June 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Conviction and condemnation. Two completely different words, two completely different meanings, yet we are truly fantastic at confusing the two sometimes. Most of the time, we choose condemnation for ourselves. When we are convicted of something (when we realize God’s truth and begin to respond to it) we quickly turn to self-condemnation as some sort of mental punishment for our sins.
God does not condemn us, so why would we ever condemn ourselves? He loves us enough to convict us, showing us truth and bringing our flaws to the surface, but we are never condemned in Him – this comes only from ourselves. Satan’s intention is for us to confuse the two: to replace conviction with the definition of condemnation. In doing this he so easily disenables us from responding to God’s grace. We become eternally fixated on our own failings. We become wrapped up in our sin and shortcomings. We actively take our eyes of the love of Jesus and instead concern ourselves with ‘doing better’, striving for our salvation and trying to earn our righteousness.
Perhaps some personality types are more prone to struggling with self-condemnation, but it is something we all struggle with. The shame spiral when we commit that sin we told ourselves we’d never commit again. The controlling ‘failure’ mindset when we haven’t read our Bible that day (that week, that month).
Combine condemnation and depression and you have one unhealthy mess. I am quite convinced that condemnation fuels depression. It pushes you into a mental state of never doing enough good, never being good enough. Condemnation walks hand-in-hand alongside every melancholic thought in your mind and confirms the lies you speak over yourself. It confirms the lies that Satan speaks over you.
I grew up in an eternal cycle of guilt, condemnation and repentance. That was what my relationship with God looked like for at least ten years. It wasn’t full of joy. I’d actively tell other people that Christianity “wasn’t about following a set of religious rules” but I didn’t live like that was the case. While I knew deep down that God wasn’t a legalistic, vengeful, all-about-the-rules kind of character (perhaps I reflected a bit of my own OCD personality onto God), I acted as though He was. I would try my hardest to keep all the rules, and when I obviously failed I would hit condemnation’s rock-bottom and spend church and worship overwhelmed by my guilt and desire for repentance. This couldn’t have been further from the kind of relationship that God wanted with me: one of joy, fulfillment and grace for my sin. One where repentance was obviously necessary but where sin did not become a barrier between Jesus and myself. Jesus, who died so that I would be free. What a slap in the face that must have been.
It took a long time for me to undo the thinking I’d grown up with and the culture I’d become accustomed to. But what I then experienced was a relationship with Jesus that was like nothing I’d ever known. My life was full of freedom and purpose. Religion lost its grip and Jesus had his reign. It was no longer about what I did; it was about who I was, and who God had created me to be.
We must learn to embrace conviction. It is by the incredible grace of God that he would bring our character issues to the surface. It is by his grace that he would make us aware of the problems in our lives that could bloom into something much bigger if left untouched. It is through his overwhelming love for us that he shines a light on the things in our lives that aren’t as they should be. Because He knows that if these things are left alone, untouched and unresolved, they produce destruction in our lives. But we must never confuse conviction with condemnation. God’s character is not condemning. Christ died for our freedom and took every condemning thought upon himself so that we wouldn’t have to live with them – so let’s make the choice of not having to.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Hope Over Blue
May 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Recently, I heard someone say something along the lines of “we all have that depressed period in our teenage years that we have to work through.” Even as someone no longer suffering from the effects of depression, this rubbed me the wrong way – for a few reasons.
This statement reduces the idea of depression to a period of developmental growth that is synonymous only with puberty. This is a dangerous way of thinking. For many of you, this has not been your experience – your depression is not necessarily linked to a growing experience or the common identity questions we raise as teenagers. Actually, you may not even be a teenager at all – and a statement like this has you questioning yourself: did you grow up properly? Is your mental growth and development stunted? Are you immature to be dealing with depression so far along from your teenage years?
I feel that this line of thinking reduces depression to some form of juvenile experience. Depression is seen as something only the ‘weak’ or developmentally challenged people suffer from. This isn’t the case. Depression can affect people of all ages, race and background. It doesn’t discriminate between male or female, rich or poor, old or young. It can appear through circumstance or through genetics, and can affect those who are both healthy and unhealthy. Of course, depression can affect many children and teenagers too – and it is neither a “juvenile experience” in this instance.
One of the most important things to realise when you are depressed is that you are not alone. You are not experiencing things that no one has ever experienced. Depression is a very common disease. In America it is estimated that a massive 57.7 million people struggle with some form of depressive or mental health disorder. One in four people in the UK will develop depression in the course of a year. In Australia, 45% will develop a mental health issue within their lifetime. This is a snapshot of only a few countries – depression is a global issue that affects people in every country and nation.
Many people in the Bible, of different ages, experienced depression: Moses, David, Elijah and Job to name a few. Depression can be triggered by a variety of things: circumstances, genetics or environment, but Provers 13:12 tells us what depression essentially is – a loss of hope.
“Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick”
Jesus himself knows our experience. Isaiah 53:3-4 reads
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted”
We considered him punished by God, and so often we consider ourselves punished by God. If Jesus went through excruciating suffering and pain, how can we deem our own pain irrelevant or immature? Jesus cares for us, sympathises with our suffering and desires the best for us. So take courage in knowing you have a Saviour who not only experienced pain and sadness, but endured the ultimate suffering that we might be free in the hope we have in Jesus. He has set us free and given us a hope that far overpowers any influence of depression in our lives. This hope is greater than any depression, any sadness, any anxiety. He has given you hope – no matter whether you’re young or old, new to depression or seasoned in your experiences. No matter where you are, he can meet you immediately in that place.
1 Peter 5:10
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you”
Hope Over Blue
April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. (Judges 1:28)
When they didn’t end up possessing the land fully, it ended up possessing them. The Israelites forgot what God had done for them and they turned to a life of indulgence and other gods. They became corrupt. They became subject to the thing they didn’t posses.
In their incomplete conquest, the Israelites stopped making progress and were instead consumed by the things in their life that they had failed to properly acknowledge and deal with. A cycle of sin set in – what had once seemed like a trivial issue had become a huge stumbling block and constant snare to them. Their compromise in not dealing fully with the Canaanites led to their contamination.
This is a helpful reminder to attend to the things in our lives that hinder us from growing – growing spiritually, emotionally, mentally. What are we allowing to flourish in our life that could end up possessing us if we do not possess it first and possess it fully? This might be a mindset, an attitude, a habit, a relationship.
And what was the consequence of Israel’s incomplete conquest?
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who neither knew The Lord or what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10)
Things that are seemingly small in our lives can have consequences much bigger than we even realise. Sowing and reaping must always come with a weeding process. Sow the good and you will reap what is good – just remember to deal with those tiny obstacles along the way. We can easily deem our weaknesses inconsequential and sweep them under the mat, only for them to later show – having grown up and taken root as something much more powerful.
You have been delivered from something. But you have also been delivered TO something. We have been delivered from the ultimate captivity; we are delivered so that we can praise Him – and there is huge power in that itself. In worship we are exactly where we are created to be, and here we are changed, healed and made whole.
Hope Over Blue
April 16, 2013 § Leave a Comment
You see, I believe that Jesus died for me. Why? Because He loved me. Because I had sin in my life, and as a child of God, he wanted me back. This separation from him is real, but now its gone. And when I got baptized in water, it meant that I had died to my old life and risen with a new life in Him, beautiful symbolism. I decided that no matter what happened, I would live my life for Him. He has given me life in more ways than one. But he didn’t just die for me. He died for everyone. He died for you.
So today, I want to do something (not on my own, but with His help, as if I was holding his hand) that sets some people free, because he didn’t just die for me, he died for the people that hurt me too.
I want to forgive the man that sexually abused me. I want him to know that he has been forgiven.
There is no way I could do this just as Morgan. I am forgiving him because of Jesus and in Jesus name and with the help of Jesus. And there is power in his name, which allows me to write this out.
So I pray he finds this post below:
I want to say I forgive you for the pain you caused me, when I realized what you had done to me over many years was wrong. When the truth hit my mind, I suddenly found myself in an exhaustible cycle of pain. I had a hard time in school, and I had a hard time living, and I’m still unwinding the damage, but even so, I forgive you. I want to forgive you for the damage you caused in my relationships with my sister and cousins and best friends. We lost some precious years because we were on a journey of pain, walking through unmerited shame, with broken down boundaries . I want to forgive you for what you made us go through in court, it was a taste of hell on earth for all of us, but I forgive you. I want to forgive you for the pain you caused my family. The pain you especially caused my parents, because it trickled down to the rest of us, and it wasn’t their fault. I want to forgive you for the guilt my parents felt when they thought they didn’t protect us, that was your fault, but I want to forgive you for it. I want to forgive you for the damage you caused my mind when you lied to me, I forgive you for the inability I have to trust others, because of all the trust you broke with us. I forgive you for not standing up and telling the truth about what happened. And I also want to forgive your wife who hurt me by staying with you while we lived under the abuse. I forgive you for the time I lost with her. You are forgiven. The end. No resentment, no grudge. I want to be set free like I was intended to, and I was nudged by God as he reminded me that you are equally his child and didn’t deserve this freedom either, but he still gave it to us. You are still a child of God, but you need to accept His forgiveness, and be set free. As much as my flesh wants to hate you forever, because I write this through my tears, the enemy has been defeated and I am called to forgive, as I have been forgiven. So I hope you are set free from the chains the enemy has placed on you, let us deny the enemy his pleasure. I declare you free in the name of Jesus and by his blood, be set free. God meets us half way, he doesn’t force anything on us. He gave us a choice. I pray that you walk the other half, he is waiting! Amen.
This was a post I wrote not too long ago on my personal blog. It has been a journey of about 5 years to even know how to forgive the hurts of the past, and when it came down to it, it wasn’t really me either. It was literally God walking me through it. But I knew it was something big, and after the decision to forgive this person, I have had a weight taken off of my life. The enemy was the one who could use my past against me taunting me saying “Oh ya remember how bad that hurt?” but forgiveness is like a pair of scissors cutting the bondage, and now I am free from the weight. Now I can use my past for good. I am free from the slavery of abuse. Forgiveness equals freedom. I have seriously been released to grow, and worship on a deeper level. And when I had the revelation that this person was supposed to be in the same fight as me, on the same team, and the same battle, I realized I was fighting my brother. So it was a sweet gift to deny the enemy his pleasure, and get back to where God intended the both of us to be.
“I find myself in my element when I am singing or working in the creative arts of photography and videography. My passions push me through the seasons in life. My heart is in it to see justice in the world in the area of human trafficking. I am also involved in pushing research to find the cure for SMA. These two fights are what I would like to see taken out during my lifetime.”
April 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Easter this year was full of fresh revelation for me. The story never changes, but little by little we begin to realise the scale of the sacrifice of Jesus. The extent of our personal revelation is crucial to the community of God, as everything we do, say and believe is conditioned by how well we know Him. It’s also crucial to how we live our lives – the peace we find in God only gets deeper the better we know Him.
In the Old Testament, the offering of Atonement was completed once a year. Two animals that were in good condition were involved; one had the sins of the nation confessed over it, and one would act as the ‘innocent’ animal. The ‘sinful’ animal would be taken into the wilderness and let go, to be lost. The ‘innocent’ animal would be sacrificed and its blood would be put over the altar in the Temple – the blood would act to ‘cover’ the sins of the people.
In the New Testament, Jesus just stepped into the very story the people were already familiar with – the parallels are overwhelming. Two men with the name of Jesus were present at the sentencing that day – Jesus of Barabbas, a criminal and murderer, and Jesus the Messiah. Barabbas was set free – that’s what we chose – and the Messiah was hung on a cross to die. Jesus literally became the “offering of Atonement” for all of humanity. His blood bought our freedom. His blood bought us full access to God as the veil in the Temple was torn in two – no more separation between God and mankind. His blood covered our sins.
His human sacrifice bought our freedom. That’s freedom from everything – sin, darkness, evil. He bought freedom from depression. His death gave us life in everything. He gave us life after death, but also life – real life – here on earth. Death to pain and suffering and sin. Death to depression, anxiety and worry. He has won the battle already, and because he overcame death we’re able to win our battles too. The outcome of your struggles and pain is already decided, we must just step into what God has for us. Resist the devil – stand firm against him – and he will flee from you (James 4:7 AMP). We’re not struggling to try and win some endless battle raging against us, the victory has already been decided and now we are able to conquer anything that opposes us, because he has made it so.
Hope Over Blue