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.


Parents join newly formed LGB group to protest outside 6 transgender clinics in US, Canada

By Brandon Showalter, Christian Post Reporter

Protesters demonstrate against transing children outside Connecticut Children’s Hospital in Hartford, Conn., on Feb. 14, 2021. | Courtesy of LGB Fight Back

Parents of transgender-identifying teens held protests outside children’s hospitals that house transgender clinics in six cities across the United States and Canada in a joint effort spearheaded by these families and a recently-formed LGB group.

Rallies were held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Hartford, and Ontario, Canada on Valentine’s Day to protest against the use of experimental drugs and cross-sex hormones on youth who are struggling with same-sex attraction, are on the autism spectrum, or suffering from depression or other mental struggles. 

Carrie Hathorn, the national organizer for LGB Fight Back, a group that was formed last summer, and two mothers of trans-identified children, both of whom spoke with The Christian Post on condition of anonymity, said it’s vital the public take action to resist the heavily financed transgender movement that they say is causing catastrophic harm to young people. 

The prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones followed by cosmetic surgeries that lead to sterility are unethical and abusive to children, they stressed.

“Lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people were the first to be targeted for ‘trans’ medical experimentation,” Hathorn explained. “Big Med and Big Pharma used transgenderism to Trojan Horse the LGB movement. They turned PRIDE into a corporate event, then added the T to LGB. Big Med and Big Pharma see LGB people as a market to exploit for profit,” she said. 

Due to the shame they often experienced within the broader culture, these industries are providing gays and lesbians a medicalized “way to pretend to be straight by making us into facsimiles of the opposite sex,” she said, asserting that this is a billionaire-funded movement that has become corporatized, turning their bodies into marketable commodities to be modified under the guise of “progress.”

Among the financial backers pushing gender identity policies in the legal structures of nations worldwide through various philanthropic activities and lobbying efforts are tech titan Tim Gill and John Stryker, who is heir to a $13.6 billion medical corporation and the creator of the Arcus Foundation, according to an earlier report in First Things.

Parents and activists protest gender clinics on Feb. 14, 2021. | Courtesy of LGB Fight Back

Hathorn said that many of those in her organization have known homosexuals and bisexuals — as both partners and friends — who went through the process of transitioning,and they are devastated by the physical and psychological damage that has been done to them.

“Some of us even went through ‘trans’ phases ourselves. But now, Big Med and Big Pharma have expanded their profit-driven market to target kids. In so doing, they further reinforce the public narrative that trans identities are innate, lifelong, and unchangeable. LGB Fight Back opposes the medicalization of our community and of children,” she said. 

Among the signs held at the six-city protests were “Stop transing gay kids” and “Trans is not the new gay.”

Kelly (not her real name), a nurse in the Chicago area, took part in a protest at a park near a Planned Parenthood clinic, which is now a leading provider of cross-sex hormones, because she is ready to fight. Her daughter, who’s in her 20s, claims a trans identity and has been saying she’ll go on hormones soon. Her daughter has decided to go by a different name and wear a breast binder to flatten her breasts.

The mother said she had wanted to take action before last week but was too distraught to engage. 

Parents protest outside Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., on Feb. 14, 2021. | Courtesy of LGB Fight Back

“The parents are paralyzed because they are afraid they’ll lose their kid,” Kelly explained. “They are ashamed. They don’t wanttheir kids to know about this (that they have objections and concerns) even though their kids are telling everybody. They’re just hoping that nobody knows. They don’t want to lose their job, and nobody has helped them.”

“But I am no longer paralyzed. I have about a year before my daughter explodes (emotionally). She still says she’s going to do it; she’s getting a little bit more headstrong on it,” she said.

“So I am now ready to fight … and I’m grateful for COVID because we can wear a mask and no one knows who we are.”

Kelly told CP she would rather lose her job than lose her child to the trans movement. 

“This is wrong, this is medically wrong,” she declared, “and I want someone to pay for this. I do.”

Although transgenderism is framed in much of the media as a right versus left conflict, the parents’ group that Kelly is a part of is politically and religiously diverse, and they’ve bonded over the plight of their kids. 

“We were just at a loss for words. Everybody tells you it’s your fault, or not that it’s even your fault but that you’re the crazy one (for not supporting your child’s trans identity). It’s like you’re in the twilight zone,” she recalled, speaking of a gathering she had at her home of distressed parents. 

Parents protest outside gender clinics on Feb. 14, 2021. | Courtesy of LGB Fight Back

Kelly, who’s an evangelical Christian, added that she’s grateful the LGB group is now helping them organize to fight for their kids’ lives. 

“I kind of love that everybody’s coming together. Isn’t this where Jesus would have been?” she posited. 

Going forward, she hopes to continue increasing the visibility of the protests to break the media blackout on this issue. Her influential friends in the Chicago area where she lives have started to change their views about transgenderism as well, she added. 

Some of her friends, who once thought she wasn’t being kind and that she should accept her daughter’s belief that she’s a boy, have since come to understand the complications and harms linked with medicalized gender-transitioning. What changed some minds among these friends was reading journalist Abigail Shrier’s book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters

“The public is not aware of these horror stories. They don’t want to hear. And that’s wrong,” Kelly added, explaining that many don’t realize how the ideology has crept into every professional sector. 

At a recent four-hour training session that Kelly went to at the hospital where she works, she recalled the presenters telling those in attendance: “‘Now remember, when you say pregnant women, you need to say pregnant people, as you could be hurting someone’s feelings.'”

In Hartford, Connecticut, another mother who also participated in last week’s six-city protests told CP that she’s been gathering with other heartbroken parents since 2017. 

“The idea for the action (protests) was to have a positive message,” said the mother, who is named here as Dawn, to protect her identity. 

Placards and signs that participants held outside Connecticut Children’s Hospital contained messages such as “Children Cannot Consent to Puberty Blockers,” “Children Need Love Not Puberty Blockers,” and “Let Kids Develop Naturally,” along with other words of love, underscored by the protests being held on Valentine’s Day. 

“So come at me and tell me I’m a bigot for loving my kid,” Dawn said sarcastically.

Parents and LGB Fight Back protest outside of gender clinics on Feb. 14, 2021. | Courtesy of LGB Fight Back

Dawn has been involved in the issue for approximately six years. Her daughter, who’s now a young adult, identifies as the opposite sex and is taking cross-sex hormones. 

The network that she’s part of, known as Parents of ROGD Kids, has members in 48 states. 

“I think a lot of us thought that trans issues were gay [issues] and we figured that it was all part of the alphabet soup and that affirming people as trans was the identical thing as lesbian or gay,” she explained, noting how successful the marketing of that message has been over the years. 

Yet the proverbial alarm bells started to go off when she learned of the drugs being used to block normal puberty in gender-confused youth. 

“We have experience with those drugs in another context and I know that they may have life-giving benefits for some people, but they also make you sick as can be,” she said. 

“And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, these are being given to young children.'”

“I think people have this vision of people being like http://cassette tape decks. You can hit pause and then come back the next day and hit unpause and everything is going to be just like it was. And that didn’t make any sense to me.”

Transgender advocates and their allies in the medical field have routinely claimed that puberty blockers are a mere “pause button,” the effects of which are fully reversible and are given to children in order to buy them more time to decide whether to proceed with the next steps in a gender transition, such as cross-sex hormones and cosmetic surgeries to appear more as the opposite sex. 

“I knew that these kids [on puberty blockers] were laying down their bones, laying down their teeth. And I just thought, this just can’t be. And then I found out that if you’re on blockers and you go on to cross-sex hormones, you wind up sterile,” she said. 

Speaking to liberals who think supporting trans rights is a good thing, Dawn said she understands where they are coming from, that they do not want to be a bigot, or for others to regard them as bigoted. 

“But you’re not being a bigot to want to protect kids from being experimented on,” she asserted. 

“We’re talking about children,” she stressed. “We’re talking about permanent effects. The burden is on you to make sure that that’s safe.” 

Dawn believes that this issue is so hidden that the prevailing assumption is that everyone feels exactly the same way. But to have increasing numbers of people who care and show up to protest is meaningful. 

“We’re the biggest tent you can imagine,” she said of the diversity of the group, noting that half rejoiced over President Joe Biden taking office while the other half was in mourning. 

Their group includes Orthodox Jews, Mormons, right-wing Christians, and “regular white bread Episcopalians like me,” Dawn said, and plenty of others who are atheists or humanists.

The efforts around the country come on the heels of a protest in late December outside of Children’s Hospital-Los Angeles, which houses one of the largest transgender youth clinics in the country.

Prior to the demonstration, concerned parents erected a number of billboards promoting Shrier’s Irreversible Damage book alongside such messages as “Puberty Is Not A Medical Condition” and “Why Do So Many Of Our Youth Think They Are Transgender?” due to the lack of media scrutiny of the topic.

The Los Angeles protests were the “spark” that set LGB Fight Back’s activism in motion, Hathorn told CP.  The group sent out press alerts about the Valentine’s Day protest but received no response from reporters. 

“It was literally crickets,” Hathorn said. “I was hoping that our actions would break the media blackout but I have now realized how bad it is.”

She recounted that she used to support transgender rights and admits to being completely indoctrinated with gender identity ideology for approximately 20 years. When she was in college in the early 2000s, such content was being heavily propagated in core studies programs. 

“But it was kind of a slow and brutal awakening to come out of that ideology and realize that what was happening inside of my community — that people I knew had gone through this process of being medicalized and wanted it for themselves. And I was one of the people cheerleading and thinking that this is the right thing to do, and that affirming it was saving lives. But that all came crashing down for me when one of my friends committed suicide who had transed,” she said. 

Hathorn found out about her friend’s death in summer 2018 and, as far as she knew, almost everyone in this particular friend’s life had been totally supportive of her transition. This friend, a graduate student in her 30s who was heading the LGBT group on campus, had been on hormones for at least seven years, she recalled. 

“Transing does not actually save lives. It did not save my friend’s life,” she said. 

“This whole thing is very intense for our community, people who have absolutely been indoctrinated,” Hathorn said, when asked if she is seeing more gays and lesbians starting to express discomfort with the medical practices involved in gender-transitioning. 

But some are starting to wake up, she said. 

“It’s slow, it’s like deprogramming. The conditioning has been so intense for us, and frankly, the pressure to go along with this. Because if you say or even ask the question ‘Do you think fewer people would decide to medicalize if homophobia wasn’t such a problem in society?’… just asking that question, you’re considered a bigot,” Hathorn said. 

When she started asking similar questions even in the months before her friend’s suicide, friends she had known for 10 to 15 years “unfriended” her and stopped communicating with her. 

“I know people who have moved out of their cities because the hate toward them became so intense from people that they’ve known for a very long time,” she said. 

“We can relate to what these parents [of gender dysphoric kids] are going through.”

Lesbian communities “kind of don’t exist anymore,” Hathorn added. She noticed increasing numbers of “butch” lesbians started to become trans around the year 2010. 

Such women are still around, she said, but when they’re partnered they look like heterosexual couples. Now, heterosexual men are claiming to be both female and lesbian. These men have been bullying lesbians, telling them that they are bigoted for not wanting to date so-called transwomen. 

Vast sums of money are driving this movement, she reiterated. The trans movement became so gigantic because it funneled the money into all kinds of LGBT groups and other nonprofits. 

“That backdrop of having tons and tons of money, the funding going to all these trans issues, it has set the stage for the pharmaceutical industry, the medical establishment, and the psychological establishment to profit off of the misinformation, the lies, and the suffering of children and young adults,” Hathorn said.  

“Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you need to understand that this is a medical emergency, a medical crisis of sorts. And the more kids and parents who go down this track, the bigger the issue is going to become, but to the absolute detriment of these people, these kids. It’s because of the irreversible damage,” she added. 

https://www.christianpost.com/news/parents-join-lgb-group-to-protest-6-transgender-clinics-across-us.html

How to Get Back Up When Ministry Knocks You Down

ministry

By Charles Stone -October 19, 2020

If you’re a pastor, a missionary, or serve in a church, you can’t avoid discouragement, disappointment, and hurt from ministry. The Bible even uses the not-so-complimentary metaphor “sheep” to describe those we serve. And sheep get dirty and smelly and often kick and bite. Sometimes those sheep in the church do the same to their shepherds. So when you  get kicked, forgotten, disrespected, ignored, mistreated, gossiped about, or misunderstood, how do you move forward?

The story recorded in 1 Samuel 30 gives great insight. David had just begun his career to fight the bad guys. Early on he faced a huge defeat. While he and his army were in battle far from home, the bad guys, the Amalekites, attacked the city where his family and the families of his army lived. They burned the city and kidnapped their wives and children. When David’s men discovered this, they considered removing him from his position, not by a vote of a board or a congregation, but with big rocks to the head by stoning.

The Scriptures then record one of the most beautiful verses every written. The old King James Version captures it well.

David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  (1 Sam. 30.6)

It worked because his guys didn’t stone him but marshaled their energy and once again pursued the bad guys under his leadership.

As I’ve faced discouragement in ministry, these simple choices have helped me encourage myself in the Lord.

  • Acknowledge your pain and emotion to the Lord but don’t wallow in it. Neuroscientists have discovered that when we name our emotions, it turns down the volume in our brain’s emotional centers.
  • Journal your thoughts. Writing them down helps me stop the tendency to incessantly mull over the hurtful situation. Writing therapy been scientifically proven to help us process pain.
  • Read God’s Word, especially those verses that speak of hope and victory. Every time you read the Bible, you are actually re-configuring the circuits in your brain and reinforcing Biblical values and truth.
  • Do something pro-active. Take action to move forward. In David’s case he took specific action to resolve the problem. He rallied his troops to chase down the Amalekites.
  • Stop condemning yourself and remind yourself that you are a child of God, loved by Him with great intrinsic value regardless of whether your church is growing or whether people treat you with respect.
  • Pray for those who have hurt you. I’m amazed how God defuses looming bitterness in my heart when I pray for the sheep that bite me.

How have you dealt with your ministry pain?

This article originally appeared here.

Rev. Franklin Graham: ‘Pray God’ Spares the Nation ‘from the Evil Before Us’

Franklin Graham

Dr. Susan Perry

On Christmas Eve evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham asked Christians to pray that America will be spared “from the evil that is before us.”

A supporter of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Graham asked his Twitter followers to pray for the president, that God will grant him “wisdom in the coming days.”

On Saturday he posted to Facebook that Trump “has been maligned, falsely accused, and attacked on every front since before the election in 2016.”

“When President Trump says that this election has been rigged or stolen, I tend to believe him,” he wrote. “He has a track record of being right.”

The president of international aid charity Samaritan’s Purse, Graham also acknowledged the effects of the coronavirus lockdowns in an op-ed at Fox News.

“This is a Christmas unlike any other,” he wrote, one that finds many Americans filled with “fear and anxiety.”

“Large family gatherings and office parties have been replaced with grim lockdowns, quarantines and isolation,” he observed. “What used to be the warmest and most welcoming time of the year can now feel sterile and cold.”

The Christian leader also noted that while there is hope in new vaccines to combat the infection caused by the coronavirus, still “there isn’t a vaccine on Earth that can protect us from worry, depression, or fear.”

The only way to heal a “sick spirit,” Graham said, is “to find healing for deep, spiritual needs, and that’s in Jesus Christ – the hope of Christmas.”

Jesus, he continued, is “the only cure for a disease of the heart that has infected all mankind – sin.”

God’s “rescue mission to save us from our sins,” Graham said, happened on that first Christmas morning.

“When Christ was born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem on that first Christmas morning, true hope was born for you and me,” he explained, adding:

While everything else may lock down, isn’t it reassuring to know there is a God who never shuts down? He will never isolate or leave those who trust in him alone.

“This is the good news of Christmas,” Graham wrote. “Jesus Christ changed the world on that first Christmas day and he has the power to change your life today and for all eternity.”

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/12/25/rev-franklin-graham-pray-god-spares-the-nation-from-the-evil-before-u

VIDEO Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

by America DeFleur September 26, 2019

Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a dog. But growing up on the streets has a way of depriving you of a lot of things that other people take for granted, so a dog was never on my list of necessities. It was just something I dreamt of.

Bouncing between broken homes and shelters before entering foster care, I never had the opportunity to have a dog. And as an adult, it wasn’t high on my priority list either. I became too wrapped up in trying to survive. No, scratch that, STRUGGLING to survive that I didn’t have time to even think about a furbaby.

Most foster youth and former foster youth lack resources and the parental guidance that it takes to become a successful and productive member of society in today’s world. It’s sad, but it’s true. We need more mentors, foster parents, friends and family to make it through this journey we call life. It’s one of the main reasons why you see so many youth branded as a “statistic” or labeled as “troubled” because there are not enough resources and support. Period. Had there been more people to reach out and offer me guidance, protect me when I needed it, support my transition into adulthood or been someone that I could talk to and ask advice from, I would have avoided so much pain, drama and a hundred different and treacherous paths. Paths that most foster youth succumb too. Why? Because pain, neglect, confusion, PTSD, Depression, lack of family members and years of boiling trauma can break anyone.

It takes a special kind of person to be there for you when no one else has, take your hand (or paw) and lift you up when everyone else let you down. It takes time, patience and unconditional love to heal anyone or in this case, any creature. Which brings me to my point, I spent the majority of my life wishing for a family that never came. It wasn’t until I was able to grow up and create a family of my own, through friends, co-workers my husband and my daughter, did I realize that no matter where you come from, You are capable of being loved. EVERYONE deserves a second chance. So can I have a drum roll please…Everyone MEET DOTTIE!

Dottie needs a second chance. She is a pit bull mix and desperately in need of a loving home. I had the opportunity to spend time with Dottie today through the Front Street Animal Shelter – City of Sacramento“Doggie Day Out” program. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s basically the coolest thing since sliced bread and helps so many animals find loving homes. You basically “borrow” a shelter dog and go on an outing. You can take the shelter pups hiking, jogging or even have them spend the night at your house. The idea behind the project is that these dogs have more exposure to loving individuals, burn off energy and spend some time away from the shelter. You can take pictures, leaves notes, advice or tips and hopefully all of this helps get the doggie get adopted.

When I first heard about this program I instantly thought that it was an amazing idea but never acted upon those “wanting to help instincts” Today, I said no more and decided to give it a try and honestly it was the best thing I could have done for myself and for Dottie. I’ll tell you why.

1. Animals are therapeutic, they have a way of making you feel better.
2. It motivated me to get out of the house, lately I’ve been a lazy slob.
3. I felt so much better after doing it (and so did she) Physically, mentally, emotionally. It was great!

For the past while now, I have been struggling with depression and have been trying to figure out a way to stay motivated and positive while impacting others and making a difference. I usually find that volunteering helps keep me distracted because let’s be real, when I have too much time to myself I overthink EVERYTHING and can’t escape my past. I need to stay busy. Which is why I’ve been excited about that writing workshop for foster youth I’ll be hosting! And now, more recently “Doggie Day Out” I’ve decided that at least once a week I will be at the Front Street Shelter “borrowing” dogs until I can have one of my own. Until then, check out my latest adventure with Dottie.

PS: She needs a home. NOW.

 

© 2018-19 All Rights Reserved America DeFleur

Fun Fact #18 – Everyone Deserves A Second Chance.

How Does Death Rule Over Us?

December 9, 2019 hepsibahgarden

Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Psalms‬ ‭119:77‬

We need GOD’S TENDER MERCIES TO LIVE CONTINUALLY.

He did not call us to death. Rather, God called us forth from death and brought us into Life so that we may live eternally. We need to always keep “sin” in a dead state, and to do this we need God’s mercy. What does keeping sin in a dead state mean? It means to forsake the works of death immediately in our lives.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans‬ ‭6:23‬

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬

To be carnally/fleshly minded is death, therefore this also needs to be kept in a dead state. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6

If we hate our brethren, he is a murderer. The Scriptures says there is no eternal life for such a person. Where there is no Life, there death is present. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John‬ ‭3:15‬.

For mercy to remain upon us, we must perfect our works before God. If not, we are good as dead to Him. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Revelation‬ ‭3:1-2‬

If we aren’t found in the first love, we are in a dead state. Falling away from First Love is referred to being asleepHence St.Paul writes, Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians‬ ‭5:14‬.

If we are not in the Spirit, we are in God’s sight dead. This was why God asked prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to the wind looking at the Valley of Bones. When the prophet did so, breath came into them and in no time the Valley of Dead Bones revived into an exceeding great army.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Ezekiel‬ ‭37:7-10‬. May God help us to preserve His mercies in our lives!

Be blessed 💕

Original here

‘Grinch’ group bullies elementary school into canceling live Nativity

Judge: Artistic performances don’t ‘establish’ a religion

December 11, 2019

A live Nativity scene in Stuart, Florida (Photo by Joe Kovacs, used with permission)

A “grinch” organization that flexes its influence each year during the holiday season, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, has “bullied” a school district in Oklahoma into canceling a live Nativity scene that had been part of the school’s annual Christmas celebration.

Liberty Counsel said it’s prepared to represent the school if officials decide they want to restore the holiday display.

LC said FFRF not only was wrong to insist such displays aren’t allowed, it mischaracterized a court ruling on the dispute.

FFRF wrote to Supt. Bret Towne of Edmond Public Schools in Edmond, Oklahoma, declaring “the Chisholm Elementary School Christmas program may not include a live Nativity scene in the performance.”

Liberty Counsel, which has handled many such disputes, said that while FFRF cited a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, the atheist organization failed “to accurately describe” the decision.

“The 7th Circuit simply did not make the sweeping ruling claimed by FFRF. FFRF has once again selectively related what actually happened in a suit, in order to frighten a school district into compliance,” Liberty Counsel explained.

The ruling stated clearly, “We are not prepared to say that a nativity scene in a school performance automatically constitutes an Establishment Clause violation.”

FFRF had said, “While a public school can hold holiday concerts, religious performances and instruction that emphasize the religious aspects of a holiday are prohibited.”

It continued, “Please note that including a live nativity performance in a school’s holiday concert remains illegal even if participation in the nativity scene is ‘voluntary.'”

FFRF cited a previous dispute in which it wanted to ban a 20-minute Nativity within a program that covered about 90 minutes.

The appeals court said: “The district court found that the Christmas Spectacular program. … A program in which cultural, pedagogical, and entertainment value took center stage – did not violate the Establishment Clause.

One judge wrote: “It is not sound, as a matter of history or constitutional text, to say that a unit of state or local government ‘establishes’ a religion through an artistic performance that favorable depicts one or more aspects of that religion’s theology or iconography. [The school] would not violate the Constitution by performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor or Handel’s Mesiah, although both are deeply religious works and run far longer than the nativity portion of the ‘Christmas Spectacular.’ Performing a work of art does not establish that work, or its composer, as the state song or the state composer; no more does it establish a state religion.”

“Liberty Counsel therefore stands ready, along with our affiliate attorneys in Oklahoma, to provide assistance at no charge to Edmond Public Schools, if the district desires to resume a live Nativity in a school Christmas program,” the organization promised.

 

Original here

How you Can Become a Better Person Starting Now

Can you Really Change?

Most people wonder if it’s possible to become a better person after maturity. The answer is a resounding yes. There’s actually room for change at every stage of our life. With a willing spirit, you can transform your personality. Once you figure out the best and easiest approach to take, you can decide the most important personal aspects to work on. Taking into account the best interest of others and your well being, below are some of the most important things you’ll need to work on, in order to make the changes.

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash

Help Others:

Good people support and encourage others to do and become their best selves. I believe one of the greatest responsibilities we have is to support ourselves and others to live as close to their unique potential as possible. Because everything we say and do has a negative or positive influence on others. We should always take into consideration the words we speak to and about others.

How you can show Support?

  • Have some faith in others.
  • Hold high expectations.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be honest.
  • Share yourself.
  • Set the best example.
  • Challenge them.
  • Be mindful of your questions.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Acknowledge them.

Let go of Anger:

Your relationships can create a haven from stress as well as help you become a better person. But if you walk away from unresolved conflicts, they can become a significant source of stress. Let’s face it, conflicts are common in our society. They happen with our families, neighbors, friends or colleagues. You have to face them in the right manner and come up with a fair solution. The best way to improve in this area is to learn conflict resolution strategies. Let’s take a look at 5 of this tools that are more effective:

Conflict Resolution Strategies:

  • Recognize that all of us have biased fairness perception.
  • Avoid escalating tensions with threats and provocative move
  • Overcome an “us versus them” mentality.
  • Look beneath the surface to identify deeper issues.
  • Separate sacred from pseudo-sacred issues.

You can also identify what your anger triggers and eliminate them as much as possible. Also learn to let go of any grudge and residual anger.

Be a good Listener:

Listening to others and is one of the best things you can do for another person and yourself. It shows them that you value their opinion and allows you to develop closer connection with others. You also get to hear perspectives you might otherwise dismiss. It is important to engage in active listening with the people in our lives. Being an active listener can change your life for the better. It fosters deeper relationships and exposes you to thoughts, ideas world wide views beyond your own experience. You never know what you might learn from someone.

Self Care:

Self care is vital for building resilience when facing life’s unavoidable stressors. Making sure that you get enough sleep is important for your physical and emotional wellbeing. Less sleep can make you less able to brainstorm solutions to problems you come across. I don’t know about you, but when l don’t sleep enough, it makes me very edgy the next day.

Eating a proper diet is also essential in keeping your body and mind healthy. When you eat healthy, problems like bloating and constipation are never going to be on your worry list. That means you will be in optimum shape for handling stress – which gives you added resilience to manage those challenges that come up unexpectedly.

Be Polite:

Being polite is an act of kindness. We can show politeness to everyone we come across. It is not a trivial thing. This little act instill positive feelings in the people around you. Maintaining a certain level of politeness and civility is appreciated because it shows thoughtfulness, considerations, and kindness.

Live with Integrity:

Personal integrity is a cornerstone of whom we really are. It also shows what we stand for. Integrity is part of our mortal foundation. Integrity shapes the person you become with time. Living with integrity means being true to your ideas. It means that your outward actions reflect your inner beliefs and values. It means making necessary changes to live up to your standards. Take time to understand what integrity means to you and how your decisions align with your values. These things can help propel you towards becoming a better person.

Original here

 

VIDEO A Christmas Story

December 7, 2019   By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

 

 

The Christmas Story is story of a hero. The greatest evil the world has ever known made the greatest hero the world has ever known. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of torture and execution man devised or used.

Not every hero since has given up his life for another. Heroes generally take no concern for their own life while trying to save the lives of others.

The acknowledgement and veneration of heroes has existed for centuries. It was the ancient Greeks who are accredited with first coining the designation.

A very recent tragedy brought to light another hero.  A young graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, whose dream was to become a pilot, is a hero after he reportedly related crucial information about the identity of the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola shooter to first responders, despite having been shot several times, a family member revealed.

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who were killed Friday morning when Saudi national Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani opened fire on a flight training program for foreign military personnel, Adam Watson revealed in a Facebook post. (1)

Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, was confirmed as one of the three victims who was killed Friday morning.

“Today has been the worst day of my life. My youngest brother gave his life for his country in a senseless shooting. Joshua Kaleb Watson saved countless lives today with his own. After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable. He died a hero and we are beyond proud but there is a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. When we were little I gave Kaleb the name little poot and it stuck. It eventually evolved into pootis and finally uncle poot. Just wish I could talk to him one more time or wrestle with him one more time even though he could probably take me now. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. “(2)

Simply put, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward.

Philip Zimbardo: What Makes a Hero?

 

Christians who helped Jews during the Holocaust were in the same situation as other civilians who helped imprison or kill Jews, or ignored their suffering. The situation provided the impetus to act heroically or malevolently. People choose one path or the other.

Some choose a path to meet the needs of others. For example there is New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson will use his custom-made “My Cause, My Cleats” cleats to bring attention to his One More Foundation. H e created the One More Thing Foundation to spread the love and hope of Christ to one more soul.

“And, we do that by following the three charges that are given in Micah 6:8 when it talks about doing justice, loving-kindness, and walking humbly with our God,” he explained.

Watson said that, for the last decade, the foundation has given him the opportunity to meet people with “real needs” and “to know the one who can meet their needs forever and ever.”

“Whether it’s promoting and giving food to those who are hungry, doing events around the holidays, promoting education, standing against injustice — whether that be sex trafficking, abortion, or racial injustice … and also, just bringing kindness to people,” he continued. (3)

Courtesy of Eric J. Adler and the New England Patriots

Heroes | Restoring Faith in Humanity | 2017

 

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe, professional tennis player.

There have been thousands of unnamed and unknown heroes over the centuries. Heroes include those who stood ready, who fought and who died for the cause of freedom, first responders, those who served others, and the many that have helped someone without regard to their personal safety,

The true Christmas Story is an everyday story.

The real reason for the season was born to die and save us all.

——-

(1) https://www.foxnews.com/us/naval-academy-grad-shot-5-times-hero

(2)  https://www.facebook.com/adam.watson.397/posts/3471855006187806

(3)  https://www.foxnews.com/media/patriots-benjamin-watson-one-more-foundation-my-cause-my-cleats

——-

Below are a handful of links to heroes

https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/local/2019/11/14/sons-american-revolution-honor-first-responders-heroic-acts/4193217002/

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/08/05/soldier-praised-for-heroic-act-at-el-paso-shooting-what-i-did-was-what-i-was-supposed-to-do/23788523/

https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2019/09/17/hero-westchester-cops-honored/2354177001/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/bradley-plane-crash-heroic-acts-saved-lives-in-deadly-b-17-bomber-crash-official-says/

https://www.usla.org/page/HEROIC

https://publicholidays.la/anguilla/national-heroes-and-heroines-day/

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2019/12/08/a-christmas-story/