Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Over the last few years, studies and scholars have shown that stress, anxiety, and depression have skyrocketed. There are many stressors, as well as the increasingly popular word, “triggers”. The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) states, “Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another.”
Guilt. The recollection of failure and inadequacy. Recognizing that we fall far short. Shame from being plagued repeatedly by the same sin that we have previously resolved to forsake once-and-for-all. The feelings of defeat and despair. Desiring help… but not exposure.
The opportunity to examine ourselves when we participate in the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, can be weighty and burdensome when our conscience indicts us and guilts sets in. What do we do with it? What can we do? Perhaps we deem ourselves unworthy, and abstain from participation as we let the bread and cup pass. Or perhaps we cast an apology to the Lord, and determine with greater resolution that this time, we will prevail.
If we’re not careful, we can get caught in the trap of moralism, and miss the beauty of our Savior as we turn our attention to ourselves.
“Come and See”: An Invitation
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). These words of Jesus communicate both his heart and purpose in leaving the glory of His Father’s presence (John 17:5) and joining the likes of mankind (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus was on mission: His Father’s mission, which He had owned for Himself. We are called to join in that mission, and we share that call with one another, God’s church, “the called-out ones.”
I encourage everyone to invite others to join us for the month of December, as we ask an important question: Why did Jesus become man?
The Discipline of Gratitude
What is it in our human nature that struggles so hard with thankfulness? Why are our blessings so often on our periphery while our complaints and demands grab our full attention?
We are reminded this week to take time to be thankful. It may, in fact, be the one time each year that a majority of our nation acknowledges reasons for thankfulness. However, a holiday instituted by our nation to direct attention to God has been edged out by a new “holiday” of sorts, in which we forget the blessings we just counted, instead storming the stores and flooding the websites with fresh material pursuits.
The Anomaly of “Balance”
In a society that is deeply wounded with the rampant rise of divorce, broken families, fatherless children, and identity crisis, there has been a healthy resurgence in recognizing the importance of family. Husbands and parents are urged to guard their family time and balance their priorities to honor their Lord with their families. Without caution, however, we can overcorrect and veer off the road on the other side, embracing one extreme to avoid the other.
So the saying goes: “Don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.”
Pain and Hope in Grief
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” These beautiful words of Jesus in John 15:11 emanate with hope that appeals deeply for a world that is so desperate to know and hold on to evading happiness. They are rich truth that builds a foundation for hope and point us to the one place where joy is forever certain. But, where is that joy in the midst of heart-shattering pain?
It was five years ago today, that I lost my dad.
Christian Liberty, Stifled… Exhortations for the Weaker Brother
Romans 14 compels the Christian who is strong in his liberty to surrender his rights for the spiritual well-being of his fellow believer that has convictions. But when does that become excessive? What if this is abused? Should Christians with convictions desire this loss of liberty?
Stronger brother: don’t flaunt your liberty, and be sensitive to your weaker brothers. But, weaker brother: don’t wield your convictions as a trump card against Christian liberty!
Nine questions for the weaker brother:
Wrestling with Convictions
What music should I listen to? How should I dress? Who should I vote for? Should I participate in Halloween? Should I join a party with my coworkers? What Bible translation should I use? Should my kids go to public school, Christian school, or be homeschooled?
Our decisions matter! It is important that we work hard to thoughtfully reflect on biblical truth and carefully discern what practices are wise. As Romans 14:5 says, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” That is, we should make our decisions from personal convictions that we have diligently worked for. But how do we do that? How do we know what’s right?
Real Men Cry… Together
I rarely cry. To some, that would look good. Like true composure. But I think I’ve trained myself in a harmful way. “Sadness” is a barely recognizable and identifiable emotion. Instead, it is stifled, along with any hint of tears. Sadness may instead express itself in silence, withdrawal, or anger. Its suppression is actually a manifestation of pride. And I struggle in denial of a God-given emotion, and its expression in tears.
When’s the last time you had a spiritual EKG? An EKG measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. Have you considered what makes your heartbeat? Let’s have a look…
Does the good news of Jesus drive you each day? Or is it shelved each week to be remembered again on Sunday? Are you freshly excited about God? Or are you drifting in boredom with familiar biblical concepts? Are you restless with desire to know Him more? Or are you comfortable with a casual pursuit of Jesus? Are you passionately engaged in hungry pursuit? Or are you dispassionately withdrawn with indifference?
If your vital signs are waning, you are in serious danger!
What It Means to Be Community
How well do you know some of your fellow church members? I don’t just mean their name, that on most Sundays they’re doing “good”, and a few standard facts about them. I’m not advocating for knowing more about people. I’m suggesting that it’s time to invest ourselves into deeper relationships with our family in Christ!
God in the Cracks?
special feature by Pastor’s wife, Diane Scallon
For those of you who have smartphones, please take a moment to check the battery status of your phone. In the battery section, it will give you a percentage of what app is used the most. Where is your Bible app in comparison to Facebook? Where is your Bible app in comparison to Instagram? How about Snapchat? Whatsapp?
Warning! Harden NOT Your Heart!
Have you ever noticed how doing something wrong gets a little bit easier every time? The first time committing a particular sin, our conscience may burn within us! But if we manage to explain away that guilt and pep-talk ourselves into another go, we can surely work ourselves into a comfort zone with certain sins! Eventually, those sins might become normal life to us, and the very notion that it is “sin” can horribly offend us! It goes without saying that there is an urgent need for regular self-examination – and there are repeated warnings in Scripture to caution us against this “hardening” of our hearts!
How to Have Beautiful Feet
Each morning before leaving home, the typical person will look in the mirror to check his appearance and ensure that they look presentable. Some traits can be adjusted, such as bedhead or food on our faces; others are simply a part of who we are, like my freckles and stubborn cowlick. It’s important for us to examine ourselves regularly, though! Take a look at your feet, considering: what is your appearance before God? Would He describe your feet as “beautiful”? “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:15).
It is amazing to me that an almighty and glorious God can look upon sinners like us, and see beauty. What is it that gives us beautiful feet before God?
A Prayer for Our Church
Thank you, Lord, for our All Nations Praise last Sunday at Grace Baptist Church, in which you were honored, and your Word challenged us all to be continually praising you, in a way that would influence the lost world around us to know the good news of Jesus! Thank you for calling us out to be instruments in your hands, through which you would show the world your love and truth. Lord, we believe… help our unbelief! Help us to remember this call and not to forget! Help us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only! Help us to see evangelism not simply as a good idea to be talked about, but a natural daily response to who you are!
We live in a world that is saturated with the pursuit of comfort, and that comfort is especially one in which we have familiarity and ease. As I study the Bible, I am more and more convinced that God wants to challenge us in our comfort, and move us out of our comfort zone for our own good. Our country is sadly still facing the challenges of adapting in its comforts of familiarity, and a superiority complex in regarding our own ways as being right, and different ways from being wrong – particularly as it relates to race and culture. We need to be challenged in our comfortable worldview, to see everyone around us from God’s perspective!
The Bible is Simple
I wish I had it all together. I wish I had all the answers so I could get myself together. How I long to know the secret to life! There is a weariness all around right now. Are you weighed down with daily regrets, relationship struggles, and spiritual weariness?
I am learning that there is deep joy and rest in obeying God’s commands in the Bible! I believe there is relief from the fatigue we are facing, and that God wants to work in our struggling relationships and weary hearts to bring us to delight in Him as we obey His will.
Are you thinking right now, “But I can’t”?
The Church Must Pray Together!
The Lord tells us, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). That invitation and promise sounds exciting… but perhaps you share the common sentiment: “I’ve tried praying… and it doesn’t work.” Maybe that outlook is reflected in your dissatisfaction with your prayer life, and a looming shame when the topic of prayer is on the table. How then could you even consider joining the church for prayer meeting?
Let me assure you, first of all, that prayer is not for those who have their life together, nor is it a measurement of greatness!
Daily Devotion and Worship
How was your time reading the Bible today? Do you remember what you read? Did it transform your attitude or perspective? Did it move you to worship? Or was it a struggle to push through and maintain focus as you read the Word of God? Or did you pause from your busyness to spend time with God at all?
As we saw on Sunday, in Romans 8:31, Paul asks the question, “What then shall we say to these things?”
The Suffering Child and His Father
The hardest thing a parent will ever have to do is to watch his child suffer. We love our children and want the best for them! How difficult it is to be helpless amidst our own child’s suffering… and if we are able to stop the suffering and rescue them, how driven we are to intervene! So, where is God, our Father, amidst our suffering? God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the God of comfort, who can do beyond anything we ask or even imagine? Am I truly God’s child, and is He truly my Father?