How to Live When Depression Lingers

Today I had the opportunity to guest write for a friend of mine and fellow Christian devotional writer, Wendy vanEyck at ilovedevotionals.com. I hope you’ll take a second to check this out, as it’s a message dear to my heart. Thanks!
–Rebecca
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How to Live When Depression Lingers
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on His God. Isaiah 50:10 (NIV)
Shaking my head I punched the “End Call” button on the cell phone while thinking, “That didn’t go too well. Lord, I wish she would at least try to see things from my perspective.”
She didn’t understand what my “problem” was, she made it clear she couldn’t relate to me in any way, and also made it clear that due to my struggles, she could no longer support me, my writing, or the ministry I believed God had called me to.
She thought it would be better if I figured out my “issues” first before jumping into serving or helping others.
How often had I wondered the same thing?

– See more at: http://www.ilovedevotionals.com/2013/06/how-to-live-when-depression-lingers.html#sthash.2Q5xAvjx.dpuf

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With Everything…

As an accompaniment musician, music is a big part of my life. God speaks to me through it all–the lyrics and the accompanying music. It’s definitely a language I love to speak and hear. Over the past several weeks I’ve put together a “spiritual warfare” playlist of sorts; these songs have powerful lyrics, point to Christ’s victory, turn my attention to Him and off my problems, and in that praise they drive the devil away. Today I share one of my favorites. I’ve had the awesome privilege of playing this with the band at church as well. Let me tell ya, it’s not easy to play this because you want to raise your hands in worship or cry or dance–it’s powerful (and it’s hard to do those things while still playing the piano!). I’ll share the link for you to listen, as well as the lyrics. This is a Satan-blasting song if ever there was one! LINK

 

 

With Everything

Let hope rise and darkness tremble

in Your holy light,

that every eye will see

Jesus our God.

Great and mighty to be praised.

***

God of all days,

Your glorious in all of Your ways

Oh, the majesty, the wonders and grace,

in the light of Your name.

***

Let hope rise and darkness tremble

in Your holy light,

that every eye will see

Jesus our God.

Great and mighty to be praised.

***

With everything, with everything,

we will shout for Your glory.

With everything, with everything,

we will shout forth Your praise.

***

Our hearts they cry, be glorified.

Be lifted high above all names.

For You, our King, with everything,

we will shout forth Your praise.

With everything, with everything,

we will shout for Your glory.

With everything, with everything,

we will shout forth Your praise.

***

(Joel Houston, Copyright 2008 Hillsong Publishing)

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

Meet the Scapegoat

I had the wonderful privilege of guest-posting on Encourage 365 today. I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think!

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escapegoat(photo courtesy of The Denver Post)

“The goat chosen to be the scapegoat will be presented to the Lord alive. When
it is sent away into the wilderness, it will make atonement for the people.”
Leviticus 16:10

     Aaron was a godly priest, though he certainly had his setbacks (uh, need a golden calf anyone?). Apparently his two sons, Nadab and Abihu, chose to hang on to their daddy’s example of idolatry rather than his example of worshipping the one True God (sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us).

     In Leviticus 10, we read about the sin which caused Nadab and Abihu to literally be smoked off the planet by a just and holy God. Fast forward to chapter 16 and now Aaron is instructed on how to make atonement for their sins, as well as the sins of the Israelites.
     For the most part I think we’re used to hearing the term “Scapegoat” in a negative light, usually we say someone is a scapegoat when they take the blame for someone else, otherwise known as being the fall guy. We don’t really want to be the scapegoat, do we? But in Leviticus 16:10 we see the true definition of a scapegoat…..
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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters online women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson Press) and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha. You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

Men of Sunday: Book Review

It’s time for a confession. Despite being a woman, I have been an avid fan of the NFL since I was just a little girl. My dad never had boys so in a sense I became the boy he never had. We would sometimes play catch together and would always watch sports on the weekends, from basketball to baseball. But football was always my greatest sports obsession. Though I lived on the west coast I fell in love with my dad’s favorite east coast teams (where he was from) and to this day I loathe the San Francisco 49ers and love the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, when I saw Men of Sunday, I knew it was a book I needed to review. Anytime faith and football is combined, my interest is peaked, and I love learning about Christian athletes who outwardly testify their love for God.  My hopes were not disappointed.

Men of Sunday is written by Curtis Eichelberger, a sports writer for Bloomberg. It recounts a wide variety of personal faith testimonies from Christian NFL athletes like Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis and Trent Dilfer. The book deals with an assortment of every-day issues from raising kids to health crisis.

As a backseat football player (you know, calling plays from the couch) I’ve never felt as if I could relate to these guys who are often seen with beautiful women hanging on their arms and millions of dollars in the bank. It’s easy to think their fame and fortune gives them an easy ride in life, but Curtis dispels that myth in Men of Sunday. Whether Christian or not, NFL players deal with real life issues just like we do. They worry about job security, suffer personal losses, encounter temptation, and make poor choices with lasting consequences.

A few things really surprised me in the reading of this book. I expected it to be more of a biography about Christian guys playing football, but it was so much more. I found myself actually learning lessons from what these guys had to say. One of my favorite quotes was from Trent Dilfer (former NFL quarterback and current sports analyst for ESPN) during an interview about the loss of his five-year-old son (which was a candidly honest and emotional read):

“If the motivation for your faith is what’s going on in the seventy-five or ninety years we have here on earth, then you are missing the truth of God’s promises. What God promises is eternity. This is not our home.” (pg. 95)

And of course I loved reading the nuggets of wisdom from Ray Lewis, who I’ve enjoyed watching from the beginning of his career.

“To be a leader you’ve got to be willing to serve others. Learn your job and become excellent at it. Then seek to help others…what comes first? Servitude.” (pg. 203)

Overall I found Men of Sunday to be refreshing and encouraging. It was inspiring to learn what role Christianity plays amongst a large number of NFL athletes, and it also encouraged me to grow in my own spiritual life. Probably the biggest “aha” moment for me was learning about the heartaches and trials that go with fame and fortune and how much harder it really is to live a life devoted to Christ in such an environment. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have my personal drama splattered all over newspapers and magazines, especially considering much of it probably would not be true.

Men of Sunday is a great book for the Christian NFL lover in your family. Even if you don’t watch football, you would be inspired by the stories of faith, perseverance, failure, loss, and redemption. The biblical truths are applicable to all walks of life. So, stop reading this review and go get your copy!

Men of Sunday was published by Thomas Nelson and released in August 2012. I believe in this book so much I am including a link to Amazon to purchase it (and no, I don’t get any money for that!) Click HERE to view on amazon.

(I received Men of Sunday by Curtis Eichelberger from Booksneeze for review purposes only. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions here are strictly my own.)

“First-World” Problems

**Published on Encourage 365, November 2012**

On Sunday my Pastor showed a riveting video called “First World Problems Rap” and the irony of this video should be evident to any viewer.  I appreciate the message and encourage you to watch it (it’s only two minutes).

 

(Here’s where you click the link to watch the video before reading on…)

 

So, yesterday our church launched a 30-day challenge to start a “First World Problems” complaint jar. You guessed it, every time we catch ourselves complaining about a “problem”–much like what is depicted in the video–we have to drop some money into the jar. At the end of the 30 days we turn in our jars to the church benevolence fund so the money can be used to help others. Immediately I knew I needed to participate (and I hope you’re challenged to do the same—donating the money to your church or charity).

 

Making a “complaint” jar is a great idea and something I hope to continue beyond the 30 days. Even in one day both I and my daughter have begun to realize how much we gripe about trivial things. Let’s face it, waiting in line at Starbucks really pales in comparison to the trials most children face in third world countries. I am ashamed to even admit how often I forget to pray for those children. Most of us will never get the opportunity to travel to a destitute country and personally help, but most of us do have the capability of helping out through active service in our communities.

 

The church I attend has several outreach groups that work with homeless people, foster children, disabled children, hungry families, and more. Even if your church does not offer these things, there is something somewhere that you could probably get involved in. Even if it’s just dropping off canned foods for a food drive or hygiene supplies to homeless communities. The needs are there, we just need to open our eyes and look (and pray) for opportunities.

 

All of our situations are unique. My situation requires me to be home much of the time. I’m a wife, I home-school my daughter, I’m a full time student, and a freelance writer. I am in my home a lot! But a few months ago I prayed for God to show me what I could do to get “hands-on” and He was faithful to immediately answer that prayer! Sometimes we are fooled in to thinking we don’t have the time or resources to make a difference when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We may never know what impact our small acts of kindness could have on another life.

 

So my challenge to you is the same challenge my Pastor shared with the congregation. Make a complaint jar and keep track of just how often you complain about “first world” problems. The results will probably be shocking. Remember, the point is to change our perspective. Faith is supposed to be active. Jesus didn’t just sit in the synagogue all day and preach. He was out there demonstrating a hands-on faith, as were the disciples. And we’re all familiar with James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself faultless from the world.”This is the kind of faith I want to demonstrate to the world; this is the kind of faith I ask God to create in my life.

 

A faith that moves.

 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

(Also see related article: Let’s Do Justice from Prodigal Magazine)

A United Heart

Lou Ann stopped by my blog a few days ago and in turn, I visited her blog. I love her heart, her mission, and her writing! So, I am sharing it with you. Please read her short devotional on what it means to have a “United Heart”–obviously a subject near and dear to me. Enjoy!

Teach me thy way, O LORD;
I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name.
(Psalm 86:11)
Most of this verse is simple in language and easy to understand. I stumbled a little at the word unite. What does it mean here? I looked up the Hebrew equivalent, and it means “unify; join.” Okay, but what is a unified heart or a joined heart? Commentators have several ideas about this word in the context of this verse. It can mean a “completely dedicated” heart or a heart with “undivided loyalty.” I thought of “single-heartedness,” something like single-minded.
In any case, the psalmist profoundly states his desires. This verse is his prayer:
            Teach me Your way.
            I resolve to walk in Your Truth.
            I want a heart that is wholly dedicated to respecting and following You.
Are the psalmist’s desires our desires?
            Do we really want to be taught what God wants us to do?
            Have we ever resolved (promised ourselves) to walk in the Truth (the Bible)?
            Do we have an “undivided” heart to respect and follow God?
In my counseling experience, I have found many women who want to do right. “Oh yes, I want to.” But, they don’t really want to be taught—not by God and not by anyone else either. They have never made a conscious decision to follow and know Truth. They don’t have time for God’s Word, don’t pray, and then they wonder why they’re having such a hard time grasping Truth. They have divided hearts. Part of them wants to do what everyone else does—follow “fun.” And, part of them really wants to follow God, but they’re not fully dedicated (united hearted) to it. Unfortunately, these ladies will always flounder spiritually.
I’ve also counseled women and girls who would say a hearty Amen to the psalmist’s three desires in this short verse. They are growing and changing. And they’re some of the happiest people I know.
May we all have undivided hearts!
Lou Ann Keiser is a missionary pastor’s wife with almost thirty years of ministry experience. She loves Bible study and people. Lou Ann is the mother of two married children and a grandmother. She lives in a quaint little town in Europe.
Please visit her blog: In the Way
**If you or anyone you know enjoys writing, www.servantsisters.org is currently looking for new writers to contribute devotions or photos with inspirational thoughts. You can check out the writer’s guidelines: Write For Us**

Tools of the Trade–Mirrors or Hammers?

On the heels of an amazingly extravagant weekend celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday came blowing in the whirlwind of rejection. Don’t get me wrong—our weekend in Disneyland and California was fantastic; wonderful memories were created and I’m sure my daughter will remember it for the rest of her life–as will I. But the joy was tainted by a letter of “rejection” received just a few moments ago. And while I knew this was a possibility, and it’s not the first “rejection” I’ve received, it stings nonetheless.

Satan uses one rejection to bring up memories of others—people rejection, publisher rejection, performance rejection…etc. Feelings of rejection began early in my childhood. I was a heavy kid with bad acne so the attention I got was not the kind I wanted. I learned how to be a people pleaser very early so I could receive at least some positive reinforcement. Everyone likes to be happy, right? So I went out of my way to help the people around me be happy. It’s what I wished someone would have done for me.

All weekend long I had been thinking about a recent “people-rejection” situation in my life. I prayed over it continually and asked God to help me move past it. Just as I was getting “over it” I received a letter of rejection from a publishing company. Another gut blow.

Satan uses people and circumstances in our lives to assault us with a common “theme”. The theme assaulting me throughout my life is “you are rejected” and “you are not loved”. Even though I do my best to “live peaceably with all men”, trying  to recognize and acknowledge my faults, apologizing, trying to make amends, and continuing to encourage others, I find I am still misunderstood more often than not. My intentions are questioned and my motives are doubted. Through all of this is the same message, “you’re not good enough and nothing you do or say ever will be good enough”.  Over the years these feelings catapulted me into severe depression, physical self-abuse, and even attempted suicides.

I have since learned to ask God to show me how to deal with these feelings biblically (What can I learn? How can I allow God to change me through this situation?). I also ask God to prevent me from being used as an instrument of negativity in someone else’s life, because we are all being assaulted with a message from our Enemy. I do not want to be used by Satan to deliver a message to someone that they are not good enough, loved or appreciated, or whatever the message may be. I realize that many times I have been this “tool” and I continually ask God to open my eyes and eliminate these occurrences from my life.

Perhaps God is calling you to the same area of self-examination. You see an individual  or think of them and immediately have unpleasant thoughts. Maybe you think they’re out to get you, out to hurt you, or that they’ve rejected you. If you feel this way you may be dealing with un-forgiveness. Ask God to help you deal with these people as He would have; treating them as you wish they would treat you (Matthew 5-7).

And if you are battling rejection either relationally or circumstantially, ask God to help you deal with those feelings biblically. It may be tempting to retaliate against such people—wanting them to feel the way they make you feel by ignoring them, sending hate mail, “unfriending” them from social media and the like, but there is a reason God has allowed it and you will never grow spiritually in that area if you pretend like it isn’t a problem. When we fail to see people (or circumstances) through the eyes of Jesus, we will likely face similar situations again and again until we learn to deal with them appropriately. God never gives up on us or teaching us His ways, and I am thankful for that even if it hurts!

Whatever you are feeling today, whatever messages your Enemy has tried to send you or use you to send others, God wants to help you recognize and combat them with His word of truth. If no one else ever understands or accepts you, God does. He will never leave you, forsake you, reject you, misunderstand you, or ignore you.

So, the next time you’re tempted to react a certain way, ask God if you’re being His tool, or a tool of the Enemy in that situation or person’s life. What messages are you delivering with your words and actions? I recently read something and it’s a good thought to end on:

“If my life was the only source of God someone was introduced to, what conclusions would that person make of God’s character based on my reflection of Him?”

In other words, is my God a God who rejects, withholds love, criticizes, assumes the worst, and condemns, or is my God a God who forgives unconditionally, displays compassion, and gives grace? Am I a hammer or a mirror?

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Psalm 116:5

“In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16