The Women in Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection [Part VI]

men and women disciples

“What am I – CHOPPED LIVER?” This is the question I first asked concerning Jesus’ women disciples. In other words, “Were Jesus’ women disciples less important and less valued than the men disciples?” The last five blog posts tell my readers that I believe women disciples were as important and equally valued in Jesus’ eyes as the men disciples. Someone once said, “God first created man. Then, God had a better idea and created woman.” I want all my readers to know, that this is not what I want to convey. I believe men and women are equal in God’s sight and both are used by Him to do mighty things. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them” [Genesis 1:27]. My reason for writing about the women disciples is they are sometimes skipped over. “More important topics” are discussed such as, how the men disciples disserted Jesus when He was arrested and ordered to be crucified. I believe it is also important to examine the women disciples’ unwavering love and commitment to their beloved Teacher, especially at His crucifixion and burial. If we skip over talking about “The Women in Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection” we are missing out on important lessons Jesus wants to teach us and emulate.

women caring for Jesus' needs

According to the Gospels, women followed Jesus during His ministry on earth and cared for His needs, as well as His men disciples “out of their own means” [Luke Luke 8:3b]. They teach us about sacrificial service and giving. I believe the women, along with the men shared in “proclaiming and bringing the GOOD NEWS of the kingdom of God” [Luke 8:1b]. Women were at his crucifixion and watched Jesus die an unconscionable and horrifying death, recorded in all four Gospels [See Part II]. I believe the women were at Jesus’ crucifixion because they didn’t want Jesus to die alone, with only His enemies surrounding Him. The women also wanted to know where His body was taken, so that they would be able to make sure He was buried properly [See Part III]. On the day after the Sabbath, the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body, only to find the tomb empty. The women were the first to see their Resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They were the first to tell the men disciples the GOOD NEWS – “JESUS HAS RISEN!” [See PART IV]. In John’s Gospel account of the Resurrection, John focused on one woman, Mary Magdalene, who was crying because she thought someone had stolen Jesus’ body. In her sorrow, Mary could not leave the grave. I believe she was waiting for something to happen, but she didn’t know what. It was her faith that made her wait, and her faith was rewarded. She was the first to hear her name “Mary” by her Risen Lord [Read Part V].

Christ's Power Sprit

How is it possible for the most important story for all of humanity to grasp [the Resurrection Jesus Christ] can be so confusing and create so many questions for believers and non-believers alike? All four Gospels record the events surrounding the Resurrection. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit used each Gospel writer’s personality and experiences to present the Resurrection in their own unique way and they are okay with that explanation. They believe that Jesus did rise from the dead, and this is what Christianity stands on. Not being clear of the number of women and angels at the tomb does not take away from “the Gospel Truth”: JESUS HAS RISEN! However, it is important to take the questions of non-believers [and some Christians] seriously. I believe it is harmful to deny there are absolutely no differences in the four Gospels [Non-believer may use the word “contradictions“].

confused

“Why is the number of women going to the tomb different in each Gospel account – two in Matthew, three in Mark, three or more in Luke and only one in John?” “How many angels really were there at the empty tomb – one in Matthew and Mark or two in Luke? Did the women go tell the disciples Jesus was alive as in Matthew and Luke and John or were they too frightened to say a word to anyone as in Mark? What about the earthquake? Did Mary Magdalene see Jesus alive first or a group of women?

facts

After much study, have answered these questions. Instead of trying to “re-invent the wheel,” I want to share information from a Bible Scholar who is much more capable than I am in these matters. In Ken Wallace’s article, “The Women at the Empty Tomb,” originally written in 1999, revised in 2011, and later copywrited in 2016, [www.north forest.org/ChristianApologetics/womenattomb.html] Wallace uses all four Gospels to answer the such questions as above and also puts the events of the Resurrection in chronological order. A skeptic may always be skeptical, but it’s worth a try to share this information with those who have questions concerning the Resurrection account found in the Gospels. It may become a valuable discussion.

To be continued…

becket pics4

Lydia

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The Women in Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection

gospels

“What am I – CHOPPED LIVER? The four Gospels in the New Testament are filled with the exploits and experiences of men disciples and their interactions with Jesus. The New Testament time period can be described as a male dominate world. After skimming through the Gospels, some may come away thinking that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were all about Jesus and His ministry and partnership and friendship with His men disciples. After all, the Gospels were written by men, Right? But, what about the women? Did Jesus have women disciples? In order to find out about Jesus’ women disciples, one must read the New Testament closely and with a focus on finding certain Scripture passages, some well known and others not so much.

imagesCAPBEZO8

First, we need to know what a “disciple” is. A disciple is a follower, a student, a learner, a believer. Jesus’ disciples believe that He is the “Way and the Truth and the Life” [Read John 14:6]. The disciples of Jesus learn from His teachings and by following His example. He is their Teacher, Savior and Lord. Disciples of Jesus have accepted His forgiveness through His death on the cross, believe that He rose from the dead and will someday return to make all things new. Jesus’ disciples have given their lives to Him and no longer want to follow the ways of the world. Jesus’ disciples want to love Him above all else and share His GOOD NEWS with the whole world.

According to the Gospels, who are the women disciples who followed Jesus? For some of the answer, let’s go to a Bible passage that is not talked about very much, at least in my experience:

c. praying prostrate

“Soon afterwards He [Jesus] went on through the cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve [men disciples] were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Suzanna, and many others, who provided for them [or Him] out of their means” [Luke 8:1-3].

glasses on Bible

According to Luke 8:3, the women who followed Jesus were His servants. They must have “bought the groceries” and prepared meals for Jesus and His men disciples. They must have did all the menial tasks in order to free Jesus and His men to do the work of spreading the Gospel. These menial tasks of cooking, doing the laundry, budgeting money for groceries, searching for good food at reasonable prices did not get much attention. They were thought of as unimportant way back then as they are even now. But, if you asked Jesus, He would say that being a servant is the most important role of a disciple of His: “If anyone would be first, he [she] must be last of all and servant of all…For even the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve, And to give His life for many” [read Mark 9:35-37 and 10:45]. These women served their Lord and their fellow disciples with the sacrificial love of Christ.

towel and basin

Being servants does not mean the women were not also students. I imagine whether they were serving or sitting, they were also listening to Jesus teachings. [Women are known to be able to multi-task.] Jesus lifted women up as being equals to men by giving them their rightful place, in being His students [disciples] and learning alongside men. This was different from the custom of the day. Men and women were not allowed to learn together in synagogues. Jesus’ women disciples were His students who listened intently and learned from the Master. In addition to the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the women might have even helped with the writing of the Gospels by providing important information only they knew about. For example, according to WIKIPEDIA, theologian Adrian Hastings suggests that Joanna was one of “Luke’s sources for information regarding the Herodian court.” Jesus’ women disciples were humble servants, devoted students, courageous followers and were just as important as the men in the spread of the Gospel [GOOD NEWS]. They were faithful to Jesus to the very end and beyond.

To be continued…

The Lyd

Lydia

 

Which Came First – The Repentant Heart or The Forgiveness of God?

lent

“Forgiveness” is an extremely difficult concept to grasp, especially when it comes to the forgiveness of God. It is very hard, for me at least, to wrap my head around God’s forgiveness. When does God forgive us? Do we have to “clean up our act” before God can forgive us? Do we have to confess our sins before we have a chance to be forgiven by God? Do we have to perform some sort of penance in order for God to forgive us? The Lenten Season is a good time to meditate [“chew on”] the awesome and unfathomable forgiveness of God.

ASH WEDNESDAY

When did God forgive us?

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – BUT GOD SHOWS HIS LOVE FOR US IN THAT WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US. Since, therefore, we have been now justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God” [Romans 5:6-9].

God planned to forgive us “while we were yet sinners” through the Christ’s Perfect Sacrifice on the cross. God’s plan to save sinners [I am a sinner] began “before the foundation of the world.” Sinners need only to get with God’s plan and accept His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, in order to experience the joy of God‘s forgiveness of all their sins. [Read Romans 3:23 and 6:23]

wolman at the well

Do we have to “clean up our act” by not sinning anymore before we have a chance to be forgiven by God?

“Bless be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as HE CHOSE US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND BLAMESS BEFORE HIM” [Ephesians 1:3-4]

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” [I Corinthians 15:56-57].

Baby with lamb

We cannot stop sinning in our own strength because we are weak. For example, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when we see a sign that reads, “DO NOT TOUCH – WET PAINT.” We cannot make ourselves perfect before God. Jesus, the “Spotless Lamb of God” who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, is the One who makes us “holy and blameless before [the Father]” When God looks at a sinner who has accepted His Son’s Perfect Sacrifice, He no longer looks at the sin; The Heavenly Father sees His Son the “blameless Lamb of God.” Jesus is the Only One who gives us His power over sin and death. [Read John 1:29 and I Peter 1:18-19].

the truth shall set you free

Do we have to confess our sins before we have a chance to be forgiven by God?

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will become like wool” [Isaiah 1:18].

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [I John 1:8-9].

casting crowns 2

God calls us to be truthful with ourselves and with Him. He wants us to be aware of our sins in order to know how much we have been forgiven and how much we need Jesus’ once-for-all Perfect Sacrifice, which cleanses us and makes us whole. When we become aware of our sins, it is only then that we can truly be grateful for God’s forgiveness through His One and Only Son Jesus Christ. God‘s forgiveness of all our sins causes our heart of stone to turn into a “repentant heart”. God is always waiting for us to come to Him, to confess our sins to Him, to accept His forgiveness of all our sins and receive His power to begin the journey of repentance [turning away from sin] and a new life in Christ. I believe that God‘s forgiveness leads to repentance and not the other way around. It is God Who takes the first step.

casting crowns 1.

Do we have to perform some sort of penance in order for God to forgive us?

“For the death [Jesus] died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” [Romans 6:10-11].

“And just as is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him” [Hebrews 9:27-28].

“Where there is forgiveness of these [sins], there is no longer any offering [penance] for sin” [Hebrews 10:18].

“For Christ also suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” [I Peter 3:18).

Christ Crucified

God doesn’t want us to perform an impersonal penance, such as reciting prayers by rote or doing self-righteous acts of charity or even by denying ourselves of something we enjoy, in order appease God by paying for our own sins. The above Scriptures tell us that Jesus did what we could never do on our own. Jesus paid for all our sins by shedding His own blood on the cross and died for all our sins ONCE AND FOR ALL. Instead of doing periodical penance, God wants us to be “dead to sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” Instead of giving God our imperfect [dead] sacrifices, God wants us to give our entire lives to Him. He wants us to be “living sacrifices” by accepting His forgiveness, which leads to our NEW LIVES IN CHRIST. The NEW LIFE IN CHRIST is not motivated by guilt or false piety, but by LOVE and GRATITUDE and THANKFULNESS for what Jesus has done for us on the cross. This New Life is lived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [rational] worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” [Romans 12:1-2].

forgiveness 2

During this Lenten Season I am meditating on the Forgiveness of God. Although my thinking is limited to human understanding and vocabulary, the Holy Spirit is not limited to human words or comprehension. I do not perfectly understand the infinite things of God. With God’s leading, I am growing into a deeper relationship with Him as I meditate on His ways.

a. praying hands

 

DEAR FATHER GOD, MAY WE TRULY UNDERSTAND YOUR UNLIMITED FORGIVENESS TOWARD YOUR FOLLOWERS, THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD AND IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

The Lyd

                                                      Lydia
This may be my last blog post for awhile because my 9-year-old computer is running on fumes. I may be looking for a new computer sooner than later.

They Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!

p and j

Prayer and Fasting go together like peanut butter and jelly. Okay, poor choice of words, since this post is about FASTING. However, prayer and fasting are closely linked together. I wrote about PRAYER in my last blog post. Prayer is talking with God, the Creator of heaven and earth; talking with Jesus, God’s One and Only Perfect Sacrifice, who died for the forgiveness of my sins, rose from the dead, and will come again to someday take me and all His believers Home with Him for all eternity. Prayer is also listening to the Holy Spirit who helps me to pray when I don‘t have the words to say. I can freely express myself to my Wonderful Counselor because He loves me unconditionally and forever. Sometimes I pray in church, with many people, or in a small group Bible study or prayer group. However, something else is also extremely important and crucial for my spiritual growth. In order to grow in my “relationship” with Jesus, I need to spend time praying [talking] with my Forever Friend alone in SOLITUDE [another spiritual discipline]. It is also where I spend time listening to Him, by reading His Word, enjoying His creation or just closing my eyes to see God’s love and faithfulness for me in a more intimate and personal way.

christ in desert

Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days before He began His ministry [Matthew 4 and Luke 4].

FASTING is generally abstaining from food, such as meat or snacks or a whole meal or not eating food for one day or many days. Fasting is usually done for spiritual reasons. Fasting by abstaining from food is just one part of this spiritual discipline. If I am fasting from food, I just don’t sit there and wait for breakfast time or lunch time or dinner time to go by. Instead of eating, I want to make good use of that time. That’s where PRAYING comes in. During the time I usually eat food, I may pray and read the Bible or devotional book. Also, I may use mealtime as a time to help others. For example, I may use the money I save from not buying food to contribute to a worthy cause or buy food for a homeless shelter. This also is done in an attitude of PRAYER. I may visit someone who needs a visit or help someone who has a project to finish. Through PRAYER and FASTING, the Lord will show me what I need to be doing for His glory and for the good of others or He may want me to simply be alone with Him for a time.

imagesCAPBEZO8

Jesus links PRAYER and FASTING together in “His Sermon on the Mount” [Matthew 5-7]:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you…And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint you head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” [Matthew 6:5-6 and 16-18].

[In Matthew 6 Jesus also teaches how to give to the needy (1-4), He gives us “the Lord’s Prayer” (9-13), instructs us on how to forgive (14-15) and He talks about having our “treasure” in Heaven and not on earth (19-24).

c. praying prostrateb. kneeing in prayer

According to Jesus, both PRAYER and FASTING are done with an attitude of GRATITUDE, HUMILITY and LOVE, knowing that our reward is waiting for us in Heaven. PRAYER and FASTING are not practiced out of legalism or to demonstrate piety, so others may praise us for our public displays of self-righteousness.

messy eaters

But what if someone cannot fast from food? What does a person do who has a medical condition which prohibits fasting? On the other side of the spectrum, what if someone has a physically demanding job and needs energy from the food to be able to do his/her job well? What do the parents who cook meals for their small children do? They need to help their picky kids to eat healthy meals. There are many examples of people whose physical conditions or lifestyles make fasting impractical. For these people [me included] I have some practical solutions.

“For I [God] desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” [Hosea 6:6]. (Also I Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6, Psalm 51:1, Isaiah 1:11)

Christmas ScrabbleELDERS PRAYING FOR THE SICK

Instead of fasting from food, believers of the Lord Jesus may choose fasting from TV, video games, sports radio or time on the computer. They may abstain from going to restaurants or Dunkin Donuts or going to movies. They may choose to go without candy and snacks and eating small simple meals. They may choose to give up one of their usual recreational activities to do something for someone in need. Again, giving up these things is not to gain brownie points to pay for their own salvation with their own sacrifices. Substituting these things with spending more time with God and seeking to glorify Him in the things they do and don’t do is what Fasting is all about. For example, giving up watching TV gives worshipers of God more time to pray in “quietness and rest” [Isaiah 30:15]. There are many ways to fast, but only one motive and purpose behind it:

THOSE WHO LOVE JESUS FAST TO DISCOVER WAYS TO GLORIFY GOD BY DOING WHAT PLEASES HIM OUT OF AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE AND PRAISE!

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (or ‘rational service‘)” [Romans 12:1].

“And whatever you do, in word and deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Colossians 3:17].

(Also read Hebrews 10.)

The Lyd

Lydia

PRAY and FAST

empty churchlobstah

[CHURCH PRAYER SERVICE JUST ENDED]    [FRIDAY NIGHT LENTEN DINNER]

Is it “PRAY and FAST” or is it “PRAY FAST!” As a child I was confused about what exactly PRAYING and FASTING meant, especially when these “spiritual disciplines” were talked about during the Lenten Season. I heard adults praying fast, as though they were going for a Guinness World Record for the fastest prayer ever recited. Also, I thought “fasting” was giving up eating meat on Fridays, and sometimes on Wednesdays and Fridays. It was said in church that not eating meat during Lent was an “obligation” and a “duty” and even a “sacrifice.” If it was suppose to be a “sacrifice,” why did the “faithful” replace eating meat with going restaurant-hopping in search of delicious fish, clam, scallop, lobster and other seafood dinners? As a child, I didn’t understand where the “sacrifice” came in.

banana split love

I Corinthians 13:11-13 says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became [an adult], I gave up childish ways…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.”

become-like-Christ-meme

As a young adult, I began seeing PRAYER and FASTING in a new light when I saw Jesus in a new light. Jesus became my personal Lord and Savior. My way of thinking was no longer based on a “foggy” understanding of religious beliefs, with “dos” and “don’ts”; following rules I did not understand, in order to earn my own salvation. Instead, I saw Jesus as a real person and I wanted to know Him better, just as I would a new friend. As I grew in knowing Jesus better by reading the Bible and attending a church where the Bible and the Christian Faith was taught and explained, as much as they could be this side of heaven, I realized that Jesus was worthy of my FAITH and TRUST. I believed that Jesus died for my sins and paved the way to Heaven for me [See Ephesians 2:8-9]. I had HOPE that Jesus not only died for the forgiveness of my sins, but that He also rose from the dead and will come again in glory to take His people Home [John 11:25-26, John 14:1-3, Acts 1:10-11, I Thessalonians 4:13-17]. When I grow in my understanding of Who Jesus is and what He has already done for me, I could not help but also grow in my LOVE for Him and the Family of GOD. During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He was the perfect example, in word and deed, of the greatest LOVE ever freely given. Jesus’ LOVE was a perfect example of how I am to LOVE others.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” [John 13:34-35].

Jesua, heart, sand

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” [John 15:12-13].

STEADFAST LOVE

As I matured in my personal relationship with Jesus, I found that prayer did not sound like a politician constantly repeating his/her talking points over and over and over again. Prayer is talking with the One who knows everything about me and loves me unconditionally and forever. Prayer is telling Jesus how awesome He is. Prayer is trusting Jesus enough to confess my failings and know His forgiveness. Prayer is talking to my Forever Friend and thanking Him for all the things He has done for me. Prayer is asking the Creator of everything to help me with my struggles, as well as the struggles of others, knowing He hears and understands and will help. Last, but not least, praying is LISTENING to God by reading Scripture, or after I have done all my talking, just sit in silence before Him. In silence, I wait to hear what my Everlasting Counselor has to

holy spirit new

say to me. Also, I learned about the Prayer Safety Net. When I don’t know how or what to pray or don’t feel like praying, there is the Gift of the Holy Spirit: “Likewise the Spirit Himself helps us in our weakness. For we don’t know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” [Romans 8:26-27].

PRAYER AND FASTING is done out of LOVE. It is not done from a feeling of obligation or duty. There is no longer a need for sacrifice because of Jesus’ Perfect Sacrifice on the cross. More about how PRAYER and FASTING are linked together next time.

[YAY! ONE PAGE! I FINALLY DID IT!]

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!]

“The Reports of My ‘Demise’ Have Been Greatly Exaggerated!”

Mark Twain

The title of this post comes from a longer quote by Mark Twain, written in the NEW YORK JOURNAL, on June 2, 1897. Even though it is a misquotation, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, the story behind the quote is somewhat amusing and it also encourages me not to jump to negative conclusions. Mark Twain states something to the effect, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” to correct the mistaken report that he was deathly ill. It was his cousin James Ross Clemens who was seriously ill in London, not Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain). [I wish I could use the same “misquotation” for the RED SOX.]

photo (9)

Mark Twain’s “misquotation” may be easily used to describe my experience with my computer. Well-meaning friends advised me that my computer was old and I needed to buy a new one. This advice was not what I wanted to hear because I didn’t have the money to buy a new computer. Also, even though I have a love-hate relationship with my computer, I am used to how my old computer works and did not like the idea of having to learn how to use a new one. Despite the advice of my friends, I called another friend who is a “computer guy” and asked him if he would look at my computer and see if it could be fixed. It turned out that the “tower” had to be cleaned and it only needed some updating. I was very thankful to the Lord for answering my prayers, as well as the prayers of my friends, and also for my “computer guy” friend. I can almost hear my computer say, “The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!” [My rubber chicken was happy to see me at my computer again.]   

blame game

This same statement may also be used for my church. As a church body, we have gone through a horrific time of discord and turmoil. Many of my friends, whom I consider family, were leaving the church because of “irreconcilable differences” and disputes about theological viewpoints. This was excruciating painful to experience for me and for others. I did not know what was going to happen to my family in Christ who have been my church family for about forty years. I gave my life to Jesus at this same church at the age of eighteen. After forty years, it looked like my church family was disintegrating right before my eyes. I had the feeling of hopelessness because I forgot the most important truth.

 

a spirit of truth

College Church is not merely my church or anybody else’s. College Church is God’s church. God is the one who is able to help all of us to see our sin, to repent and to be restored, refreshed and renewed in the Holy Spirit.

God is the One who gives us His grace which empowers us to forgive one another and to obey His call to be His disciples and spread His Good News of forgiveness and grace to a needy world. After what seemed like an eternity, on June 14, 2015, God used godly men and women on a Pastoral Search Team and blessed us with a new Senior Pastor. We are all so thankful and filled with gratitude to God for all He has done for us. In our brokenness God has healed us and caused us to grow to be more like Christ. You might say, “The reports of My church’s demise have been greatly exaggerated!” I praise God for His faithfulness to us, His body of Christ in Northampton, Massachusetts. I pray that God will continue to equip and enable us to be His Voice, His Hands and Feet and His Heart to love each other, as well as a world in desperate need of the Love of God.

Realistically speaking, I know that my computer won’t last forever and I will eventually have to buy a new one. Nothing lasts forever. Even the television drama “FOREVER” was cancelled. But, I know what will last forever:

body of Christ

“…and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b).

forgiveness

Before we as a church were ready for a new Senior Pastor, we had to seek forgiveness for our sin of pride and self-centeredness. We also had to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Asking for forgiveness from God and others we have hurt and forgiving those who have hurt us are most important in growing and moving forward. I am very grateful to God for using Jim Van Yperen and Metanoia Ministries to guide College Church through this process of forgiveness and restoration.

Christ's prayer on earth

“If My people [the Church] who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked [self-seeking] ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land [church]” (II Chronicles 7:14)

In His Grip and By His Grace,

The Lyd

Lydia

[My next blog post will be sometime in July.]