- How is one able to do things in the strength of the Lord rather than their own strength?
- When one is holding a grudge against a person are they being deceived by the devil? How?
- Who is one fighting against?
List some people in your life you would trust to give you wise counsel?
Who in your life can you share your heart with?
List some ways you process your feelings?
When was your last physical?
In the World but Not of the World
This statement sounds confusing. How does one live in the world, but not be of the world (John 17:14-15)? This article will examine strategies for living in the world, but not being of the world. A threefold approach is utilized: spirit, mind and body.
The bad news is the devil is ruler of the world (John 14:30). The good news is Christians have the Holy Spirit as a mighty, wonderful counselor (John 14:15-17). How can one cooperate with the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11) to overcome the sin nature (Romans 7:20)?
Beware of Desensitization
Desensitization is illustrated by the story of the frog leaping into a pot of tepid water. The frog stayed in the water as the heat was slowly turned up, because it became accustomed to it. Not realizing the danger, the frog boiled to death. Sounds ridiculous, but frequent exposure to something can create habituation (diminishing of a physiological or emotional response to a frequently repeated stimulus). Here are some examples:
-Profanity used to be frowned upon on television. At some point profane words began to pop up, and people were surprised, if not shocked. Now they are more frequent and, while perhaps not liked, most people have become accustomed to them (Ephesians 5:4). Do they pop up from time to time in your vocabulary?
-People who struggle with same sex attraction need to be treated with compassion and love. Yet, as the world normalizes same sex attraction, it can desensitize people to the real needs of this population (Romans 1:18-27).
–Teaching Moments– Being in the world means being exposed to worldly ways. Christians are to walk as children of light exposing the darkness (Ephesians 5:8). When watching television, for example, take time during commercials to discuss the content of shows. This encourages everyone to utilize critical thinking, rather than allowing messages to seep in unabated numbing one’s senses.
–Boundaries– Be willing to set moral boundaries. Limit time on secular programming. Notice the word “programming.” The definition of program is a set of related measures or activities with a particular long-term aim. What is allowed into the mind on a repetitive basis influences one on a subconscious level coloring one’s perception. Choose to renew one’s mind with, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).
2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” People sometimes think those with deleterious or harmful intentions look and act a certain way, which can lead one to be more easily deceived. Images of the devil are usually depicted in a horrifying fashion, but, as 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, the devil can be disguised as an angel of light. If unaware one can be caught off guard. Deception manifests in language form as well. For example, if one is confronted with wrong behavior thoughts like these might arise:
“If it feels right how can it be wrong?”
“Everyone’s doing it!”
“What do they know, they are just old fashioned!”
People can fool themselves with defense mechanisms like denial (coping by refusing to accept reality), justification (a reason, explanation or excuse to someone), and rationalization (a reason, explanation or excuse to one’s conscience). Sometimes families will have an intervention for a loved one in denial, or who justifies wrong behavior. A person may have to hit rock bottom before they are willing to seek help. Hopefully, as one grows and matures, they will begin to break through the defense mechanisms and see truth. When in doubt seek counsel through prayer, Scripture and mature Christian brethren.
-Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
-Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.”
-Proverbs 24:6 says, “for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
God created us as relational beings to love and be loved (Genesis 2:18, 1 John 4:7). Many people do not feel lovable for who they are, and get caught in the trap of worldly pursuits. This leads to a dead end, but when a person internalizes the truth of who they are- a creation of God, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), they don’t need to prop themselves up with the world’s lies. The world highlights appearance, success, and power as the road to happiness, which is fleeting. Peace, joy and satisfaction are not achieved in worldly pursuits, but in relationships. Healing begins with recognizing one’s identity is in Christ (John 1:12). The healing process begins at the cognitive level, and migrates to a feelings level when one experiences love from others. When one experiences love the soul is nourished, and the heart overflows with joy. This joy is contagious, and will spread to others creating a circle of love.
–Transparency– People need to be loved for who they are. That doesn’t mean they unload their dirty laundry on everyone in sight, but it does mean there are people they can share their heart with. When one can share parts of them self that they are ashamed of this can often be the point at which healing can begin. Some thoughts to consider: a) Sometimes people have presented a facade for so long they don’t even know who they are- professional help would be recommended, b) Taking some time out to reflect on one’s personality type, temperament style, interests, strengths, and weaknesses can cultivate a greater sense of self understanding, and c) Start the process by being willing to take a risk and open up to a trusted person.
The mind involves what one thinks and feels. As the spirit, mind and body are intertwined the above information applies here as well. In this section, however, the focus will be on how to cope as a Christian struggling with mental illness, or temporary life struggles that produce anxiety and/or depression. The following is a poem written by me when I was in the stranglehold of OCD.
I live a life of death, Overpowered by a force within.
I have no hope, For I have become an alien.
Life holds no dreams
It is predictable,
Set forth without emotion,
On a course with no destination,
Just going in circles till the end.
Have you tried, they ask.
Do you care, they ask.
What now, they ask.
Questions but no answers,
Answers but no solutions.
Huddled in a corner,
Just my mind and me.
Frightened and alone,
Where the alien says I should be.
Drowning but not dead.
Alive but not living.
I will share some of the tools that helped me:
-People in my life that believed I would get better. Their belief gave me hope for another day.
-When my life seemed meaningless, people encouraged me with their prayers.
-I sought psychiatric help. It was a long road until I found a medication that helped, but I did.
-I went to counseling to develop coping skills and process my feelings.
-Several ways I handled the intense feelings was through drawing and poetry.
-I wrote some of the scary thoughts (What if ?) on pieces of paper, and stuck them in a drawer to not forget them (as if I would), in order to temporarily get them out of my mind.
-I would write Scripture verses on note cards contained in a spiral booklet. I would take this with me everywhere to continually read over and over when fearful thoughts would attack my mind (Romans 12:2).
-I would cry out to God in simple, heartfelt prayers (Psalm 62:8).
-I remember looking forward to seeing the Spurs’ games when they were in the playoffs. I was so focused on them winning that I was temporarily out of my mind, and thus experiencing much needed relief. Finding something of interest to focus on can be a distraction from the condition (Luke 11:24-26).
Over time my thorn in the flesh (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) became a gold mine of information from which I draw to help others. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”
The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to glorify God in our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Some major categories in caring for the body include: proper diet, exercise, stress management, and getting physicals from health care professionals.
-People are usually hardest on themselves. Negative self talk typically does not motivate one to action. Practice talking to oneself with kindness. It will lower stress and assist in getting back on track.
-If exercise is a struggle think “MOVE.” Exercise is movement and there are many ways to increase movement: park further from the store, use stairs instead of an elevator for a couple of floors, do some leg lifts while watching TV (add ankle weights to build strength), do push ups during commercials. One is only limited by their imagination.
-In regards to diet I will reference my daughter’s blog: Caitlinscookbook.com for an array of amazing recipes.
-This is my favorite deep breathing technique for stress management:
Place one hand over the abdomen. Imagine a balloon in your abdomen. The cadence is 4x4x4x4. Inhale slowly through the nose to the count of 4. As you inhale bring the air all the way down into the abdomen, and imagine the balloon completely filling up, while your hand is rising. Hold to the count of four. Exhale slowly through the nose (and mouth if you like) to the count of 4, while simultaneously noting the hand over the abdomen lowering, while imagining a balloon deflating. Hold to count of 4. This completes one round. Repeat as needed, usually employing a minimum of three rounds when able.
-Get regular check ups.
Spiritually, be on guard against becoming desensitized to worldly ways, and the deceptive ploys of the devil. Recognize the need for intimacy with God, self and others. Mentally, one can become overwhelmed with life challenges, which may result in fatigue, depression, anxiety, as well as other symptoms. There is an abundance of resources available, and counseling can help sort out what one needs. The physical body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and needs proper care to function well, including diet, exercise, and stress management. John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ “
The Holy Spirit Speaks
I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Try a new way to turn enchiladas into a healthy meal!