- God promised He has a great plan for me, I don’t see how you could fit in with that
- We are brother and sister in Christ, it would be like incest
- You need someone with less discernment
- I’m not sure our callings are compatible
- It’ll take prayer and fasting on your end…mostly fasting
I think the thing that bothers me most about this is that it is so worldly. Just because you wrap a put down in "godtalk," it is still a put down. This is a classic example of how we dress up like Christians, but never really let the Holy Spirit do the work to transforming us.
I know that humor is a form of correction, but I cannot tell if this humor is correcting or celebrating.