The Christian Church and the Other “D” Word

the_big_d

During the past several months, from April all the way through the beginning of July, I have shared my “journey” through clinical depression, recovery and wellness. Today I am going to share my thoughts about something that I have not experienced myself, but am very concerned about. I know dear sisters in Christ who are going through this most heart-wrenching time of their lives. After living for years in a toxic environment, trying to make their marriage work, they have comes to terms with the only solution they have in regaining their identity in Christ. The toxic environment they have been living in is a marriage with a verbally abusive husband. While living with a verbal abusive day afer day after day, four years, the wife may experience stress-related physical illnesses, such as stomach or digestive problems, fibromyalgia, headaches, muscle pain, and high blood pressure; as well as emotional illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, insomnia, and even suicidal thoughts.* After years of trying to make things work, these women have come to terms with the only solution they have to restore their value as a child of God and their dignity as a human being. In some Christian circles “friends” will “label“ these women as “failures” and even as “willful sinners,” but it takes courage for these women to make drastic life changes to regain who they really are. The only solution in rescuing their emotional and spiritual wellbeing is divorce.

God is LOVE

It is true that God hates divorce. Jesus talks about divorce. One of the things He says about marriage and divorce is this:

“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no one separate…And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” [Matthew 19:4-6, 9; also see Genesis 2:24].

Christ's Love

Why does God hate divorce? God hates all the behaviors and circumstances that lead to divorce and He hates the emotional devastation that it leaves behind, not only for the man and wolmen, but their children and their extended families. God hates divorce because the man or woman or both are breaking a sacred covenant between themselves and God. When a man and woman marry they become one flesh. I believe in a truly Christian marriage, the husband and the wife do everything for the sake of the other. They love their partners as themselves and want to do everything, with God’s help, “to love, honor and cherish” one another. In the Ephesians, chapter 5, Paul teaches wives to “submit” to their husbands [v. 22] and that the husband is the “head of the wife even as Christ is head of the Church” [v. 23]. Paul goes on to explain how this works: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who love his wife loves himself…This mystery is profound…However, let each of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” [vv. 22-23, 28, 32-33].

Christ's pierced

In a perfect world there would be no divorce. However, we live in a sinful world, with Christian marriages ending in divorce at the same rate as do marriages outside of the Church. What is happening to cause this? I believe one of the main causes of divorce among Christians [as well as outside the church] is verbal abuse and the emotional pain and mental anguish it inflicts on the recipient[s]. Most verbal abusers are men. Christian men who come from abusive homes may have never learned how to love their wives “as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her” [Ephesians 5:25b].

God's Way

God wants the husband to be the leader, but a husband who verbally abuses his wife does not lead God’s way. Jesus teaches how to be a Christian leader: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:25b-28]. I have heard Ephesians 5:23 quoted many times, but I seldom have heard what “the husband [being] the head of the wife” really means. Being a leader in the home means being a servant-leader. It also means giving your life for your wife; looking out for her best interests, including her in decision making, valuing her as a person with unique gifts and talents and encouraging her to use them and appreciating all that she does.

bible duck taped

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” [Proverbs 18:22].

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garments with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless” [Malachi 2:16]

I believe being faithless [or unfaithful] in a marriage means more than sexual promiscuity. It also means breaking your marital vows to “love, honor and cherish” your spouse above one’s own needs or wants. Verbal abuse in a marriage is most definitely unfaithfulness.

In a truly Christ-centered marriage, the husband works to strengthen his love relationship with his wife. In a verbally abusive relationship, the abuser is only interested in control.*

verbal abuse 3

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According to Wikipedia:

Verbal Abuse (also known as reviling) is described as a negative defining statement told to the victim or about the victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent. If the abuser does not immediately apologize and retract the defining statement, the relationship may be a verbally abusive one.

In couple relationships, the verbal abuser response to the partner’s “separateness,” i.e., independent thoughts, views, desires, feelings, expressions (even of happiness) as an irritant or even an attack. While some people believe the abuser has low self-esteem and so attempts to place their victim in a similar position, i.e., to believe negative things about himself or herself, this is not usually the case in couple relationships. A man, for example, disparages a woman partner simply because she has qualities that were disparaged in him, i.e., emotional intelligence, warmth, receptivity, and so forth.

Typically, in couple or family relationships verbal abuse increases in intensity and frequency over time.

verbal abuse 2

Despite being the most common form of abuse, verbal abuse is not taken seriously as other types because there is no visible proof, and the abuser may have a “perfect” personality around others. In reality, however, verbal abuse can be more detrimental to a person’s health than physical abuse.

 

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Cindy Burrell, in her website Hurtbylove.com, writes, “By any name or any method, abuse is wrong. And not all abuse is physical, but all abuse is emotional. Just because he’s not hitting you doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. Abuse can be obvious or it can be subtle, insidious, even silent…Remember, an abuser will do anything to keep you, but nothing to take care of you.”

Christian heelping another

As brothers and sisters in Christ, how can we identify verbal abuse and be a “life-line” to our sisters in need?

To be continued…

*Hurtbylove.com [by Cindy Burrell]

In Christ’s Love,

The Lyd

Lydia

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Say What? When Helping Really Helps

[This blog post is a “Two-Weeker”]

the truth shall set you free

[John 8:32]

In the twenty-first century the subject of mental illness is finally beginning to be talked about openly, honestly and rationally. Many Twenty-First Century Christians have also taken the first step in ministering to people who struggle with mental illness. The first step all Christians need to make is: 1. TAKE OUR HEADS OUT OF THE BUSHES and acknowledge that mental illness is NOT demon-possession [See previous blog post: “Say What? The Devil You SAY…”]. After this very important first step, other steps need to follow in order for followers of Christ to minister Christ’s tender compassion for people who struggle with mental illness. People who struggle with mental illness include Christians who have suffered in silence for fear of being ridiculed and thought less of by their church family because of their illness. Now that we know what mental illness is NOT, we all, as fellow human beings, need to know what mental illness really IS and how to effectively and lovingly help those who need our acceptance, compassion and support. The next steps are:

2. UNDERSTAND THAT CLINICAL DEPRESSION AND OTHER FORMS OF MENTAL DISORDERS ARE ILLNESSES CAUSED BY CHEMICAL IMBALANCES IN THE BRAIN AND THEY ARE IN NEED OF MEDICAL INTERVENTION.

carol kivler

Carol Kivler writes in her book, Will I Ever Be the Same? Transforming the Face of ECT (Shock Therapy): “No one is to blame for the illness. Depression is an illness like any other that affects anyone at any age, at any time. You can’t fix the depressed individual, although you can offer guidance, love and comfort. During the most severe episodes, it helps loved ones to remember it is the illness ‘talking’, not the person with the illness; especially when the depressed individual is especially irritable or agitated, mistrusting and paranoid. No one chooses depression and it can’t be turned on or off by will. Depression is not a punishment or an attitude, nor does it have a motive” [p. 94].

Will I Ever Be the Same

People with mental illness need to see a medical doctor, not a voodoo doctor. People with mental illness may need anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication(s) prescribed by a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse or a licensed physician who is qualified to prescribe these medication(s). They do not need a witch doctor, arm-chair [unlicensed] counselor or psychic to give them illogical rituals, so they can get rid of their “negative karma.” People with mental illness who do not respond to medications may need other psychiatric treatments, such as Electroconvulsive Therapy [ECT], also known as “shock therapy,” done in a hospital under strict medical guidelines, in order to “reattach the neurotransmitters in the brain that somehow unattached and caused the depression” [Will I Ever Be the Same Again? Transforming the Face of ECT (Shock Therapy) [p. 56]. They do not need a mystic to prescribe superstitious, unscientific, and nonsensical “healing“ techniques, such as carrying “healing” crystals or stones in their pocket or purse. People with mental illness may need a friend to exercise with them regularly to get the endorphins going [the body’s natural chemical “mood elevators”]

ABCs of Recovery

(The ABCs of Recovery from Mental Illness,” p. 13); not a priest to perform an exorcism to get rid of their “evil spirits” or the devil himself, nor do they need a self-proclaimed “faith healer” who says if they have “enough faith” they will be healed from their illness. People with mental illness may need talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional and be a part of a support group, in which there are people dealing with the same kind of challenges. They do not need a “friend” to scold them for their “lack of faith” and for not “believing” and “claiming” God’s promises. People with mental illness need a friend to pray nonjudgmental prayers with and for them; not a “friend” whose prayers make them feel guilty and ashamed for being a “failure” because they have an illness.

3. STOP GIVING “ROBO” RESPONSES: “Cheer up.” “It can’t be that bad.” “It’s all in your head.” “Who cares?” “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” “Life is hard; get used to it.” “You have to try to make the most of it.” “It’s your own fault.” “I understand [when you really don’t].” “It could be worse.” “You never think of anybody but yourself.” “Where is your faith?” “But you don’t look depressed.” “You just have to try harder.” “You should get out more.” “Everybody has problems.” “You think you got it bad!” “This too shall pass.”

Christian heelping another

Instead of these “robo” responses, it helps just be there for your friend and show that you care by responding to real needs: “I’m here for you.” “I’m here to listen.” “How may I help you?” “Would you like to take a walk?” “Would you like me to bring a meal and we can eat together?” “I will go to the doctor with you, if you would like me to.” “Would you like to go for a drive or to the movies?” and other verbal communication expressing wanting to help in tangible ways. Non-judgmental communication can really help someone know that someone really cares and wants to help in however way s/he can.

4. LISTEN MORE AND TALK LESS. “Know this, my beloved brothers [and sisters]: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to be angry; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” [James 1:19-20]. Sometimes, it’s okay not to say anything, but just being with the person who is struggling with a mental illness helps the person know that s/he is not alone in the struggle. The feeling of being alone can be very frightening.

5. LEARN ABOUT CLINICAL DEPRESSION AND OTHER FORMS OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND HOW TO BE A REAL HELP. A good start is to read the three books written by Carol A. Kivler and check out her websites:

RECOVERY BOOSTERS

“Will I Ever Be the Same Again? Transforming the Face of ECT (Shock Therapy)”
“Mental Health Recovery Boosters: How to Sustain Your Mental Wellness”
“The ABCs of Recovery from Mental Illness”
http://www.CourageousRecovery.com
carolkivler.com

If you are a counselor or in any health or helping profession or have family and friends who are battling clinical depression or other forms of mental illness, these books and websites will help you help the people you serve in a Christ-like way. They are not specifically “Christian” books and websites, but Carol Kivler is a Christian and the Holy Spirit truly helps her to share Christ-like truth in a non-threatening non-proselytizing way. If you are struggling with clinical depression or any mental illness yourself, please know that you are not alone and there is help. This information may start you in the right direction in finding the help you need. Also, please talk to someone you trust and ask him/her to go to the doctor with you, so that the person can be an advocate for you and help you process information and make important decisions for yourself. It helps to have an extra pair of ears.

become-like-Christ-meme

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” [Matthew 5:7].
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in you brother’s [or sister’s] eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” [Matthew 7:1-3].
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly [or give yourselves to humble tasks]. Never be wise in your own sight” [Romans 12:15-16].
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” [Philippians 2:3-4].
“Bear one another’s burden’s, and so fulfill the law of Christ” [Galatians 6:2].
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” [Ephesians 4:32].
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” [Colossians 3:12-14].

CC Congregation

God has blessed me with a loving family at home and my church family. I will be forever grateful and thankful for their prayers of concern and the tangible ways they helped me during the darkest time of my life, when I was battling a nine-mouth bout with clinical depression. Thanks be to God for them all!

May the Peace and Joy of Christ Be Ours to Share with One Another Both Now and Forevermore! Amen.

The Lyd
Lydia

If you haven’t already, go to YouTube to view Lydia’s Testimony 2015 and Lydia’s Testimony Part 2.

Dr. Don

[Good News: Dr Don is back worshiping with us, after breaking his hip and being in the hospital and rehab for awhile!]

Say What? The Devil You Say…

bible duck taped

[My used Bible]

Out of all the books ever written and known to mankind which is the most quoted? That is and easy question. The Bible is the book most quoted. The most quoted Scripture is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He sent His Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” [Another easily answered question]. Some people quote the Bible and don’t know it. For example, the phrase “reading the handwriting on the wall” comes from Daniel 5:5. Others think they are quoting the Bible, but really are not. For example, the saying “God helps those who help themselves” is nowhere to be found in the Bible. However, the complete opposite idea in found in Romans 5:6: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

[Bible Thumper Below]

Bible Thumper

Even when Bible verses are quoted, they can be misunderstood, misquoted, taken out of context and misinterpreted, so that it may be used to prove a particular viewpoint. This is when things can get ugly and God is misrepresented to a world which desperately needs a Savior of the weak. One of the ways the Bible has been skewed for centuries is when God’s Word is misused to prove that those who struggle with mental illness are demon-possessed. I believe this is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Now, I’ll tell you what I really think:

Twenty-first Century Christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ and who are called to be ambassadors for Christ and have been given the ministry of reconciliation [see II Corinthians 5:16-21], must get with the following program by “rightly handling the Word of Truth” [see II Timothy 2:15] and loving our neighbors as ourselves [see Mark 12:31). We live this way by:

Christ's cross defeated devil

1. TAKING OUR HEADS OUT OF THE BUSHES: As representatives to Christ, we must stop looking to find the devil behind every bush or lurking around every corner. Depression is not demon-possession. The Bible does talk about demon possession. It talks about Jesus and His disciples casting demons out of people [examples: Matthew 8:28-34 and 17:14-21, Mark 5:1-17, Luke 9:1-6]. When Jesus walked the earth I believe the evil one and his cohorts were in full force and made the most of their time before Jesus’ death and resurrection. I believe there are parts of the world where Jesus is not yet known and the black arts are practiced, where the devil can do his bidding. I believe “we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” [Ephesians 6:12] However, I also believe the evil one does oppress us with all kinds of sicknesses and hardships to discourage and harass us, BUT GOD’S Word tells me that the evil one cannot possess Christians because we belong to Christ. Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” [John 10:28]. Paul also says, “…God made [us] alive together with [Jesus], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. HE DISARMED THE RULERS AND AUTHORITIES and put them to open shame, BY TRIUMPHING OVER THEM IN [CHRIST]” [Colossians 2:13b-15]. I know that the devil is alive and well in this world and causes all manner of evil. I just have to turn on the TV and watch five minutes of the local or national news to learn of the devil’s destructive handiwork. BUT GOD tells me that “[Christ] who is in [me] is greater than [the devil] who is in the world’” [See I John 4:4].

earthly treasurea spirit of truth

With that said, it is also good to know how Satan operates. I know that the devil [Satan] “is a liar and the father of lies” [See John 8:44]. Satan also twists God’s Word because he wants us to believe wrong things about God‘s character. Satan lied to Eve by convincing her that God was withholding something good from her [See Genesis 3:1-4]. He even tried to make Jesus question His Father’s character when Jesus was in the desert praying and fasting [See Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-14]. Jesus knew about Satan’s tricks and rebuffed his lies by using Scripture Himself and told Satan what God’s Word really said. I know that Satan is “the accuser” of the believers of Christ [See Revelation 12:10]. I know that when I feel worthless or think there is something wrong with my faith, these ideas do not come from God, but from the pit of hell and from Satan himself. Sometimes, he even uses Christians to promote his lies. Some believers in Christ think that when they are doing God’s will and working for Him, they should experience prosperity and good health and life should be smooth sailing all the time. This was not how it was for the first disciples who experienced persecutions, hardships of every kind, disasters and even death. Oftentimes, when Christians are doing God’s will, Satan will do everything God allows him to do to make things painfully difficult. Paul writes in I Corinthians 16:8-9: “But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened for me, and THERE ARE MANY ADVERSARIES.” It is good to recognize Satan’s lies and insidious schemes that try to bring us down. Even after a victory we need to be watchful, for just as with Jesus after He was tempted in the desert and Satan failed, Matthew 4:13 warns us of Satan’s modus operandi: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

Christ's joy in trials

When I was writing about my Testimony [Parts I and II] for a blog series and as a presentation at my church many strange things were happening. First, a friend was annoyed with me for not getting together, which I thought was out of character and it really surprised me. Next, my smoke/carbon monoxide detector started beeping and announcing, “LOW BATTERY” at 4 a.m., so I had the battery replaced, only having it start beeping again by announcing, “LOW BATTERY” in the afternoon, while I was writing at my computer. I also had an unusual number of phone calls, dropped my dinner all over the floor and developed a hangnail on my “typing finger” with bleeding. All that happened was a bit annoying, but it was also quite amusing. I say this with the utmost humility: I knew Satan did not want me to write this blog series because I was writing it to glorify God and to help others. When I had finally finished my testimony, both in cyber-space and at church, I had a sense of accomplishment and was on a spiritual high. That’s when Satan went for the jugular. Nothing stresses me out more them computer trouble. My computer was doing strange things and I had to get it looked at. It was out of my control because I am not a “computer geek.” However, I did not get as stressed out as I normally do. Instead, I kept talking to God and telling Him that I trusted Him with my computer. I also asked God to protect me, “in order that Satan might not outwit [me]. For [I am] not unaware of his schemes” [see II Corinthians 2:11 – N.I.V.]. I never do directly battle with Satan because he does not deserve my attention. I always have my Heavenly Father do all the talking for me. Like the archangel Michael, I say, “The Lord rebuke you” [see Jude 9].

To be continued…

The Lydjesus as king

Peace,

Lydia