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Loneliness (Notes for Wed 10/26/2011)


Sermon Series: One

Sermon Title: Loneliness

Date: 10/26/2011

Sources Used:

Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.

Loneliness

· A painful inner feeling of emptiness everyone experiences at times. It is an awareness that one lacks close and meaningful contact with others. It involves a painful feeling of isolation, and sadness and a deep desire to connect with others.

· May last for a short time or persist throughout life.

· Impacts people of all ages.

· Highest in cultures that emphasize individualism.

· Occurs frequently in single adults living alone, elderly people who have lost a spouse, parents without partners, or people away from home including students. Leaders are especially susceptible to loneliness.

· People may feel lonely even when they are surrounded by other people, especially when there is tension. When surrounded by others, lonely people feel as if they are left out, unwanted, rejected, or misunderstood. Lonely people are often down on themselves, have a poor self image and feel as if no one wants them.

· Lonely people often feel uncertain about how to reach out or initiate close contact with others.

Types of Loneliness

· Transient – due to a move, separation, disagreement, or death. May last for a few minutes or a few months.

· Chronic – may be due to self-image, self-condemnation, shyness, or insensitive social skills that drive others away.

The Bible and Loneliness

· God declared that it is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). God exists in community as Father, Son, and Spirit. Because man is created in the image of God, he too is a relational being. Man can not only relate to God but he also relates to others. When sin entered creation through Adam and the woman’s rebellion, we see separation, hiding, and a lack of communication. This is the time when loneliness entered into fallen creation.

· We see loneliness in many of the Bible’s greatest heroes such as Moses, Job, Nehemiah, Elijah, and Jeremiah.

· David expressed loneliness in Psalm 25:16.

· Jesus called out to God and asked, “Why have you forsaken me (Matt. 27:46)?”

· In 2 Timothy 4:9ff Paul expressed feelings of forsakenness and his desire for companionship.

Causes of Loneliness

1. Social Causes – loneliness caused by social changes or factors

a. Technology – life has become increasingly fast paced with less and less face to face interaction.

b. Television – promotes superficiality as people are no longer forced to communicate but only passively witness the actions of others on screen.

c. Mobility – the ability for people to move easily makes it difficult to develop long lasting relationships.

d. Lifestyle – American culture is becoming increasingly fearful and less connected. Very few people know their neighbors.

2. Developmental Causes – the failure to meet the following three needs during the developmental years:

a. Attachment – all people, but especially children need to feel close bonds with others. With increasing divorce rates and man children returning home to empty houses loneliness is increasing in young people.

b. Acceptance – children need loving touch, attention, and discipline. When they are neglected they feel worthless or as if they do not belong. These sorts of feelings may be present in adults who do not feel accepted in business or social settings.

c. Social Skills – People with low levels of inter-personal relationship skills may be socially awkward or force themselves into relationships. Often those with underdeveloped social skills will place relational value in material things rather than in people.

3. Psychological Causes – the way people think about themselves or others may contribute to loneliness.

a. Self-defeating attitudes – competitiveness, self-absorption, being intolerant, holding grudges, or demanding attention from others.

b. Low self-esteem – low opinions of self may lead one to withdraw from others.

c. Depression – many depressed people withdraw from others.

d. Hostility – people who are angry, negative, or easily agitated are often isolated.

e. Fear – may construct barriers to keep others out whether it be fear of rejection, intimacy, or of being known.

4. Situational – A life situation such as a physical handicap or caring for an aging parent may create a situation in which relationships are difficult.

5. Spiritual – Sin naturally alienates us from God and others.

Confronting and Preventing Loneliness

Because loneliness is most often an inner struggle or feeling, one’s circumstances may not be the primary cause. One’s circumstances may be as they are because of one’s expressions of loneliness. Therefore, loneliness is most often cured by dealing with the inner feelings and changing one’s perceptions, outlook, and improving social skills.

1. Admit the problem.

2. Consider the causes.

3. Change thinking.

4. Develop self-esteem and an accurate self image by assessing strengths, skills, and weaknesses.

5. Learn new behaviors and social skills.

6. Find avenues of encouragement and risk taking such as reaching out to others.

7. Meeting spiritual needs.

8. Join a church community.

9. Find confidants who can help with change.

10. Build confidence by making contributions to community.

11. Begin a journey of spiritual growth and accountability.

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Guilt (Notes for Wed. 10/12/2011)



Sermon Series: One


Sermon Title: Guilt


Date: 10/12/2011



Sources Used:


Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.


Guilt


Guilt is often a co-conspirator with many emotional, psychological, and moral problems such as depression, loneliness, alcoholism, homosexuality, and grief.


Victims of abuse of all kinds often experience guilt.


People who may lose a loved one suddenly or due to prolonged illness may experience guilt.


“Guilt has been described as the place where religion and psychology most often meet (Collins, 178).”


It is important to distinguish between two categories of guilt: objective and subjective.



Categories of Guilt:



1. Objective Guilt - a law has been broken and even though the law breaker may or may not feel guilty, or be aware of guilt, there is guilt. There are four types of objective guilt. In each case a person may break a code or standard but never experience a feeling of guilt. In every case it could also be established that people break objective standards everyday and seldom experience guilt. For example, many people exceed the speed limit, which makes them guilty according to the law, but they never slow down and because they have not been caught they do not experience guilt.


a. Theological guilt - failure to obey the laws of God. The Bible describes breaking God’s law as sin. People can be, and often are, guilty before God without feeling any sense of remorse. People who believe in the Biblical God or a god (theism-belief in god), hold to an absolute law which establishes a standard of right and wrong for every person. Those who are not theistic (believing in God or a god) do not hold to the same universal/absolute standard of guilt, most often believing that morality is relative. If one does not have a theistic view, one does not hold to the existence of theological guilt. Some who hold to an atheistic view (no belief in god) would charge that belief in god is unhealthy because it establishes undue guilt.


b. Legal guilt - the violation of societal laws. A person may break an established societal law without ever being caught or feeling remorse, yet they are guilty.


c. Personal guilt - failure to obey one’s own personal standards or resists the urgings of the conscience. This type of guilt may be experienced by a father who is called into work on the weekend after he has made a promise to spend more time with his children. Personal guilt may also be due to breaking a diet, a budget, or failing to meet a personal goal.


d. Social guilt - breaking an unwritten but socially accepted rule. This may be guilt over failing to offer someone a wedding gift, being rude in conversation, or pushing one’s way to the front of a long line. The offender may not feel any sense of guilt, but others who hold the social standards may view the offender as guilty.


2. Subjective Guilt - an uncomfortable feeling of regret, remorse, shame, and self-condemnation that often comes when we have done or thought something that we feel is wrong, or fail to do something that should have been done. Subjective guilt brings discouragement, anxiety, fear of punishment or rejection, self-condemnation, and a sense of isolation, which may all be tied together as guilt. In this sense shame is often tied to guilt. Subjective guilt may motivate us to make changes or the reaction may be destructive, inhibiting, or make life generally miserable.


a. Appropriate subjective guilt – when one breaks a law, disobeys biblical teachings, or violates the dictates of conscience and in response feels remorse in proportion to the seriousness of the action.


b. Inappropriate subjective guilt - are feelings of that come from a false accusation or perception, or guilt that is out of proportion with the seriousness of the act. Inappropriate guilt may be associated with tragedy as one may place on himself or herself undue blame.


What the Bible Says About Guilt


The Bible describes those who have broken God’s law as guilty. The Bible uses a variety of terms, but the basic teaching of the Bible is that breaking God’s law is sin. Every person is a sinner. Every person is guilty before God.


Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring about a sense of conviction (John 16:8).


The law of God was given to establish guilt in the sinner, who often denies or represses guilt (Rom. 10:3, Gal. 3:21-22, James 2:10).


David expresses how the guilt of sin impacted his life (Psalm 32).


Paul describes his inner anguish over trying to do right but fails often (Romans 7).


Paul tried to stir up guilt in the Corinthian church and distinguishes between a godly sorrow and a worldly one (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).


- Godly sorrow - produces remorse, repentance, restitution, and forgiveness.


- Worldly sorrow - may produce feelings of remorse but leads to no productive outcome, change of action, restitution, or forgiveness. The Bible says only that it leads to death.


- Godly and worldly sorrow illustrated - A simple example is shared on page 180 by Collins. Two people are in a cafe when one spills hot coffee on another’s lap. One reaction may be to acknowledge one’s clumsiness and feelings of embarrassment. The person may even be self-critical. While the assessment may be somewhat true, it leads to no productive action. On the other hand a person may indeed be clumsy and embarrassed over the situation, yet move to immediately take action to help clean up the mess and make restitution for the damages.


The Bible is clear that God is willing to forgive the guilty if they are repentant. Through Jesus Christ God has not only provided the guilty with atonement for sin, but an example of how to make changes that will result in righteous behavior.


One important condition for those who would receive forgiveness is that they would also extend it to others (Matt. 6:12, Luke 6:37).


Summary - most people do not seek forgiveness simply due to objective guilt. As stated, many people are objectively guilty but have no sense of guilt. People who have only a sense of objective guilt often seek forgiveness simply out of fear of being caught. However, when a person begins, subjectively, to feel a sense of guilt there will be actions and reactions in response. It is at this point that it is important to discern why someone feels guilt (godly or worldly, justified or unjustified) so that Biblical measures may be taken to address the issue.


Causes of Guilt (worldly and godly causes):


1. Past experience and unrealistic expectations - in some homes a child may grow up in an environment in which the standards were so high and rigid the child almost never succeeds. The child is constantly blamed and made to feel like a failure. In adolescence and adulthood those that are raised in such an environment may feel a sense of guilt as they rebel against and reject these unrealistic standards or they may create unrealistic expectations for themselves that never allow them to feel a sense of success, which foster a sense of constant failure and guilt. The person may always work to achieve more but will never be satisfied.


There is no Biblical basis for holding someone to unrealistic standards. Though one may charge that the law of God is an impossible standard, it is important to point out that Jesus fulfilled the law. As the righteous one He died for the sins of the guilty. In Christ the forgiven are liberated from the law and given abundant life. In Christ we are to adopt realistic standards and press toward Christian maturity. There is no biblical basis for a person wallowing in self-condemnation and guilt.


2. Inferiority and social pressure - In a society that places high value in the “elites” it is difficult to live up to the comparisons. In response we are not only critical of ourselves but tend to justify the self at times by being critical of others. Such behavior becomes cyclical in nature.


The Bible says that a person should seek to be “approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15)” and sets forth Christ alone as the comparative standard.


3. Faulty development of the conscience - The Bible portrays the conscience as a mechanism placed within each one of us that makes us a moral soul with a sense of right and wrong based upon the absolute standards of God. Yet man, in sin, represses the witness of his conscience (Rom. 1:18ff). The Bible is clear that the moral barometer of the conscience can be changed based on teaching and behavior (1 Tim. 4:2). Constant participation in sin can dull the conscience. The conscience of some can be distorted if they are raised in uncaring, unpredictable environments that are demanding, neglectful, or full of fear (which can be fear for a variety of reasons).


The Bible promises that in salvation man is regenerate and the conscience becomes retrained in Christ. Through experiencing forgiveness and engaging in Biblically based discipleship a person adopts godly standards, exercises forgiveness, and practices confession and restitution.



4. Supernatural influences - Before the fall Adam had no conscience, no knowledge of good and evil, and no sense of guilt (Gen. 3:22). Man’s fall into sin brought both objective and subjective guilt into the experience of humanity. The Bible shares that man can be made to experience guilt by godly promptings of the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) or by the ungodly, accusing work of Satan (Rev. 12:10, Job 1:9-12, Zechariah 3:1). In a godly way the work of the Holy Spirit will lead us toward confession, repentance, restitution, and forgiveness. In an ungodly way, Satan may make someone who has been forgiveness continue to dwell upon guilt, which may even deceive them into thinking that for some reason they have not been forgiven.


5. Lack of forgiveness. As outlined above, when a person fails to forgive they will not experience forgiveness.



Dealing with Guilt


1. Guilt is not in and of itself a damaging emotion. One needs to have a sense of guilt. It is abnormal, dangerous, and dishonest to be incapable of or to deny guilt. Guilt can lead to a healthy end as it compels us to confess, make changes, and find forgiveness.


2. If a person cannot rectify a feeling of guilt it is imperative to distinguish if it comes from a background of undue expectation, unrealistic social pressure or comparisons, failure to believe in forgiveness, or failure to extend forgiveness to others.


3. People who feel guilt may express it in a wide range of ways which may include defensiveness, self-condemnation, tension, frustration, or irritability. Realize that initial symptoms may not be the root problem. Get to the root problem.


4. Foster understanding and an attitude of acceptance. It is important to make the distinction that an attitude of acceptance is not the same as condoning sin. A person may take a hard stance on sin, but still aptly communicate with real confession, repentance, and restitution forgiveness and acceptance will be extended. It is vital that the church embrace its Biblical mandate to become a community of discipline with the goal of purity and reconciliation (Matt. 18:15-20).


5. Teach and learn godly, Biblical values through Christ centered discipleship.


6. Have faith in the Scriptural portrayal of God’s character and believe in God’s promises.


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Anger (Notes for Wed. 10/5/2011)




Sermon Series: One
Sermon Title: Anger
Date: 10/5/2011


Sources Used:


Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.
Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselors Manual, The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling


Definition and Ideas: An emotional state, experienced by everyone, but difficult to define. (APA) Anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems. But excessive anger can cause problems. Increased blood pressure and other physical changes associated with anger make it difficult to think straight and harm your physical and mental health.


· Anger occurs in varying forms and degrees of intensity-from mild annoyance or feelings of aggravation to violent rage.


· Anger may be hidden on the inside or expressed openly and freely.


· Anger may be of short duration or it may persist for decades in the form of bitterness, resentment or hatred.


· Anger can be destructive if it persists in the form of aggression or revenge, but it also can be constructive if it motivates to correct injustice or think creatively.


· Anger, openly displayed, deliberately hidden from others, or unconsciously expressed, is at the root of many psychological, interpersonal, physical, and spiritual problems.


· Anger is a leading cause of depression, accidents, road rage, sickness, inefficiency, anxiety, grief, marital conflict or interpersonal tension.


· Anger is a root of every degree of conflict from terrorism, to war, to family strife, to church splits.


Anger in the Bible:


1. Anger is mentioned over 600 times in the Old Testament. The Bible speaks of God’s anger, fury, and wrath more than it does his love and tenderness.


a. Because anger is an attribute of God we cannot conclude that anger, in itself, is bad. Because God is holy we must conclude that divine anger is good. God’s anger is controlled and consistent with his love and mercy.


b. It should be noted that often God withholds his anger and extends mercy to the sinner.


c. Because God is all knowing he never misrepresents or misinterprets a situation, never feels threatened, never loses control, and always displays anger due to sin and injustice.


d. Humans have imperfect knowledge, often misrepresent and misinterpret situations, may feel threatened and can easily lose control. As such humans are warned about anger (Eph. 4:26-27).


2. Biblical conclusions about human anger:


a. Human anger is normal and not necessarily sinful. We are created in the image of God and like him we can become angry. Jesus displayed righteous anger (Matthew 12:12-13, John 2:13-17).


b. Human anger may result in a faulty perception. Because we do not have “all” facts we are prone to jump to incorrect conclusions.


c. Human anger can easily, and often does, lead to sin. This is why the Bible often directs us to turn away from anger (Psalm 37:8). Sins of anger:


i. Vengeance – Deut. 32:35


ii. Abuse – physical, emotional, or verbal –


1. The Bible considers actions done out of anger to be dangerous and foolish (Prov. 14:17)


2. The Bible calls for verbal control (James 1:19)


3. The Bible warns about the influence of constantly being around abusive and angry people (Prov. 22:24-25)


iii. Subtle aggression such as gossip


iv. Withdrawal – Failing to express anger can be sinful if it is done so in deceit (Prov. 26:24-26). Though it may appear different, the actions of many adults who withdraw are born from the same motives as a child in a temper tantrum.


d. Human anger can be used for good especially if it leads to confrontation, rebuke and repentance (Luke 17:3-4)


e. Human anger can be controlled


i. Acknowledge anger (Eph. 4:31 – before it can be put away it must be recognized).


ii. Take time to think before responding (Prov. 15:28, Psalm 73 – the Psalmist brings his bitterness to God as a means of expression and finding new perspective).


iii. Be sure to focus anger on problems not people (yet this does not mean we are forbidden to confront people).


1. Anger can be particularly destructive in marriage.


2. Couples can become accusatory and resentful.


3. It is important to exercise humility and self-control as words can be extremely hurtful (Proverbs 15:1).


iv. Be ready to confess sin and offer forgiveness freely (James 5:16).


v. Resist dwelling on revenge (1 Peter 2:23).


vi. Foster love (1 Cor. 13:4-5; Prov. 10:12).





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Anxiety (notes for Wed. 9/28/2011)



Sermon Series: One
Sermon Title: Anxiety
Date: 9/28/11


Sources Used:


Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3rd ed.
Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselors Manual, The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling



Definition: Anxiety is an inner feeling of apprehension, uneasiness, worry, and or dread that is accompanies by a heightened physical arousal (Collins).


· May cause physical changes such as rapid heart beat, feeling jumpy, or faint.


· May be due to a specific impending danger, or a feeling of impending danger whether founded or unfounded. Whether or not the danger is real, the feeling of anxiety is real.


· Anxiety appears in all age groups from the elderly to small children.


Types of Anxiety:


1. Normal – comes to everyone at times, especially when there is a threat of danger. In this case anxiety is proportional to the danger.


2. Neurotic – involves intense exaggerated feelings of helplessness and dread even when the danger is mild or nonexistent. “Many counselors believe this anxiety cannot be faced directly or dealt with rationally because it may arise from inner conflicts that are not conscious.” – Collins


3. Moderate – can be healthy and motivating as it may help people avoid danger, increase efficiency, or make beneficial changes.


4. Intense – very stressful, can shorten attention span, make concentration difficult or cause forgetfulness, hinder performance, interfere with problem solving, block effective communication, arouse panic, and may cause paralysis, rapid heartbeat, or headaches.


5. State anxiety – Comes quickly and has a short duration. May be adrenaline prior to a speech or while facing danger. Anxiety and excitement release the same hormones into the bloodstream.


6. Trait anxiety – A persistent, ingrained emotional tension that seems to be present in people who worry all the time. The body has difficulty functioning normally when it is in a constant state of arousal.


7. Panic attack – Sudden, often unexpected, rushes of intense fear accompanied by rapid heartbeat, trembling, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, or feelings of losing control. They reach peak and fade quickly. They often become associated with places or situations. Panic attacks are usually the causes of “phobias.” Victims often avoid situations or places that trigger anxiety lest it occurs again. In extreme cases the person may be afraid to leave home or go to certain places within the house. Panic attacks often result in a trip to the emergency room but result in a failure to diagnose any physical problem.


a. Did you know that loss of deep sleep for two consecutive days can produce many of the same reactions as LSD upon the human mind and body?


b. $23 billion per year is spent on medical treatment of people seeking physical relief from symptoms of anxiety that mimic physical illness, yet are not actually present.


c. People with anxiety are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized than people suffering from other mental issues who do not also have anxiety.[i]


8. Post traumatic stress disorder – Has been recorded for many years but was only named in 1980. Ongoing violence and terrorism is making PTSD more common. PTSD arises following intense stress, such as observing or experiencing events that involve death or great danger. People who suffer with PTSD may have nightmares or depression.


Anxiety in the Bible


The Bible views anxiety as both a healthy concern and a negative, even sinful worry.


· 2 Corinthians 11:27-28 – Paul showed little anxiety over suffering for the gospel but he did express anxiety over the welfare of the churches.


· Matthew 6:25-34 – Jesus dealt with anxiety in the Sermon on the Mount. His followers are to trust God and apply the gospel to anxiety. Anxiety may be a symptom that the believer has lost focus, exchanging Kingdom trust for worldly concerns.


· Philippians 4:6-7 – Paul implores us to replace anxiety with prayer and promises a peace from God that surpasses all understanding. This verse gives us a great promise, but it does not deny that there may be a physiological cause of anxiety that could hinder the full experience of this promise. Even still, God is able to overcome any cause of anxiety and grant a cure that “surpasses all understanding.”


· The Bible does not acknowledge a separate category of phobias. The message here is that all anxiety and fear is to be treated the same.


· The Bible does not teach that it is sinful to be anxious, yet the believer is not to allow anxiety to be crippling. Though the Bible tells us to cease worry and anxiety this does not mean the task is a simple one. Learning to trust God with anxiety may be a personal matter or a community one. We may find ways to fully embrace the promises of God as we discuss our anxieties with others, pray together, and make concerted efforts to deal with the causes.


Helping People with Anxiety


· Be honest about your own anxieties.


· Help calm tension.


· Show love and concern – 1 John 4:18


o Love


· Identify and deal with the sources rather than simply saying, “cheer up” or “don’t worry.”


o In the case of “phobias” it is important to help a person realize they may not be afraid of “x” but rather they are associating fear with “x.” As such you help a person realize they are not afraid of “x” but rather they literally fear, fear.


· Encourage action – it is often not our duty nor within our ability to cure the anxiety of another. Instead we can be the body of Christ to one another in providing support and simply encouraging action rather than allowing fear to paralyze a brother or sister in Christ.


· Realize courage often grows as we learn to trust God. We see this in Paul as he demonstrates extreme courage in the face of difficult circumstances.


Preventing Anxiety


· Foster faith and trust in God. Oftentimes we say we believe promises we don’t know how to practice.


· Learn to cope. Situations may not change, but we can change in any situation.


· Learn perspective. Instead of resorting to panic, create milestone memories that assure us of God’s faithfulness and that similar circumstances in the past did not destroy us.


· Reach out to others. One of the greatest preventative measures for anxiety is being connecting to a caring community of faith.


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Depression (notes for Wed. 9/21/2011)

Sermon Series:  One
Sermon Title:  Depression
Date:  9/21/11


Sources Used:

Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling 3d ed.
Jay e. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual, The Practice of Nouthetic Counseling

Intro:

·         The issue of depression has been documented historically for over 3,000 years
·         Great people and leaders have experienced depression, such as: Winston Churchill, Edgar Allen Poe, Napoleon, Charles Hadden Spurgeon
·         It is the common cold of mental disorders
·         It is by far our most common mental issue

The signs of depression can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Feelings - sadness, self criticism, guilt, shame, worthlessness, helplessness, pessimism, hopelessness, irritibility, loss of temper
  2. Thinking - in their minds they focus on their own incompetence or lack of worth.  Difficult to concentrate, self criticsm, and self condemnation.
  3. Behavior - apathy, lack of motivation, can't face decisions, constant complaining, may neglect personal appearance and hygiene.
  4. Physical health - fatigue, more sleep, loss of energy and interest in everything from intimacy to religion; may even frequently complain of aches and pains.

Many people mask their symptoms with a smile and do not find help, often because they are embarrassed of their symptoms.  However, more than 80% of people improve when they get help.

Depression may come:

  1. As a reaction to an event in life (easily treated)
  2. May come spontaneously from within (if so, will have a high recurrence rate)
  3. As a side effect of medication, change of diet, or illness (depression can set in as a result of the flu)
  4. Change of seasons

Depression in the Bible: (excellent online source:  http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/depression-bible.html)

*  Although the Bible does not speak of depression in a clinical manner, as we are most accustomed to discussing it, the Bible is not ignorant of the topic.  As with our own experience, depression seems to be a common issue with some of the Bible's most popular characters.

Psalms of despair - 69, 88, 102, (read Psalm 43:2)
Solomon - Ecclesiastes, Proverbs 18:14
Moses - Numbers 11:10-15
Elijah - 1 Kings 19
Jeremiah - Jeremiah 20:7-18 and Lamentations
Job
King Saul
David - Psalm 38:6-8
Jesus at Gethsemene - Matthew 26:37-38

Treatments:
  1. Physiological treatments - our society is a heavily medicated culture.  Most people see medication as a primary treatment for depression, yet evidence suggests that exercise, adequate sleep, and nutrition may be as powerful a treatment as any drug.  However, it is not sinful to take medication to treat physiological causes or symptoms of depression.
  2. Identifying and dealing with the causes -
    1. Family issues - may need to correct family tensions or learn to relate to family in a more healthy way.
    2. Stress - learn to manage stress
    3. Feelings of helplessness - may require prioritizing life and work, re-learning optimism, seeking easy wins
    4. Anger or bitterness - expressing your feelings to a third party, coming to grips with the irrationality and sin of revenge
    5. Guilt - seek forgiveness
    6. Thoughts - dealing systematically with unhealthy and/or negative patterns of thinking.
    7. Inactivity - actually beginning to make change
  3. Biblical truth -
    1. Trust in the Word - Psalm 119:25
    2. Have hope - Psalm 42:5, 43:2, Rom. 15:13
    3. Find reasons to rejoice and take comfort in prayer - Phil. 4:4-7
    4. Know that God cares for you - 1 Peter 5:6-7
  4. Find support - the church as a supportive community
  5. Understand that the circumstances may not change, but it is possible for your attitude to change about the circumstances.

Conclusion:

Depression is a common issue with multiple causes.  It is not sinful to become depressed.  Because we live in a sinful world and our bodies and minds have been thoroughly impacted by the fall we are all vulnerable.  The challenge in depression is not always in changing the circumstances, but changing the climate of the soul.  When we become depressed our vision and hope for the future is blinded and our mind offers a singular focus on the negative perceptions of the moment. 

The gospel offers steadfast hope for the depressed:

  1. By repenting of sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord we receive the gift of salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  Though the redeemed will suffer difficult trials and depressing circumstances, we are assured that we are in right relationship to God as Father.  He has promised us His presence and support through any event in life.
  2. Though we are currently grieved by various trials (Romans 8:18, 1 Peter 1:6) the gospel offers the hope of final redemption in Christ Jesus.  Our bodies and the world are not as they will be.  Jesus Christ will return and complete redemption, returning the world, our minds, our circumstances, and our emotions back to right.
  3. Through the gospel the redeemed are drawn together in the Holy Spirit toward Christ centered community, the church.  Though the church struggles (read any New Testament epistle) ultimately it is a redemptive and supportive community of faith.  As a united body of believers, the church is not to abandon the depressed, but rather called to offer support and counsel, to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15).
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Notes from Wed. Sept 14 - The Sin Nature ("One" Series)

Here is a rough cut of the notes from last night's message.  This should help those who wanted the verse list.  I will provide handouts for next week's message.

The Sin Nature (9/14/2011)


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