Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression Meets Jesus

I won't pretend I was the greatest Robin Williams fan of all time, or that he revolutionized the way I see movies. Honestly, I may be in the minority, but I never enjoyed his appearances on Conan, or his standup routine. I thought he was too sporadic and unorganized in his comedy routine. I enjoyed the more subtle and straight forward comics.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed him as an actor. The movies he starred in are easily recalled as favorites and I think he was brilliant. I think Hook stands out as the one I remember the most. I also enjoyed his voice as the genie in Aladdin.

After the news of his passing, the outlets of social media flooded my feeds with sadness and shock. A phrase that was stated over and over again was something I struggle with when it comes to individuals with mental illness such as depression.

"If you are struggling, please get help"

This plea is almost always from individuals who are not themselves walking in a mental illness. This is it stated as a way to ask those who are struggling to see the conditions and circumstances, read between the lines and get better. The intentions are meant to be for the good of the individual suffering. However, individuals who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses don't see life so easily.

In light of this tragedy, my perspective is that we live life differently and hopefully, as a societal whole, we could alter the influence of mental illnesses such as depression. Instead of pleading with someone to get help, if you see or know someone battling, YOU step in and do something, say something, be involved. Break the unwritten ethical code and intrude on someone's life. Change the course of the normal and everyday routine, burst the individualistic bubble that people with depression live in. Stop waiting for someone to ASK for help! Be so involved yourself, that someone who suffers, or is plagued by chronic depression will not have room to entertain the thoughts that would lead them to hopelessness.

You may not have had access to Robin Williams' life and been able to communicate to him, or be his friend. That's not what this is about. This is about the thousands who suffer everyday around you, with thoughts of hopelessness in which it is NOT too late for them.

Self-help talk may last for a little bit, but it doesn't ultimately connect someone to the real issue and reason mental illness exists. In the book of Matthew Jesus summons His disciples, gives them authority to heal every kind of sickness and disease (10:1). Suicide eventually becomes a solution for many who suffer. A logical conclusion for many is to end the functioning of the entity creating the problem...the brain. There is a better solution. God has sent His Son, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:12 says that no one has seen God, but if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected. You, me, we are the visual of God for people to see. If you are abiding in Christ you will be the very picture of God for someone else. Healing, wholeness, restoration, reconciliation, these are ALL God's business and I want to be about God's business.

I personally could do better about reflecting this truth for those I interact with daily. Please don't resolve your level of helping people by making a statement of "get help...if you need it," instead, be so involved that
YOU see the warning signs,
YOU recognize the disease,
YOU become part of the solution for the healing needed in someone else.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

God's Presence

Who can stand in Your presence?
Only one who is blameless and true
It melts the walls of our heart
Like wax from a candle

The riches of Your lovingkindness
To know Your favor oh Lord
To sit in Your seat of love
And rejoice in only a moment of anger

Your presence calls us
Your presence allows us
Your presence sustains us
Your presence makes a way

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Leaders & Followers

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught"
Winston Churchill

I am getting excited. Why? Because it is getting close to the beginning of a new season. I have a 6 year old starting primary, a 4 year old going to 3rd maternelle, and a 2 year old who will join his big brothers in school, but not until next February.

The summer in Belgium is a very slow part of the year. If you are a minister who places a high value in momentum then Belgium would eat you alive. Seriously, everything from restaurants to churches will take a holiday break and go on vacation for a month or so. It certainly grinds my American-church-mentality gears. Nevertheless, I press on because flexibility is essential for ministry here as well.

As we enter into 4 years of being over here in Europe one of the things I have been realizing is the gap between passionate young people who are really wanting to grow in ministry and the reality of them being able to exercise that passion. Please be in prayer concerning these issues. The hardship of leaders releasing more and more to the next generation of leaders is somewhat alarming. Leaders face the challenge of trusting this upcoming passion. It is difficult to see a fruition of young potential leaders who are so easily given to temporary pleasure. It makes it incredibly difficult for leaders to give "control" and take a step back. Everyone is wanting the same thing but the waters become muddy when agendas are placed in the forefront. Dissension grows because the visions become blurry due to these agendas. If doors are shut too early potential leaders, troubled by obstacles, become defeated before they are even given a chance. They either will give up, or worse leave the calling all together, thus, confirming for established leadership that the passion is a divisive one or it is not capable of handling the burdens of spiritual matters.

Pray for leaders to trust that God's hand is on up-and-coming, passionate, young people.
Pray for leaders to believe that God's desire is to expand His influence and kingdom which means more pastors, evangelists, and churches will be needed.
Pray for leaders to trust God is not closing the door on them being used for his kingdom when they open the door for opportunity to a younger less skilled individual.
Pray for leaders to find a value in taking a risk, more than protecting their reputation, even when the idea is challenging to their very reputation.

Pray for potential leaders to recognize how to honor their leaders.
Pray for potential leaders to not give up when season after season the doors seem to stay shut on them.
Pray for potential leaders to boldly walk in when the door of opportunity proves to be open for them.
Pray for potential leaders to trust God is using godly men and women to give wisdom and maturity.
Pray for potential leaders to remain faithful and that they will continue to grow in their work ethic.

Pray for Belgium to change the reputation of being a graveyard for ministers.