Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Churches and Suicide

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Statistics on suicide tell the story.  Fifteen percent of persons with a depressive disorder will successfully commit suicide.  It is hard to understand how a person can ‘out of the blue’ begin to have intense thoughts of taking his/her own life.  However, if you have been seriously depressed you can empathize with those who are stepping  near the threshold of eternity.

“Just say no” will not work when you are dealing with suicide. 
The nature of the disease and the devil himself, prove formidable obstacles to cause a person with severe depression and other symptoms to keep living.

Suicide, the elephant in the room
Suicide is the subject and the death that very few talk about.  It happens all the time.  If you don’t believe that, just look at the statistics for this last decade. It is not getting any better; in fact, it is getting worse.

Pastors should be trained in suicide assessment
Yes, we know that The battle belongs to the LORD.  However, this does not mean that churches should just “let go and let God” when its members come up against suicide.  In your church, you should have a Suicide Hot Line.  The pastors should be trained in suicide awareness and stop gap interventions. The devil is a very intelligent being.  He knows more Scripture than we do.  He takes advantage of the hopelessness and horrible psychic pain of depression.  Suicide leaves in its wake, children who will practice it like the parents who model it.  Most people don’t commit suicide the first time they try it.  Each time a person attempts suicide, it weakens his/her resolve to live.

Suicide Acrostic

Severe depressive symptoms must be relieved.

Unconditional Love should be shown to the suicidal person.

Interventions are in order, such as, obtaining lethal means of suicidal people, implementing a more detailed treatment plan if necessary, which includes such things as getting them effective medications or possibly ECT, (electro-convulsive therapy.)

Cries for help should be attended to -- not ignored.  These cries may
be verbal or could be actions that a suicidal person takes to be noticed.

Intoxication of drugs and alcohol impairs judgment and loosens
inhibitions which make it easier for the suicidal person to take his/her life.

Deliberate planning by a person contemplating suicide should be identified
and sometimes psychiatric hospitalization is required.

Exhortation needs to be done by a fellow believer urging the suicidal person not to buy into demonic deception or submit to the devil who appears as a roaring lion.

Bloem, Steve and Robyn, CAMI (Christians Afflicted with Mental Illness) Leaders Guide

Stay tuned for blogs on this subject.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Are you a depressed child of God? In Jesus name press on.

If you have read my blog, you already know about my depression.  A full account of my depression and how my wife helped me can be found in our book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It. It is published by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Many have read it and have come away encouraged. I will leave a link on the bottom of this blog if you wish to purchase it. I cannot remember if what I am about to say is in our book or not. It is taken from another book, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman. 
A copy of the April 1 devotional was sent to me while I was undergoing a clinical depression.  My depression had gone from severe to moderate.  I was partially treated (this was 1985) with the drug, Norpramin. My believing psychiatrist told me that he did not think I really had a biological depression. My mind had a dark veil over it and I was prone to discouragement. Here is some of the devotional that made a strong impression and helped me in Jesus' Name to press on.
Here is the selection.
Though He slay; me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15). 
For I know whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12).
"I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
'I trust in Thee.'

"I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

"I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses the greater gain.

"I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
'I do not doubt,' so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath."

"In fierce storms," said an old seaman, "we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there."
This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way.
Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may--winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers--no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. --Richard Fuller

This poem based on Scripture about perseverance while in great trials, helped me to trust God while
I was in the dark. I fired my psychiatrist, got a new one and asked him to put me on Pamelor.
At first he hesitated and told me that I was under great stress but I remonstrated and he
prescribed me Pamelor which made me feel better in two weeks.
I thank this Father of Mercies, and God of all Comfort!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Behold the Messiah - Mediator

He (man) is an enemy to His maker; a rebel against Jehovah; a blank-nay, worse--a blot in God's creation; dead to every virtue, dead to everything but sin;..... lost to every gracious purpose of his being;  A withered branch, fit only to be plucked off, and cast into the fire; stubble, ready for the burning.  "Let him alone!" said Reason.  "Cut him down!" cried Justice. "I hate the workers of iniquity!" added Holiness. "He or I must perish!" exclaimed Truth. "Spare him! Spare him! Spare him!" pleaded weeping Mercy. 
And Wisdom came forth, leading the Son of God, and said: "I have found a ransom! ”Behold the Mediator!"  And all the attributes met and embraced at the manger, and kissed each other at the cross" 
-Evans, Christmas. (c.1846) " Sermons of Christmas Evans" Philadelphia: J. Harmstead,  p. 123777

Mr. Evans, often called "the John Bunyan of Wales", was born on Christmas Day in 1766. "He was eminently a man of prayer. Prayer was his daily bread, the very breath of his spirit. He considered himself entitled, through Christ, to all the blessings of the gospel, and came boldly to the throne of grace in every time of need. During his whole ministerial life, much of his time was spent in the closet. It was his custom for many years, to retire for devotion three times during the day, and rise regularly for the same purpose at midnight."

"When he was about to preach at an association, or any important occasion, he would wrestle for hours with the
Angel of the covenant, nor relinquish his hold till he felt himself 'endued with power from on high.' Then he came forth to the congregation, as Moses from the Tabernacle, when he had communed with God." This was his secret, to tarry in prayer until the anointing of the Spirit came. Although he was often shabbily dressed and awkward, large crowds came to hear him preach and often there were tears, weeping and an uncontrollable excitement.

"On his arrival in Angleses, he found ten small Baptist societies, in lukewarm and distracted condition; himself the only minister, and no brother to aid him within a hundred and fifty miles. He commenced his labors in earnest. One of his first movements was the appointment of a day of Mr. Evans, often called "the John Bunyan of Wales", was born on Christmas Day in 1766. "He was eminently a man of prayer. Prayer was his daily bread, the very breath of his spirit. He considered himself entitled, through Christ, to all the blessings of the gospel, and came boldly to the throne of grace in every time of need. During his whole ministerial life, much of his time was spent in the closet. It was his custom for many years, to retire for devotion three times during the day, and rise regularly for the same purpose at midnight."


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Great hope, Glorified bodies

Life is not easy, The apostle Paul said, If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).   
When it comes to suffering, some say, "Forget doctrine; give me something relevant." My answer is   encapsulated in Point One of Heartfelt Counseling Ministries' doctrinal statement which is, We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the verbal and plenary inspired Word of God. The Scriptures are inerrant. infallible and God-breathed, and, therefore, are the final authority for faith and life (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

Every word (verbal) and every part (plenary) of Scripture is inspired by God. The Greek word Theos-pneustos, translated as inspired in the above, II Timothy Scripture, literally means,  God-breathed. The Lord ensured that when each writer penned Scripture, that which he recorded is without error and is infallible. This includes all portions of Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. Scripture is infallible from Genesis to Revelation. 

I say this by way of introduction so we can be sure of blessings which God has promised us for now and for all eternity.  Our Lord Jesus, while being tried, told us that Scripture is entirely relevant, when after being tempted by the devil (diablos = slanderer), He said, Man shall  not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God  (Matthew 4:4, NASB). 

We need to realize this when we view a world of suffering and dying; when we come face to face with our own mortality; every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is relevant! I think of my favorite pastor of all times who was one of the most brilliant and godly men I have ever met, full of compassion and counsel; his mind now being destroyed by Alzheimer's.  I think of my son who battles with depression which has made his life miserable; many other children whose lives are assaulted by Turrets Syndrome, early onset schizophrenia, Autism, cancer and other diseases.  I think of my own weakened brain which is susceptible to episodes of depression, filled  with obsessions and has been traumatized by watching our daughter and her baby die in a traffic accident.  What can the Bible tell us about all of this?

I will quote the famous scholar and Seminary teacher, Leon Wood, who himself was taken early from this life by Lou Gehrig's Syndrome.  The portion is from his book The Bible and Future Events, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, (1973), page 47).

"Perhaps one of the the greatest helps in understanding the nature of glorified bodies, comes from
Paul's statement that God will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Philippians 3:21b; 1 John 3:2).  Glorified bodies, then, will be like
Christ's resurrected body.  In that body, Christ could enter a room when the door was shut (John 20:19,26); ) vanish from sight while talking with others (Luke 24:30-31); remain unknown to others until special perception was granted (Luke 24:15, 16, 31); John 20:15,16,31); and defy gravity in ascending from the earth to disappear in the clouds (Acts 1:9).  At the same time, His body was real, for it could be touched (John 20:27), was capable of speaking (Luke 24:17-32), and quite clearly could consume food (Luke 24:30, cf)  Glorified bodies, then, will be real and physical, but will not be subject to death and decay; they will not become weary or sick; they will not need food for sustenance, though being capable of eating on occasion; and they will not be limited by either ordinary physical matter or natural laws, being able to vanish and appear at will and capable of defying gravity for upward movement.  Since Christ at His ascension apparently moved from earth to heaven with the speed of thought, this too, will no doubt be possible for glorified saints.  The saints of the church will be endowed with such bodies at the rapture, moving up in them to meet Christ in the air."

So, what better time to understand and appreciate the precious Word of God than in times of trial and hopelessness? This is what God has given us to cope and trust! His blessed Word is true, relevant and life-giving. We should not neglect it in times of discouragement.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lindsay the Prodigal comes home

Lindsay, Mom and Dad, Last Christmas

During those fourteen months of her absence, I said of Lindsay that she was “stuck in stubborn.” She used to say all the time, “If I just leave Bill now, why did I do all those things, i.e., quit high school, leave home, etc. It was all just wasted if I just up and leave him; it was for nothing.” Of course, that is a devilish argument, keeping her trapped in sin. My mother was getting ready to come and visit and when she came that May, things were still stiff and awkward but God really used my mom’s relationship with Lindsay to talk some sense into her. I guess she had heard just about all she could stand from us, but here was a new voice. Lindsay had talked to us about marrying Bill. We weren’t so sure that would be the best move and Steve told her not to make two mistakes. She shared some of her fears and told us eventually that she really loved Bill and they wanted to rear their child together.

“How would that actually come about?” She continued, “I can’t just move away from Bill one day and get married the next; that would seem weird.”
My mom took some long walks with Lindsay and talked some of those issues through with her. Lindsay loved and respected her grandmother and listened to what she had to say. Mom suggested that she move home for a little while and then have a small wedding with everyone’s blessing. Although it may seem like it came about quite easily and quickly, it didn’t; this whole episode lasted fourteen long, painful months, each day dragging us through the mire of awaiting another person’s decisions. Finally at the very end of June, 2001, Lindsay moved home. The resounding cheers were like the shot heard around the world. Our prodigal had come home! She told me once, “I don’t want to creep you out or anything Mom, but Bill and I are really trying to do the right thing. We are hardly even kissing. We want the Lord to know we are serious!”    --Robyn Bloem