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Posts tagged ‘biblical insights’

Depression: Take Steps In The Right Direction

SOURCE: AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN COUNSELORS (AACC)

PORTRAITS

● Angela is frightened. Each morning she struggles to find the energy to get out of bed.  She feels so listless and down. Her kids need her, but she can’t summon the energy to even interact with them—much less prepare meals or clean the house.
● George is having a hard time thinking clearly.  He lost his job and just can’t seem to crawl out of the hole he feels like he’s fallen into. He can’t interview because he’s so down, so he sits around at home and plays on the computer.  And he just keeps spiraling downward.

DEFINITIONS AND KEY THOUGHTS

● Depression differs from sadness.   When people are sad, they keep their self-respect, they feel better after crying, and they confide in others and it helps.
With depression, self-respect fades, crying does not help, and depressed persons often feel alienated because other people cannot seem to understand how they feel.
● Depression is a mood disorder and can be caused by difficult situations, unhealthy thought patterns, or can have a physiological cause.
● The most important symptoms are sadness and loss of interest in enjoyable activities.
● Depression is often undiagnosed and untreated in older adults and can be viewed as a natural result of aging.
● Women are twice as likely to be depressed as men.
● One in eight individuals may require treatment for depression in their lifetime.
Despite the progress in detecting and treating depression, the majority of depressed people never get treatment.

Causes of Depression

–Inherited predisposition to depression
–Hormonal or chemical imbalance
–Feelings of failure or rejection
–Grief or loss
–Family problems—separation, divorce, abuse
–Thinking one has no control over any part of life; feelings of futility
–Negative thinking
–Isolation or loneliness
–Substance abuse
–Side effects of prescribed medications

Depression is not something you can just “snap out of.”  It’s caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, along with other factors.  Like any serious medical condition, depression needs to be treated.

 

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”

—PROVERBS 12:25 (NKJV)

WISE COUNSEL

The most dangerous symptom of depression is suicidal ideation.  If you think you might hurt yourself, do not hesitate to get immediate help from family members or a mental health professional.

It is OK for you to take medications if needed to get depression under control.  It doesn’t mean you are weak or don’t have enough faith.  It is possible that the depression is biochemical and that medication can straighten out the chemicals in your body and help you get over the depression.

According to the 2003 National Comorbidity Study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health:
● 35 million Americans (more than 16 percent of the population) suffer from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at some time in their lives.
● In any given period, 13 to 14 million people experience the illness.

ACTION STEPS

1. Take care of yourself physically.
● Research shows that thirty minutes of moderate daily exercise is very helpful in elevating mood.  If there would be no health risks, assign yourself to moderate exercise such as a brisk walk.  Do this every day and get a partner to walk with—it makes it harder to skip a day if someone is waiting for you.
● Depression is best treated by a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Get a medical checkup, and work with a doctor on a diet and exercise program.  Medication may be needed to treat a chemical imbalance.   Better eating habits (for example, less sugar and more vitamins) can also be a big help.

2. Deal with whatever situation might be behind the depression.
● For example, if you have recently suffered a significant loss, acknowledge that loss and begin to let yourself grieve.  Give yourself permission to feel, but then bring yourself back to the light.  It’s OK to feel bad, but it’s not OK to feel bad forever.
● Encourage honest thinking about what might be deep down, behind the depression.
You may need to talk to someone who is adept at drawing out buried hurts that might be fueling the depression.
● Keep a journal in which you write down thoughts that occur over the next couple of weeks regarding what is behind the depression.

3. Reconsider your thoughts.
● For example, you may be thinking, “I’m totally worthless. I have nothing to give to anyone.”  These are common lies people tell themselves.  The fact is that every person has value.
● Prepare a list of ten things you like about yourself—and three of them have to be physical characteristics.

4. Assess your social support systems and consider joining a support group.
● Who are your friends?  Are they people who help you feel better about yourself?
● What groups are you currently involved in?
● What is your church involvement?  Who at church could be of help and support?

Depressed Christians certainly should continue praying, reading the Bible, confessing sin and pursuing holiness, but unless God or a professional Christian counselor says otherwise, don’t assume the depression is caused by a spiritual problem.  That type of thinking can keep a depressed Christian from seeking professional help.

BIBLICAL INSIGHTS

But [Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree.  And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough!  Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” —1 Kings 19:4
● Life has highs and lows, and as in a mountain range, the lows often come right after the highs.  Like Elijah, we may scale the heights of spiritual victory only to soon find ourselves in the dark valley of depression.
● While certain forms of clinical depression should be professionally treated, many depressed feelings are part of life’s ups and downs.
● Like Elijah, we should listen for God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) to
comfort us.

Then as [Elijah] lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.”  Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water.  So he ate and drank, and lay down again. —1Kings 19:5, 6
● Depression drains energy, twists values, and assaults faith.
● Depression can affect anyone.
● God responded mercifully. He did not castigate or condemn Elijah for his condition—something that many depressed Christians expect from God.  Even in the depths of depression God shows loving concern and a way out.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.— Psalm 42:5

● Depressed feelings sometimes cause some people to turn away from God.
● Others like David, however, allow those disquieted, depressed feelings to make them “hope in God,” remembering His goodness.
● During such times, living by faith takes on new meaning.  Depressed people must learn to trust what they cannot feel or see.

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
— Isaiah 61:3

● The Bible recognizes the heaviness of depression.  God’s love and understanding reach out to those who are depressed and discouraged.
● He promises to give consolation, beauty in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness.

 

PRAYER STARTER

“Lord, I feel like I am in darkness with no way out. I pray that You will help me discern what is really going on deep in my heart. If there is a chemical problem, help the doctors to discover it and treat it. If there is deep pain or shame, help me to bring it into the light and deal with it by Your grace.”

RESOURCES:

WWW.DEPRESSION.COM

WWW.CELEBRATERECOVERY.COM

Helpful Action Steps To Deal With Your Pornography Problem

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

For the Person Viewing Pornography

  1. Flee Temptation
    • Identify all the locations and activities that provide temptation. Avoid bookstores that sell pornographic magazines—to avoid even the appearance of evil. Use the computer only when someone else is in the room. Purchase software that blocks access to undesirable Internet sites.
  2. Identify Emotional Triggers
    • Are there work associates, times of the day, or particularly stressful situations that trigger the temptation? Identify which part of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) is your strongest trigger.
    • Take specific steps to minimize the triggers. The triggers can be used as cues to engage in competing behavior—calling a friend or support group partner, praying, calling your wife, getting some work or other project done, and so on.
  3. See It as Sin
    • It is important to see the behavior as sin and no longer to justify it. With your counselor, think about how God views your sin, the nature of forgiveness, and God’s unconditional love. How do you see yourself in relationship to how God sees you?
  4. Refocus on Christ
    • Develop a plan to strengthen and deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ.
    • Be accountable to someone else for daily Scripture reading and prayer.
    • Memorize Scripture so that you can bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
  5. Find Support and Accountability
    • Become involved in a local Christian ministry that supports men (women) who are experiencing this struggle. Find a men’s (women’s) addiction group, especially one that works on sexual addictions, if possible.
  6. Seek Further Help
    • Pornography use can cause long-term problems. If this has been a long-standing pattern with a high degree of involvement, it is important to enlist the support of a professional trained in the arena of sexual addiction and/or be involved in a local 12-step group.

For the Spouse Seeking Counsel

  1. Watch for Triggers
    • You can identify locations and activities that provide temptation for your husband. Help him avoid bookstores that sell pornographic magazines (for example, don’t send him late at night to the local 7–Eleven on an errand).
    • Move the computer out of isolation. If your husband is willing to be helped, he should go along with this. If not, you can explain that you don’t want the kids to find pornography. Purchase software that blocks the access to undesirable Internet sites.
  2. Identify Emotional Triggers
    • Do you sense that there are work associates, times of the day, or particularly stressful situations that trigger the temptation? What can you do to help, if anything?
    • Which part of HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) is the strongest trigger for your spouse?
    • What can you do to off-set these?
    • If your spouse is willing to be helped, you can talk to him about these triggers and how you can be his ally in minimizing them.
  3. Continue to Love Him
    • Nagging, anger, or humiliation will not work. Continue to love your spouse. It will be difficult because you will feel “cheated on,” but ask God to help you choose to love him through this.
    • Let him know that you want him back from the darkness and you want your marriage unhindered by these “other women.” Tell him how you feel when he views pornography—emphasizing your hurt and fear.
    • Ask your husband if he wants his children to be similarly enslaved when they are older.
    • Explain that eventually pornography will no longer satisfy, and he will need more and other types, or will be led into an affair.
  4. Pray
    • Pray that your husband will be sickened by what he sees and will choose to turn away.
    • Let God go to work in your husband’s life.
  5. Encourage Support
    • Encourage your husband to join a support group or men’s Bible study that will provide accountability. Do whatever it takes to free him up to attend such a group.

Biblical Insights

Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. Numbers 25:1

Sexual sin always progresses, drawing people farther and farther from God. What may start as an “innocent” flirtation with sin can lead to deadly consequences. Dabbling around the edges of sexual sin can take hold and consume a person, leading to pain and brokenness.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust. 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5

The Bible is very clear about sexual sin. God created sex as a beautiful expression of love in marriage. Satan took that beauty and distorted it.

Sexual sin encompasses a wide range of activities that God forbids. No matter what society allows, believers must look to God for instruction in this serious matter.

Christians need to avoid activities or thoughts that warp what God intended for building oneness in marriage. Believers must have no part in sexual sin. God knows its power to destroy people. His commands are for our good.

I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Revelation 2:23

Sometimes people think they can hide portions of their lives from everyone. Christ searches minds and hearts. Nothing is hidden from Him. No sexual sin can escape His notice. People may think they are getting away with it, but God knows.

Everywhere we go, everything we say, think, or do is seen by God. That understanding alone should help us steer clear of sexual sin.

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Proverbs 5:3–4 NIV

While the thought of bringing anyone else into the bedroom is repulsive to most, the Bible says that the lips of a forbidden (including imaginary) woman (or man) “drip honey.” In other words, this spice is sweet and “her speech is smoother than oil.”

[The adulteress’s] feet go down to death; her steps follow the path of Sheol (Hell); she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. Proverbs 5:5–6

In other words, the “spicy” gets real “dicey”, quickly consuming and destroying all who play. Lovemaking, play, and relationship building are all but gone—sacrificed on the altar of “just a little fun.”

Six Tests To Fine-Tune A Decision

SOURCE:  Unknown

The basis for making great decisions:

“…if you …turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding…if you look for it…and search for it…then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path.”   (see Prov. 2: 1-9)

Make use of the following “tests” as guidelines to determine if a potential decision is wise and rests upon a solid foundation.

1.  The IDEAL Test:  Is it in harmony with the Bible?

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.   (Ps. 119:105)

2.  The INTEGRITY Test:  Would I want everyone to know about this decision I am making?

“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”   (Prov. 10:9)

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”   (James 4:17)

3.  The IMPROVEMENT Test:  Will it make me a better person?

“Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive.”   (1 Cor. 10:23)

4.  The DEPENDENCE Test:  Could it become addictive or controlling and begin to dominate my life?

“Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me –but I will not be mastered by anything.     (1 Cor. 6:12)

5.  The INFLUENCE Test:  Will it harm other people?

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.”   (Rom. 14:12-13)

“Be careful, however that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak…When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.”   (1 Cor. 8: 9, 12)

6.  The INVESTMENT Test:  Is it the best use of my time and life-resources?

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”   (Eph. 5:15-17)

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