Don’t Hold it In

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:31

This is what I woke up to. This is what I needed.

I rolled out of bed, Opened up my social media messages and saw one message that said,

In my time of prayer this verse keep coming to me for you. Isaiah 40:31. May God fill you with His peace today.

No details or explanation. Just the faithfulness to make the effort and deliver the simple yet impactful message to start my day.

This kind human doesn’t know the craziness my week has been nor what awaits my packed schedule for today. This person doesn’t know the call I had yesterday and now I’m planning an unexpected funeral for someone who’d died far beyond his time. Because this is a church attender, there’s probably the idea that “Pastor Dave has a sermon to prep for.”

But non of that matters when the Holy Spirit prompts you to reach out to someone. When you have a message of encouragement, you don’t check to see condition of someone’s life before delivering it. When God gives you a word of encouragement, don’t hold it in. 

God is faithful; His timing is perfect. But on the flip-side, I’m not always faithful and my timing sometimes is “off.”

There are times God has prompted my heart to reach out and say something in a store, a coffee shop, or to send a simple message to someone over text or social media. And because of those thoughts of awkwardness, fear, or doubt, the message either gets delayed or not even delivered.

Don’t hold it in.

When the Holy Spirit gives us a word of encouragement, it’s just that: encouragement. It’s there to build up the individual. It is there to give reminder of the presence of God. Perhaps it will be the boast within their heart (like it was mine this morning) that, regardless of what I face, I will have “new strength” and “…run and not grow weary…walk and not faint.”

Has God prompted your heart to reach out to someone? Don’t delay. Don’t hold it in. Be the voice of God and the reminder of His presence to someone’s life. Find someone to encourage today.

(BTW: Thank you to the individual who breathed life into me this morning. You’re a rock star to me!!!)

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

When Should We Get Help? 4 Reasons to Get Counsel for Your Marriage

“Pride first, then the crash, but humility is precursor to honor.” Proverbs 18:12 (MSG)

When it comes to marriage and marital situations, it’s very hard to shock me (I think people purposely try). Even though I’ll never say, “I’ve heard it all,” from my experiences have just afforded me to see an awful lot of situations and a variety of issues.

But this past week, a couple shocked me.

This two-year-old marriage came in to talk because they recognized something that, if not taken care of, had terrible potential. So before it had a chance to really cause any division or pain, it needed to be exposed and grown though.

That’s it.

They were not on a verge of a breakdown or meltdown. There wasn’t any threats or ultimatums. No raised voices. In fact, they both had smiles. Neither one tossed blame. They each confessed where he/she is contributing to the issue. And after 45 minutes, they walked out smiling and I stood there shocked and monumentally pumped. These two in their young marriage had the simplistic foresight to see where an issue “could” go and were not going to be passive with it. I’m not sure how many times I said it to them that night, but I was so proud of them.

Before you chalk this nice little story up to the age of these two and/or the vintage of their marriage, I think it would be wise to step back for a second. You can read this with a critical heart and judge them thinking, “if there was some resolution in 45 minutes and they left with a smile, then it wasn’t a real issue.” But I would ask you to look back over your marriage and ask yourself, “what if we got help early in the issue before it escalated?” or “what if, earlier in our marriage, we got some periodic help before we thought we needed it?

Far too often, getting help is seen as a last resort. The idea of talking to someone, and not dealing with things on your own, carries this idea that you and/or your spouse are inept. But this is where humility comes in (Proverbs 18:12). If you both will exercise humility, you are handing God pliable hearts and attitudes that He can shape.

This couple’s small act of humility stirred me. So I sat down and began to make a list of reasons couples should ask for or get help.

To get a “check-up.” Most people wouldn’t think of seeking a counselor or going to a marriage conference unless something was wrong. But what if your marriage changed that thought process? A check-up with a doctor is purely preventative. And to regularly (annually, twice a year) schedule them is to have a proper view of how your body is operating and/or if there needs to be any tweaks to your diet, schedule, vitamins, exercise, etc. If that works for your physical body, why wouldn’t that work for your marriage where the “two have become one”?

When you recognize an area where your marriage needs to grow. Some couples thrive in certain areas but not so much in others. Instead of just settling for “what life has handed you,” get some help to build that area up. There are couples who excel in having fun (leisure) but struggle with conflict resolution. Others have done great working through relationship roles but experience sexual disconnection. Getting help is not an admission of defeat; it’s an admission of your humanity and a breaking of your pride.

To fortify an area of strength. Just because you have an area of strength, doesn’t mean you ignore it. Keep building it up. Every athlete seems to be gifted in a specific area(s) but lacks in others. As much as they work on developing where they are weak, they also fine-tune where they are strong. Strength areas should be ignored; they can be powerful pivot points to build up the others.

When you’re at an “impasse.” An impasse is a situation in which progress doesn’t seem possible. Sometimes a disagreement has grown and you’ve both exhausted yourselves. Instead of letting something fester, seek out some wisdom from a Godly, wise, and impartial party.

I can hear some of your thoughts, “I don’t want to pay for a counselor/conference.” But I submit two thoughts. First, a counselor/conference is cheaper than a divorce lawyer. Yes I know you can schedule time with your pastor.  He loves you and he’s there to help advise BUT he is not the same thing as a professional counselor (unless he/she’s got the proper schooling/training). But there’s something about making that financial investment in a bonafide marriage counselor/conference. You tend to value more what you pay for. Sacrifice a few Starbucks and put a few bucks away for the betterment of your marriage.

Second, investing in your marriage in the present, pays long-term dividends in your future. Remember, it’s not about getting help only in crisis. Yes, counseling can help in the immediate, but “present humility” will create long-term stability in your marriage. And the more you pour into it, the more value you bring to it.

I love you all. I believe in you because I believe in Jesus.

Keep Encouraging effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Keep Feeding Hope.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

From the heart of a depressed pastor…

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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…

 

2 Minute Devo #31Days – “Present help”

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We started a new series this month called “#31Days.” What “#31Days” means is we are encouraging everyone to take the challenge of encouraging someone via social network for 31 days.  Make sure you use the hashtag!

Today’s scripture: Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2 Minute Devo: “Stop Crying” Nehemiah 8:5-18

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Nehemiah 8:5-18:

Nehemiah 8:5-18

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites,[a]helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly,[b] and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lordis your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.

13 On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14 And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths[c] during the feast of the seventh month, 15 and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bringbranches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16 So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, eachon his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18 And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.

2 Minute Devo: “Fearless Trust” Isaiah 12

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September is our journey through the 2 minute series called “Restoring Joy”.  I want to invite you to join me as we. It’s as simple as viewing  the vlog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Isaiah 12:

Isaiah 12

 You[a] will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God[b] is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”

With joy you[c] will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known[d] in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your[e] midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “You’re not alone” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Isaiah 41:10:

Isaiah 41:10

10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.