Let’s Start at the Start

Ok, so it took a little longer than a day to get back to posting…  but I’m back with a long post.

I’ve had some time to think about this journey I’m on and to reflect on what has led me to having to take medication to manage anxiety and depression, and it starts as far back as I can remember as a child.  I have always been anxious and felt insecure and have had periods of being overwhelmed, but nothing like this. I could go into the reasons why, but my goal here is to focus on overcoming and the grace of God (who by the way has been truly amazing in this process).

Just to set the stage, on Jan 2, 2015 I had an episode while lying in bed where I started to shake head to toe, and after which I couldn’t sleep, and didn’t sleep properly for over a week, getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night if I was lucky.  On Jan 12, I got sleeping pills from the doctor that helped me sleep at night and help with the anxiety, but left me drained by supper time.

Starting around the same time God started talking to me about what I was going through, why, and how he was/is/will help me in this process. So here are the things I have learned so far:

It Was Time

I truly believe that this current state I am in was not the will of God and is a result of issues in my life.  I read today that the Bible says 110 times “Do not be afraid”, but the reality is that I am (about a lot of things).  That I worry about a lot of things, some of them legitimate like providing for my family, others not so logical like not being able to sleep (which turns into a self fulfilling “prophecy” as you lay awake worrying about not sleeping…)

All these issues came together to”overload my structures” (as they say in teachings from Elijah House Ministries) and I reached a point where I couldn’t cope any more. When this first started I told people that I don’t think God started this, but He will definitely finish it because He will get the glory out of this, because if he isn’t going to, then it ends now (more on this in a minute).  But now, though I still believe what I said about God finishing this and getting glory, I believe that maybe God did start it because he loves me.  I know that sounds weird, but I believe its time for me to deal with things in my life that frankly I have run from most of my life (some of it I knew I was running from, some of it God revealed to me).  And because God loves me and doesn’t want this fear in my life any more, he made it impossible for me to avoid.

From My Head To My Heart

The second thing that is happening in this process is stuff I knew with my head is making its way to my heart.  I’ll give you an example:  I knew that God loved me with my head, but only when I broke down (with tears and snot) and said to God, “do you really love me?” did he say to me (quite clearly) “Yes, I always have” and “God loves me” started to make its way from my head to my heart.

In this process, it was only by throwing myself on God, did I not lose my mind.  I found God to be my strength, because I was broken and couldn’t do it any more.  I was so tired, so empty, and had nothing left.  I was doing a lot of crying. And it was only when I worshipped God, either through song or through prayer, that I found strength to go on.  He was close to me, and I felt him lifting the heavy weights from me.  In these times of worship (especially at Friday Worship nights at Water & Wine) God showed me things:

God Doesn’t Change

Despite what I was going through God didn’t change.  He was moved by what I was going through, but he didn’t stop being God because I was coming apart.  God is secure in who He is, and is more than capable of being my anchor, strong tower, solid rock on which I stand.  Jesus didn’t stop sitting on the throne, both over all of creation and in my heart.  I could come to him, cling to him, and find refuge and strength in Him.

The Father Is Gentle

I have felt close to Holy Spirit for many years, and in this season I have been seeing Jesus as the loving, joyful, beautiful, glorious Lord that he is (and it brought me great comfort and excitement about what God about to do in the earth as I believe this is the year that we will see great revival start, and is part of why I’m going through this process).  But I hadn’t really seen the Father in years, I knew he was there, but I just didn’t really stop to notice.  But in this time, it was the Father who came to me, as any father does when his child is distressed.  It was the Father that gave me strength, and who held me when I cried.  It gives me hope knowing that my heavenly “Papa” is carrying me.  (I’ll share a vision I had in a minute that speaks to this).

God Is All Powerful

The day this process ceases to be of use to God, it will end.  God is all powerful, and will remain such through any trials we go through.  And in an instant this can all be over with, at the command of God, it will stop.  There is nothing in heaven, earth, or hell that can stop God’s command.  My part is to trust God in this process, knowing that the end is always a word away, because there is purpose in what is happening to me is the only reason it continues.

Jesus and Medication

It was around this point that I had my second visit with the doctor, and completely lost it while trying to explain to her how I had no energy to play with my kids at the end of the day.  I was diagnosed with anxiety and a bit of depression and was prescribed Cipralex (generic name is escitalopram‎).  I struggled with the idea of taking anxiety meds, because a good Christian should trust God.  There is a couple ways you could look at it, but what I will tell you is what God told me through a vision:

I found myself staring at an angel standing there with a drawn sword, but the image was “swimming” before my eyes and it was dark all around.  It was at this point I realized that I was in the depths of the ocean, so I swam towards the surface, and as I broke through the water, I heard God say “I am with you” and the sound of his voice caused waves and spray on the water surface like a helicopter does while hovering over water.  Then from the depth I saw something rising up that looked like a huge hand, and as it reached the surface I realized that it was actually made of sand, and it lifted me out of the water, and the vision ended as I lay on the beach catching my breath looking at the palm trees of a desert island.

The moral of this vision?  It’s better to learn to survive on a desert island than to drowned in the ocean and that God is with me.  Because of the meds, I don’t experience the lows I had before, but I also don’t experience the highs either (I would get so lost in worship, it was great).  So I’m in a season of developing faith and learning to walk with God when I cannot seem to keep a train of thought (side effect of meds, I switch contexts / streams of thought often, though I always seem to come back around remembering where I left off).

It’s still hard some days taking meds, especially ones like Cypralex that alter body chemistry (It was like I had the flu for the first 4 days I took it, didn’t throw up, but my body didn’t absorb nutrients and I was weak and shaky) and I have struggled with wanting to take the meds earlier in the evening because of the buzz they give me when they kick in (I take them before going to bed and I am usually asleep before they kick in so I don’t feel them).  I also have a permanent sore neck and I have ringing in my ears when I go to bed and first get up (either it clears during the day or I’ve learned to ignore it, not sure which).  But I can do my job, play with my kids, and be there for my family.  It does mean I now need to be deliberate in dealing with the issues that landed me in this mess to begin with, but I made a promise to God and I intend to keep it in dealing with the root causes.  I’m just waiting on God’s timing.

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Is My Face Red?

I do this every so often, I promise to write on my blog and then disappear for months (years) at a time.  Sorry.  The reality is that a lot has been going on in my life over the last couple of years (marriage, 2 kids, the quitting of one of my pastors and the impending retirement of the other, promotions at work, etc).  And now, I’ve had two different people indicate they wanted to talk about what I’ve written here (so I probably should read what I’ve written…)

The last few posts I did were on Grace and the finished work of the Cross, which are the heart of God / what he has done for us.  I’m going to take a slightly different road over the next little while though (but still heavily related).  You see I’ve developed an anxiety problem (Gasp!  You?  An elder in your church?  How can that be?) and I’m learning what it is to walk out my faith in light of it.

The reality is that we are still only human, wonderfully accepted by God, but still human and subject to “breakage”.  And break I did, snotted all over myself more than once this last month.  Life caught up to me, it’s not the first time it did, but it is the worse time that it did.  But it’s not really how I feel that I want to talk about over the next while, it’s what God has shown me about Himself, me, and us as human beings in general.  You see, I don’t think God started this with me, but I guarantee he will finish it and he will get glory out of it.  And that’s what I hope to write about.

So I’m going to ask you to help me stay accountable to doing so (because when you are anxious, it sometimes can be hard to do anything but sit and hope the walls don’t fall on you…), and writing is one of my outlets.  So I guess I’m asking you to be part of my healing 🙂  If you see I haven’t posted in a week, and you are friends with me (either in real life or on Facebook) reach out to me and ask me if God has shown me anything new that I haven’t posted on my blog.  That way, hopefully, both of us will be blessed 🙂

I will try to post some more insights / my journey later tonight.

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Scandalous!

I’ve decided to write a book (no, that’s not the scandalous part) and basically codify what I’ve been learning through all the books I have been reading as of late.  I’m thinking of writing it like a series of newspaper articles “exposing” the scandal of Religion covering up the truth of who God is, what he has done to and for us, and who we are in light of that.  Here is the first draft of the introduction as a taste of what I’m thinking:

There has been a major cover up!  The religious world has done its best to hide the truth!  But it cannot hide it any longer and this truth will rock Christianity as we know it.  What is that truth, you ask?  it is simply this:

You Are Perfect

Some may agree with this statement and begin to tell us how it is true that we have been made positionally perfect in Christ.  But that is only half the truth.  It is far more insidious (wonderful) than that!  You are perfect right now!  You have perfect health, perfect relationship with God, and a perfect sinless nature.

“No, I don’t, I’m sick”, “But I don’t feel close to God”, “No, we still sin”, “Heretic”.  I have heard them all.  These are people’s initial reaction to this statement, but it doesn’t make what I said wrong, or your reaction right.

You see the Bible tells us that we are perfect in every way because Jesus has made us perfect.  As I said some will respond by saying that we are positionally perfect.  But what does “positionally” perfect mean.  Well, I guess it means “Yes, Jesus purchased it for you, but you can’t have it now.  You only get it when you are dead.”  If you ask me that sucks. Especially when we need it so desperately right now.

But wait, don’t despair.  I have good news for you!  Jesus didn’t die so that we could someday, in the sweet by and by, experience the fullness of what he did on the Cross.  He died so that we could have it now!  Mental, emotional, and physical wholeness, a perfect unbroken, unending relationship with God, and the power to overcome all temptations is yours right now!

How can this be?  Well, it is quite simple:  You are not what or who you think you are.  The Bible in 2 Cor 5:17 says that we are a new creation, that the old us is gone, and a new us has taken its place.  Oh, we look the same on the outside, but at our core we have been fundamentally altered!  We have been infused (and fused) with Holy Spirit.  The problem is that Religion is fine with us saying that, as long as we don’t look too closely, as long as we don’t find out the real truth about what that means and as a result, figure out how to tap into this truth in your everyday life.

We have been lied to, cheated, and had the religious wool pulled over our eyes.  But no longer!  Prepare to have your world rocked by the raw truth of the finished work of the Cross and I’m sure, just as I did upon discovering the truth, you will join me in declaring “the Good News is finally good news”.

What do you think?

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I Think It’s Time… To Talk About Grace

As many of you my friends know, I have been doing a lot of reading about Grace, the unmerited favour of God towards us as demonstrated through the death and resurrection of Jesus practically worked out by Jesus taking our place on the cross and us receiving the very righteousness of God, not in theory, but in reality.  I hope to explain what that means over the next while.

What I want to talk about today is the different “Grace” movements or theologies out there and make sure that you know what I’m talking about (or more importantly what I’m NOT talking about):

Ultimate Grace / Everyone gets to go to heaven — Many have interpreted Grace to mean this:  God is a loving God, Jesus died for everyone’s sins, so a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell, so we all get to go to heaven even if we were Satanists in this life (some even go as far as to say there is no “literal” eternal hell).  This concept has been made popular recently by Rob Bell’s book Love Wins.

Arminianism vs Calvanism — There has been a raging debate between free will and the sovereignty of God, on one had Arminianism saying that salvation is all about our choice to follow Jesus (salvation can be lost if we “choose” to stop following Jesus).  On the other hand, Calvanism that says that God chose you, you didn’t choose him, and that you were going to get saved if you liked it or not.  Frankly, I think the answer is in the middle:  God chose all of mankind to be his kids, but we have to receive that gift of sonship through faith in Jesus.

Finished Work of the Cross — This is what I want to talk about (and what I mean when I talk about Grace).  When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he did something absolutely inconceivably big, he not only removed the barrier of sin that kept us from the Father, he removed the sinful nature from us, and dealt with our sin, past, present, and future in fell swoop.  We will never ever be separated from God again.  There is nothing we have, are, or will do that will affect our relationship with God as the Father sees us in the same light as Jesus: righteous.  That is Grace, we are treated in a way that we completely don’t deserve and have been given a place, purpose, destiny, and name that we didn’t earn.

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Keys to Revival: Follow the White Dove

Worship today was off the hook!! Glory came on the drums today and when Dave began to play them and Dave (pastor) yelled freedom the place came unhinged. It was awesome!! Some of us got so Glory-fried and drunk in the Spirit that it was crazy. Such a spirit of freedom came on the place. We had 5 year old bowing face down before God, Three year olds running in joy, and people everywhere just going wild in worship. The reason? God decided to throw his own party for Pentecost 🙂 the key for us? Worship was good and if we did nothing more it would have been “good” but we sensed that God desired to shift it up a notch and we went with it. We followed the Spirit. Even in the midst of the good we need to watch God for that shift to the “best”

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Keys to Revival: What Does Revival Look Like

What is revival? Revival is restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, or strength. We all could use more vigor or strength in our Christian walk, and sometimes you could describe us as unconscious 🙂

But revival is phase 1 of a Move of God. You see revival refers to what God does with us, his body. A move of God affects whole regions and people groups, not just the church. A good example is Pentecost, when Holy Spirit anointed them in the upper room. That one event, changed, and continues to change, the world. The crowd of people that gathered outside came because they heard the sound of wind. What we don’t realize is how big and noisy a crowd of thousands is. For them to have heard it meant the sound filled the city and drew them. It also changed the same crowd that probably cried “Crucify him!” to “What must we do to be saved?!”. That is another hallmark of the move of God, it causes us to truly see ourselves in the light of God and can make the hardest sinner cry out for mercy. I have seen the Glory of God and Mount Everest cannot cover your head and trust me, you really would try 🙂

A move of God is also marked by the most sweet presence of God, not just in the churches but all over the city. Crime goes down, people become more loving, sickness decreases and miracles increase. Prophetic encounters abound, visions, dreams, trances, 3rd heaven encounters, all happen much more frequently and on a larger scale. It is not uncommon for many at once in a single service to go into trances.

In the most simplest way what happens is God: his character, presence, love, and power invade us, our churches, our cities.

P.S. to answer Sarah, what does marriages in the midst of revival look like? The fights are no longer about who gets their way but who’s going to serve the other first 🙂 Love is the main marker of a marriage touched by the move of God.

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Current Book: Diary of Signs and Wonders

I thought I would just let people know what books, I’m currently reading as I’m discussing Revival.  My current book is A Diary of Signs and Wonders by Mariah Woodworth-Etter.  She is an amazing woman of God who would see people fall out in trances up to 20 miles away (which, in the days of horse and buggy is quite a distance.) and being told to come to the meeting / get saved.  And many of the people were not even Christians!!  That’s what I call a move of God!!

P.S.  I do a lot of my reading on my Kindle Reader, so many of the books I link to will probably be Kindle books.  I will try to link to print books as well.  Amazon does not directly sell this particular book.

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