Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prayer Journal - Day One

But God, what am I to do with my list?

Time for some honesty –

I am a Christian, and by Your grace, God I try to live like You would want me to live.  By Your grace and my efforts of course, okay, in fact maybe I should reverse those and say, I am going to try my hardest to live like You want me to live, and hopefully You can help me with this chore.  But to better help Your efforts of changing me and transforming me I have prepared a list of things to do, attitudes to have, and steps to get me to where I am pleasing to You on a more regular basis.

Can any of you reading this relate to what I just said?  Now to extend my honesty, my list has changed over the years.  Not only in content, but in mission, purpose, perspective, etc., but it’s still a list and it tends to be what I use to determine just how “good of a Christian” I am at the current moment.

In my early years it was a list of just doing enough to get by and somehow eek my way into heaven, and then it changed drastically to a list of rules and regulations that were so strict and severe any good legalistic law-keeper would stand up and cheer.  It’s changed many times through the years but always it has been there.

I believe with all my heart that this list has kept me from realizing the greatness of a true uninhibited relationship with my God.  So back to my original question; God what am I to do with this list?  It’s full of good things; like how to be a better dad, and a better husband, and what I need to do to be a better Christian, and what I need to do to be a better minister, and what I need to do to be a better friend.  All of these things are important aren’t they? I’ve even recently added things that will help me lose weight, and be healthier, and fell better. 

The problem is that it’s all my effort and I still haven’t accomplished the only real thing God wants from me.  My life, He wants it all, He wants control, He wants to be at the helm, He wants to be the reason for my existence and as long as I keep trying to be a better person driven  by my ever changing list, He’s only getting what I allow Him to have, and even on my very best day, that is soooooooo weak.

So God, I’m giving you my list.  I know that there is a good chance that I’ll take it back, and please forgive me when I do, but each day, starting today, will you lead me in a quest to be list free and debt free (not money debt, but the sin debt you took from me so long ago).  I’m ready to let you be my everything, not just my pilot.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can a "True Christian" struggle with depression?

I’ve heard this question posed before in many different ways, and in fact I’ve heard it given more as a rhetorical question with the one giving the question making it clear that the obvious answer is no.  (Btw please note that it is not up to me or you to determine whether someone’s Christianity is “true” or not)

Sometimes well meaning Christians come across as the most heartless, cold, uncaring people when they say things like, “you are just focused on the wrong thing”, or why can’t you see how blessed you are”, or “you don’t have it nearly as bad as the man on the street, or the orphan in the 3rd world country”, or countless other phrases intended to knock the person out of their depression.

Whether you know it or not someone close to you, in fact possibly many people close to you who are professing Christians are currently struggling with depression.  Studies show that in a typical congregation of 200 people 50 attendees will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.  (March 2009 article in Christianity Today).

We can argue back and forth about whether depression is a disease or not, but that kind of misses the point doesn’t it?  The fact is, depression is real, and it is all around you, and contrary to some people’s opinion it isn’t a new problem.  Listen to what David said in portions of the 39th Psalm Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends — those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. Sounds to me like the man who gave us the greatest praise songs ever also struggled with depression.

So starting today, will you make a commitment to pay a little closer attention to those around you?  Watch their body language, take note of the little self-depreciating things they say, notice when they seem to be less prompt, or take care of themselves a little less than normal, etc., and take time to let them know how much you care about them.  Send a note, give a hug, and make it obvious that you are available for them if they need it.

Maybe together we can help each other cope with the difficulties of life, instead of ignoring what seem to be signs of weakness. “What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Rom. 8:31 – and yet God is often revealed through His people, and their acts of love, compassion, and kindness.  God is for us, and we have a responsibility to help others see this amazing truth, yes even other Christians who are struggling with depression.
In Christ,

Lance Osborn