Tag Archives: depression

‘How do I get off drugs?’ Ask Christian Leyden

christians with tattoosChristian Leyden always had a struggle when he was a boy.

His father wasn’t around when he was younger, so his mom was the only father and mother figure around, and she had to work two jobs to keep Christian and his brother safe and maintain a home for them.

When he was in third grade he would send his mother suicide letters saying he didn’t want to live anymore.

“I started fighting a lot, getting angry with a lot of people,” he says on a YouTube video. “There was a lot of damage here and there not having my father around.”

This depression continued for three years.

broken homes and sin“I started listening to metal music, hip hop music and all this death metal music and all this music that started to get strong in my life,” Christian recounted.

In his teens he succumbed to cultural influences to party, do drugs, get women and to live a wild and crazy lifestyle.

Christian was always a person who wanted to be accepted, so a lack of friends angered him. But one day when he went see to his first high school football game, his older brother’s friends asked him to smoke weed and hang out with them.

“Just because they wanted to hang out with me, I was like, ‘Heck yea man I wanna hang out with you guys,’” exclaimed Christian.

Since he cared so much about their approval, he would pretty much do anything “friends” asked him.

christian leyden“Three months into me smoking and drinking, I ended in a psych ward for telling my family about me cutting myself for years,” he says. “I just went through different stages in my life.”

For eight years he was in and out of institutions.

He drank while attending Alcoholics Anonymous. He took meth, Xanax, pills and heroin, despite going through rehabs and living in halfway houses.

When Christian got locked up in jail, his new life began. Read the rest: How do I get off drugs?

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Christian poet Les Murray, ranked among the greatest, rose from a painful past

les-murray-and-wifeOut of “enforced poverty” in the Australian hinterland, out of schoolyard bullying, out of the raw pain of his mother’s untimely death and his father’s subsequent breakdown, Les Murray discovered he had an unmatched gift, the gift of poetry, which he dedicates in his volumes “to the glory of God.”

Today, Murray is heralded as one of the top four living English poets (the Atlantic ranks him as #1), and against the hurricane of God-hostile universities, artists and media influencers, Murray deploys his farmer wit and grit, his expansive genius and his poetic dexterity to provide a Herculean push back: Those “who lose belief in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

Les-MurrayThe 79-year-old has published about 30 volumes over 40 years and opened a center of gravity to counter what Psalm 2 describes as the “raging heathens.”

Born in Nabiac of Australia’s New South Wales to Scottish immigrant lineage, Murray grew up roaming the countryside, glorying in its surreal beauty, at once punishing and spectacular. He and his family lived in a plank hut with linoleum applied directly to the hard dirt floor. They raised cattle and cut timber. More often than not, Murray walked around barefoot, not by choice but because of financial constraints that he blames on the share-cropper conditions imposed by his grandfather on his parents. He was “kept poor.”

He didn’t receive a formal education until he was nine, at which time he was ridiculed in school for being overweight. Specifically, when he was a teenager, girls taunted him, pretending to make a sexual insinuation only to suddenly disappoint him and giggle at his awkward mortification. It became a cruel sport they engaged against an easy scapegoat, and it branded him an outsider for the rest of his life.

“I’ve always known that I was a subhuman redneck. We were told that early in life,” he told ABC news. “Kids who wore the school uniform, to them we were subhuman. They laughed openly at us.”

If school was nightmarish, worse demons arose at home. His mother died when he was 12 after a string of miscarriages. His father fell into a breakdown, and the young Murray felt guilty for his mother’s death while he was saddled with taking care of his father.

les-murray-as-a-babyWhen he attended in 1957 the University of Sydney, Murray felt unleashed from these burdens.

“My Mum died and my father collapsed. I had to look after him, so I was off the chain at last,” he said in Wikipedia. “I was in Sydney and I didn’t quite know how to do adulthood or teenage. I was being coltish and foolish and childlike. I received the least distinguished degree Sydney ever issued. I don’t think anyone’s ever matched it.”

He befriended some of the cultural elites he would later repudiate; he was appalled by their snobbish self-righteousness and moral morass.

Murray liked languages and cut through them as Japanese steel slices butter. He also was drawn to poetry. He devoured all of Milton in one weekend when he was 16. Hopkins and Eliot remain a strong influence.

His preponderant intellect is ballasted by his poor-born earthiness. He can “read more than 20 languages, and lift the back of a motorcar by hand,” according to his biographer, Peter Alexander.

6817608-3x2-940x627Playing Satan in a passion play at college, he met the girl who became in 1962 his wife, an immigrant from Budapest named Valerie Morelli. At was at this time that he adopted Catholicism as his Christian branch of choice. The couple have five kids. After traveling Europe, the couple resettled in Australia – ultimately deciding in 1985 to reside in his native Bunyah Valley where he wandered as a child.

After some early years working as a translator, Murray dedicated himself completely to poetry. His oeuvre includes so much natural terrain that it’s tempting to classify him with the pastoral poets, but Murray transcends the genre with a keen biologist’s eye.

If Romans says the creation of the world reveals God, Murray turns a keen eye and ear to discern God in multifaceted flora and fauna.

In “Bat’s Ultrasound,” Murray mimics the bats radar chirps with English words. It’s an inversion of “Jabberwocky” in which Lewis Carroll makes up words so that they sound like English; here Murray uses vowel-heavy words focusing on air (the bats medium). Confounding the reader, Murray ends the poem by mentioning “Yahweh.” He is saying that he hears God even in the bat’s cry.

In “The Craze Field,” Murray takes his reader to the crackled dry lakebeds and drought-stricken watercourses of Australia. In the parched sand, he evokes the badlands of the Dead Sea and descries ancient texts: Those “who lose faith in God will not only believe in anything. They will bring blood offerings to it.”

The quote is from G.K. Chesterton, the WWII-era British luminary who blew the whistle on Europe’s slide into atheism and consequent moral rankle. With no moral moorings, socialist countries massacred millions.

The delight of poetry is searching for its meaning, much like a Where’s Waldo book satisfyingly entertains those who pour over its vast cartoons looking for the red-capped Waldo. When you look up all the words and research the allusions, you thrill at the “Aha!” moment.

Murray, however, is anything but inscrutable. As a matter of fact, he has waged war on his post-modernist contemporaries not only for their skepticism but for their inaccessibility. From T.S. Elliot’s “The Wasteland” onward, post-modern poets have prided themselves on the ample use of Latin and esoteric allusions that leave their poems well beyond the comprehension of everyday readers.

This is where Murray stays true to his roots. Stung by condescending peers, he grounds himself firmly in the wisdom and words of common folk, the aboriginals and poor whites of the Australian bush.

Murray is the push back from the Outback.

To call Murray a Christian poet is inaccurate. He is a poet who happens to be Christian. Not all of his poems exude didacticism. He takes up all the styles and subjects of poetry; in his repertoire there are bawdy poems and poems about depression. They’re not pretty ditties good for illustrating sermons; they are pieces of art that weigh the good, the bad and the ugly of life.

Somewhere between grievance and grief, Murray found God. But as an honest poet, he’s no pretender. He’s courageously and candidly spelunking into mental caverns. His 2009 book Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression combines prose and poetry to sort through years of grappling with crippling negativism. It features Freddy Neptune, his depressive alter ego.

His most recent bout with depression was provoked by an old fellow student who came to his poetry reading in New South Wales. He had just turned 50, and she playfully reminded him of her torments, recalling one of the barbs with which she had pierced him three decades earlier.

Murray landed in the hospital and languished through two years of darkness. He suffered 3-4 panic attacks daily and couldn’t muster the energy to rise from bed to go into the other room to get a book. He took Xanax to blunt depression’s edge following his emergence from a coma brought on by liver disease.

After that brush with death, Murray decided reclaim his congenial spirits and to kill “the black dog,” Winston Churchill’s name for the mental disorder. He now thinks he suffers from Asperger’s. Continue reading Les Murray Christian poet.

She dedicated her life to help women after suffering Post Abortion Syndrome herself

post-abortion-syndrome-westside-los-angelesYears after having three abortions, Maria Field suddenly found herself numb, her emotions in disarray at a time she should have been joyful – her recent engagement to be married.

“I didn’t think my past affected me emotionally,” she said. “It took God to show me that this was the wall in my life that I needed to deal with. I needed to work through the loss and find forgiveness and healing.”

Because of her experience, Maria started a licensed family counseling practice specializing in Post Abortion Syndrome, something unrecognized by the medical community that bears striking parallels to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

teen-cryingSince opening her office in 1995 in West Los Angeles, she’s seen hundreds of patients. Some of them are coming to terms with their decision to abort 40 or even 50 years earlier. Others come to see her immediately after an abortion. Even men can suffer Post Abortion Syndrome because they are participants in initiating life and its deliberate termination.

“These people experience anxiety, depression, low self esteem, flashbacks and even suicidal thoughts,” Field said. “They have triggers. Sometimes it’s a sound that reminds them of the procedure. Sometimes it’s a song that reminds them of their partner.”

The syndrome has not been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition), or DSM-5, but not because it’s a bogus condition concocted by pro-lifers, as the secular media suggest.

Rather, the disorder simply lacks clinical studies in the same way PTSD lacked clinical studies and was not officially recognized immediately following the Vietnam War, Field said. It is hard to find subjects willing to offer themselves as subjects of study, which may re-open painful wounds.

the childless wifeTypically, women who abort adopt some coping or defense mechanism to suppress the grieving over the loss of a child, Field said. In her own case, her successful busy life, studies and professional career provided her a sufficient cover.

She was in denial about what happened. But she stopped going to church with her mom because church made her cry, and she didn’t want her mom, who didn’t know about the abortions, to ask why she was crying, she said.

The coping mechanism worked for 15 years. Then she planned to get married and suddenly a host of long-suppressed emotions surfaced like a boiling cauldron in her heart. At first, she couldn’t figure out what was wrong. But she had studied for her master’s in psychology at Pepperdine University, so she was in tune enough to start connecting the dots.

Eventually, she realized she needed therapy and drove once a week to Newport, the only place she could find a therapist who would deal with the issue.

“I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is a big issue!’” she said.

Even among Christians, who supposedly oppose abortion because of the belief it is murder, abortion is prevalent. Young girls feel the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and think it will be too much burden for them or their family – so they choose the easy way out. Read the rest of the article: post abortion syndrome.

She not only survived, she smiled

How-to-survive-in-a-single-parent-setting-with-joyBy Kayla Armstrong, LCA sophomore

Growing up I always seen kids with a mom and dad and always going out to eat and having a good time. Well believe it or not, I didn’t have that. My mom was my mother and father, and it was always just me and her.

My father was really never in the picture, wasn’t at my games, awards, or plays, etc. As a little girl, I had so many questions and wanted the feeling of what it was like to have a full-time father.

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I saw my dad a few times but not often. I remember the times where I would wait for him to pick me up but he never came. My dad and I were never close and even when he did pick me up, I would just be in my room for the whole weekend just watching TV and my dad and I wouldn’t really talk. It would be small talk like, “Are you hungry?”

It was embarrassing and made me very sad because I felt unwanted and felt like my dad didn’t love me or didn’t want me. But as I got older I was thankful he wasn’t in my life because my mom and I had a close relationship.

As time went by, my mother got married. I was happy because I had a father in my life, and he didn’t single me out because I was his “stepdaughter.” He treated me as if I was his own. We had a close relationship, and I got attached to him as if he were my biological father.

I was happy because I had someone to come to my volleyball games, there for my school recitals and if I got rewards and someone who can be there for me as a father.

In the middle of the year, things twisted, and the home wasn’t a “happy” home. There were lots of arguments, and next thing I know he was out of the house. I rebelled against everyone, especially God because I felt like God didn’t want me to be happy.

I felt like if He really loved me or was “real,” He would let our home be a happy home. Go to this link to find the happy ending and I invite you to comment there.

Homeless pill popper delivered by Jesus

marijuana-to-jesusFor six months, Yvette Castillo was homeless, popping pills and drinking alcohol. She was pregnant and found refuge in abandoned house with crack addicts where she was raped.

“I was trusting the drugs instead of trusted God to make me happy,” Yvette said in a YouTube testimony. “I thought it was an easier solution, but it wasn’t.”

Yvette now lives in Houston with her husband and kids and goes to church. She’s come a long way from the beginning of her downfall at three-years-old, when she was first molested.

yvette-castilloRaised by an alcoholic father and a mother who also disappointed her, Yvette became a troubled teen. With hate raging within from deep hurts, she actually invoked the powers of darkness one day while alone in her bedroom.

“I said, ‘Give me the power to hurt everyone, to stop people from messing with me.’” she said. “I didn’t know that I was making a pact with the devil. I knew who I was talking to, but I didn’t know how serious it was.”

She fought everyone at school who looked at her funny and disrespected her teachers. She was cutting and using drugs. Not youth camp, not juvenile hall, not counselors could help her change course.

She gave birth to a child at 14 years old.

“Not even my child stopped me from doing bad things,” she said. “It was a force that had taken over me, and nobody could stop me.”

Kicked out of school and her house, Yvette fell into the clutches of an abusive boyfriend.

“He hit me. He mistreated me. And I felt like I deserved every bit of it.”

In the midst of her ordeal, she had two abortions.

Leaving that boyfriend is how she became homeless. Pregnant and alone, she tried to mask the inner pain with pills and alcohol, which she paid for by stealing.

“I no longer had a heart,” she said. “I couldn’t love my kids. I couldn’t love myself. I was so drained.”

Her next boyfriend got saved and pulled her into church. She was on fire and serving God for a time, but then… Read the rest of the story.

‘Two strikes’ scared him, so this gang banger turned to Jesus

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Edgar Cervantes in his car. He delivers for the deli and he drives to outreaches all over to share about Jesus.

By Jasmine Cervantes and Mark Ellis

Little Edgar Cervantes shrieked with terror when the cops raided his home in Pacoima, California, hauling his mom, dad and uncle off to jail for the drugs, hot money and stolen jewelry retrieved on the property.

The tyke, then only 6, was unceremoniously dumped off with his grandmother. From a tender age, he was marred.

By the 11th grade, Edgar had fallen into a calamitous family pattern: smoking marijuana, stealing, partying and fighting. Pacoima, a poor neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, was a gang war zone in 1990s, so Edgar, joining the fray, became part of the Pacoima Cayuga Street Locos gang.

He was tagging, handling plenty of illicit money and ditching classes. Three times he got arrested for grand theft auto. While kicking back with some “homies” one day, he got introduced to Nadia, and they started dating. After a few months, she told him she was pregnant.

Edgar “freaked out” because he was still young and lived with his parents. Nadia wanted Edgar to take responsibility and come and live at her house with her parents, who were shocked but wanted to make the best of the situation.

Edgar, who had dropped out of school, started working but maintained his drug use and gang activities. He preferred his drug trips to spending time with Nadia. After an extended time of not getting Edgar to change, Nadia got fed up and asked him to leave.”

Nadia was left alone working and raising her baby, Jasmine.

Every day Edgar woke up feeling depressed and lonely. He quit his job and turned to heavier drugs – crystal meth, for example – to numb the pain and forget about losing his girlfriend and daughter. The meth produced erratic emotional states and made him violent.

At one party, a homosexual was trying to “hit on him,” and Edgar wound up beating him so badly that he went into a coma. After weeks lingering between life and death, the victim woke up – and Edgar was spared a murder charge. Find out how Jesus saved Edgar – click here. There’s a big surprise at the ending.

Jasmine Cervantes wrote this article as an assignment for my English class at the Lighthouse Christian Academy on the Westside of Los Angeles.

God rescued Jess from suicidal thoughts

suicidal

with her younger sister

She was beautiful, had talent, played soccer. She was a Christian.

But she was suicidal.

Even now Jess Trussell, 18, can’t fully explain the incongruence of possessing the joy of salvation but despairing over spiraling circumstances.

jess1At the time, Jess was a sophomore in high school. Her family had just changed churches and she lost the support network of friends who were like family. Her parents had hit some rough patches in their marriage. She would come home after soccer practice to try to finish homework. Her grades were slipping. And her eyesight was growing worse.

“Everything that was important to me in my life was falling through my hands,” she says on her blog. It was a time of months of discouragement that seemed to drain into endless hopelessness.

The way out came at a Christian concert where God spoke to here. To pass into eternity and be with Jesus, to leave behind the problems, would be wonderful, but people needed her here on Earth, was the gist. She felt God’s love.

suicide“I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, of comfort,” she said. “An enormous weight was lifted off my shoulders.”

Her focus had been on herself. She needed to focus on others. Today she is a college sophomore at California Baptist University in Riverside, California.

Christians are not immune from the attacks of the devil, but they have the Resource, Jesus, to escape Satan’s clutches. Christians are not perfect. They get tempted just like anyone else. They sin. They are forgiven, not superior. They are forgiven only because they ask God for His forgiveness.

Being a Christian doesn’t negate our humanness. It just gives us a future eternalness.

I rejoice with Jess’ decision to share her story because I know that there are thousands of other Christian Jesses who the devil is tormenting, exploiting the secretiveness induced by shame. Jesus gives you the way out.

Jesus is my gym partner

Jesus gymI lift heavy weights. He lifts my heavy heart. Photo source: Huffington Post. I don’t own rights to it, and I’m not making any money on it.

Broken at Christmas?

broken-christmasChristmas has a way of heightening pain. Why am I so lonely?

If you are broken, know this: Jesus came for the broken. Christmas was the day of His birth (probably not the actual day, but on this day we remember His birth). Are you suffering alone? Jesus came for YOU!

All the people engorging, all the material consumer crazed — well, Jesus came for them too. BUT first and foremost, He came for the hurting heart. If that’s you, this Christmas can be a very special time. You may have nothing, but you can get EVERYTHING if you open your heart to the Savior.

Merry Christmas!

Dead enough? Halloween in the Bible

Halloween deathWhat do Christians have to do with the “devil’s day?” More than you might think.

First of all, the devil has no day. Every day belongs to Jesus.

Second, Christians are told to crucify their flesh, to live spiritual, not carnal lives. The sinner gives free reign to his flesh. There’s no death going on as you’re getting drunk with plastic vampire teeth in your mouth. The blood is fake.

But what Christians are doing is real. These verses sounds pretty Halloweeny:

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. — Ro. 6:4, 6, 11 NIV.

Do you think your party celebrating death-things is cool once a year? You should celebrate a real death 52 times a year (every Sunday).

Discouragement

discouragementWe tend to think discouragement is a feeling, not a sin.

But because of discouragement, Daniel’s contemporaries let themselves go. Exiled to Babylon, ripped out of their beloved homeland, deprived of hope, there was nothing to live for. With only depression, without a future, without hope, they might as well live it up. They would eat all the king’s delicious food in his service. Who cares that it contaminated them? that it was dedicated to idols? After all, what would be the point of consecrating themselves to God? All was lost in the exile.

But Daniel decided to avoid the unholy food and wine. He continued to consecrate himself to God.

At the end of the day, he never returned to Israel. He spent the rest of his life in exile, as a counselor (slave) to foreign kings. But he made impact for God in foreign lands. The book of Daniel is the account of how God ceased to be for the Jews only. He started being the God of all nations. Jonah, Daniel and Esther are necessary stepping stones to Jesus, who ultimately was and is the Savior of all nations.

While Daniel’s contemporaries lost hope, God was initiating a completely different plan. They couldn’t imagine what God had up His sleeve, so they “let themselves go.”

Daniel is a great example to me.

Heart, you’ve let me down

HeartHeart, you’ve led me astray, following your desires, chasing love where it cannot be found. So I’m giving up on you. I’m going to follow One who is faithful and who forgives. I’m tired of the disillusions you lead me to. It’s time to settle down for an illusion, a hope, that won’t disappoint.

Casting cares

Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you. — 1 Pet. 5:7.

I’m going to keep reaching out

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Even though I face rejection on all sides.

Cutting myself off from people would save me the hurt. But it would deprive me of human warmth, affirmation.

Too bad so many people see others through competitive eyes. They can’t just be friends. They have to put others down, downplay others’ giftings. Life must be miserable when you can’t enjoy friendship.

319896379751152422_LZUTRNrd_bI’m going to keep reaching out to find friends. To find people who can accept me for what I am. My strengths and weaknesses. My quirks. People who don’t try to re-make me according to what they think I should be. God made me sensitive. If you don’t like that, too bad for you!

I’m going to keep reaching out because that’s what Jesus did. Spurned, he still gave love. I’m going to keep reaching out because the alternative to rejection is loneliness — which is worse.

The beauty of the Light

jesus the lightHe makes even the ugliness of life turn beautiful. Don’t hide from the Light. His name is Jesus.

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Rejected?

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Comparisons are the worst: Part 2 on self-esteem

Discov ering self esteem

Unperceived by parents, teachers, friends, aptitude tests, my giftings were perfect for what God designed me for. I’m posing with kids in the Guatemala Christian school, Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

My gifting was not appreciated by anyone in high school. I wasn’t that smart, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t socially adept. What was I? I was overly sensitive. In high school being overly sensitive is not a good thing because you’re no good at the interchange of crass teasing that especially goes on among boys.

I actually thought I lacked a special trait.

Then I discovered my call: to pastor, to be a missionary. And being very sensitive (to God and to others) was a premium. But when I was a kid and took aptitude tests designed to surface giftings, nothing registered.

colegio GuatemalaComparisons are the worst because God made you absolutely unique. This uniqueness is reflected in your fingerprints, in your DNA, in your emotional makeup, in your interests and passions. It flouts comparison. To compare yourself to others is to ignore your God-given talents.

There is only one you on te planet. God made you special to do something nobody else will do. Only you can get the job done. It’s pointless to desire somebody else’s job. ?God didn’t design you for that.

It’s an insult to God to wish to be someone different, to have their beauty, their intellect or their wit. If you are young, take it easy on yourself. Don’t criticize yourself harshly. Wait and see what comes of your life. Strive to do well in everything but don’t panic if others do better in you in many areas. Because in one area, you’re going to blow them away. That’s where you’re a winner.

Our thought life

drive down roadWe are well aware of the damage that can be done by taking a wrong turn.

But we take no heed to the danger of negative or sinful thoughts. The Bible says, “Take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ.” If the direction of your thought life is toward depression, low self esteem, drugs or some other negative, take the steering wheel away from the devil and direct your thoughts towards positive things.

Be a bee seeking flowers

bees flowers

flies dung

Find love

friendship loveAs a lonely high schooler, Valentine’s Day was depressing. Friendless and girlfriendless, I looked on others wistfully.

loveI encourage every lonely heart to NOT give up the search for love. You will find love if you don’t give up. Here are the lessons of love I have learned at my modest age of 46:

  1. Erotic/romantic love is NOT the only kind of love.
  2. The love of a true friend can outshine marital love. (By age 22, I had resigned myself to never finding a friend. But I eventually fell into kindred spirits (at church) — and they raised my spirits!)
  3. If you are young and your family comes up short, you can establish your own family with richness of love.
  4. The love of God, though the least tangible of the varieties of love, is by far the best. I encourage everyone to find God’s love. I believe that humans have a hole in their hearts that only God can fill — and we desperately try to fill that void with every wrong and ultimately unsatisfying thing.

So, here’s a Valentine’s Day for you in which you discover love!

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Add sparkle to your life

sparkler girl

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Sparkle

light

Shed the shackles

depressionThe Bible says to take captive every thought. It seems like we modern people struggle with self esteem and internal negativity. The worst rant is the accusing finger inside your heart.

As a Christian, I believe the chief work is done by Christ. But we Christians must do the work of focusing our thought life on positives. Maybe you’re surrounded by hounds who criticize. Maybe you need to cancel your EnvyBook account. It’s astonishing what a little Bible-reading and prayer can do to lift your spirits.

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Flip it

bad situations

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Why so many problems?

problems

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Others’ opinions

Others opinions

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Hurting Heart

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Your Defender

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Photo courtesy of Imprezzme.blogspot.com

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Hardship

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Fear of… success: Bible prayers

  • Bible prayers
  • Prayers for encouragement
  • Faith to rise above

discouragementFear of failure has a unimagined flip-side: the fear of success. The person who chokes because he’s afraid he’ll blow it comes under a cloud of doom. Ultimately in his decision-making, risk-avoidance becomes success-avoidance.

I know what I’m talking about. I have suffered from it. When I was the hardest-working, most experienced college reporter on the UCLA Daily Bruin, my editors handed me the opportunity of the lifetime, an investigative piece that would establish my reputation. I said I was too busy.

Fear of... success: Bible prayersThe guy who took it catapulted his career. I watched from the stands as a less-experienced reporter took to the field.

shipwrecked faithI have mulled over that decision lots. I have analyzed and psycho-analyzed it.

It’s better to risk humiliation and go out with a blaze than step to the sideline. But the nasty habit of self-brow-beating is no easy task for anyone who has wrestled with the low-self-esteem demon.

Here’s what’s helped me:

  • Prayer
  • Bible reading
  • Church fellowship with encouraging saints
  • Exercise
  • Eating right
  • Trying to learn patience

And this has hurt me:

  • Criticism
  • Competition among friends
  • Envy and jealousy
  • Church dysfunction

2 Cor. 10:5 says, we must bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. For me, it is a struggle. I share these confessions in the hopes that others will be encouraged in similar fights. The enemy of our souls, the devil, wages war against our thoughts. Let’s pray for one another and support one another.

Finger-pointing is not the answer

507710557961662897_MnPCae3C_bEverybody has their share of angst. When our actions, when our lives, don’t line up with our ideals, the result is anxiety.

Pray is an on-going relief to life’s pain. Blaming someone or something does nothing to help the essential problem.

137993176053255564_HVsSY8uk_cHere’s my theory: the religious fanatic is akin to the atheist. Both insist on having the answers to all of life’s questions. I, on the other hand, feel comfortable with the imperfections of life, with not having all the answers. I deal with them by prayer, not by finger-pointing.

And the result is peace.

My stalker

stalker_by_orendorffknightI have a stalker who regularly comes to harass me, and the Santa Monica Police Department can’t do anything about him.

He is discouragement. I can’t seem to get rid of him. I constantly need to get rid of him.

Just because I constantly am trying to encourage others, doesn’t mean I’m free of discouragement myself. It is the contrary that is true: Because I struggle with discouragement that I try to help others. This helps me.

StalkerIf you have this stalker too, then get rid of him:

  • Exercise and eat right.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid destructive behaviors.
  • Flee drugs and alcohol only mask, don’t heal, the inner pain and fears. They make things worse.
  • Prefer uplifting music. The lyrics affect your soul, whether or not you’re “listening.”
  • Eschew movies and shows with morbid themes
  • Feed on the Word of God.
  • Surround yourself with people who can lift you up, not those who tear you down.
  • Pray and ask God for help.
  • Don’t pretend and pose.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help.

As with any stalker, we don’t want to take discouragement lightly. He can do us great damage, and we need to take action.

It’s a four-letter word

If you lose millions of dollars, you can get it back. If you lose your health, you can get it back. You can get back just about most anything. But the one thing you can never get back is t-i-m-e.

Many things we think are a “waste of time” are not. Those things we hold to be a best use of time, actually are a waste. Time will run out into the ocean of eternity one day and will stop marching forward. On that day, you and I will be in either Heaven or Hell. What we do here on earth in favor of eternity is the best use of time.

Have you hugged your family yet? Have you hugged God in prayer today?

Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

from Blue Pueblo

from Blue Pueblo

Pain brings change.

EcoGreen...1

from EcoGreen

I am so resistant to change that I leave God no other option but to let me go through difficult circumstances to bring me where He wants me. I’m screaming bloody murder the whole way. Then, when I find myself in His blessing, I smile and say, “Oh, this is where You were bringing me!” The pain dissipates; pleasure fills my heart.

It’s okay to be down now. Maybe you’ve lost everything… your house, your family, your ministry. Don’t drink to

from Flojohn Travels

from Flojohn Travels

forget. Keep slogging through the Dark Valley. On the other side, you will come out into Wonderland. Life goes by cycles; you can’t always be on top of the world; you won’t always be on the bottom.

After a valley in his life, Mike Lynch says, "I never want to go through that again, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody, but actually it's made me what I am today."

After a valley in his life, Mike Lynch says, “I never want to go through THAT again, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but actually it’s made me what I am today.”

Believe in yourself. Believe in God. After the war comes  rebuilding and  prosperity. As one blogger says: Become better, not bitter. Current circumstances could drown you, or you could learn to swim. Tread water long enough in the Noah-like flood, and you’ll win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Incrementally improve. When the blessing hits, it will come suddenly, but it will have been through incremental improvements.

Instead of cutting

imagesPain is off the charts these days. I believe the multiplication of evil prophesied by Jesus for the last days is to blame. There’s more disintegration of families, more sin abounding, so hearts are hurting everywhere from betrayal. Where love is supposed to be, rejection abounds.

English obviously correlates “cry” and “cry out” in the translation of the Bible. O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent — Psalm 22:2 NIV. Distress

from The Landy - Out and About

from The Landy – Out and About

is associated with shouting. Our desperation turns to prayer, our anguish to hope. Prayer, if anything, is pathos.

I asked God for His toughest assignment because I was cocksure of the solution: prayer. Then He allowed me a underwaterstatuestrial that blindsided me and left me staggering and confused. I had to laugh at myself: I got what I asked for, and then I didn’t know what to do.

Prayer is the outpouring of pain, a solution, not a reveling in hurt. Unlike cutting or pity-partying, it doesn’t celebrate the ouch in an upside-down way; it heals it. Turn not your anguish into alcoholism. You have a God above you who loves you and cares for you.

Compassion’s evil twin

imagesWhen I was kid, I felt sorry for myself intensely. When bigger kids pushed me around and my mom wouldn’t go out and make it right, I gloated on my woes. Self-pity has been an evil that has plagued me even up to the present.

from Kathy Long

from Kathy Long

The good thing is that she has a twin called Compassion. As with many “evils,” you can flip them and make them good. When I took aptitude tests in high school, I scored low or average on everything — but they didn’t even measure the deep well of gifting God had given me. Compassion and empathy have driven years of successful ministry. Feeling others’ pain keeps me in prayer.

Self-aggrandizement is a wicked

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

from Three Chad Presents Stunning Photos

motivation to get in ministry. The only true calling is serving others. Consider the contrast: Jesus reflects on the hungry multitudes, “I have compassion on them.” The disciples reflect harsh realities, “And where are we gonna get the money to feed them???” (Matt 15 32 – 39).

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are there others in your world or just yourself? Pic from Unbelievable Pictures

Are you more like Christ or his disciples? The case is all the worse if you realize the disciples HAD the money to buy enough food (Luke 8:3) — they just were selfish! Compassionlessness is ugly.

So if you suffer from self-pity, don’t despair. Just turn your eyes outward, and you’ll become a marvelously effective servant of God/ of humanity!

Once a failure, always a…

72409506479213917_hXOrEUnr_cSeven failures in a row do not make you a failure.

Just ask George Washington. He lost seven successive battles but won the war. He was voted president of the newly formed United States of America. His revolution inspired freedom movements among colonies in both Americas (North and South).

imagesDid he kick himself for mucking up when he became famous for retreating? Did he grovel with feelings of inadequacy? I don’t know. What I do know is that he continued fighting until he won. Place no time limits on God. If things don’t work out well now, they may later. Don’t despair, just keep plugging away!

Every time you fail, you’re one step closer to the formula of success!

Too many head trips

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

My worst enemy is my own thoughts!

I am a great dramatist! But only in my own mind. I rehearse interactions with people over and over. I’m quite sardonic, tragic and full of pathos. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my rehearsals never come before a true-life audience.

Unfortunately, the majority of these rehearsals played in the theater of my mind are negative.

my thoughts under water pressure

my thoughts under water pressure

I’m venting bitterness. I’m being vindicated from all those who have insulted me. These incessantly replaying scenarios are unhealthy. Their product is discouragement.

When I get discouraged, I flatline.

I need to get victory over my

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

Break out of your mental prison. Art by Zeno Frudakis

demons. The Bible says: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5 NIV. It is easy to succumb to disgruntles. It requires immense effort to keep optimism when surrounded by a howling storm of negativism.

Break through the clouds over your mind. Photo Pinterest

Break through the clouds over your mind!

The answer to the litany of complaints in your brain is NOT imagining dramatic conclusions. The answer is to silence them. Raise rank and disburse orders to shut up all the negative minions mocking you. You can gag the suckers, but it takes an active decision on your part. You must force them.

The beetle curl

9360260-woman-smiling-showing-yellow-flowers-isolated-on-white-background-beautiful-fresh-young-mixed-race-aMy friend goes into a beetle curl. A search engine optimization genius, he nonetheless has not met with financial success — yet. There are so many things he could do to promote his business that he doesn’t know which to do. Failure has hounded him. Worse of all, it hounds him in his mind. Depression descends on him, and he gets in bed, unable to move.

Pic from Pinterest

Pic from Pinterest

Pic Naokihan

Pic Naokihan

Yeah, I know exactly what he’s going through. I WAS a successful missionary. Not anymore. Now I can’t seem to hit the mark here in the United States. After 16 years of being out of the country, it would appear I am defunct. Sometimes, I just want to go into the beetle curl.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

Here’s the lessons if you ever  feel like that:

1) Keep doing right things, even though everything screams to you that it’s not working.

2) Find someone who can speak encouragement to you. Shut out negativity.

rockettopad3) Confess positive words over yourself. Believe in yourself. (You might as well do it; no one else will do that in this pernicious world.) Proverbs 18:21 says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. What you say about you becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy..

From Laurie Coombs

From Laurie Coombs

4) Drink coffee! No joking! Eat balanced diet. Exercise. Let sunlight in. Read uplifting material. Listen to uplifting music. Watch inspiring movies. Etc.

5) When all else fails, go ahead and go into the beetle curl. Sleep a bunch. Things will look better after rest!

Helpless, but not hopeless

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

You feel like an cornered animal. You want your parents to stop fighting, and there is nothing you can do. You want your husband to be the good father your kids need, and he continues unfaithful or abusive. You have cancer.

Americans love — no, need — to have everything under control. What do you do when life spins out of control? Frustration boils over. How do you keep sane in insane circumstances? How do you tolerate intolerable acts?

I was falsely accused by an extortionist in Guatemala. It was a “big bad gringo takes

Photo Pinterest

Photo Pinterest

advantage of a helpless Guatemalan” scenario. I was very much afraid I would be sent to jail, but since the accusations were utterly false, I would not capitulate to the extortion (If he pays $—-, I will drop the charges).

I fasted four days a week. I went to bed afraid the cops would come and get me. I woke up thinking the cops would pick me up.

369787819373451012_bQuSJOKx_bWell, I got a lawyer. God defended me. Innocent I was, and I was found innocent.

Don’t run away screaming. Don’t cut your wrist. Don’t intern yourself in a mental institution. You need something to hold on to when your world tumbles down like the proverbial house of cards.

We Christians hold on to God. He is a friend and a lover. When everything you always wanted becomes everything you always feared, God will sustain you if you flee to him. You may be helpless to change unchangeable circumstances, but hopeless you are not.

The purpose of trials

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to ART Freelance.

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

Photo thanks to Ben Rogers Blog

The purpose of trials is to build your faith.

To lead you to depend more on God.

Sadly, many instead lose their faith at this point. And they decide life is arbitrary, that there is no justice, no overarching design nor control, no

When life gets hard, look up.

When life gets hard, look up.

providence. Life is meaningless, they say. (Yet they still try to imbue it with meaning.)

Go back to God again and again until your trial turns to triumph.

Get into the habit of faith

To form a new habit, willpower is more important than self-esteem. In his book Willpower, Roy Baumeister demonstrates that willpower is key to success in college, success in life, longevity and health. The possessor adheres to an unshakeable determination to achieve his goals.

If you’re accustomed to a dreary day of negativity, make some practical changes: Introduce or lengthen prayer time. Sprinkle your day with the Word of God. Arrest negative thoughts and force yourself to assume the best. Audibly confess the opposite of what gets you down. Continually go up to sit on God’s lap and tell your loving Father your struggles.

It’s amazing that willpower is akin to faith. They’re overlapping circle graphs with a significant shared region. This is the overcoming spirit of which the Bible speaks.

Is it possible to go from pessimism to belief? I am one who emigrated from the country of unbelief and unhealthy depression. I journeyed to the land of faith. Transforming my outlook has transformed my life. So I encourage you to get off your “but” and become a person of faith.

The window and the mirror

The reason why God doesn’t help us is because we aren’t helping others. My pastor said it this morning: the reason why a man was backsliding so much is because he was obsessing on himself.

God has called us to the Great O-word: Others. Christianity must move beyond yourself, your feelings, your blessings. It must account ever-increasingly for others. How to serve them. How to aid them.

Stop looking at the mirror, and look out the window. It’s amazing how when we solve other people’s problems, we solve our own! Depression is simply anger turned inward. Turn it outward and project into positive action to help others.