Depression

Someone recently told me that they were surprised to hear that I struggled with depression. So, as a follow-up to my post entitled Discouragement is Depressing I wanted to talk a bit about depression in the first person. First I have to say that anyone who has read the Psalms understands that dark times and seasons are not reserved for the ungodly. Depression hits the best of us and, if we allow it, depression will help us change.

I wish that I wasn't so familiar with depression. Honestly, family events have devastated me over the years. Family life has often been brutal since my first wife's heart failure in 1990 and her death in 1994. Watching my son and daughter struggle with their mother's death has probably been the hardest and most depressing of all things in my life. I started experiencing health problems in 1999 that severely limited my ability to walk and exercise. In 2002 my beautiful wife Ann was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Life has been hard.

In all this I have had to change and change has not come easy for me ... needing to change has been cause for depression ... giving up on my life goals has brought darkness ... it has not been easy for this onetime fundamentalist. I have found, and I continue to find, that life can only be found in the Lord. I recently shared in our Longest Night service at church about how in deep despair I cried out to the Lord in worship and found Him there during the 4 years of my first wife's illness. The Holy Spirit still brings comfort and encouragement. Depression is not fatal as long as we continue to go to the Lord ... His yoke is easy and burden light.

This is where the battlefield truly lies my dear friends. Going to the Lord in worship and allowing your heart to break before Him ... giving Him your dreams and trusting Him to bring beauty for ashes ... the oil of joy for mourning ... this is where we find life ... as we let go. I read this verse this morning:
God helped them as they fought. God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. God answered their prayers because they trusted him. (1 Chronicles 5:20)
God helped them as they fought because they prayed ... because they trusted Him. Make no mistake about this - depression is an intense spiritual battle ... one that only the Lord can win for us ... but only as we fight ... only as we pray ... only as we trust. I wish I could say that the battle was easy but it is not. I'll close with this quote from author John Eldredge:
"The story of your life is the story of the journey of your heart through a dangerous and beautiful world. It's the story of the long and sustained assault on your heart by the Enemy who knows who you could be ... and fears you. But it's also the story of the long and mysterious pursuit of your heart by the God who knows you truly and loves you deeply."
Depression is an assault on our hearts by an enemy who wants us to believe that there is no redemption in pain. As 2006 closes I am reminded that this is why I write ... to remind you that God has an eye for redemption ... He can bring beautiful redemption from the ashes of depression. My life is a testimony to that redemption.

Letting Go of the Answers

Dealing with pain, sickness and death is an integral part of life and living. For many Christians these issues are somewhat complicated by their theology of health and healing. Often believers are frustrated and discouraged because of long seasons of sickness and pain that sometimes result in more pain and sometimes death. Because they believe so much in healing they stay in denial of the reality of their situation. Their expectations of life just seem to get in the way.

Something that my wife once said has helped me. She said that "healing is a gift". As I reflected on that I began to better understand the dynamics of prayer and healing. If we believe that health and healing are gifts then our attitude (as we pray) should not be one of entitlement but one of humility. We present our need to the Lord and trust Him to give us the appropriate gift ... sometimes endurance, sometimes strength in weakness and sometimes miraculaous healing. Maybe trust is only trust when we let go of the answer to our prayer.

Does this challenge you to pray differently? It does me. So often I focus my prayers on answers and really don't put myself in a place of vulnerability and humility. I come to the Lord knowing what I want. I have a specific answer to my prayer in my mind and really don't want God to answer in any other way. I think that I put myself in a place where I am sitting on God's lap in Macy's department store telling Him what I want.

With a new year coming I want to find a new way to pray ... maybe a new year has nothing to do with prayer ... I want to find that place of trust where I really believe that God will give me the best gift when I come to Him in prayer. Maybe the secret of this kind of prayer is to just talk to God in a non-religious fashion where I am brutally honest with Him and, as a result, myself. Possibly the real idea behind prayer is to connect with Him as you do with a good friend. Maybe by letting go of the answers to our prayers we will really start to believe that our loving God is sovereign in our affairs. Maybe with the Apostle Paul we will be able to say:

"Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size--abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, The Message)

Amen

Virgin Conception

From the teaching ministry of Sam Storms.

Ten important observations about the virgin conception of Jesus Christ:

  1. The virgin birth was not a demonstrable event. By this I mean it was not the sort of miracle that was subject to empirical investigation and proof (as were, for example, the resurrection and the healing of Acts 3-4). We either believe the virgin birth or not based upon our belief in the reality of the supernatural and the integrity of Scripture.

  2. The virgin birth was not the beginning of the Son of God. The Son of God was eternally pre-existent (cf. John 1:1; 8:58). The virgin birth is only the beginning of the God-man, Jesus.

  3. The virgin birth does not entail a reduction or denial of the deity of Christ. There was not in the virgin birth a transformation of deity into humanity, as if to suggest that the second person of the Trinity has been transmuted into a man. God the Son did not cease to be God when he became a man.

  4. The virgin birth does not entail a reduction or denial of the humanity of Christ. William Barclay evidently believed that it did, and therefore rejected it:

    "The great difficulty is its impact upon the belief in the incarnation. If the virgin birth is a literal fact, then the conclusion is quite inescapable that Jesus came into the world in a way that is different from that in which every other man comes into the world, and that . . . we can no longer hold to his full manhood and his full humanity. . . . The supreme problem of the doctrine of the virgin birth is that . . . it leaves us with a Jesus who is half-and-between, neither fully divine nor yet fully human" (The British Weekly, Jan/Feb, 1963).

    Barclay believed that unless you are born of both man and woman, you are not truly human. But there are three ways of coming into being:1) born of man and woman (us); 2) born of man but not woman (Eve); 3) born of neither man nor woman (Adam). All admit that we, as well as Adam and Eve, are all human. So why not then a fourth way of coming into being: 4) born of woman but not man (Jesus)? Furthermore, contrary to Barclay's view, the NT provides overwhelming evidence both for the reality of the virgin birth and the full humanity of Jesus.

    What about the purely biological implications of a virgin conception and birth? The Bible is clear that Jesus did not have a biological father. But if he is to be truly human, he must have a Y chromosome. Where did it come from? There would appear to be only two options: either (1) he got it directly from his biological father (either Joseph or someone else); or (2) God provided it through a miraculous and providential act.

  5. The virgin birth does not require us to believe in the immaculate conception of Mary (as proclaimed by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1854). The doctrine of the "immaculate conception" is the idea that Mary herself was conceived without sin. The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that "in consequence of a Special Privilege of Grace from God, Mary was free from every personal sin during her whole life" (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 203; this view was endorsed by Augustine). But there is not one word in the NT that remotely suggests Mary was conceived in a way different from any other human being. Furthermore, Mary herself confessed she was a sinner in need of a savior (Luke 1:47).

  6. The virgin birth does not require us to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary (as proclaimed by the Council of Trent in 1545-63; but also embraced by a number of Protestant Reformers, including Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli; and perhaps John Wesley).

    According to Matthew 1:25, Joseph “knew her not [i.e., didn’t have sexual relations with her] until she had given birth to a son.” In Luke 2:7 Jesus is described as her "firstborn" son. If she had remained a virgin, would not Luke have described Jesus as her "only" son?

    Jesus' younger half-brothers and half-sisters, born later to Joseph and Mary, are mentioned in the NT (Mk. 3:31-35; 6:3; Lk. 8:19-21; Jn. 2:12; 7:1-5,10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19). Epiphanius (4th century) argued that they were Joseph's children by a previous marriage. Joseph was supposedly a widower who brought to his marriage with Mary at least four sons and two daughters (Mk. 6:3). Jerome (4th century) was the first to suggest they were "cousins" (the view traditionally held by the Roman Catholic Church). A problem with both these views is the way Mark 6:3 and Matthew 12:46 closely associate Jesus' "brothers and sisters" to Jesus' "mother" rather than to Joseph.

    Even if Mary did not have other children, this does not prove she remained a virgin all her life. This doctrine would also require us to believe in the perpetual virginity of Joseph! Finally, this idea is based on an ascetic, un-biblical view of sex, according to which sexual relations are somehow defiling or demeaning.

  7. The virgin birth does not elevate Mary to a place of veneration, contrary to these claims of previous Popes:

    "God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary" (Pope Pius IX, 1846-78).

    "As no man goes to the father but by the son, so no one goes to Christ except through his mother" (Pope Leo XIII, 1953).

    "It is the will of God that we should have nothing which is not passed through the hands of Mary" (Pope Pius XII, 1953).

    There was a movement within the RCC just a few years ago to have Mary elevated/exalted to co-redemptrix. However, and thankfully, John Paul II did not endorse it and there is no indication that Benedict is so inclined.

  8. The Virgin Birth alone insured both the full deity and full humanity of Jesus. If God had created Jesus a complete human being in heaven and sent him to earth apart from any human parent, it is difficult to see how he could be truly a man. If God had sent his Son into the world through both a human father and mother, it is difficult to see how he could be truly God.

    Rather, "God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary's womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit" (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 530).

    Menno Simons, founder and father of the Mennonites, argued that Jesus did not receive his body from Mary. Rather, the Holy Spirit placed within her womb a God-created fetus to which she merely gave birth. He writes: "The Son of God transformed Himself into the elements of a man, into a human germ, which deposited in the womb of the Virgin, prepared by the Holy Spirit (the conception), and appointed to undergo a truly human development, through which He should regain the dignity He had laid aside."

    But this would be hard to reconcile with Galatians 4:4 (Jesus was "born of a woman"); Luke 1:42 ("fruit of your womb"); and Romans 1:3 (he was “descended from David according to the flesh"; more literally, “of the seed of David”).

  9. Was the Virgin Birth necessary to secure the humanity of Jesus from the corrupting taint of inherited sin? Among those who have said “Yes” are Gregory the Great, Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther. The line of descent from Adam to Jesus is partially interrupted in view of the fact that he did not have a human father. But why would he not have inherited corruption of nature from Mary? Luke tells us it is because the Holy Spirit is responsible for Christ's conception that the child in Mary's womb is to be called "holy" (Luke 1:35).

    Contrary to popular opinion, there is no biblical evidence to suggest that the sin nature is transmitted exclusively through the father's seed.

  10. The principal reason for the virgin birth was so the entry of God into human flesh might be by divine initiative. It is not by any human act or decision that salvation comes to us. It was wholly the work of God. Man does nothing. Mary did nothing (other than to submit to what God would do). Joseph did nothing. God did it all. The virgin birth, says Bloesch, “graphically shows that salvation comes ‘from above’ and that the source of our hope and confidence lies in the living God who entered into human history in the historical figure of Jesus Christ. The virgin birth marks off the origin of Christ from the human race just as his end is marked off by the resurrection” (94).
Great indeed is the mystery of godliness: God “was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 1:16)!

In the Final Analysis

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered...
forgive them anyway

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives...
be kind anyway

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies...
succeed anyway

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you...
be honest and frank anyway

What you may spend years building, someone may destroy overnight...
build anyway

If you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous...
be happy anyway

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow...
do good anyway

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough...
give the world the best you have anyway

You see, in the final analysis, it's all between you and God...
it was never between you and them anyway

by Mother Teresa

Revenge

An excerpt from my booklet on pain.

It was during a difficult episode of my life that the Lord brought this message home to me loud and clear. I had been employed by a firm for two years and had been promoted several times. I was experiencing good success and found myself managing a large software development organization. It was during this time that my director flew in to meet with me. I didn't think much of the meeting. I had no reason for concern … my group was performing well. The meeting progressed and I was told that I met my yearly numbers and that I was getting a nice raise and a bonus. As the meeting continued I was told that I was being replaced. The reasons given for my replacement were somewhat political in nature and I could not believe what was happening to me. Denial, the first stage of grief, was settling in.

As the days progressed I was consumed with thoughts of payback. I conjured up e-mail after e-mail of what I would say to the appropriate men that had maligned me. I wanted to tell others of how unfairly I was treated. I felt betrayed and wanted to vent my pain. It was during this time that the Lord began to speak to me about revenge. I remember setting up a meeting with my director's manager … knowing that the session would accomplish nothing I spoke with him anyway … in a sense I was trying to avenge myself. During this time the Holy Spirit began to make me aware of what I was beginning to do. One day, as I sat at my computer composing an e-mail message to an executive in my organization, I heard Him whisper to me "You can go there if you wish … but if you do I will not go with you." I'm not sure that I can adequately put into words the sense that came over me. I can only describe it as the fear of God. I immediately deleted the message.

As the days passed I became aware of my vengeful thoughts. I had never considered that "telling my story" or "clearing the air" could be construed as revenge. I am convinced that much gossip and "prayer requests" are cloaked forms of revenge. This is so sinister and goes so deep. I am reminded of the time in the gospels when James and John were offended at the people of a Samaritan village and asked Jesus if He would let them call down fire on the town. Jesus rebuked them and said "You do not know what spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." You know, many of us act in like manner when we are offended or treated unfairly. We need to learn the lesson of the cross.

Biblical Definition of Marriage

Andy Bryan asks
will someone please give the the scripture citations to which people are referring when they say "Biblical definition of marriage"?
Micah answers him with the following:
Andy, I'm having a hard time understanding why I am entering this discussion with you, but so that you will be educated, I will tell that most people who use this phrase are referring to Matthew 19:3-9 (Or Mark 10:2-12, or Ephesians 5:25-32) which quote Genesis 2:24 "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh." (often in close proximity to a quote of Genesis 1:27 "male and female He created them.") Under this definition, a marriage is between a single man and a single woman, who are joined together by God as a single person.

I, of course, have a more expansive understanding of this verse, and I imagine that you do, too. But that doesn't mean that those who assert that there is a "Biblical definition of marriage" are making it up. They are not, and we will get lots farther when we learn enough Bible not to claim otherwise. We can argue about what that definition means or refers to or whatever, but it's just not true that there isn't one. Lack of Biblical knowledge on the part of Progressive Mainline ministers will doom us to an asskicking in these discussions. And we will deserve it.

One semester of "Intro to the Old Testament" is nothing compared to a lifetime of taking the Bible seriously and reading it every day.
Amen Micah! I especially liked that last paragraph ... an admonition and encouragement to us all.

Discouragement is Depressing

From the heart of David:
I cry out loudly to GOD, loudly I plead with GOD for mercy. I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail: "As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away, you know how I'm feeling, Know the danger I'm in, the traps hidden in my path. Look right, look left-- there's not a soul who cares what happens! I'm up against it, with no exit-- bereft, left alone. I cry out, GOD, call out: 'You're my last chance, my only hope for life!' Oh listen, please listen; I've never been this low. Rescue me from those who are hunting me down; I'm no match for them. Get me out of this dungeon so I can thank you in public. Your people will form a circle around me and you'll bring me showers of blessing!" (Psalms 142)
From the sermon notes of David Jeremiah:
Psalm 142 is a beautiful presentation of the cycle of discouragement everyone goes through at some point in life. David writes these words in a cave in which he is hiding from Saul, who wants to kill him.

David gives a detailed descripton of his pain saying he is disoriented; his spirit is muffled within him. He says he has been deserted. He says his feelings of disorientation and desertion have resulted in depression. David says he is defeated; he has no hope for the future.

David teaches us that it is okay to tell God how we feel. He paints God a picture of how he feels, and teaches us that it is okay to visualize your problem if you keep it in perspective.

We can take comfort in the fact that God already is aware of our problems before we even approach him, and he understands. When he sees God’s strength, his problem begins to fade away. Someone wrote, “Friend, there’s no living in the land of the living like living on the living God.”
Knowing that discouragement, depression and pain are experiences that are common to all of us gives us a bit of hope. Many of the greatest people of all times traveled through very dark places to emerge as people of great courage and fortitude. Pain will shape us - sometimes for the good and sometimes not.

What About Kansas Bob?

For reasons known to only me I changed the URL of my (other) daily blog to http://kansasbob.blogspot.com. I am enjoying posting over there a bit more frequently and on a wider variety of subjects. I still enjoy posting here once or twice a week so stay tuned here (and) there.

Acceptance

On the eve of His merciless crucifixion Jesus had this experience:
And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:39-44)
If you think about the context of Jesus' prayer before the cross, "Thy will be done" takes on a profound meaning that is at odds with the way most folks seem to pray those words in a clich├ęd fashion. For me, praying that prayer has, on several occasions, been a deeply moving experience of surrender to a will that was truly not my own. One month before my first wife passed away I found myself praying that prayer and releasing her into God's hands. It was the hardest prayer that I had ever prayed. Maybe that is the way God's will often is ... maybe trust is only trust when it involves an acceptance of extremely difficult circumstances.
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done."
After praying that anquished prayer of acceptance in the garden ... accepting the fate of three nails and a cross ... we find that Jesus moved with much strength through a time of great suffering and trial. Our lesson ... maybe trust is only trust when it involves acceptance of things that we don't understand ... things that fly in the face of our theology ... in the face of the way we think that things should be ... accepting trouble, as well as good, from the loving hands of God.

The Longest Night


This year our church is having a "Longest Night" service. The idea was inspired by a counselor friend of mine who told me about how her Methodist church acknowledges people's pain on the night of the winter solstice (December 21st).
As I researched for this church service I came across this meditation written by Rev. Diane Hendricks in 2001.


Longest Night Meditation

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Only it's not.
  • Not for everyone.
  • Not when there is an empty chair at the table.
  • Not when your body is ravaged with illness.
  • Not when the depression is too much to bear.
  • Not without her voice joining yours on the Christmas carols.
  • Not when you feel all alone even in a crowd.
  • Not when you are not sure you can even afford the rent or mortgage, let alone the presents.
  • Not when they are trying their best to the best of you.
  • Not when another Christmas party means he will come home drunk again.
It's the most wonderful time of the year?

No, it's not.

And trying to smile and say Merry Christmas is more than difficult. It's pretty near impossible.

C.S. Lewis once wrote:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning..."
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it's not.
  • Not after he has died.
  • Not after the doctor gave you the news.
  • Not after they told you they would be downsizing.
  • Not after... you fill in the blank.
  • Not after September 11.
  • Not when there is so much violence and destruction in the world.
In truth, it has never been the most wonderful time of the year. Certainly not in the days surrounding that first Christmas so long ago. The story of the birth of Jesus is not to be told with a jolly voice and a merry ho-ho-ho.
It is the story of a teenage girl, pregnant with a child that is not her husband's.

It is the story of a child born in a dirty animal stall.
It is the story of a family of refugees who had to flee their homeland so that their child would not be killed.
It is the story of one sent into the world in peace who was condemned to death.
It is the story of a light sent to shine in the darkness, which the world snuffed out.
It is the story of God's never-ending, self-giving mercy which was rejected and condemned.
In the great work the Messiah, Handel quotes the prophet Isaiah, proclaiming that Jesus was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." One great theologian reminds us that we cannot come to the manger without acknowledging that it lays in the shadow of the cross.

It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it is!

It is:
  • If we forget about the tinsel and the trees.
  • If we forget about the holly jolly tidings.
  • If we forget about the presents and the ornaments and the trappings.
And remember.

Remember the story.
  • Mary was alone and afraid.
    But God was with her and exalted her among women.
  • Joseph was disgraced.
    But God revealed in Joseph's cause for disgrace God's plan to save the world.
  • The world was in darkness.
    But God sent the light of life to shine.
  • The lowly were imprisoned.
    But Jesus set them free.
  • The blind wandered aimlessly.
    But Christ gave them eyes to see.
  • The lame were rejected.
    But through the Holy One they were made to leap and dance.
  • The deaf were confined to the silence.
    But the song of life unstopped their ears.
  • The sorrowful grieved.
    But God wipes away our tears.
  • We were alone.
    But in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.
  • The people rejected God.
    But God embraces us.
  • The world crucified Christ.
    But God would not allow that to be the last word, and gave us the sure hope of the resurrection.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, not because you have to be cheery and happy and merry.

But because you don't.

You can have heavy spirits and shattered dreams. Broken hearts and deep wounds.

And still God comes to be with you.
  • To comfort you.
  • To redeem you.
  • To save you.
  • To restore you.
  • To empower you.
  • To strengthen you.
  • To grant you peace.
  • To be raised for you.
  • To hold you in the communion of saints with those whom you have loved and lost.
  • To store your tears in his bottle.
  • To offer you eternal life.
It is the most wonderful time of the year.
For Christ is born.
Love has come.
God is with us!
Thanks be to the Lord our God.

Rev. Diane Hendricks
16 December 2001

Teenage Pain

Urban Monk's recent post reminded of how hard my teen years often were. This past year I have achieved some significant healings as I have gone back to those times and asked Jesus to heal and free me.

Yesterday before church, while I was talking to my friend Michael, I got choked up as I remembered an experience in the youth group at my church in New York. I walked away from my conversation with Michael not wanting to deal with the memory. Thank God the Holy Spirit brought the memory back to me as I entered into worship. As I entered His presence He brought me back to that painful teenage experience where I was shamed by my pastor for making a mistake that cost the church about $35. As I flashed back the Lord spoke to me and said that my pastor sinned against me. Words cannot express how free I felt when He spoke those words to me. His words set me free to speak words of forgiveness for that pastor. As I did I felt a release from the pain of the memory. It amazes me because I had gone back to that memory many times and couldn't experience freedom until the Lord spoke truth to me.

Maybe healing can only come when He speaks to us and helps us to process our pain through His eyes of redemption. Maybe that is what this scripture is, in part, all about:

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)

Contentment through Discontentment

Barbara's post on contentment caused me to remember something that I wrote about ten years ago in my meditations on the life of Job:
It was the summer of 1988. Things were normal. Life seemed to be "a piece of cake". I was being considered for a new position with my company and I was sure that I would get it. Things looked good and suddenly the bottomed dropped out and someone else got the position. Seems trivial in light of "boils all over". After all I still had a job. Sure my ego was bruised - so what. Well the what is prayer. I began to pray about my situation - and God began to talk. He told me that my problem involved contentment. Sure I wasn't content with my job but it was only because I knew the future of computer technology lied with that "other" job. I continued to pray and God continued to talk to me about being content. I worked on being content with my job. Then God said something to me that created a change in my life. He told me that though I was not content with what I did, I was very content with who I was ... and I no longer sought Him. You see, if you are content with yourself, you don't have to change ... you don't have to be a seeker. I realized that I had the whole thing reversed - God wanted to bring about change in my life as I sought him in prayer. He wanted to bring contentment with things through a discontentment with my spiritual life.

Back to Job and complaining. Do you think that much of our complaining comes from a lack of contentment? I believe that we can only really be content when we become thoroughly discontent with who we are - when we seek God and let him bring contentment into our lives.
I re-read this and wondered if I have become spiritually lazy? You know I really want to rationalize this 18 year old message away but just can't seem to get there. I think that contentment can only come through seeking the Lord in prayer. The message of contentment seems to come loud and clear in these passages:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
The cold hard reality of contentment is that even in a very difficult place we can be content if we seek the Lord in prayer. Paul was in jail when he wrote Philippians and spoke about contentment in a hard place. It is notable to read that "I can do all things" is written in the context of contentment ... in the context of a jail cell. Today I suggest that we consider and evaluate what we are content with - ourselves or our circumstances? The truth is that if we are content spiritually we will not pray in a way that causes us to change.

Mary, Did You Know

Milly reminded me of this beautiful Christmas song ... it makes you wonder.

Mary, Did You Know

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You've kissed the face of God

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the Great I Am