In the Shadow of a Giant #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army…As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright… 1 Samuel 17:16;24

It’s such a simple Sunday School story. Even most people who don’t go to church know of the story of David and Goliath.  In the book of 1 Samuel, we have one warrior that causes an entire army to hide in inaction. He shows himself twice a day and no one will confront the issue.

Enter a boy named David.

He shows up to battle. He sees an issue. And speaks up to address it. The response of those closest to him say, “Why can’t you be silent like the rest of us?  Go away” (paraphrased from 1 Samuel 17:28-29).

A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at a grocery store and saw this magazine cover highlighting the life and career of Robin Williams.

5 Years later...

Everything we thought we knew about him came crashing down August 11, 2014 as the news came out of his suicide due to the internal hopelessness he lived with.

The blog I wrote 5 years ago came out later that day as I admitting, publicly, my personal battle with depression. Personally, I felt that I can no longer be like those in the armies of Israel (1 Samuel 17) quietly standing in the shadow of a menacing giant hoping the issue will take care of itself or that someone else will deal with it.

But I was done being quiet. Often, I felt alone in my struggle and couldn’t bear that there was another person like “Robin Williams” out there experiencing the same thing that both he and I live(d) with. And that passion for people was pushing through every fear that whispered to my heart:

  • If people know about your depression, they will not want you as their pastor.
  • Your board is going to ask for your resignation.”
  • You’re going to be ostracized by other ministers.”
  • What are your parents going to think about this? Good sons don’t do this to their parents.”
  • Do you actually think your wife wants to be known as the spouse of a depressed husband?
  • This will embarrass your kids. Don’t put them through this.”

Those were just some of the internal voices screaming at me to stay in silence. Then a few hours later, an external voice came my way that made me want to delete the whole blog and go back into emotional hiding.

For a few years, I had been trying to get a hold of a very well-known minister to come to our church. He’s a legendary speaker. In terms of his reputation, any pastor would want him to preach to their congregation. The previous week, I left another message and that specific evening, he finally called me back.

And after I said, “Hello,” his response was:

“Is this the ‘depressed pastor’? If I say the wrong thing, you’re not going to go hang yourself are you. HA HA HA.”

I didn’t have a reply other than to be speechless. To me this was 1 Samuel 17 and Goliath was mocking me and making me want to hide with everyone else. After a few moments of silence (that felt like an eternity), thankfully he began to backtrack his comments after realizing the issue was not to be taken lightly.

Please know, I hold no ill-will toward this gentleman. I know it was ignorance speaking. But nevertheless, it triggered a moment that has encouraged me all the more to keep beating the drum of awareness to those who do not understand emotional and mental darkness. And my challenge is to do follow the example  we have of this young would-be king in 1 Samuel 17.

He showed up to the battle.
He saw an issue.
He spoke up to address the it.

First, you don’t have to have all the answers but you do need to show up. Sometimes your presence with someone dealing with depression speaks clearer than the most eloquent statement. Simply being present with someone hurting can more impactful than offering an articulate prayer. Often I equip people with six words to say to those who are hurting internally,

I don’t know. I am here.

Don’t worry about your words as much as offering being present with them.

Second, see the issue. Depression must be seen as a legit “issue” to be taken seriously. Admitting this internal Goliath exists doesn’t give it more power just as much as ignoring a giant doesn’t remove it.  For those of us who battle with depression, we just want to know we’re not weird, crazy, or so broken we have no chance for healing (because we feel that way). Sometimes, encouragement comes from hearing from a trusted friend who shows up and can recognize the struggle.

Just because you don’t personally deal with it or understand it doesn’t make it less of an issue. We cannot afford to ignore it (or those dealing with it); lives are at stake. We cannot chalk depression up to an issue we can just “quote a scripture and offer a token prayer” (and I’m a HUGE proponent of the Bible and the power of prayer). Depression attacks on four levels: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. Which leads me to my last point.

Speak up. Be a voice of hope. I love David’s words of 1 Samuel 17:26,

Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?

Before David volunteers to deal with their enemy, he deals with their identity. He speaks into who they are. “You are not an average army. You are the Lords; you belong to God.” And it’s this type of voice we need echoing in the shadows. We need life-giving, heart-encouraging, hope-building words breathing life into us who cannot see any opportunity of victory.

Speak up. Address those living in the giant’s shadow the reality of the hope that can be realized in the Lord.

I do not belong to the darkness. And when the shadow begins to, I know who (and who’s) I am and where my victory lies.

And I think others should experience the same thing. Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day would you:

Shows up to someone’s battle.
See the issue; recognize it.
Speaks up to address it by building them up with hope.

Hope has a name. And His name is Jesus.

And in the face of inner darkness, I say, “let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

2 Minute Devo: “If we’re willing” 1 John 1:5-10

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is 1 John 1:5-10:

1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he isfaithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

2 Minute Devo: “Out of chaos” Genesis 1

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October is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Resurrecting Repentance”.  It’s as simple as viewing the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Genesis 1:

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And Godmade the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds[g] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Dark Chocolate is Necessary for Marriage: Marriage Blog

Dave and Anne diagonal

We buy dark chocolate for our home candy dish.  Reason being: Anne and I do NOT like dark chocolate.  Our kids don’t either. Therefore, the candy dish stays full and look pretty with the shiny foil untouched by human hands.

But the point of desperation came. It’s that sweet-tooth that appears around 10:30 at night.  You know what I’m talking about.  As you sit back in the late night fare that television offers you, there begins a deep desire for your palate to be indulging in the sweetness of chocolate.  There was none to be found except in the candy dish.  It’s amazing what desperation will make you do. 

I grabbed the Ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt caramel.  It was the beginning of the end.

The dish was empty in three days. 

Ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt caramel

This month in my 2 minute devo’s, I’ve been covering what the Bible says about our words.  As I was reading through scripture, I though it would be wise to do at least one of my weekly marriage blogs on the words we use.  It is during my devo-prep, that I came across Proverbs 16:24

Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Those words “honey” and “sweet” leapt off the page at me. Immediately, my mind went to my indulgence into the shadowy world of dark chocolate. Like a kid on a sugar high, I began to research dark chocolate with Proverbs 16s description of “candy-like words”.  What I discovered is dark chocolate has a number of healthy benefits. The more I read, I began to see so many parallels to dark chocolate and the words described in Proverbs 16:24.

1 – Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious.  If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.The good stuff is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and a few other minerals. But with the nutrition comes responsibility in how you eat it.

Kind words are no different in their impact. Pleasant, positive, encouraging words full of love and faith are packed with nutrition for your marriage. It will strengthen your marital muscles as you journey the marathon of life together.  So many couples take each other for granted and let their kind words be reserved for special occasions and/or when they want something.  Meanwhile, their marriage is being starved for attention.  They are operating on a nutrient depleted marriage.  Beef up the kind words and give your relationship the nutrients it needs and deserves.

2 – Dark Chocolate helps the blood flow.  Two areas that specifically benefit: The brain and the heart.  Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Dark chocolate  increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Words/communication are the blood flow of marriage.  Kind words help foster great openness and health. What is different, is your spouse needs them more than two to three times a week. Kind words need to be given and received with that frequency per day.  They are as addictive as candy and can build up and grow your marriage into health.  There are too many people assuming your spouse knows how you feel.  It’s time to let your kindness be heard and, by doing that, you reduce your risk of stroke (or something just as damaging) to your marriage.

3 – Dark Chocolate is Full of AntioxidantsDark chocolate is LOADED with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.  Dark chocolate, literally, disarms the free radicals.

Kind words are powerful at disarming what is set up to do you harm. They will target all sorts of situations and circumstances that the devil has designed to cause damage and death to your marriage.  Kind words will not magically make things go away.  But they will lower defenses and usher in health.  Over time, consistent, authentic, and frequent words of kindness will disarm difficult moments from happening as well as be a strength through difficult seasons in marriage.

4 – Dark Chocolate may contain preventative elements.  From lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease to improving brain function, dark chocolate possesses so many healthy possibilities. This amazing sweet contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel and help lower your risk of getting cavities (of course combined with brushing). It has chemicals are a mild stimulant to help suppress coughs as well as elements great for your skin.

Kind words, used liberally, have so many preventative benefits. Conflict is going to naturally happen. Impasses occur.  What people don’t realize, is that a steady diet of kind words can help either avoid unnecessary conflict or lay down a foundation of strong edification that will give guidance through the storms of life.

I’ll give you a TRUTH: You don’t build a lighthouse out of desperation when the fog rolls in. Your steady marital diet of kind words  will build a strong watch tower that will be a strong guidance.  It paves the way for the light of Christ to shine to give your marriage hope, wisdom, and direction for the journey ahead. 

Like I said, kind words will not magically make things go away.  But over time, consistent, authentic, and frequent words of kindness will disarm difficult moments from happening as well as be a strength through difficult seasons in marriage.

Sit back, get some Ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt caramel, and speak some kind words to each other. Trust me, kind words will be like candy to your spouse “sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” 

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any calories and or lbs that may be gained after reading this blog nor has Ghirardelli paid for this blog as an advertisement for their delectable sweets.

Thanks for letting me ramble…