Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dealing with Depression

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is the most common mental disease facing people today – it is the common cold of mental illness.

Studies tell us that 25% of women will suffer from depression; 10% of men will suffer from depression.  For women the onset is usually between ages 15 and 19.  For men it is between 25 and 29. 

Depression Checklist:

Check all boxes that apply to you:
r I’m often restless and irritable.

r I don’t enjoy hobbies, leisure activities, or time with friends and family anymore.

r I’m having trouble managing my diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic illness.

r I have nagging aches and pains that don’t get better, no matter what I do.

ü My sleep patterns are irregular:

r I’m sleeping too much.

r I’m not sleeping enough.

ü I often have:

r Digestive problems

r Headaches or backaches

r Vague aches and pains (e.g., joint or muscle pains)

r Chest pains

r Dizziness

ü I often experience these indicators:

r I have trouble concentrating or making simple decisions.

r People have commented on my mood or attitude lately.

r My weight has changed considerably.

r I feel that my functioning in everyday life is suffering because of these problems.

r I’ve had several of the symptoms I checked above for more than two weeks.

r I have a family history of depression.

r I’ve thought about suicide.

Spiritual Symptoms of Depression:

ü Punitive image of God

ü Not able to feel close to God

ü No desire to read the Bible, pray, etc.

When does our depression become problematic?

It becomes a problem when it interferes with our daily activities over a long period of time.

Is Depression a Sin?

Depression itself is not a sin.  It is a feeling.  It becomes a sin when we decide we’re going to stay depressed, instead of taking steps out of it.  When we choose to listen to the negative messages and do nothing to change them or get rid of them.

Managing Depression:

Depression doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be on medication.  It is always your choice unless you are dangerous to yourself or others.

Suggested Steps to Manage Depression:
  1. Pray
  2. Exercise – one of the most important ways to manage depression.  Exercise whether you feel like it or not.  Serotonin and endorphins are stimulated by exercise, and make you feel better.
  3. Healthy dieting and sleep patterns
  4. Small groups – support groups – but not a small group of gripers and complainers
  5. Counseling – Sometimes you need someone to walk alongside you – maybe someone who doesn’t know you as a friend, but can be objective. Counseling can help you un-learn wrong thinking. 
  6. Medication – takes 8 weeks to feel the effect.
You cannot stay stuck in the past or in blaming someone else.  Remember, how much God loves you and know that he is always available to listen to your heart’s cry and heal your hurts.

Psalm 34:15, 17-18:  The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Biblical Stress Reducers

As always, the Bible is relevant to our lives today.  Here are biblical principles that are guaranteed to reduce your stress.

1. Sing a favorite song.      
Ephesians 5:19:  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. . .

Ps. 13:6:  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

2. Be still; slow down.    
Ps. 37:7:  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Ps. 46:10:  Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

3. Take quiet time for yourself with the Lord each day.
Isaiah 40:31:  Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.

4. Laugh a lot.                
Prov. 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Rom 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice. . .

5. Simply your life; get rid of "stuff."                       
Matt. 6:19:  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.

Luke 12:15:  A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

6. Remember the good things and good times.        
Ps. 77:11:  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

Phil 4:8:  Whatever is true, noble, right, pure lovely admirable – excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

7. Talk less.  Listen more.                                 
James 1:19:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

8. Talk to yourself encouragingly.
Ps. 42:5, 11:  Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Repeatedly ask yourself:  What difference will this make in 24 hours?

9. Live in today.
Matt. 6:34:  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

10. Don't worry!                                                       
Matt. 6:27:  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Phil. 4:6:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Prov. 12:25:  An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 Characteristics of Foolish Behavior

The Bible gives us a clear picture of foolish behavior and its consequences. It’s important for us to recognize these traits in others—and in ourselves. Dealing appropriately with people who behave foolishly requires prayer and wisdom. But remember, that foolish person is not in your life by accident, and you can by God’s grace respond to him or her in a Christ-like manner.

Characteristics of Foolish Behavior

1. Denying, disregarding, or rebelling against God
The fool says in his heart “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

2. Slandering, lying, deceiving
He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool (Proverbs 10:18).

3. Quick-Tempered
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted (Proverbs 12:16).

4. Acts Impetuously and Without Regard for Consequences
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t and even brag about it! (Proverbs 13:16).
A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless (Proverbs 14:16).

5. Talks endlessly, brags, spouts off frequently
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions (Proverbs 18:2).
Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin (Proverbs 10:14).
The mouths of fools are their ruin; their lips get them into trouble (Proverbs 18:7 NLT).

6.  Refuses Advice, Accountability and/or Discipline
A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence (Proverbs 15:5).

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool (Proverbs 17:10).

7. Handles Money Recklessly
Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom? (Proverbs 17:16).
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has (Proverbs 21:20).

8. Quarrels frequently, picks fights, is contentious
Fools get into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating (Proverbs 18:6 NLT).

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).

9. Lazy, Lacks Focus and Ambition
Foolish people refuse to work and almost starve (Ecclesiastes 4:5).

A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now (Ecclesiastes 7:4 NLT).

Fools are so exhausted by a little work that they have no strength for even the simplest tasks (Ecclesiastes 10:15 NLT).

10. Never Learns from Past Experience
As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).

You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle (Proverbs 27:22 NLT).

How are we to respond to foolish behavior?

1. First and most importantly, we pray for them.
2. Second, watch your attitude and motivation toward these foolish people

Principle #1 – Don’t be surprised if they refuse good advice.
Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice (Proverbs 23:9 NLT).

Principle #2 – Don’t give them honor or luxury.
It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes! (Proverbs 19:10).

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

Principle #3 – Don’t argue with foolish people.
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24).

Principle #4 – Protect yourself from the resentment and anger caused by foolish people.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is heavier than both (Proverbs 27:3 NLT).

Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips (Proverbs 14:7).