Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Escape of Hopes and Dreams

Do you ever feel as though someone left the lid off of your “hopes and dreams” jar and they all escaped?
I do. Disappointments can come into our lives over and over again, until eventually we are demoralized. There are so many enemies to dash those expectations and steal the anticipation of good things to come. Yesterday as I walked (rather aimlessly, I admit) through a department store, I felt robbed. I saw this jar and felt God had left me at the curb; I have been waiting for a ride that never comes, alone and very disappointed. We have followed The Christ since Steve and I were teenagers. We have been shameless idealists as we leaned into Him and put all the eggs in that one basket; that one that we presented to Him. We have had devastating bouts with mental illness in our family, death of our daughter, now foreclosure of our home. Where did my dreams go? Where is the hope? How did they escape the jar? Can they be retrieved? Each day we live is clear evidence that God is not finished with us. Maybe He is making us an example of perseverance or maybe we are just unlucky.
I do not believe that for a minute. God is a God of purpose and certainty. He is not aloof, arbitrary, or busy. He is totally faithful, totally involved and all powerful and wise. We do not live a life of positive thinking or lame anticipation. We live for God and the outcome, the results the onus is on Him. He has broad shoulders and there is purpose in our suffering. The Psalmist said, “The LORD is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.” (145:13) Whether or not I feel my hopes and dreams have escaped, nothing has changed. He is the God of the weak and sad; He is the Hope of the hopeless and when man says, “Now, let’s see what becomes of his dreams,” God is working all things according to His purposes and revealing the fulfilled dreams of His children. Put the cork back in the jar and dare to dream again. God is at the helm and He is full of surprises. Don’t give up-your jar is not empty after all.
This article was written by guest blogger, Robyn Bloem

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Christian at death doesn't pass away, he passes to something.

There are two important principles when it comes to grief and the Christian.
The first principle is, when faced with death, the born again believer has sure hope, because the Captain of his salvation has conquered the greatest enemy—death. In fact, the Bible proclaims that the death of saints is precious in the sight of the LORD, (Psalm 116:15).
When he dies, a born again believer immediately sees Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:1-9). All sorrows are forgotten. There is no pain or grief in Heaven. There is no more curse or sin. The saved one at death is reunited with saved loved ones who have died in the Lord before them. These things are sure because of the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), (1 Corinthians 15:12-26).
The second principle is that Christians, as humans, experience the overwhelming sorrow of grief, but not as others who have no hope, (1 Corinthians 4:13). Christians can be guilty of playing down the human nature of Christ and also of “sanitizing” the death of a believer. Those left behind can be in agony. Their humanity must be validated. Their hope of reunion must be proclaimed and made clear. A funeral of a Christian is a celebration of his life, and also a mourning of his death. The Christian believer is not immune to grief but participates in the mourning process; I Samuel 30:3, 4; John 11:33-35; Acts 8:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17.
Please pray about a new book we are writing based on the death of our daughter, Lindsay and granddaughter Emily Hope on September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Writtten in 1990 after finding out Lindsay had separation anxiety

(c)2011-Steve Bloem

In some ways, there is something worse than our own depression. It is our children having it. I have spoken in the past of our son, Brant, and his severe panic and depression.
Having to watch him go through all the pain that is involved in this disease proves to be a severe trial for Robyn and me.
He was not the first of our children to have a depression/panic disorder. Our daughter Lindsay who has been in heaven for about ten years after being killed by a drugged driver (along with her daughter, Emily Hope), was diagnosed with separation anxiety and depression when she was in the fourth grade.
I do not consider myself to be a hymn writer but I did write what is below after I realized that she had tasted and would taste the bitter cup of depression and also panic disorder. The "hymn" is entitled,Count it all Joy.

Faced once again with heartache and sorrow;
Once again praying, "Not my will but Yours;"
Finding today's strength and more for tomorrow
Submitting to your way to take care of hers.

You are our Father of Mercy to children;
Suffering is not wasted when suffering for Thee.
We count it all joy when the waves overtake us,
Praying in us that His image is seen.

The cup of sorrow from the Father is given
I will drink it again, as I have before;
It has never proved harmful- nor ever will be;
Then one day in heaven, I will suffer no more.

Our great God is for us, No foe can subdue
No harm present or future His love won't see through
He spared not His own Son, He smote Him for all
Christ Jesus, our High Priest; on Him we will call.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I have researched the websites of many churches and have found it a rare occurrence to unearth a mental illness support group. Churches have grief share, divorce recovery, celebrate recovery, and many other support groups.
Many church leaders are like the proverbial ostrich with his head in the ground. It is almost a don't ask, don't tell, situation

Robyn and I have started a support group at our own church, Rockford Baptist Church in Rockford Michigan. The support group is part of a grass roots movement which we call CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness). We have written our own study guide material.
If only pastors knew how many of their sheep feel alone and misunderstood by their church. These storm tossed afflicted persons are very important to God, The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

Mental illness is a whole body disease and it has a devastating effect to those who suffer from it. The vegetative functionings of the body fail in major depression. They are sleep, appetite, and sex drive. The will is broken. The depressed person finds it very difficult to accomplish even little tasks. A depressed person's concentration makes it difficult for him to read. His memory is affected. God seems a million miles away.

The devil like a roaring lion seeks to isolate depressed people from God and church and make them think God has abandoned them. Then he presents suicide as a viable option to escape from the horrific psychic pain. The church of Jesus Christ should not neglect this people group. She will have to answer to her Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ for her treatment or non-treatment of the mentally ill.

Robyn and I have written a starter/study guide for launching this CAMI program in your church. We have a seminar which introduces the material and then goes on to explain every part of it. If members of the church attend the seminar then we will provide consultation for your church leaders, we will instruct them on how to start a CAMI group, and how to maintain it. Our group format includes eight guiding principles for Christians who suffer from a mental illness and/or their caregivers. We have a Leader’s Manual which spells out treatment goals for every lesson.

In the Leader's manual we have provided the answers to the discussion questions which are in the student guide. The Guides help the sufferer think through various issues and to see them in the context of suffering as a Christian. It has also been reported to be helpful for the caregivers who come to the groups. This is a very important concept for today’s Christian with mental health issues. Mental Illness begs for understanding, community and compassion. Are you with us?


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Merciful God, Does He fail us in suffering?

Lindsay Bloem Hoover

Do you have to forgive God? Many counselors would say, yes but Scipture says no. It is impossible to forgive Him because he never has or will commit sin. Here is my testimony; In the middle of my great sorrow (Our daughter Lindsay had died along with her baby Emily about nine months before this); God met me in the most wonderful way. The story is taken from my journal.

My journal -
July 3, 2002

Anger, - Tension in the house was everywhere. I was angry.
I felt like an animal in a trap. I was angry at Lindsay for not heeding the warnings of God. I was angry at that my only precious girl was gone. I was angry at the murderer of Lindsay. I was angry at society for not punishing perpetrators who drink, drug and drive.

Everyone except Robyn decided to disperse. Tyler, being the youngest, went with me. I was praying and confessing sins while walking around the neighborhood. I was asking God for wisdom.

God came to me
I don't mean in a vision; I mean in the providential ordering of my finding a beautiful tract in a not so beautiful place.
Tyler and I walked by a little factory. The grass was long and the grounds were not managed. There was a small colorful looking paper which was on the grass. It was a tract. The title was Ten Reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering
It was written by someone at Radio Bible Class. I could tell that whoever wrote it had suffered deeply. I read the whole tract. I read the tract to my youngest son Tyler. God gave us strength that day, God met my deepest need for comfort, and He condescended to my lonely, tired heart and gave me peace.

The Merciful God of the Bible

Psalm 18:2-The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge ; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold
II. Corinthians 1:8-11-- For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively , beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life ; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead ; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Steve Bloem
Heartfelt Ministries