Freedom and Depression

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

July 3, 2008

The question about freedom rolls around again as we celebrate our nations’ Independence Day on the fourth of July.

Normally we take for granted that we can get ourselves up, out of bed, get dressed and off to school or work.

There are many people who through not fault of their own are not able to get out of bed.

Right away people who have been hospitalized because of a heart attack, stroke, or car accident come to mind. They need to be bathed everyday and have all their needs cared for by nurses, nurses’ aids, orderlies, and volunteers. Doctors routinely visit to check on their patients.

One morning you have this overwhelming feeling that you just want to hide under the sheets. You feel as though you can keep the world shut out by staying under the sheets. You know the world around you is continuing at its normal fast pace. Your world has stopped. You have no interest in anything especially eating. I am not talking about sleeping in on a Saturday.

Let’s say this overwhelming feeling goes on for days, this may be a problem for a professional to evaluate. It could be depression. Those who suffer from depression prefer freedom from depression.

Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you or that there is help.

Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

· Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.

· Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married. Trauma from an abusive situation where one feels trapped and there no way out could cause an enormous amount of stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

· Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia). These people see a glass half empty.

· Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.

· Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse often appear along with depression.

Depression is absolutely treatable, no matter what the cause. Finding the underlying cause or causes can be a matter of trial and error, a process of elimination. Once the cause is found then a treatment plan is made. This plan could include medication. Medications don’t react the same way for all people. Don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find the right medication or dosage. There could be a set of identical twins with the same issues that receive the same amount of medication that could react differently.

It is important to know and listen to your body.

It is also important to know what you put into your body and how those things react with each other. This includes food and medicines. You have probably heard of the phrase garbage in, garbage out, it also applies to your body.

Computers don’t work well with broken, corrupt or competing files, neither does your body.


You have a right to know what you are putting into your body and what is does, ask if you don’t know.

There are support groups for people who suffer from depression or other medical conditions. Talking helps, somehow problems or mountains seem smaller when they are heard by a listening ear.

You could be a listening ear for someone by listening non-judgmentally twice as much as you speak.

Telling someone who suffers from depression to snap out of it is useless. They did not ask to be depressed and would prefer not to be depressed. Yelling at them because they are depressed will only push them away.

If you remember, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Apply it every day and your stress level will lower, so will those around you and more things will be accomplished. You will have a healing affect and freedom from depression.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2008/07/05/freedom-and-depressio/


Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Self Care

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

September 30, 2007, updated

Everyone is familiar with stress. Stress comes in various forms and degrees everyday. Some stress is good for us. When we experience great amounts of stress and our physical or mental functioning is affected that could be a problem.

Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you?

Losing sleep worrying about a project or task ahead of you? Eating on the run because your schedule is just too busy? You’re not alone; everyone experiences stress at times, – adults, teens and even kids. There are things we can do to reduce or manage stress.

When we feel “pumped” or “wired” or an increased amount of energy and alertness, this is a result of small doses of beneficial stress.

When the level of stress becomes too great for us to handle we can get “stressed out”, “burned out” or be at our “wits end”. That is when our physical well being could be compromised. We all handle stress differently and each has a different level of pressure we can safely handle. We must listen to our bodies. Symptoms that we feel may include: anxiousness, nervousness, distraction, excessive worry, or internal pressure.

Our outward appearance may start to change as we appear: unusually anxious or nervous, distracted, or self-absorbed.

If the symptoms persist over a longer period of time or the stress level increases we could experience: anxiety or panic attacks, a feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried, irritability and moodiness, allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma, problems sleeping, drinking, smoking or eating too much, doing drugs, excessive fatigue, depression, could even think of hurting yourself or others, headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains or pressure, racing heart, dizziness or flushing, tremulousness or restlessness, hyperventilate, or have a choking sensation, feeling of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and emptiness. If these symptoms persist or increase in severity or frequency seek medical help.

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room if your stress results in any of the following symptoms: thoughts of harming yourself or others, chest pain, fluttering or rapid heartbeats, headaches unlike your usual headaches, or any condition that you feel might cause you serious harm if not treated immediately.

Pressures that that become too intense or last too long or troubles that are shouldered alone can cause stress overload. Some things that could overwhelm us are: being bullied or exposed to violence or injury, relationship stress, family conflicts or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or death of a loved one, ongoing problems with work or schoolwork related to a learning disability or other problems, such as ADHD (once the problem is recognized and the proper support is given this stress usually disappears), or crammed schedules – such as not having enough time to rest and relax.

With all the above you might get the idea that we cannot do it alone. We are not designed to run at high speed all the time. We were designed for fellowship and to live in a community. A very wise person taught me to use my words. When we feel something is wrong we need to use our words to share our feelings in a safe setting. When we hold all these things in we become like a pressure cooker without a safety release valve and we could explode or implode. Exploding could hurt others or things around us. Imploding could do grave us great physical harm.

Remember to take care, eat right, slowly enjoying your meal, do everything in moderation, regularly exercise and really relax and rest.

Professional help is available, if needed, to help get on or stay on the right track. It is your body, listen to it, treat it well and it will treat you well.

More information and workshops on mental health was available at the NAMI State Convention Oct 132007 at the Sheraton in Framingham hosted by NAMI Greater Framingham. Oct 7-13 2007 was Mental Health Awareness Week.

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2007/10/06/stress-anxiety-depression-and-self-care/

Surviving the Fire

High Park fire, Larimer County, CO (2012), Author US Air Force, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/7462740970/, (PD as work of federal govt.)

Read the blogs of child abuse victims and those concerned for them.  Somewhere along the line, you will find mention of what the abuse damaged or destroyed outright.

Our innocence.  Our childhood.  Our peace of mind.  Our self-confidence.  Our self-esteem.  Our ability to trust.  Our capacity to select loving partners, and sustain healthy relationships.  Our faith.  Our voice.

And from far too many, the abuse took their very lives.

For many of us, what the abuse left behind was isolation, grief, anxiety, depression, rage, and a permanent sense of violation.

Unfortunately, that we will never be the women (or men) we might have been is not helpful information.  We are who we are…marked by these scars.

In some sense, the scars are our badges – if not of honor exactly, then certainly not of shame.  We were the ones sinned against, not the ones sinning, no matter how we were made to feel about the torture inflicted upon us.

As with the veteran who has lost a limb to war or the woman who has lost a breast to cancer, this is simply our reality now.

No single statement can characterize us all, except that we were blameless.

Some of us were victimized by priests; others, by family members or strangers.  Some of us pressed criminal charges against our abusers; some chose to remain (or were forced to remain) silent, sometimes for decades.

Some of us lived in denial, maintaining a painful status quo in our attempt to protect loved ones.  Some of us fled to the streets, from one kind of horror to another.  Some changed sexes or became sex addicts.  A few fled from sex, itself.

Some of us forgave; some never will.

The abuse did not make us bad citizens, bad neighbors, bad employees, or bad friends. Many of us became high achievers, first at school and later at work.

A surprising number of us have found a strength we did not realize we had.  We have found a way to use our anger to fuel the struggle against abuse and injustice; use our pain as a subject for art and literature.

A surprising number of us have reclaimed our joy.  We remember the past, but choose to focus on the present.

Somehow we managed to survive the onslaught against our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.  Whether by luck or fate, intestinal fortitude or grace, we survived the fire.  We are here and entitled to live our lives.

Originally posted 10/19/14

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

https://avoicereclaimed.com/2018/05/27/surviving-the-fire-2/

Rediscover The Art Of Dadhood

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

May 24, 2021

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm (that they cause) does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” — T.S. Eliot This may be the way fathers act, but it is certainly not the way Dads act.

A lot goes into being a good Dad: Coaching of your partner through pregnancy and birth to bond to with your child is good. Learning to play with your infant even though he’ll never remember, is good. Counseling your teenage daughter about making smart choices is good.

Children are not helped, but rather hindered by the performance of mechanical acts of fatherhood. Being present is an empty suit without legitimately caring for your children and modeling good behavior. It does however model a bad parenting model.

Perhaps most importantly, Dads need to realize that their children are always watching, and that what they do matters. How well a Dad parents influences a child’s psychological, cognitive, and social development, and strongly steers them toward adulthood. How Dad and Mom disagree, discuss, argue, and then make up is important for children to learn things such as conflict resolution and the strength of the family unit. 

Why?

Because Dads really do matter to their children’s present and future.

Depressed Dads can create emotional wounds in their children. Depressed Dads may be able to perform the mechanical acts of fatherhood. Dadhood requires an “all in” boots on the ground engagement with their children. Dadhood can’t phone in or mail in their vote of ‘present’. Dadhood requires boots on the ground, in the trenches engagement with their children.

Studies show mass shooters had difficult childhoods and took Ritalin. Not all who took Ritalin become mass shooters. Have you read the warning labels? Medication is no substitute for Dadhood.  Some children appear to be ‘difficult” then get diagnosed with ADHD and fed Ritalin. Quite often the child is really screaming for boots on the ground, in the trenches engagement with dad.  In addition, “American psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, who was the “scientific father of ADHD” and who said at the age of 87, seven months before his death in his last interview: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease”” (1)

I have seen depressed Dads withdraw and pour themselves into their work resulting in a family in crises. I have also seen depressed Dads markedly improve by taking a break from work to focus on and truly engage with their children. Instead of focusing on their own depression they put their boots on the ground and jumped in the trenches and engaged with their children. The more anyone focuses on their depression, the more likely they will spiral downward into themselves.  Each time depressed Dads exhibited Dadhood they shed some depression. This boots on the ground all in engagement can start by simply spending time with your children sitting or walking outside in the fresh air.  This can work for depressed moms as well.  

An effective way of teaching is to continually point the child back to foundational principles rather than to list a set of dos and don’ts. Positive reinforcement is very effective for seeing continued good behavior.

Children can be at a greater risk if Dads live a far distance from their children, for any number of reasons. In that case a Dad figure can fill the gap.

Jesus was raised by a step-dad and he turned out well.

Here are some well known symptoms of depression which can include any of the following:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, feeling “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed have been attributed to depression.

Here is a helpful source of information about Depression at the link below:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-and-types

There are still many resources available to assist in becoming and remaining a Dad as fashioned as originally intended. Some of the most fulfilled Dads I know are the ones who put their boots on the ground, jump in the trenches and engage their children.

What have you got to loose, give it a try.

—-

 (1) https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/stepping-up-use-of-new-old-weapons/

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2021/05/27/rediscover-the-art-of-dadhood/


VIDEO Mothers Are Special

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II May 4, 2021

Mothers and Grandmothers are some the most important people in our lives. They help share our character and beliefs. Sometimes, because of circumstances, the mother’s role is fulfilled by a Grandmother or a step-mother. Godly mothers with Godly fathers provide the best foundation for children in their formative years and as they grow up.

Mothers have a special position appointed by God.

She teaches, ministers, loves, and nurtures the next generation of citizens.  And she challenges and cajoles her children to do their best and be the best.

But few people take notice.  There will be no news stories proclaiming the virtues of a child being taught what it means to be loved, that an infant was hugged securely, or that the wonders of the classics were introduced to a young mind.  No one seems to care that a house was made into a home, or that a mere table with food was transformed into a place of fun.

It isn’t too late to restore the fine art of motherhood to its time-honored position in our society.  In spite of the current cultural hostility, lack of support from many husbands, and incredible pressure inside and outside the home, a real mom will continue to affirm the importance of motherhood. (1)

There are children who test the patience of even the strongest believers. Sometimes tough love is needed. You might consider this another prodigal son.

It is said that a young man became very profligate. He almost broke the hearts of his parents. The mother was actually about to die from the strain. Finally, one day he acted so shamefully that his father said to him, “We have done everything in our power for you. You have disgraced the family and are killing your mother. All that we do for you is in vain. I am sorry, but I must ask you to leave our home and never return.” The young man left.

The months and years went by. Finally the boy became so miserable and homesick it seemed he could not stand it. So he wrote his mother this letter: “Dear Mother: I am ashamed of my fearful conduct in the home. I can hardly stand to think I must never see you again. However, I do not know whether or not Father and you can forgive me. But I will be on train No. 2 that passes your home at 10:00 a.m. [Then he gave the day.] Now if you can forgive me and will take me back, I want you to hang a sheet out on the clothesline. I shall look as the train passes and, if I see the sheet, I will know that you will forgive me, and I will get off at the next station, just below the house, and come home.”

Well, what do you think she did? Not only did she hang out one sheet, but every sheet, towel, pillowcase and everything else white that she had. The clothesline, fence, and rosebushes were covered with sheets, towels, etc. Of course he came home, and, oh, such a welcome!

It was forgiveness in abundance. (2)

We can find our schedule is really full and forget the really important things in life. The following is an example.

A man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived two hundred miles away.

As he got out of his car he noticed a young girl sitting on the curb sobbing.

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, “I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother.

But I only have seventy-five cents, and a rose costs two dollars.”

The man smiled and said, “Come on in with me. I’ll buy you a rose.”

He bought the little girl her rose and ordered his own mother’s flowers.

As they were leaving he offered the girl a ride home.

She said, “Yes, please! You can take me to my mother.”

She directed him to a cemetery, where she placed the rose on a freshly dug grave.

The man returned to the flower shop, canceled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the two hundred miles to his mother’s house. (3)

Mothers are ready for us. The Bible has many things to say about Mothers including the following.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”… (Proverbs 31:25-30)  Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

For those who were not Blessed with Godly parents or who otherwise endured rough times, do not despair there is healing available.  A rough upbringing can produce fear, anxiety, paranoia, PTSD or worse outcomes. A rough can be used as an excuse or can be overcome, that is a personal choice. Those who suffer, recover, and heal can help others who suffer.

Commemorations to honor mothers and motherhood have been happening for centuries and can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans who paid homage to their mother goddesses. Today, tributes to mothers occur all around the world at different times of the year, but the American version of Mother’s Day was started in May of 1908 by a woman named Anna Jarvis.

Mom needs a hug today.

References

(1)  Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer’s book, Children At Risk

(2) William Moses Tidwell, “Pointed Illustrations.”

(3) https://www.theholidayspot.com/mothersday/stories/a_short_story.htm

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2021/05/06/mothers-are-like-that-ya-they-are-2/

Jesus Shed His Blood Seven Times

For Your Total Deliverance

Your Depression. The first time Jesus shed His blood was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was praying and saw the agony of the cross that He would suffer for your sins and mine. He asked God, the Father, to take this cup from Him. At that time He bagan to sweat blood from his forehead and said, “Not my will but thine be done.” Jesus was in a great state of depression. When He shed His blood from the forehead (Luke 22:42-44 NKJV), it was for your depression and mine. So, if we trust in Him and he results of his blood, we will not suffer depression. Most of the world, today, is suffering from one form or another of worry. Depression and worry are not the same but exemplify similar manifestations. Worry causes stress on the heart. The number one killer in the world today is heart failure or heart attacks! If we only had faith in the blood Jesus shed!

Ugliness. The second time Jesus shed His blood for you and I, was when the Roman soldiers beat His face and plucked out His beard. The Bible teaches us that the soldiers boxed Jesus’ face and with their hands pulled out His beard until you could no longer recognize Him. (Isaiah 51 and Isaiah 53 NKJV) His own people, the religious world at that time, took part in beating Him—by their accusations. For God so loved the world He sent His Son and called Hime Jehovah Macca, meaning the smitten God.(Isaiah 53 NKJV) His precious face had to be beaten because of our ugliness. Without salvation through Jesus Christ, you and I are ugly to God. But when we accept the results of the shed blood, God no longer sees our ugliness, but now sees the beauty of Christ in our faces.(Luke 22:63-64 KJV)

For Our Physical Healing. The third time Jesus shed His blood was when the soldier carried Jesus into a courtyard and tied Him to a whiping post. His hands were tied over His head and the rope ran through an iron rung about twelve feet above the ground. Then the rope was pulled until His whole body was stretched and He was upon His tiptoes like a ballet dancer, and stripped of all His clothing. The Roman soldier proceeded with a whip that had many leather strips. He would dip the whip into goat’s blood, which caused it to be very stickey. Then he would roll the whip in pieces of pottery and metal, so that when you were whipped it would cut you very badly! (Matthew 27:26)

“By His stripes we are healed.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus was struck with that awful whip. His back and sides were like raw meat. Isaiah 53:4-5, and 1 Peter 2:24 tell us with His stripes we are healed. If we only had faith in Jesus’ shed blood. He paid for our sicknesses upon His back.”By His stripes we are healed” uses the word rapha, widely used in the Bible to mean “healing,” most of the time physical healing. That passage was quoted in the gospel when Peter healed his mother of a fever, a physical illness. So as I am typing this; do believe it refers to all diseases (mental, physical and spiritual) The author, himself, has witnessed many people who were dying of cancer, aids, and other horrible diseases come to the knowledg of the results of Jesus’ shed blood and be healed. I have, in my body, experienced many healings through the stripes on the bakc of Jesus Christ.

Curse Over Our Lives. The fourth time Jesus shed His blood was when they crowned His head with thorns. In Genesis, because of Adam’s rebellion, God put a curse upon he earth in the form of thorns and thistles. We have all at one time, rebelled agains God’s laws and commandments. The Bible teaches in Galatians 3:13Colossians 1:13-14 that through the shed blood God has redeemed us from the curse of the law. The word ‘Redeemed’ means to be bought back tor to be purchased from. Because of the blood Jesus shed, you and I have been redeemed from the curse. If only you will believe it!

God gave His Son because He loves you.

For Our Sorrows. The fifth time Jesus shed His blood was when they place a heavy patibulum on His already whipped and bleeding back. Then made Him walk up the pathway to Calvary Hill. This pathway is called, even today, the Via Dela Rosa or “The Way of Sorrows.” This heavy pantibulum caused the blood to flow more from the back of Jesus. His blood was shed for mine and your sorrows or burdens.(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV) If you are burdened downs with dadness and grief, Jesus will lighten your load and give you joy and peace. (John 16:3-24 and John 16:33 NKJV) You are probably thinking you are not worthy of this Man’s suffering, I did. But the truth is no one is worthy. God gave His Son because He loves you. Just have faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

To The Cross. The sixth time Jesus shed His blood, was on top of Calvary when they drove spikes, or nails into His hands and feet. The bible teaches us in Colossians 1:17-23Colossians 2:6-14 when they nailed Jesus to the cross. If we have faith in the blood He shed, then we would understand our sins were also nailed to that cross. Praise God forever!

Born Again. The seventh time Jesus shed His blood was, again on the cross, when the Roman soldier took a spear and pierced His side. Blood and water came forth. To me, this is the most beautiful part. The picture of this is in Genesis, when God took Adam, put him to sleep, took a rib from his side to make woman, or a bride for Adam. Yes, you can see it now! Jesus was put to sleep and pierced in His side so the church could be born out of His death, burial and resurrection. The Bible calls Jesus the last Adam (a quickening spirit) or the second man, being the Lord from Heaven. (I Corinthians 15:45-49) Because of our faith in the shed blood of Jesus we are born Again! The Bible says you must be born again to enter Heaven’s gates. (John 3:5-6 NKJV) Accept what Jesus’ blood has done for you and be born again.

It Is Finished. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 NKJV) Jesus took His blood to heaven (Hebrews 10) and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat of God, so that you and I can enter heaven’s gates boldly and with confidence (Hebrews 10:19 NKJV), knowing that we are the sons and daughters of the Living God and His blood is forever working on mine and your behalf.

I found this in a book on my shelf entitled Words Are Seeds by Richard Owens. I hope you find a blessing in this. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Until next week…Blessings and Peace.

https://rhemalogy.com/2021/04/04/jesus-shed-his-blood-seven-times/


The Battle Is The Lord’s

Have you ever felt like that? It seemed as if everyone was against you. Maybe everything was going wrong and you were feeling the dread of what was next.

Some of us fall into depression just thinking about, “Why?” We dwell in its place. It’s a place of worry. It’s a place of anxiety. It’s a place of fear. No one is healthy in these places. Maybe you know this place more than others.

Jehoshaphat did not dwell in the place of fear. He did have fear, but he immediately “set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. He did not go through this alone. All of Judah sought the Lord!

God answers prayer! He said, “you will not need to fight in this battle.”

This was God’s answer to their prayers:
“Be still, and know that I am God;” Psalm 46:10 ~NKJV

Neither do you need to battle. Just pray!

After much prayer and fasting, the Spirit of the Lord spoke:
“And he said, ‘Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.’” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ~NKJV

https://chomskyweb.wordpress.com/2021/04/30/the-battle-is-the-lords/


If You Want To Know The Future Of America Peer Into The Looking-Glass Of Europe

By William D. Howard

When Notre Dame Cathedral burned in 2019, it was symbolic of a greater European -wide collapse of religious faith which had already taken place.  That great cathedral, like most of the others in Europe, had long since passed from being a vibrant community of active worshipers, to an architectural show piece attracting millions of tourists, taking millions of photographs.

  The process which has brought about the death of Judeo-Christian culture in Europe is now being replicated in America. If America wants to know its grim future, it only has to consult the facts of present day European society. 

    From the earliest days of American history, religion played an outsized role. Even during the 1700’s when it was intellectually fashionable for some of our leaders like Thomas Jefferson to scoff at supernaturalism and prefer deism to theism, they still held tightly to the moral and spiritual truths expressed in the Holy Bible.  They could do without belief in miracles in general but not the necessary miracle of a creator God who established an unchanging moral order.  French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who had visited America in the 1800’s, took particular note of America’s highly religious national character as compared to European society. He knew the horrors which French society was plunged into as a result of extreme, anti-religious, sentiment. The history of the world is littered with failed revolutions that promised to remake their societies, in a better image. The American Revolution is among the few which have actually succeeded.

  The bad news is that we are now no longer on the same path. We have opted for the European model.

   The last sixty years of American history reveal that we have been on a new path. It is a path that leads away from freedom and individual responsibility. It is a path that mistakes vice for freedom and socialism for progress and because Europe began this journey before us, we can now see our future, In their present

  If we begin with a comparison of religious practice, the surveys of American society show a number between 37% and 22% for Americans who attend weekly services.

    The average of these numbers which is below 30% is the lowest in modern American history but if you are a person of faith in Europe, you would be celebrating this as the sign of a “Great Religious “revival. The average church attendance for the countries of Northern Europe is 4%. There are only three countries in Europe where more than 10% of young people attend religious services on a weekly basis.

What must be understood are the characteristics of this new post-Judeo-Christian Europe?  What does the sociological data tell us is happening there?  Sociologists, psychologists and historians, all agree on one point, the family unit is the basis of all societies. The present European family is in a state of crisis. As much as we lament America’s high divorce rate of 53%, Europe’s is higher, in some countries reaching 60% but worse than the high divorce rates are the high out of wedlock birth rates and the huge increase in single parent families. The, “Max Planck Society” published the following in 2016,

“The significance of marriage slowly started to decline as early as 1970, a process linked to the advance of secularization in many countries… By 1990, the share of unmarried births had already increased fourfold… In many parts of Northern and Western Europe, there are already more births out of wedlock than births within marriage.”

  Needless to say the same process is taking place in America .The difference is America’s religious attendance was much higher than Europe’s when the process started. We are moving in the same direction as Europe but at a slower pace.

  The fact that European societies are still relatively prosperous  and orderly in spite of these demographic changes is only a testament to what historian Will Durant called , “… living in the after- glow of one’s faith”. No society will collapse immediately, but already these changes are showing themselves in a variety of dark statistics.

  The crisis in the European family is rapidly becoming a mental health crisis.   

  The most recent large scale study of Europe, covering 514 million people found that mental illness had increased to 38%.

  Based upon World Health Organization statistics, Europeans commit more suicide than the people of any other region of the world.  Russia has the highest rate, followed by other Eastern European nations all of which were until recent years ruled by Communist governments which viewed religion as taboo. Following these Eastern European nations the most secular parts of Western and Northern Europe have the next highest rates of suicide. The more traditional and culturally conservative parts of Europe have the lowest rates of suicide.   Lagging behind Europe, America is making great strides to catch-up. The CDC reported in 2018 that America now has the highest rate of suicide in 50 years.   

  In Europe this is not just a problem of highly depressed people wanting to end their lives. There is a concerted effort on the part of medical professionals to assist others in doing so. Belgium now carries the label of the, “world’s euthanasia capital” and even allows suicide by lethal injection for children.  

Following the same guiding principle of utility, Europe is now number four on the list of continents which carry-out the most abortions. The fact that the primary victim of an abortion is an unborn child without a voice makes the problem easier to ignore. Much harder to ignore is the explosion in Human Trafficking taking place in Europe.

  The Department of Homeland Security has described the problem of Human Trafficking, as a “… modern day form of slavery… among the world’s fastest growing criminal industries.” BusinessLine, reported in 2019 that, “… children now account for 30 per cent of those being trafficked… Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form in European countries…”

  Three of the top ten areas for sex tourism are located in Europe and all the others are located in poor less developed regions of the world. In America the same thing is happening. Feminists, pro-homosexual rights advocates, cultural celebrities, are using terms like, “Pan sexual”, “gender fluidity” and “One Love” to begin the major re-education of American society.  Harvard professor Sarah Richardson a supporter of this task has described the necessary change in this way,

  “Young people will lead us in directions that we have never imagined… more and more young people are transcending gender norms… a more sophisticated view of gender seems to be everywhere we look…. Is expanding our ideas of identify and love.”

  Well the Europeans have both imagined and are realizing this “Brave New World” and the “New Morality” looks a lot like the “Old Immorality”. The imagined utopian welfare state of Europe is now being realized for what it is, a dystopian society where the soul of mankind dies and selfish appetites reign. In America we are faithfully re-tracing the European steps which include: The death of faith, the death of the family, and the de-humanization of mankind.

William D. Howard is a freelance writer who has been published in both secular and religious formats. He had a long career as an educator and has traveled in over 40 countries.


Pastor Jack Graham Shares His Battle with Depression and Why the Church Must Lead in the Mental Health Fight

03-21-2021 Jack Graham

We live in an incredibly anxious and depressed culture here in America, and the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and divisive politics have further exacerbated this issue. According to a 2020 report from Mental Health America, more than 47 million adults in our nation are experiencing some form of mental illness. My home state of Texas is one of the lowest ranking in the nation for quality of mental health and treatment for mental illness in adults.

Moreover,  across America,  approximately 4.4 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety and another 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression. Most concerning, suicide has become the second leading cause of death among people 10 to 34 years of age.

We have an established mental health crisis on our hands. Sadly, the Christian church has often neglected to respond in a loving and supportive way to those who are struggling with mental health issues. I’m heartbroken to say many people who have sought help and hope within the church have been turned away, shamed, or told — sometimes by well-meaning pastors or lay counselors — they just need to “pray harder” or “have more faith.”

2021 is a new year, and it’s time for the Christian church to respond to this crisis in a new way. 

In 2019, Lifeway Research surveyed pastors, congregants, and their families about mental illness and the church. The survey revealed nearly half of pastors (49%) “rarely or never speak to their church in sermons or large group settings about acute mental illness.” Additionally, close to one in four individuals surveyed indicated they had either “stopped attending church, had not found a church to attend or had changed churches based on the church’s response to mental health issues.” 

I believe the church’s failure lies not in ill intention but largely in misinformation and lack of proper training. While there is a spiritual aspect to mental health that churches and pastors can and should address, we often have missed the clinical reality of mental health.

Complicating the matter is the fact that in my generation (Baby Boomers) mental health has often been viewed as a taboo subject to be discussed only at home, if at all. We were raised to believe that if you are a follower of Jesus, you’re not supposed to struggle with mental health, depression or anxiety. I remember thinking this way when I was a young Christian, and it took several painful experiences over the course of my life for me to grasp what it’s like to struggle with mental health.

My father was brutally murdered by a shoplifter at his store when I was 20 years old. Losing him in such a violent way launched me into one of the darkest valleys I’ve ever had to walk through. At one of my lowest points, I seriously doubted God’s existence.

Then, 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The treatment and recovery periods were grueling and left me exhausted both physically and emotionally. Anxiety and depression took hold. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t enjoy the things I once loved. I felt like a dead man walking, and I wondered if I was ever going to make it. Some Sundays I had to drag myself to the pulpit.

It took me more than a year to come out of that darkness. I sought the help of professional counselors who recommended different forms of treatment that were effective in my battle with depression. The church also played an indispensable role, caring, loving, and encouraging me during my hardest days. This is what the apostle Paul exhorted us to do in Galatians 6:20, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the love of Christ” (ESV). 

If we are followers of Jesus, we are tasked with not only caring deeply about the spiritual health of others, but their mental, emotional and physical health as well, for they are all tied together. 

The good news is the church is uniquely equipped to care for people struggling with mental illness. As a local community of faith called to love one another, it acts as a crucial support system for all who are in need. Many of the Bible’s teachings — such as forgiving those who have wronged us, recognizing the inherent value of every human life, and giving thanks for the blessings we have — are used by professional counselors to help people cope with and overcome depression and anxiety.

The church has the potential to change the tide of the mental illness epidemic rising in our nation, but for this to happen we need to start talking about the issues. We need to equip ourselves so we can offer effective, practical care for people who need healing. This is why Prestonwood has started Life Recovery Ministry, a program to help people cope and heal from emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual wounds caused by illness, addiction, and abuse. Life Recovery Ministry will host The River Conference on March 19 and 20, to address mental health stigma, domestic abuse, sexual healing, and more. This event will feature experts in psychology and religion and is open for in-person and online attendance.

We the church can no longer stand on the sidelines while people are suffering and hurting. We must step up and step in to end this critical cycle before it’s too late.

COMMENT

We wholeheartedly concur with Dr Jack Graham and call on all churches to address mental health stigma, domestic abuse, sexual healing, and more

Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America. He is also a noted author, and his PowerPoint Ministries broadcasts are available in 92 countries and are heard daily in more than 740 cities. Facebook | www.facebook.com/PPTMinistries   Twitter | @jackngraham

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2021/march/pastor-jack-graham-shares-his-battle-with-depression-and-why-the-church-must-lead-in-the-mental-health-fight


God’s Given You Authority Over Depression

Do you suffer from depression and feel as if there’s no way out?

What if I were to tell you that God has given you authority over depression?

Around 18 years ago, randomly and out of the blue, I’d periodically fall into bouts of depression (without even knowing it was that). The odd thing was, I could literally feel the very instant it’d start to manifest. My commonly bubbly and cheery personality would suddenly lie null. This would recur roughly for around three years.

I remember riding in the car with my husband (then fiancé) in 2002, and casually telling him that I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I didn’t realize it was something serious or even mattered, until he asked me, “Jenny, why would you say something like that? I don’t want you to go to sleep and never wake up.” It was the sadness, hurt, and fear in his voice that finally gave me a red flag. I eventually nipped that in the bud, realizing I had authority over depression, and it’s never come back since, but I’ll get to that a little later.

isgln man on bench

Over the years, as time seems to progress speedily, yet winds down, I’ve heard of numerous occasions from missionaries and traveling evangelists that, it is not uncommon for evil spirits to physically manifest in the third-world countries they typically minister in. Yet, on the other hand, it is America where they see the most demonic oppression, as it is done cleverly, in a more discrete manner.

They mention how evil spirits don’t physically manifest as much in the US, but rather, they manifest while still in the spiritual. The #1 spirit every one of them mentioned as being a swelling grip on the American people is the spirit of depression. But, the good news is this, if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or will accept Him as so; you have power and authority over it. God’s already given you the authority over depression!

Many Christians today don’t fully know or understand the authority they have over satan, nor their authority over depression. Jesus assured us, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and overall the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). Let’s take Him at His word.

In addition, there are so many people today, who are battling the spirit of depression (Christians and non-Christians alike). Elijah, one of the most righteous men of the Bible, battled depression; he even asked the Lord to take his life! It also broke my heart when I heard the news of a California pastor who committed suicide recently, he as well, battled the spirit of depression. You see, Elijah and the California pastor were both ministers of the Lord, and were still spiritually oppressed.I remember sitting in church service years ago one Sunday, and the Lord told me to pray for my pastor because no one prays for him. Boy, was that an eye-opener! We typically go to our pastors for prayer, but the truth is, not many actually pray for our pastors. Even Aaron and Hur had to hold Moses’ arms up when he grew tired! Whose arms are you holding? Who’s holding your arms?

We’re in this together; this is why Jesus emphasized so much on loving one another (John 13:34-35). We’re all in a daily, spiritual battle, whether we believe it or not.

Not only do we need our Full Armor of God, but we also need our fellow soldiers in Christ to stand together in battle. Standing in prayer, fasting, and uplifting words of encouragement.

Just think, if we all truly knew and acted on our authority over depression, and the power we have over satan and his little (what I call) minions, through Jesus Christ, we would make satan depressed, instead!

Here’s how to kick depression’s and satan’s butt. God says to:

  1. Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7-11)
  2. Stand firm against the schemes of the enemy (Ephesians 6:11)
  3. Quote scripture aloud (Matthew 4:1-11)
  4. Remind satan where he stands (Revelation 20:1-2)
  5. Know who you are in Christ (1Peter 2:9)
  6. Use the name of Jesus with all power and authority (Mark 16:17)
  7. Don’t be afraid (Isaiah 41:10)!

God has given you authority over depression!

“When the Lord has placed an anointing on your life, you must guard and protect it, along with your joy, peace, temperament and self-control.There was a time when I would literally feel Satan pulling something out of my spirit. It was the sensation of my spirit lifting up out of my chest. It would come out of nowhere – all of a sudden I’d feel something being pulled out of my spirit. I think it was my joy, because immediately after, I’d develop an unsettling depression. I would beat myself up over it because I wouldn’t react. I’d just stand there like, for lack of better words, a punk; allowing the enemy to steal something away from me that wasn’t his without even fighting back. I just felt helpless. But as time went on and I developed a closer relationship with the Lord, I began to gain knowledge of how much power I had over my life (through God) and against Satan.So the next time he tried the same old trick, I fought back in Jesus’ name! When I felt that joy or whatever starting to pull away from my spirit and out of my chest, I’d rip it right back down, square out of his hands! Remember, what God has for you, is for you. Fight for it with the full armor of God:“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. -Ephesians 6:10-18″

Insert from the book I Saw God Last Night

Note: When speaking of satan, the devil or lucifer (all the same), I do not give him the credit of capitalizing his name.