6 Ways to Stop Sin at the Front Door

Do you know the first thing God ever said about sin?

He was warning Cain because Cain was about to make a very big mistake. In the moment of temptation, God said, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen 4:7)

Sin is crouching at the door.

But how in the world can we master it? Those long engrained habits. The attitudes we catch ourselves having. The ways we react with anger or apathy or judgement. And, perhaps more importantly, do we want to?

Over the last few years I’ve invited God into an area of personal struggle with sin. The first year I spent wearing myself out trying to change myself. I thought if my will was strong enough, I could overcome. I was missing the key to the power of the gospel. Thankfully, the Lord showed me the truth of His Word as I earnestly sought Him.

Here are the six keys God gave me to overcome sin and know what victory in Christ can really look like in our daily lives:

Confess

Acknowledging neediness is perhaps the most important step in receiving help. Jesus came for sinners. That’s good news today! He came for me! He came for you! Have you ever confessed out loud to the Lord, “I confess I am a sinner in need of a Savior?” Have you ever confessed a specific struggle to God that you really thought you were hiding? Confession brings our raw, real, authentic selves into the light. There is no better place to sit. God is gentle and loving. Go ahead and say out loud that you need help. Name the sin. Put it out there. You must decide it will not stay in hiding any more.

1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Cleansing comes with confession. But that sin will still knock at the door. So we must now press into the power of the gospel.

Believe in the Power of the Gospel

The gospel is more than a story written a long time ago. When you came into Christ, you entered a living, ongoing story. The power of the gospel is seen in the redeeming work Christ does in the life of a believer. It is real. It is tangible. It is how the kingdom is advancing on earth.

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We must believe we were meant to become more like Christ and – with His help – we CAN. If I focus on my weaknesses or past sins, I can become despondent. But if I truly believe the gospel, I cannot turn to discouragement because everything about the gospel speaks hope. For me, I focus on three beautiful truths:

  1. There is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1) When condemning thoughts come into our minds, they are not from the Lord. He is for us in every way. When we confess our sins, he separates them from us as far as the east is from the west. Believe it.
  2. Where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (Romans 5:20) The gospel tells me that my sin will always be met with GRACE when I confess and turn. We all fall, and we all get back up. Grace. Grace. Grace.
  3. The mystery of the gospel has been made known to us: It is Christ in you and Christ in me! (Col. 1:27) I don’t do the changing. Christ in me does. Every time I pray, Christ prays through me. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” The believer takes the power of Christ with them everywhere they go. Your circumstances may not change, but Christ in you can change how you live within them.

Plug Into the Power Source

When you have given your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is not just a subject matter for Sunday sermons. He is a person living inside of you. But just like your friendships grow in intimacy through time together and conversation, we must nurture our relationship with the Spirit. You may know the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. But did you know one of his main jobs, according to Christ in John chapter 14, is to remind us of everything Jesus has said to us. This is HUGE.

When you have hard days, who brings a worship song to your mind? The Spirit. When you need hope for the day and you wake up with a verse on your mind…who did that? The Spirit. He is moving in ways we don’t even recognize. And if we don’t recognize Him at work, how can we press in to what He is giving or showing us?

Have you every invited the Holy Spirit to give you power to overcome that habit? Are you listening and looking for ways in which He is speaking to you? If we will lean into that nudge to pull near, the Spirit will strengthen us in ways only He can.

Retrain your Mind

If you have ever read The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, you will be saying “yes!” to this key. That is a great resource to see the power our thought life has over our actions. But it all comes down to one very good verse in Romans 12:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

This one truth can change your whole life if you really apply it. We are (meaning, yes you CAN BE) transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. How do we do that? We’ve got to get in the Word of God and replace lies, attitudes and hurtful thoughts with truth. God’s Word renews our minds. Scripture even tells us that only after that can we really understand the will of God. Understanding of His will comes after we have given Him full reign in our thought life.

Practically speaking, if you have struggled with negativity your whole life, you can rewire your brain to think differently. You can choose to change your thought life and memorizing Scripture is one great way to do that.

For struggles with sin, we begin by casting out tempting thoughts the moment they enter. We choose to turn from evil thoughts and immediately ask the Spirit for help. I have to quickly rebuke some thoughts out loud and invite the Spirit to remove them from my memory.

Thoughts lead to action, so we pay close attention to the thoughts we let roam through our minds. Another great resource for this area is Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book, Switch on Your Brain.

Combine Forces

I noticed my struggle with frustration often occurred in the mornings. I didn’t want to live frustrated any more. One morning I told my husband to notice when I started to show frustration so he could gently tell me four words: “you can do this.”

Do you want to know why that worked? Because we need cheerleaders in life. And he wasn’t just cheering me on; he was affirming to me what I knew I had already decided for myself. When he said those words, my mind then said to me, “you DO want this. You want the better part of yourself to come forth.”

And I did. But when it comes to long engrained habits, perhaps that we have seen modeled or have ourselves practiced for years, we need help to overcome. That help is called accountability.

There is power in sharing your specific struggle with another trusted person. Confession to God brings forgiveness, but confession to another person brings healing. You are saying, I’m human and I can’t do this alone.

Do you have a friend, pastor or relative you could invite into this journey with you? Community was God’s idea. He never meant for us to walk alone.

Address the Root

Invite God to change your heart. See, I cannot change my own heart. It is the seat of my emotions and from it flow wellsprings of life. God is both the maker and the changer of the heart. But we must choose to give Him full right and reign to make those changes. We can do that in three specific ways:

  1. Meditate on or memorize verses such as “I desire to do your will, Oh, God. Your law is in my heart.” (Ps 40:8) By doing so, you are soaking your mind with the truth you need your heart to receive. The longer we think on something, the more deeply it will sink into our belief system. Though you may not truly want His will over yours at first, you may be surprised to see how speaking this verse over time can change you.
  2. Pray specifically for the desires of your heart to change. It’s where the root is. The mind may be the battlefield, but the heart is where that battle was conceived. Should your area of change be in an attitude or habit, pray that you would be quickly turned off by the bad attitude and lack any desire for that habit. When you truly desire virtue over what you have long fed your flesh on, the fight can begin.
  3. Worship. We were made for worship. But worship is not only a set of songs during a service. To worship God is to adore Him. And the more we adore our Creator, the less we love the ways of the world. How do you adore Him? Have you sat in creation lately and thought on God alone? Have you gone over a favorite lyric of a hymn in the car on the way to work. Have you ever written a love letter to God?Worship will root out hate, discord, bitterness and long engrained sin. Turn your heart to adore Him and let His agape love sweep over everything else you thought you wanted.

I pray you are encouraged by my weekly posts on living out the faith. Find more encouragement by downloading a copy of my new release, Therefore Christ – A Commentary on Romans 8, available on Amazon. Or subscribe to my podcast via iTunes, After Sunday

If you have not yet put your faith in Jesus Christ and you desire to have a relationship with Him, He is ready and willing to welcome you today! Romans 10 tells us that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.

Simply pray from your heart confessing you believe He is Lord, you are a sinner and you want to give Him your life. The Spirit will come to live inside you and you will never be alone. If you give your life to Christ, I’d love to hear about it and encourage you. Find a church family and download the Bible App on your phone or pick up a Bible today.

God is for you! He is Mighty and Able to do more than we can ask or imagine! Have a great week,

Ginger

People Really Do Believe in Captain America: The Hope of Living Forever

My boy still doesn’t get how Captain America flew the plane into the ice and then showed up in the next movie. It doesn’t stop him from wearing the costume to the declaration, “Captain America saves the day!”

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Recently I read about cryonics. This is good mostly because I need to expand my vocabulary.

People (precious believing people) are investing $200,000 for the possibility of returning to planet earth and doing this whole thing all over again. Pretty good deal when you consider coming back to life. Cheaper than some pro football tickets.

Note – some are choosing the cheaper option of $50,000 just to preserve their head.

{CRICKETS}

The premise of membership in the Alcor Life Extension Foundation is to use “ultrasound cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so.”

When it’s available. That’s a lot of money for a hope. They estimate this technology needed to bring frozen people back to life will be available in the next 1,000 years.

People really want hope, and their willing to pay for it with some serious pocket change.

A couple advertises on the website with the quote, “When you love life like we do, Alcor’s Cryonics Preservation Services were a natural choice for us.”

And I’ve just been thinking about how much people really love life. The hard and good of it. The ups and downs and struggles and questions. Because no matter how much I enjoy people and creation and relationships – who can really say anything in this life completely satisfies us?

There is a searching deep in the soul of man to find it’s true home. And I can’t get away from the idea that we would only try to extend some kind of life – even our frozen head on a new body – because we fear the other side of life just can’t be a good thing.

To many, many people, it is a far stretch to believe God came down in flesh through a virgin birth, died and rose again. To them, our faith is like the idea of freezing a head. I get that, and it’s why I am SO thankful for a faith I can’t explain that took me over and removed my need for all of the answers. You can’t pay for this kind of hope. It is other-worldly.

What differs between my “odd” beliefs and those who choose a frozen future is a seal of proof. An indwelling Spirit that proves Himself to the believer over and over again. I’m okay with not proving it to others. He proves it to me.

I don’t believe because someone sold me on it. I believe because He is alive inside of me. My hope starts now. I don’t have to wait 1,000 years too see with my own eyes. I get to live and breathe and know the ONE who is my hope right now.

I was trying to find an article last night and ended up searching for the tag “faith.” The search brought up post after post of people struggling out loud to believe in God. I felt their struggles in the words and the spaces between them. There is a hunger, a need to voice this search – even for (maybe especially) those who have not fallen into the arms of Christ. There is something deep within us longing for connection to our Creator.

Some agnostics spend quite a bit of energy trying to disprove the existence of God. For those who have decided not to believe, they sure do spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s our job – as believers – to love them, encourage them and go into their spaces with grace and love. No amount of knowledge or argument can do what His Spirit wants to.

Sometimes the best thing we can say is “Me too.”

“I’ve doubted. I understand. I hear you. May I tell you how I got over my mountain of doubt?”

Because I have this hope, it’s my responsibility to share it with grace and love. I didn’t earn it; and I’m not better than those who don’t have it.

In what ways are we reaching out to love the world into the hope we have today?

Begin Again: When You’ve Lost Prayer & Hope & Life

I remember on one of my darkest days asking God to swaddle me. I had swaddled the babies so many times by then. It was, at the time, my greatest need. I could feel the need physically to be held so tightly by someone greater and stronger than me. This was the only time during that year that I felt the presence of God come down and warm me while I lay there, knees to my chest in the corner of my bed.

I had never really known depression before.

One day I went out for lunch with my husband. I told him I was just surviving. I can remember how heavy my chest felt as I said that. I thought I might drown. My whole body felt as though it might literally give out.

They say what is deepest will rise to the surface on your harder days. I found anger most of all, and lack of fruit. The verses about branches and vines and being thrown in the fire caused me to truly question if I could call myself a Christian. But the hardest part for me was the loss of prayer and intimacy with the loving Father I’d always known. I doubted His goodness, and it was my greatest disappointment – in myself.

I picked up an old copy of Prayer, by Richard Foster. I didn’t even believe the words anymore. But I kept reading, and picking it up again. Something in me could not settle for the doubt that was covering me.

This is a sign of prevenient grace: when sinful souls hunger for God.

What finally, truly freed me was this: I gave myself permission to live out the season.

To let the questions have their full effect in me. To speak them out into the thick air and let them hang there. Though I wanted so deeply to be fixed and go back to what I felt before, I could not. I didn’t pretend. I didn’t hide. I had the church remove me from the list of corporate prayer leaders.

What do you do as a minister when people look to you for faith, and you have none at all? When they still call to talk about fasting and you don’t remember the last time you prayed?

I was honest. I let them walk with me, into my unsteadiness.

I needed to begin again.

We need to give people room to stretch into a new place with God. Room to struggle and ask the hard questions, without rushing to answer them ourselves. Because it was here, in this new and unknown place of doubt that God deconstructed and rebuilt a heart for Him. I thought I was waiting for Him…but He graciously waited for me.

The idol of knowledge needed to die. So many idols did. I finally offered my need to have all the answers down at the cross. What came forth from my dark night of the soul was a whole new place of faith.

Maybe the darkness of doubt is the primer….for a faith that sticks.

faith that sticks

The life that Jesus offers is found in the most unexpected places. In ordinary tangibles like bread and wine. In the heart of the prodigal, hurting from sin, but willing to look up and see the Father, waiting.

And even in death. For the seed that dies will sprout new life. The soul who dies in Christ will live.

“Today is the perfect day to believe and begin again.” – Ann Voskamp

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I’m linking up with the High Calling today. This is part of a series on prayer. You may begin here. Segments of this post were taken from previous posts I’ve written on my experience with depression. May you find the light of His truth and know you are loved today.

Hope for Every Marriage

I remember when the movie Fireproof first came out. My friend Lori told me about the hushed quiet that settled over the theater as the credits rolled. Then my husband and I watched it, and we felt it too. Like a blanket of Spirit dew.

Sometimes you just know when God is all over something.

If there is anything today the enemy is trying to wreck, to undo, to confuse and twist and just plain destroy – it’s marriage. It’s God’s very first answer to the very first problem: when man was alone.

About a month ago, I was talking to the Lord about grace, and I saw a picture of a tree. The trunk stood out as the center of all that branched out. The branch was the home and everything that happened there. I thought He was teaching me about grace in the home, but as usual – God’s vision was bigger.

As I began to pray and think on this picture gift, I was chosen to join the launch team for a new curriculum entitled Story of Marriage by John and Lisa Bevere.

As I began to read their new book, my spirit perked up at the mention of a tree. They were given a picture as well, and in this case the rings of the branch represented the years of marriage.

And for those who are listening with Spirit ears, you are already thinking ahead…tree of life, the fruit we bear, yeah – He is speaking here.

It really does all start in the heart of the home. The difference we make. The sermon we live.

And at the core of the home is the original plan of God: the union of one man and one woman to advance His kingdom forward.

I began to realize that often believers spend most of our lives – in action and thought – focusing on the roots and the branches. We know to be rooted in Christ, and then fumble along in grace as we live that out. It seems then, that we move on to the branches. Our dreams, our spheres of influence, our jobs, ….ALL THE THINGS. Mostly, we focus on our personal lives with Christ (on the good days) and then – honestly, our personal desires.

And because life happens and we stay busy, we fight for a date night every now and then. Oh, we know our marriage is central. We’ve heard the sermon. We say God, first, mate second. But the trunk gets very little attention.

We spend hours studying or reading for pleasure, school, sermon prep…even how to raise kids. When was the last time we invested in learning about marriage?

What if every branch – the length and breadth and health and reach – was determined by the strength of the trunk. And what if, when we were made one with our spouse, even the roots of our individual lives intertwined in such a way that our personal faith and everything we harvest for the kingdom is affected by the unity of the trunk’s core.

“Every marriage holds the promise of a harvest yet unrealized.”

So often we keep running hard after “our” calling. Meaning to spur on our spouse, while they do “their” thing. What would it look like if we really became ONE? In heart and vision and passion. What would come of the Matthew 18:19 principle if spouses joined forces in prayer for the same things at the same time every day? What if we laid down our personal dreams for a bigger one?

What if unity in the church – that seemingly unreachable hope we all keep grasping for – really started with unity in our homes?

What if renewed marriages could renew churches, and then cities and then nations with the GLORY OF GOD?

power of reconciliation  green

Yeah – UNITY – it brings blessing. The running over kind. (Psalm 133)

It’s not an easy call: unity. It’s not an easy task: self-less living. It’s why so many marriages are closing the book on hope today. Here is the good news –

He can always write a new story.

John and Lisa are candid about theirs….and the words of hope that can change a marriage.

Vision: The book will invite you to close your natural eyes and look into the supernatural, where the dreams of God for you are bigger than you’ve ever hoped to believe. Favorite quote here:

“Your natural circumstances will ultimately be determined by your spiritual vision, and marriage is no exception.”

Honor: If your life lacks blessing and multiplication, John and Lisa will challenge you to see what happens when you focus on honoring your spouse.

Redemption: In no other book or marriage material have I seen practical prayers like this. Forgiveness, wholeness, healing from past sins – ALL waiting for your lips to believe in prayer. I’d seen prayers to rebuke generational curses, but never a prayer to separate from soul ties that either marriage partner made with another person prior to the marriage through emotional or physical connection.

Service: The truth ringing throughout the book….it’s a Christ-given principle. All authority is given that we might serve others…and the lower we bend, the higher He takes us. When service infiltrates your marriage, there is nowhere to go but up.

Purpose: Just like Moses and the exodus, it’s not all about our call and our lives. “God’s will always includes the generations to come.” Our covenant is about more than faithfulness or even our own godly offspring. Your  marriage is bigger than you think. Can you believe for more?

Many have broken marriages today. Many let the failed relationships of the past define their future. This is not the heart of God. He is about making all things NEW.

There are words of hope here – in this message, for those in broken places. John and Lisa speak gentle truth and loving promises from God. God can redeem your story. He can rewrite the chapters of your life.

I’ll be coming back to this book, again and again, for a breath of fresh air and renewed purpose. Join me in seeking the heart of God for the most important earthly relationship you will ever have.

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For those who are single, God’s plan is just as BIG for you! When he joins two people in marriage, they become one…but we all share His call to advance His kingdom for the next generations. Be encouraged in His love and His unique call for each season. He is faithful.

I’m linking up today with Holly and Beth and Meredith to encourage lives in Christ. Blessings!

Raise Your Ebenezer

Here we are again, Lord. I’m going to need a bigger rock this time.

ebenezer

You just keep showing up to help me.

“While Samuel was offering the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.” 1 Sam 7:10

While he was sacrificing the burnt offering.

And I just stayed in your Word, asking, hoping, choosing to believe.

As we continue in obedience, worship Him, do just what we know to do, God is routing our enemies.

See, God – He comes at just the right time. He is never early, and never late.

And our prayers go on in the night and we wonder where our God is. The Israelites needed Him desperately.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’

So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade the Israelites again.” 1 Sam. 7:12-13

“Thus far…”

Yes, thus far He has been our God. Thus far, He has provided. Thus far, He has surprised us with His goodness. So THIS TIME – He will again.

And He did.

So I pulled out my little marker and my Ebenezer stone – to remember. To run my hand upon the smooth rock on the longer days, when I doubt His presence, His coming to help me.

Ebenezer = “stone of help”

Samuel raised and set down and declared his Ebenezer.

So I will lift high the ROCK, from which I have been cut. (Isaiah 51:1) The stone the builders rejected. And we keep piling our stones to build our own names.

May they all – every gift, every dream, every desire now be as an offering to Him and His GREAT NAME.

One stone upon another set forth from our lives as a declaration…..

“He is faithful.”

There is always a reason for the waiting. The timing. His completion.

Here we see that what God was doing in Israel was about more than one nation.

It’s always so much bigger than us, our stories and our people.

“The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the power of the Philistines.” vs. 14

He restores us that we might restore others.

And every thing about how He delivers and who He uses and what we need to learn matters to our future ministry. The people in the right places, the order of all things.

He is routing our enemies. He has heard our prayers.

He is our DELIVERER.

“No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those who hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Ps. 33: 16-20

Thus far, He has helped me. He will not fail. Glory be to His Name.

I’m linking up today with Holly at #TestimonyTuesday. Blessings!

 

The Living of Grace

I have this thorn in my hand. Been there for over a month. I keep thinking I need to try again – with the needle. But I don’t, and it festers up, this tiny spot on my palm.

Even this is grace: knowing our sore spots.

The Spirit needs time to bring all our thorns to the surface. So we don’t cut into our hands/souls when digging up forgiveness. For ourselves – for them. You know the ones. Causing the festering. They probably don’t even know it. How we ring our hands over that hurt, that word said, that lack of attention.

That rub in your side, where the thorn is festering…it’s where you go. To practice grace. You lean in when it hurts.

There is a fear. To self-protect. It’s natural…for our nature.

And all of Christian life is this battle, this warring, this fight to the finish.

Our sin nature battling to win.

The Spirit saying, Forgive. Release.

We want the healing balm, but the scalpel brings redemption. It would be easier to live this life alone. Comfortable with just God. Loving Him and His Word. Not dealing with all the other people. The not-so-easy-to-love people He loves so much.

There are hurts in all of us. This daily need for grace. To receive and to give the abundant stuff. And we will offer grace to the extent that we truly believe we have received it ourselves.

What if we could dive into grace, like a pool, sinking deep down. Overwhelmed by the saturating. What if we could see how far the east is from the west – the unreachable sins He has forgiven. Could we breath deep then of an unaffected life. Strong in him, less offended.

John the Baptist lived to serve Him. Waited to see Him. Then Jesus arrived on the scene, and John was imprisoned. All the build up, all the fighting for souls, the preparing the way for the Christ.

Christ’s words about him? “Blessed are those who do not take offense on account of me.”

Then John? No applause for his work. No publicist to make his story look good. Just a choice – to release the need for self-promotion. And honor the Lord no matter the outcome.

He was beheaded.

What hurts the deepest tells us something about ourselves. What we do about those hurts – tells us even more.

It’s a hard work, forgiveness. It required a cross. It requires no less for us in the Spirit. To lay down our pride, our need to be right, to get even, mostly to explain our side…..and pick up the cross of love.

Most days I fail. Not on the choice to forgive, or the want to. But the living it out.

And then I remember to “put no confidence in the flesh.” Phil 3:3

This exhortation is not just personal, but corporate. To put no confidence in your human nature or that of any one else. The most devout disciple still has much to learn of Christ. So why are we surprised by sin? By negativity? Or persecution? Are we not aware of each man’s sin nature? Of the evil prowling at every side?

“Jesus Christ never trusted human nature yet wasn’t cynical or suspicious because he had absolute trust in what he could do for human nature.” – Oswald Chambers

Absolute trust.

Cynicism tries to fill the hole we just emptied when we forgave. To keep us from loving, trusting again.

Can we trust Him to work it all out in us…and in them? The changing of our nature. The mending of broken places.

Can we be audacious enough to confess our own weaknesses and then actually accept His covering grace for ourselves? This hope of glory – reforming the wretches we were, that we are.

Because grace is contagious. We want to catch this everlasting hope to infect the world.

The master surgeon has steady hands. To remove the thorn and apply the balm in His time. Let our work be a surrender alone: Yes, Lord. What work He must do in other people…that’s his business.

Our business is grace lived out.

I’m linking up today with Beth at #w2w Wednesday. Join the crew! Encourage someone today. How can we better live out grace? Comment below!

 

 

Unveiling Depression in the Christian Community

depression

They are easier to buy – the lies. Because the truth seems so far away.

We all get there a different way, but the darkness is the same. Deathly black.

If depression has come after you, you recognize this place. And you can probably still remember these statements ringing in your mind.

God has left you. Oh, you know He is everywhere. Just not here. Not now. Because of you. You messed up. Or you just don’t deserve His attention. Or all those times you thought He was quite fond of you…you were wrong. Everything is gray, and the quiet is too heavy upon your doubts.

God is punishing you. Because you are worse than everyone else realizes. But you know God knows. And all the fears seem to be confirmed in His silence. It’s just easier to believe He is not for you.

It will never get any better. This is all there is now. Forever. This season is hard and it will get harder. No relief.

I have no real purpose. That dream you’ve been carrying for so long can die now. Because your identity is found in a new title, and it will define you. The heavy weight of this cross you bear takes all you’ve got. You will not change the world. No one will know of you. -This is a tricky one. Because of pride. But that’s why Satan loves to use it.

Depression has a louder voice today. We are talking about it, but it is still widely misunderstood and underestimated. I watched this video about Thomas Bean and the horrific things he had to see because of the Sandy Hook shooting. But what struck me most was the numerous comments from complete strangers telling him to “man up.” When hurts go so deep you cannot describe them, the world does not offer the comfort we need. Because though some in the world may understand, the majority will only judge.

And when Sheila Walsh stepped out to say I need help, the Christian community came with a dagger via letters and public opinion. But her story helped me write mine. So, Christians….we are writing letters now? We don’t only judge – we are going out of our way to do so.

So, I’m going to tell my story. And address the lies. Because it’s time.

To look into the dark with you. To offer hope.

To the Mom who is more alone than she ever thought was possible. To the Christian who isn’t sure what Christianity really even means anymore. To the man who can’t get out of bed today. To the pastor who has to keep it all together, but would rather just quit. Because leaders? It’s a hard fall when you get too high up. And pastors are not excluded from hurt.

I know you are out there. And holidays….can be the hard to breath days.

My story is coming. But today….Some truth we all need to hear.

Believers are not exempt from the darkness. And they are not less spiritual when they enter. We cannot prescribe more bible reading and prayer as the answer to real depression.

You cannot fix yourself. I thought if I could make myself better, God would come sooner. To help me. To answer me. It only takes you deeper. Because your weaknesses start to shout at you. And your failure? You let it define you. The trap door is swinging on your self-hate. I’m going to address how we keep that door from shutting.

You cannot fix someone else. It’s not our job. Our job? Is to be there. Consistently. And listen. And love. But it takes time. Years. We have to give the Spirit some room to work.

Depression is not laziness. It is soul-weary work. And someone you know…has been at this job for sometime.

Some people will never understand. It’s okay. What’s not okay is allowing their comments or misunderstandings to determine the outcome. And we – the Christian community – need to offer real tools for healing to our family of faith. Because falsehood, judgement and discouragement should not be our offering at the table of grace.

The simple tasks are daunting. I know this. Which is why small steps can save you. Starting with getting outside. And opening your mouth to tell someone.

Numbness is normal. It’s one of the hardest parts. Not “feeling” ANY. THING. But heavy weight on the chest. It doesn’t mean you can’t love any more. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel again. And it’s okay to want to just feel something.

There is a healing balm coming out of the stories God is writing through our lives. Let us come to the table and offer it to one another. By looking into the darkness, the lies…and most importantly, the TRUTH. Let’s share our stories and let’s get practical. I’ll start. Tomorrow. Follow my blog to continue.