Monday Kfirst Kickstart: #Empowered week 3 “The Holy Spirit and Your Emotions”

Today I want to give you a place to start your week. It’s Monday and in the wake of a great weekend and a workweek ahead, sometimes you just need a “kickstart” to get focused.  So grab some coffee let’s start a great week together.

We continued our current series in our Kfirst community that focuses on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. And our focus turned to our emotions. (Click here for yesterday’s notes.)

Yesterday we hosted John Opalewski of Converge Coaching. John shared his testimony of his own challenges with depression and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life. It was here where he directed us to how the Holy Spirit impacts our emotions. He does it in four ways:

  1. Partnership
    • The Holy Spirit wants to partner with us to help us “guard ourselves.” (Acts 20:28)
  2. People
    • As we say all the time at Kfirst, the enemy works in isolation, God works in community. The Holy Spirit moves through others as well as moving in and through you into people (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
  3. Prayer
    • The Holy Spirit works through us as we pray. One of the ways is, when we pray, He brings to our minds the areas we need to deal with and/or focus upon (Romans 8:26-27).
  4. Practice
    • In the words of Paul, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard…or seen in me—put it into practice.” When we hear from the Holy Spirit, we live out and make active in our lives (Philippians 4:8-9).

This week, would you purpose to take time each day to posture yourself in the presence and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through your emotions. If you’re finding yourself struggling, reach out to someone and allow the Holy Spirit to minister through them to you.

Love you all. We’ll see you this Sunday as we continue our series.

BTW: Here’s the song for your prayer playlist.

Thoughts of a Depressed Pastor: 4 Steps to Escaping Depression

My name is David. And I’m a pastor who deals with bouts of depression.

I don’t write as one who is specialized in the medical or psychological field, but as one who fights a personal battle while refusing to let others stand alone in theirs. My depression is considerably lower than others, and happens perhaps, less frequent as yours. I will not compare my pain to yours but would implore you from the beginning of this post:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

Out of all of my blogs, my last blog on depression from August 11, 2014 is, by far, the most read and shared article I’ve ever written. It tells me that there are thousands out there that have experienced this “darkness” and/or know someone who does. And lately, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to write another blog on the “funk” that shows up periodically in my life.

My two goals in writing this: First, to help bring a bit of clarity to those who absolutely do not understand those of us who deal with this. If I can remove some ignorance to create compassion, then I see blog as a “win.” Second, to give a clear message of hope. I want to confront the feelings of hopelessness that you have with the truth of who Christ is. And the rule I live by: Truth always trumps feelings. My emotions and feelings will rise and fall, but truth remains solid. And the truth I remind myself is this:

Regardless of my emotions, I must purpose to fix my eyes on God (Psalm 42:5).
I have victory in Christ (Romans 8:37)  and nothing can separate me from His unconditional love (Romans 8:38-39).
Christ is with me regardless of whether my senses can detect Him (Isaiah 43:2Matthew 28:20).
Jesus is my light in the midst of my darkness (2 Samuel 22:29).

Often, when reading scripture, I come across scenarios that make me leap up and say, “That’s exactly how I feel.” And when I think about how to describe to people what I deal with, I think about a man named Bartimaeus.

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside.  Mark 10:46

Two strong words jump out at me: “blind beggar.” Why? Because feeling “blind” and “begging for help” is what I personally experience physically, mentally, and emotionally. My senses are numbed and and cannot detect any direction to take.  I get this “feeling” of being immobilized and unable to move forward. Things that should make sense don’t. I feel like stationary while the rest of the world is passing by.

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. – Mark 10:47

There are two crowds in this story. The obvious crowd tried to shut him up. Perhaps they’ve gotten so used to seeing him in his condition, that they had become calloused. I like to think they responded out of ignorance of not knowing what to say to Bartimaeus (I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt). But perhaps they were so busy about their day and/or they were so preoccupied with what THEY might receive from Jesus, they didn’t want Barimaeus to interrupt their experience.

Can I implore you of things to NOT say to someone dealing with depression? Things like:

  • “Cheer up.”
  • “Just don’t think about it.”
  • “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
  • “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”
  • “Have you been praying/reading the Bible?”
  • “You’re just looking for attention.”
  • For an extensive list click here.

But there’s another crowd in this story. It is the people who let him know that Jesus was near. How do I know THAT crowd was there? Bartimaeus didn’t see Jesus passing by. He didn’t hear Jesus. Nothing about Bartimaeus’ senses detected Jesus himself. He leaned upon what others were telling him.

So many people think, because they’ve never dealt with this condition that someone is experiencing, there is nothing you can say or do. But note: not a single person in the crowd was blind. But their presence and their words helps Bartimaeus know how near Jesus was. This may be the most pivotal role that you can play in someone’s life who’s fighting this darkness. Your presence (personal interaction) and your words can help people to know that Jesus is near.

What can you say?

  • “I’m here. What can I do?”
  • “I don’t fully understand, but I’m not going anywhere.”
  • “You are loved.”
  • “Can I pray for you right now?”
  • “Can I call you later to check in on you?”
  • For an extensive list, click here.

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Mark 10:47 

Don’t give up. Regardless of whatever voices in your head or in your life that keep telling you to give up, refuse to stop reaching out and crying out. Refuse to give up hope even when you cannot see it. Bartimaeus couldn’t sense how close or far Jesus was. His feelings didn’t dictate Jesus’ presence. Jesus was there. I’m reminded of the name the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus. He is “Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” It doesn’t say “God used to be with us” or “God was with us.”

He is God with us now. He is God with us always.

And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. – Mark 10:49-52

I love those three words. “And Jesus stopped.” You may feel like Jesus has passed you by. He hasn’t. You emotions will make you feel like you are forgotten. You are not. You may struggle with feeling loved (love by others or loved by yourself). Know that you are loved with an everlasting love. And there are four thoughts I want to give you.

1 – Find a trusted soul to be your eyes. It says in verse 49, “Take heart. Get up; He’s calling you.” Jesus didn’t pass him by. And again, Bartimaeus couldn’t detect that Jesus had stopped to help him. But those around him encouraged him with seven simple words. You need to find trusted people in you life that love you where you are at and love you enough to speak the truth in love to you. This person (or these people) needs to be someone who knows the hope in Christ and can direct your mind’s eye to that hope. The enemy works in isolation; God works in community. Get one person; get a couple of people. Allow those who love Jesus, and love you, help you know Jesus is near.

2 – Reject what the darkness is telling you. Darkness cannot compete with the light. So the only way to keep you in darkness is to contain you in it. Verse 50 says, “And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.” There is that cognitive decision (a personal decision) to reject what the darkness has been telling you. I love that he didn’t have to see his miracle before he decided to “throw it off.” Darkness will lie to you. Darkness will try to distort your senses. But the more you reject what it tells you and the more you remind yourself of the truth, the greater strength you will have to “spring up” and come to Jesus.

3 – Tell Jesus what you need. I don’t think Jesus was ignorant to Bartimaeus. But verse 51 is such a powerful transition. It says, “…I want to recover.” He confronted his “condition” that claimed his identity. He was ready to move forward from it.  Even with those in the crowd willing to help him, he still needed to make that personal decision to confront his darkness and bring it to Jesus.

4 – Keep following Jesus. Verse 52 says that he “recovered” and “followed him (Jesus) on the way.” Following Christ doesn’t mean I don’t have struggles. Even David remarked “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” We all face tough times. But what I learn from following Jesus consistently helps me in the times of struggle. I lean in the darkness what I learned in the light.  And the more I walk with Christ, the greater foundation I have and the deeper the well I have to draw from.

I don’t know who you are or where you find yourself. But I remind you of what I said earlier:

You are not alone.
You have hope.
You can get help.

I love you. I’m praying for you today. There are those around you that can help.

And most importantly, regardless of your senses, Jesus is here. And he’s with you.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

BTW: This is the song on repeat during the ENTIRE time I’ve written this blog

 

Emotional Monarchy: 3 Steps to Prevent Emotions From Ruling Your Life

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

If you are familiar with me, you know I do deal with bouts of depression.  I don’t wear it as a badge to brag.  But I look at it as the opportunity for the strength of Christ to shine.  For his “power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I won’t remain silent about the hope and the healing I’ve discovered in Christ.  

It was a little more than a year ago, I shared my struggle in the post, “From the Heart of a Depressed Pastor.” To date, no other blog post has exceeded the thousands of hits and countless shares that article brought. It told me two things:

I am not alone in my struggle.  And neither are you.

After responding to a Facebook message about emotions last week, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts in a blog with an idea that, in some way, it may breathe hope.

Personally, I’m a uber emotional guy.  In other news, water is wet. 

I don’t mind it.  God created us as emotional beings. It seems that God as “blessed” certain people with more emotions than others.  But I don’t think there are those with more or less as if we all walk with varied levels of emotions (there’s some phd writing me an email right now about levels of emotion in humans) as if some have greater amounts than others.  I just think people steward them differently.  It’s all about how you handle them. Just in my non-phd opinion, bottling them up isn’t necessarily being a good steward of emotions just as much as letting them roam free and rule your life.  As I stated in a previous blog, we are to “honor God with (our) bodies.” We are stewards of what God gives us.  That includes our emotions.  

I understand feelings. Yet I cannot just write a “blank check” to them and let them have free reign. I have to see myself as a steward with the charge of managing who I am from the inside out.  Feelings/emotions are great but they cannot run our lives.  They must be brought into check.

We live in a society where feelings have become the foundation of truth in our culture.  It’s to the point where it seems like the worst think you can do to someone is “hurt their feelings.” In American culture, we think “truth is what I feel to be right.”  To some, this sounds like emotional salvation.  But really, it creates chaos.  If everyone, everywhere, acted upon EXACTLY what they were feeling all at the same time, it would be pandemonium. Disaster. Worse than a zombie apocalypse. 

I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with people who are living in the misery of regret because, out of a “feeling”, they decided to do something and it produced consequences they never predicted.  In the moment, it “felt” right. But they quickly discovered that what felt correct wasn’t necessarily correct. 

How do you remedy this? How do you bring emotions into check?

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

3 Thoughts: 

FIRST, question your feelings. Psalm 42:5a, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?”

We should remember to, in a healthy way, to question emotions/feelings. If we are hateful at someone, we should step back to question those bitter feelings and challenge them. If we are envious toward someone, call those feelings into question. Personally, I’ve learned to question what I’m feeling and the thoughts that come in my head. I can’t imagine acting out of EVERYTHING that floats through my mind. I love that the writer of Psalms 42-43 questions what he’s feeling FIVE times. He knows himself.  He recognizes his emotion and where they want to take him. 

SECOND, wrestle with your feelings. Psalm 42:5b, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

Pray over your feelings, push through them, research what they’re desiring. Don’t just accept what they hand you. Talking it through with a pastor, mentor, or counselor is a great way to help “wrestle” though feelings. The reason why I love the Psalms, is the writer (usually David) wrestles between what he wants to do and what is the heart of God. “Fixing my eyes” isn’t easy when there’s a load of thought and emotions trying to drown you.  Wrestling is good. Workouts are good. They burn away what is unhealthy and build up what’s healthy. Keep pressing through despite what you “feel.”

THIRD, speak truth to your feelings. Psalm 42:5c, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

This is so healthy because it’s bringing in something solid and foundational into the shifting sands of our mind and feelings. It’s healthy to confront our feelings with truth.  A simple example: If you want to take something that doesn’t belong to you, regardless of how you feel you deserve it, stealing is wrong. Confront it with truth. 

Think about this, Jesus on the night of his betrayal that led to the cross, out of his feelings, didn’t want to endure the crucifixion. But in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he recognized that his feelings were not going to lead his life in the best and most blessed direction. He embraced truth. He embraced the plan of God despite the difficulty. I thank God he did.

Life isn’t easy and emotions don’t always help.  I love them, but they should not and cannot rule my life. The beauty of having a relationship with Christ, we don’t have to be alone.  He’s there in the valleys.  He’s there on the mountain. Just don’t let the worry and anxiety of what you don’t know about your situation replace what you do know about Jesus. Let his authority and grace help you steward your emotions. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

What I see on my right arm every day!
What I see on my right arm every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

From the heart of a depressed pastor…

14712589_10154587697903537_8991695514254972394_o

I’ll say it up front: I’m a pastor.  I deal with depression.  

From the beginning of this blog I’ll say this: There is no way I can compare what I deal with to the likes of what others or yourself may go through.  But it’s what I personally face from time to time.  If you are dealing with depression, get help NOW.  

I can’t say that it’s been a recent thing.  I’ve dealt with it as long as I can remember.  For years (since I was a teen), I didn’t know who I could tell or if I had the freedom to tell anyone.  I was fearful of what people would think.  I thought people in the youth group would judge me.  I thought if I told my parents I would disappoint them. Depression is meant to isolate.  And for me, it succeeded at its job.   

My wife and kids have seen it in me.  My staff notices it.  It is hard to cover up. It’s not fun nor would I wish it upon anyone. 

Depression sucks (if you don’t like the word “sucks”…then “Depression displeases me immensely”). 

I’m in shock at the news of Robin William’s death.  In fact, my family can’t stop talking about it.  In a summer where my kids and I are going through movies from my past, we’ve found ourselves watching several of Robin’s movies. They love what he brings to the characters he portrays.  There are very few people who come along each generation that can entertain like Robin can.  

robin

Yet behind his humor was a man in pain.  Thus is the life of someone who deals with depression.  

When I fight depression, I feel alone.  I’m miserable.  Life seems joyless.  I cease to care about the little things. Anne will tell you that I pull away from everything.  I don’t want to talk or do anything.  I become a super-introvert and want to “hole-up” in the house away from people.  Yet when it’s time to rise to the occasion, the “game-face” gets put on and I push through as best as I can.

Why do I type this? Because you need a sneak-peak into my “funk” that too many people deal with. Even though my depression is mild in comparison to so many others, it has been only because of the Lord and the church that I’ve found help and healing. I fight through tears typing this when I think of so many intercessors and encouragers that have surrounded me in my darkest of days.  If you know of anyone dealing with depression…if you know anyone trying to cope with this darkness, you can be the changing agent in their life.  Please do not be silent.  Read up.  Recognize it.  Step up.  

A friend spoke into my darkness years ago with a specific scripture.  

Psalm 77:2-6 (MSG) I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;  my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal. When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,” I didn’t believe a word they said. I remember God—and shake my head. I bow my head—then wring my hands.

I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep; I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together.

The words of Asaph rung out to me.  I wasn’t alone.  Even great men of God dealt with depression.  Listen to what he says: 

v. 11-15 Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.

O God! Your way is holy! No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen; you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

What has constantly pulled me out of my darkest days is what pulled Asaph out.  He rehearsed everything he knew of the Lord.  He reminded himself of who God is and who he is in the Lord.  The more I put my focus and the actions of my life upon who He is and who I am in Him, the more healing poured into my life. I understood that everything I do and think needs to be wrapped in the identity I found in Christ.   It’s amazing that from a simple chapter in Psalms that the Holy Spirit has helped illuminate my heart and my mind.  To this day, He continues to bring me hope and peace. 

Am I completely through it? Not yet.  I’d love to say “yes” but that’d be a lie.  I still face it but not as frequently.

For you dealing with this darkness: don’t give up hope.  Don’t let the memories and regrets be greater than the dreams that God has in store for you.  My peace has only come thought the saving presence of Christ who scripture calls, the Prince of Peace.  

For those who don’t deal with it: I praise God for men and women who have the “guts” to step up, see what I’m going though, and refuse to simply pass by.   Don’t turn a blind eye.  Reach out.  You don’t even need to say anything wise or pithy.  Offer to sit.  Offer to pray.  Your very presence as a representation of Christ’s presence, many times, is enough.  

The more we bring depression into the light, the less people will feel they have to live in darkness.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

I know it’s just a blog, but if it helps just one…

…if it give hope to just one…

…if it motivates just one to reach out…

…if it saves just one…

…it’s worth it.

Thanks for letting me ramble…