Under the Juniper Tree

being renewed under the treeGod spoke to my heart many years ago from the story of Elijah.  In 1 Kings 19:4, when Jezebel was pursuing Elijah with soldiers, Elijah asked God to kill him because Elijah felt like death would be a better solution: “He requested for himself that he might die: and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (emphasis mine)

Don’t we feel that way sometimes?  Lord, just get me out of here.  I wish I could escape from this earth, this pain, this sorrow, or this problem.  It surrounds me day and night. So here I sit here, night after night.  Just get me out of here.  I wish all this was over. I wish everyone and every thing would just go away Notice that Elijah slept! There is something about depression that makes you want to literally sleep your life away. You simply have no mental energy to get out of bed or interact with anyone.

  Here’s a surefire way to beat depression, however. First, the angel told him to “arise and eat.”  God wanted Elijah to get out of that place fast!  The land of depression is not a place to linger.  Joshua 1:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage.” So be strong even if you don’t feel strong.  Feelings do not make the man.  Your commitment to God makes you who you are, not how you feel.  Too many of us worship the good feelings we have in serving God rather than the God we serve.  God did not promise us we would always have “good vibes” while we serve Him.

God gave Elijah the nourishment he needed for the journey, and God will give you a scripture or a thought that will help you overcome.  The feelings won’t go right away, so you have to push past them.  Resist the temptation to stay at home, close the blinds, avoid everyone, and not answer the phone.

Unfortunately, Elijah did what a lot of us do. After receiving instruction, he ate and lay back down.  So many of us after hearing the voice of God cannot get the negative thoughts out of our heads.  We hear the encouragement but have often gotten ourselves in such a negative pit of wrong thinking that it takes more than a notion to get ourselves out.    So God had to come to Elijah again and tell him to get up! (I Kings 19:7, “And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.”)

Once you accept the level of depression Elijah accepted, it’s hard to move from that place under the Juniper tree.  But you are still saved.  You are still God’s man or woman, so you must get up and shine.   The world around you needs your life and testimony. So keep running for your life.  God will provide you a place of safety like he did for Elijah, but to get yourself there, you have to move!

Elijah felt so alone.  He thought he was the only one who stood for the Almighty.  It was his baggage of self-pity that made the world seem so small. But God gave him the encouragement. He told him “I have 700 prophets who have not bowed.” The Lord knows just what it takes to encourage each of us in a personal way.  The lesson from the Juniper tree is get up and find that place in God that will help you move forward.

Overcoming Depression

depressedDr. Larry Crabb in his book “Effective Biblical Counseling” used a very key term in understanding human need.  He theorizes that the two greatest needs for human beings are Significance and Security.  I want to focus on this thought in terms of our theme this month—Overcoming Depression– and say  that my writing this month will focus on how depressed feelings can come from not having these two needs met.  I’ve heard ministers teach a pie-in-the-sky Christianity in which depression does not darken the doorstep of good solid Christians, but I see no scripture that supports this belief.  I want to be clear that although below I am laying out the clinical markers for depression, we are still talking about spiritual warfare when it comes to overcoming this as a Christian. As a believer in Christ, we have additional help to overcome Depression.  Webster’s dictionary defines Depression is defined as, “A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy, feelings of sadness and gloom.” We have biblical examples of good men of God who seemed to be baffled by their situations and this resulted in feelings of sadness, gloom, or pessimism as a result. God was still on their side and did not abandon them. Continue reading “Overcoming Depression”

Our Prayers Received…

prayer-petition-550x320The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.  Psalms 6:9

On this 2015 Independence Day weekend let us remember to pray.  As Christians we pray not only for ourselves but for those around us.  We need to pray in our personal trouble times as well as times our nation is in trouble.  My thought today is that God receives our prayers.

In this Psalms David is in great distress because of his enemies.  If we study the life of David we will see that he had developed a dependence on God in times of distress.    David also had great confidence that God would first, hear him, and then, that He would receive his prayers.  Often people look at prayer as just words said in private, or maybe just in your thoughts.  But David talks of tears and deep communion with God.

The word receive in this scripture is defined in the original language as something “captured, seized, fetched, to go and get, or take”.  If we live right, God will actually take our prayers in his hand, he will come from on high and go get them, to take care of them.  Often our children ask us for things (and as certain holidays seasons come or even their birthday, there is certainly more begging) and in order to remember them, we write it down.  As a parent, that is our way of making sure those requests are a taken care of.  We take those concerns into our own hands, only because it is in our power to grant their needs or wants.  We are their source of receiving.   “Mom, I want a bike”, “Dad, I need $10 by Friday for school”.  We may not be able to supply that need, at that moment, but wetake it in hand we write it down in  our thoughts for future action.

When I am an obedient child of God, he will take my prayers in hand, write them down, and at his own time, take care of those needs.

If I cannot pray with deep assurance that God will answer, then I need to find what may be breaking my communion with him.

Here’s a clue,

Jesus said:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (St. John 15:7)

Today is a beautiful day because I know God has written down my needs.

Happy Father’s Day

My father was a short man, good looking and though his hair grayed at the age of 17, well into his 70’s, thanks to L’Oreal, he could pass for a man 20 years younger. He was extremely charming and good-humored, fun to be around. All of his students loved him and education was not just a job to him, he really had a passion for education. He worked in the project areas of the City and went over and beyond to make sure his students were given the best opportunities for learning. Like many great men in their professional field he had personal flaws but it would be the twelfth of never before he would acknowledge any of them.—excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Guide…

A GOOD FATHER DOES HIS BEST TO PULL  My father was a short man, good looking and though his hair grayed at the age of 17, well into his 70’s, thanks to L’Oreal, he could pass for a man 20 years younger. He was extremely charming and good-humored, fun to be around. All of his students loved him and education was not just a job to him, he really had a passion for education. He worked in the project areas of the City and went over and beyond to make sure his students were given the best opportunities for learning. Like many great men in their professional field he had personal flaws but it would be the twelfth of never before he would acknowledge any of them.-–excerpt from How to Walk on Water: A Christian’s Guide…

The Other Side

northeaster-dory-rowing-boat

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Luke 18:1
The current misconception among modern Christians is that Christian character and victory comes without effort. That if I simply attend church, I am faithful enough. Every Christian that has gone through deep trials of affliction and emotional pain knows that great effort in prayer without ceasing is the key to the victorious Christian life. By victorious I mean, Christians that suffer but come out on the other side, with their faith in-tact. Jesus told the disciples, “let us pass over to the other side.” Mark 4:35. Notice Jesus didn’t require them to take the journey alone. He wanted His disciples to pass over with Him. This was going to be a joint venture not a sole proprietorship. Let “us” pass over. Jesus had just finished giving them more truths to ponder, why would he let them die? The disciples were confident of the journey until:

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? (Mark 4: 37-38)

How often, Jesus blesses us with his word, gives us direction and then, because of what we see happening around us, we shake with fear, and become filled with doubt. It was amazing to see the transformation of the disciples from trusting and abiding to trembling and accusing. Is this not the process many of us go through? We forget about the power of God over all situations and circumstances and quake with fear of the impending doom, and then move to accusations that God must not care about our needs. Maybe he’s asleep and doesn’t see. If we follow this story, Jesus was asleep but not because of lack of concern but because there was truly no need to panic.

Jesus knew who he was and who his Father was and knew that his mission was not over. He understood God’s plan. A hole could have opened up in the sea to swallow them, and I believe Jesus would have had the same calm. Why? Because he had power over the waves. In this story of Jesus, he did not choose to walk on the water, He made the water behave. God will do the same for the waves of trouble that seem to overwhelm us. He will cause them to cease in his own good time. Our job is to trust that he’s on the ship with us, and to do our best to stay on the ship where Jesus abides.