Tag Archives: Christianity

I’m Coming Out. My Confession.

As a child, I remember thinking differently than my peers. I felt like an outsider. Like I was on the peripheral looking in at life happening around me. Sort of like watching a movie.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

By the time I reached junior high school, it worsened. I had confided in a school friend who would listen to me for hours while I lamented as tears ran down my face like a faucet.

I somehow had the wherewithal at fourteen to find a therapist which I paid for with my allowance I had earned by ironing my father’s shirts. She had diagnosed me with dysthymia (persistent mild depression). I saw her weekly until she fell asleep in one of our sessions.

In my late teens, I remember things becoming more pronounced. One day I would wake up full of energy and be ready to take on the world, and the next, I would feel utterly hopeless and depressed. There was no explanation for these extreme shifts in mood.

The fluctuating moods were accompanied by my loyal companions; fear, dread, worry and guilt. I didn’t know at the time I was struggling with anxiety until I had experienced my first panic attack in my late twenties.

By that time, I had become impulsive and spontaneous. I would feel a surge of energy pulsate through my body like electricity which made me feel invincible. There was so much I wanted to do and accomplish that I wouldn’t sleep.

I took unnecessary risks and made bad decisions that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, I’m sure things would have ended badly.

I was enthusiastic, adventurous and lived for the thrill of excitement. Everything I did was over the top, exaggerated and extreme. I flirted with danger because I was addicted to the adrenaline rush and loved the exhilarating feeling it gave me.

In this state, everything seemed alive and vibrant. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t…

It was only a matter of time until the dreaded crash came. I went from being high to drowning in a sea of hopelessness and sinking into a quicksand of despair. Everything around me became devoid of color; a still life black and white photo; grey, lifeless and dull.

The rollercoaster high’s and low’s kept happening, combined with an ever present restlessness and gnawing irritation, like stew simmering in a crockpot or a rumbling car motor that never seems to shut off or a dormant volcano brewing beneath the earth’s surface.

I lived like this for years not knowing why.

Fifteen years ago, things came to a head after giving birth to my eldest son. I had suffered from postpartum depression. My son was colic and would cry all night. I wasn’t getting any sleep and worked a stressful job. Between the lack of sleep and stress, I began to spiral. It was then that a therapist suggested I get evaluated by a psychiatrist.

After an hour and a half hour of what felt like an interrogation, I received the verdict. Her words shot out like fists punching my face.

I didn’t believe her, so I went for a second opinion and was given the same diagnosis.

********

After years of hiding behind the shame and living in silence, I decided to come out.

I’m a Christian who suffers with chronic pain and physical and mental illness. And I am not alone. There’s plenty of people out there struggling like me, who lurk in the shadows because of shame and fear of being found out.

They vacillate between denying their illness, pretending away their illness or praying away their illness, thus refusing treatment they so desperately need.

Instead, they self-medicate by either drinking, drugging, eating, spending or sexing.

*******

I’m speaking specifically to Christians right now, if you are struggling with mental illness, don’t allow the church or anyone from church tell you mental illness is a spiritual problem because it isn’t. Please don’t listen to anyone who tells you, you lack faith or you must have unconfessed sin or that you aren’t praying or fasting enough.

Mental illness is not a spiritual condition, but a medical one that needs to be treated like diabetes or cancer.

Please contact your local National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and get support. You don’t need to suffer in silence or struggle alone.

*******

Silence is the result of stigma and judgment by family members, friends, co-workers, church members, and society in general who aren’t educated and misunderstand, misinterpret, and marginalize those who suffer from mental illness or any invisible illness.

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Truthfully, these past two years have been the most difficult for me. My life has completely changed and it’s been hard for me to reconcile and adjust to. Believe it or not, it’s taken me over 15 years to finally accept my diagnoses.

I didn’t want to come out because most people walking around react to words like bi-polar, OCD or schizophrenia as a joke or they associate it with characters from “Psycho,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” or “A Clockwork Orange.”

This is why I’ve kept it hidden for so long, but now I no longer want to because there’s too many people suffering in silence. For this reason, I chose to come out and join the tribe of other voices advocating and fighting against the stigma.

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Abracadabra

Abracadabra. Like many magic words, the true origins of the word “abracadabra” are shrouded in mystery. It may have invoked the god Abraxas for protection. It might be a synthesis of the Hebrew words for “father,” “son,” and “holy spirit.”

It could also be from the Aramaic phrase “avra kehdabra,” meaning, “I will create as I speak.” In ancient times the word was inscribed on pendants worn around the neck as protection from evil and illness. It was considered a far more powerful word in the classical age than it is now.

When I think of the word ‘abracadabra’, I think of magic and modern day Christianity.

What does magic and Christianity have to do with each other? Well, a lot actually.

*****

I just got off a prayer line which I used to be part of a few years ago.

But tonight was different.

I remember when this pastor started his prayer line. There were only a few and then it grew.

Today his ministry has tripled which is pretty impressive. What’s even more impressive is that his ministry consists of mostly women. He seems to attract them in droves.

Why do these women flock to this leader? I paid attention.

It is his pleasantries. I mean, who doesn’t want to hear nice things and ‘feel’ good?

I guess this is what attracted me.

I would get pumped up listening to his persuasive tongue and positive messages.  I couldn’t get enough.

His words were like honey, sweet and addicting. But too much honey can make you sick.

He shouts, Declare it, Believe it, you’ll get that Mercedes Benz, in the name of Jesus!

Abracadabra, Hocus Pocus, Alakazam!

This is Christianity today.

An unholy mixture, of compromise and new age mysticism has seeped into the Church.

A seducing and lustful spirit, luring and captivating minds into deception.

I am familiar more than I care to admit.

I recognize them, I discern them, I smell them and I know where they hide.

They haunted and tormented me for years.

You think it’s all good, so long as you hear the word Jesus, right? But, it’s a lie.

The devil uses deception my friends, he’s the master of it. He is the best magician you’ll ever meet.

What? You don’t think these spirits are operating in the Church today? Really?

Well, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you, they are. Especially today.

The Church can’t see it though, because they are sleeping. They need to wake up from their slumber soon before it’s too late.

 

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Evicting Jesus

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Today I have been reflecting on the state of affairs with the Church and it’s members. Those who go on Sunday’s, fill up the pews and then walk out unchanged. Church has become nothing more than a social club or coffee clutch.

And we wonder why the world doesn’t respect Christians.

I can’t quite blame them. We are wishy washy, sensual, carnal, powerless, materialistic, selfish and self seeking. We only care about ourselves, our agendas, our concepts, our dreams and our works.

We appease our conscience by doing missions work or by feeding the homeless every now and then.

We Christian’s have been acting “politically correct” as not to offend anyone. We basically want our cake and eat it too.

I have decided not to mince words or keep silent anymore on issues I believe need a spotlight.

Lately, I have been noticing that Christians are walking on egg shells around nonbelievers.  They don’t want to offend.

I am all fine and dandy about this to a point. But, when I have to make excuses for the sake of unbelievers or told to be sensitive to nonbelievers or to keep silent about my faith, then that’s where I draw the line.

You know why?

Because nonbelievers do and say whatever the heck they want  and no one says a word to them. Yet I’m suppose to keep my mouth shut, not say anything about my faith for fear they will be offended or feel uncomfortable?

I walk down the streets of Manhattan and I am assaulted by unbelievers cursing up a storm and acting in offensive ways. I can’t do or say a thing about it either. But yet, I have to be careful around them for being a Christian?

I’m sorry, but there is something terribly wrong with this picture. For me, it’s called compromise. We want to please everyone, but if we call ourselves a Christ follower, then God requires us to please Him first.

Listen, I’m the last person to get in someone’s face and force them to believe in Jesus. But I sure as hell won’t be keeping silent or behaving like I’m not one. I don’t have to be ashamed of Jesus Christ.

Why do I have to make excuses or keep silent that I’m a Christian amongst  unbelievers?  Oh I see, I have to tolerate them, but they can’t tolerate me?

I presume I have to apologize for my mere existence or for the air I breathe too?

No one is apologizing to me for being a Muslim, Buddhist or Satanist? I don’t expect them to, but nor should they expect me to either.

The way I see it is this, if you are Christian, then you are a Christian, period. I shouldn’t have to squirm, apologize or pretend I’m someone other than who I am to please anyone.

Nor should I have to censor what I write or believe either. With all due respect, if you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read or subscribe to my blog. I’m not here to win any popularity contests. I’m here to tell the truth as I see it. If you don’t agree with it, then please feel free to unsubscribe. I’m not going to compromise my beliefs for anyone… even if it means walking alone.

God gave me the gifts I have and He has blessed me with the ability to communicate and write. He has called me to use those gifts to encourage and edify the Body.

He did not say for us to bury our gifts, He said for us to use them for His glory, not use them for our own gain.

I’ve been reevaluating lately and the more I go on, the more disappointed and disillusioned I’ve become with the state of affairs. The world has seeped into the Church and Christians are acting no different than the unbelievers.

We have evicted Jesus from our Churches, from our projects, from our agendas, from our plans… and mostly, from our hearts. Do we  really expect Him to be cool with that?

Sorry, but this isn’t how it works. Jesus said, “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)  He also said, “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Rev. 3:16)

Yes, God is a loving God, but we can’t take His love for granted.

If Christians keep acting like He doesn’t exist as to not offend people, then I’m afraid the state of affairs is only going to get worse, not better.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel like you have to walk on egg shells, make excuses or pretend you are not a Christian for fear of offending unbelievers?

 

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He said He wanted to Kill Me

Last night I decided to go to church for prayer service. Before I was married and had kids, I lived at Times Square Church. I was there every Tuesday and Friday night and all day Sunday. I even served on the choir before someone told me they wanted to kill me.

I never told a soul. I just stepped down quietly from the choir. I mean, who in their right mind was going to stay in the choir after that? Maybe I should have stayed, but deep down, I was disillusioned.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Early one Sunday morning, I was praying alone in the choir section when I sensed a presence. I opened my eyes to find a tall male standing before me. I recognized him, he was in his choir robe like me. He said he needed to ask my forgiveness. I asked him for what (since I never had any dealings with him). He said for wanting to kill me.

I think I was traumatized at that moment because all I said was, I forgive you. I can’t believe that’s all I said.

Why couldn’t I have told him, “Hey dude, what did I ever do to you to warrant your wanting to kill me?” I mean, wouldn’t that have been more normal?

Eighteen years later, I think back and wish I would have had enough courage to ask him why.

I went through a whole gamut of emotions and questions. All I was doing was praying. Aren’t you suppose to feel safe in church? I did not feel safe at all. I actually never looked at church the same way again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Times Square Church greatly. It is where God brought me, put me, planted me and where I grew up in the faith. It is where I first experienced the presence of God. The preaching is phenomenal and I’ve made great friends there. Many who are now leaders or serving overseas as full time missionaries.

It’s not the church’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault. However, last night, memories began to flood my mind and emotions began to well up. Yes, I forgive this man, wherever he is. The irony of it all is that I didn’t even know his name. But his face will be forever etched in my memory.

Conceptually, I understood at twenty-seven that evil was using this man as a host. But it’s still hard to grasp something like this magnitude, especially since it happened in church by a supposed brother in Christ. I couldn’t understand it, still don’t and perhaps I never will.

However, since then, I no longer close my eyes when I pray in church. I do for second or two, but then I open them again. I only pray with abandon when I’m alone and in the confines of my home.

I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience in church?  If so, please share. I would love to know I’m not alone.

Posted in blogging, christianity, faith, forgiveness, Healing, prayer | Also tagged , , , , , , , 25 Comments

The Extraordinary Vessel

I do not know about you, but I feel run over. Like a Mack truck hit me going 90 miles an hour. Not physically, but spiritually.

Sometimes, when God is working new things into us, He has to work the old stuff out of us. This process is uncomfortable and often stressful.

You are not alone if you feel this way. As servants, we are vessels to be filled and emptied.

Over and over and over.

No one said this life following Christ would be easy. In fact, Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. The good news, no, the great news is He overcame the world and since we are constantly being changed into His image, we can develop the skills we need to overcome too!

We can go from “glory to glory”.

When you face a struggle or a trial remember this.

  •  You are not alone. (God will never leave you or forsake you)
  • Help is on the way. (He is help in this very present trouble)
  • When you have done all you can do, stand. (If you look to your left and right, I bet God has brought someone to stand with you!)

Struggles in life will come. Some may be physical, some financial, lots of them spiritual, but in every struggle there is a promise.

He has you in His hands, and nothing: not height, not depth, not any creature, no man, no woman, no boss, no debt collector, no doctor, no death, NOTHING can separate you from His Love.

The work of growing, of pressing through until you have victory may be hard, but it will be worth it.

Here is a story to drive it home:

A young woman, who was afraid of her garage because she did not like spiders and hated the smell of dust, avoided her garage as much as possible and often put off washing her laundry because the washer and dryer were in there.

One day a man came by and said “If you clean out your garage and get it ready, I will fill it with your dream car.”
She doubted at first, but she saw he was going to her neighbors and offering the same deal to them. Soon she saw Bentleys and Porches lining her street.

So she began the work.

It was hard. It got hot. She was itchy. Spiders crawled on her. She shook with revulsion, but she pushed through.

She found things in there that she wanted to hang onto, but knew she needed to trash. Soon, everything that was garbage was on the curb. The inside was clean and organized.

Sure enough, the man showed up with a brand new car. It was full of all the bells, and whistles. If there were a better car for her, it had not been made yet. This man had fulfilled his promise.

Now, you are the girl, the garage is your heart and the “man” is God. He is waiting to give you your dream. You just need to press through and get on with obeying Him. He has a reward far greater than you can ask or even think.

The struggles you face may not be from the enemy. They may be God trying to turn the ordinary vessel into an extraordinary vessel!

Join the discussion:

Do you have a favorite scripture that helps you face difficult times? Share it below.

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The Greater Sin

I am participating in Blogging  Through the Book: The Gospel of Yes by Pastor Mike Glenn.  This series was birthed by Dana Pittman, who is an amazing  writer and speaker.  I am honored to be partnering with her and her amazing team of writers.  Every Wednesday we will be blogging our thoughts and insights from this book.

Ever get the feeling God is trying to tell you something?  Well, I’ve been feeling like that a lot lately.

He’s been speaking to me through different avenues, one of them being, The Gospel of Yes.

While reading Chapter two, I was pretty surprised to come across what Pastor Mike Glenn refers to as the greater sin.

The greater sin is not trying. 

When we don’t try, we don’t risk failure.  We stay in our comfort zones. We choose the safest route in life.  We avoid pain, suffering and struggle at all costs.

But is that really living a full life?  Is this what God desires for us?

“In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the famous parable of the talents.  The master in the story entrusts three servants to oversee part of his wealth while he is away.  When the master returns, he find two servants have done well and doubled what he had entrusted to them.  The third servant, afraid of the master’s anger, buried the talent given to him and simply returns it unused and with no increase.  The master is furious but not for the reasons we assume.  He is not angry because the servant tried and failed or because the principal had produced no greater value.  No, the master is angry because the servant simply didn’ t try.”

This convicted me to the core.  Personally, I have been burying my talents because of fear of man.  What man might think of me, etc.

Our faith in Him has to be greater than our fear in man.

The Lord keeps asking me to step out in faith and trust Him.

He doesn’t want me or anyone hiding their talents.  He wants to use our talents for His glory.

He wants us to try, even if we fail.  We have to act in faith and leave the results to Him.  I know this is easier said than done.

But if we don’t, we will never experience His freedom. 

God wants me, you and everyone to say ‘yes’ to Him.

Whether it is going to the mission field, forgiving someone, serving in a homeless shelter, mentor a child or whatever He put on your heart.

He wants us to try because in doing so we learn to trust Him. 

Is there something God has been asking you to do?  Has He been asking you to step out in faith and try?

Blogging Through the Book is a group of bloggers who literally blog while reading the book. It’s different than merely reading a book and posting a review. We have a chance to read and share our thoughts in community. To learn more visit www.danapittman.com.

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Fully Alive by Ken Davis

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 10, 2012
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0849948428
ISBN-13: 978-0849948428
List Price: $19.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

Sample Chapter

 

 

 

Description

Food labels, advertisements, politicians, self-help books–they all promise the same thing: a better life . . . or–as Jesus might put it–life to the fullest.

For millions this pursuit of happiness has captivated , ensnared, and, most disappointingly, it has alluded.  Which begs the question, what is the missing link?  Fully Alive explores the idea that God is glorified when man is “fully and eternally alive,” illustrated by best-selling author and motivational speaker Ken Davis’s most honest and intimate stories.

Ken invites us to walk with him on a journey, along a road of heartache and adventure to a place he calls “the land of the living,” and discover what may be missing in our lives.

A poignant and entertaining storyteller, Davis points out the practical steps necessary to live this way–everything from lightening up to taking a quality of life assessment, to overcoming trials–while also revealing the power of Christ’s resurrection available for each of us.

Get a taste of the beautiful urgency of today and begin moving toward a change in your life that draws from the joy and power that can be found only in Christ.

Review

I admit, I didn’t know who Ken Davis was before reading Fully Alive.  So, it was especially sweet getting to know him by reading his story.

Ken Davis shares his struggles and triumphs in his life’s journey. He doesn’t hide anything.  He is candid and open in relaying details of his life.

Have you felt depressed or unmotivated lately? Have you been thinking about getting back in shape, but think it’s impossible?  Do you feel old and listless? Are you just going through the motions in life?  Have you thought, is this all there is?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, I strongly urge you to get this book.  Fully Alive will challenge, convict, inspire and invigorate you to make positive changes your life.

After reading this book, I realize I seriously have no excuse. Ken Davis shows you how its done. You get the sense that if he can do it, you can do it.

Ken Davis touches on various subjects, such as exercise, diet and faith.  He writes from a holistic standpoint and leaves nothing out.

This is my favorite quote:

“The glory of God is man fully alive: Striving in the midst of all odds.  Never satisfied with the status quo.  Seeking excellence in every area of life.  Because Jesus can raise the dead and because He Himself was raised from the dead, then no matter what my situation, I can know the power of His resurrection to live my life fully alive.” (Page 209)

I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to live fully alive.

Fully Alive will inspire, encourage and enrich your life. I highly recommend this motivating book to everyone.

In conclusion, I want to thank Daniel Decker and Thomas Nelson for allowing me the opportunity to read and review a complimentary copy of this wonderful book.

Ken Davis is one of the most sought-after speakers in North America. He has appeared on television and stage around the world, addressing groups as diverse as the Gaither Praise Gathering, The Kellogg Corporation, Focus on the Family, and Pentax Corporation. Ken provides a unique mixture of side-splitting humor and inspiration that never fails to delight and enrich a wide variety of audiences. Each presentation is carefully designed to fit the diverse needs of his clients. Davis’ daily radio program, LIGHTEN UP!, is broadcast on over 1,800 stations worldwide and spotlights his gift as a storyteller and comedian.  http://www.kendavis.com/

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Book Review: Wrecked by Jeff Goins


Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802404928
ISBN-13: 978-0802404923
Price: $11.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN | CBD

 

 

 

 

 

Description 

Wrecked is about the life we are afraid to live. It’s about radical sacrifice and selfless service–how we find purpose in the midst of pain. It’s a look at how we discover fulfillment in the least likely of places. It’s about living like we mean it. It’s a guide to growing up and giving your life away, helping you live in the tension between the next adventure and the daily mundane.

This book is for us–a generation intent on pursuing our life’s work in a way that leaves us without regrets.

Author Jeff Goins shares his own experience of struggling as a missionary and 20-something who understands the call to live radically while dealing with the everyday responsibilities of life. Wrecked is a manifesto for a generation dissatisfied with the status quo and wanting to make a difference.

Review

“Life is not about you.” ~ Jeff Goins

I have been following Jeff Goins’ blog for some time now.  I read everything he writes.  He is one of those remarkable people you meet in life.  Everything this man writes is gold.  He is wise beyond his years. He continually blesses me with his blog posts and now he completely Wrecked me.

I don’t even know where to start.  How do I put into words my experience reading this book?  Every single page of this book is phenomenal, truly.

Wrecked will make you see the world differently. Wrecked will convict you. Wrecked will not make you feel comfortable. Wrecked will challenge your complacency. Wrecked will propel you into action.

When we think of the word “missionary”, we envision countries like Africa, India or Guatemala.  However, these countries aren’t the only places that need our help.

Wrecked discusses serving and making a difference where you live. We do not need to travel thousands of miles away to serve others in need. We can choose to serve right in our own communities.

I admit, I was one of those people who thought I needed to go to some far off land to make a difference. There was a lot of romanticism connected in being a missionary overseas. Yet, the Lord wasn’t asking me to go anywhere.

I had it in my head that this is what He wanted me to do. I figured if I sacrificed going to another country like Africa and serve as a missionary, I would finally arrive in becoming this great Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a part in the book which especially spoke to my situation. I had this “dream” of becoming a missionary in Africa.  The whole idea became bigger than life to me.

God had other plans for me though. I met my husband, got married and had two boys. I remember when I had my first son, he was diagnosed with all sorts of health issues. I realized then my dream of becoming a great missionary in Africa was over.

I really was struggling in my new role as wife and mother. I had a difficult time understanding why my son was born with all sorts of health problems. I didn’t understand what the Lord was doing and questioned Him a lot. I wasn’t a happy camper.

This is why these excerpts spoke to me:

“When I felt the call to be a missionary, I thought I would end up traveling the world for the rest of my life. You know, pack my coffin, move to Africa, and have the natives bury me–that sort of thing. But that’s not what happened. In fact, that may never happen. After a lot of struggle, I’m okay with that. I’m finally embracing this is not my life; it doesn’t belong to me.  I’m not the master of my own destiny. I’ve started to find what I was made to do, and it has little to do with going or staying and a lot more to do with obedience.”

“When you are thirty-five, doing the uncomfortable thing may mean cleaning the house or paying the bills. It may look like making sure the kids aren’t late for school or that you don’t miss a soccer game. It’s less glamorous, but the less is the same: your life is not about you.”

Well, that pretty much sums it up. I came to realize this after the Lord broke me of my idol. Funny thing is, I was exactly where God wanted me to be all along.

I highly recommend Wrecked to everyone. This book will change your life.

If you order the book through August 4th, Jeff Goins will send you six exclusive gifts valued at over $158. Please check out what you will get here.

In conclusion, I want to personally thank Jeff Goins and Moody Publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read and review an advanced copy of this book. I am sincerely grateful.

Photo by Ashley Goins

Jeff Goins is a blogger, speaker and author. He works for Adventures in Missions, a nonprofit, where he serves as the Communications Director. In his free time, he writes books and shares ideas worth spreading.

Originally from the suburbs of Chicago, Jeff graduated from Illinois College with a double major in Spanish and Religion. There, he spent a semester in Spain, an experience that opened his eyes to the needs of the world.

After he graduated, he spent the next nine months on tour with a band and the following three months training other musicians. Then, after a year of traveling around North America, he moved to Tennessee to “see about a girl.” In 2008, he married her.

Since 2006, Jeff has worked out of his home, overseeing marketing, communications, and innovation teams from afar. He is passionate about not only telling great stories, but living them, as well.

His blog, GoinsWriter.com, is one of the fastest-growing blogs on the web and is a well-respected resource for writers and difference-makers. In 2011, it won the Top 10 Blogs for Writers award on WritetoDone.com. Each month, he receives over 80,000 visitors to his website.

Jeff’s work has been published online and offline in a variety of publications, including RELEVANT Magazine (with a circulation of more than 150,000 readers) and ZenHabits.net (one of Time Magazine’s Top 50 Websites for threes years in a row).

Jeff and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son and dog.

 

 

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