I can’t remember not being depressed on one or more holidays in the past 20 years or more. It seemed every time I tried to shake those awful feelings of despair, loneliness and sorrow it would just overtake me. One Christmas my brother called me Scrooge McDuck, that was back in 2009. It was one of the first times since my brother had grown up that we were spending Christmas together and we both were acting like Scrooge McDuck! Thanksgiving was another holiday that always caught me in the grip of depression. No matter whether I providing a meal for my family or spending it with another family that graciously invited me to spend the holiday with them, I was miserable. Yes I smiled and tried to hide my pain but the reality of it all was ~ depression was my best friend.
Depression has been a constant in…
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I feel compelled to share my blog post here from my Beyondthemiryclay site.
Today’s blog is the result of a conversation that I had with a friend this week. The Lord used this conversation to propel me back into the days of my youth when life should have been simple but it was not for me. This post is not easy for me to share today but I know that there is a purpose for it and so I pray that God will use it for His Glory.
One of my earliest memories of being exposed to sex was when I was around 5 years old. The little boy across the alley was over in my back yard and we were playing and I remember going into my house and then when I went back outside there he was calling me under the stair case. I walked over and he pulled out his privates! I told him to put it away and go…
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This is going to hurt. I am going to be real transparent here but I know that it must be done. I need to die to self. I need to come to the place of truly dying to my flesh. My flesh has died before but it just won’t stay dead! September 5, 2011 I died to self and turned my eating habits over to the Lord to lead and guide me. The reality however is I didn’t stay dead for very long. The truth is there is just no way to overcome the flesh on our own.
Let’s read a few verses from the Bible:
Galatians 5:24 ~ Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Romans 6:11 ~ Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
These were the verses I shared back in September 2011. Now let’s take a look at another verse:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Did you see what I saw? “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. Hmm, yes that changes everything. I keep trying to make my flesh die but I think what really needs to happen is that I need to surrender. I need to remember that Christ lives in me. And since He lives in me, I need to do what the rest of this verse says “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Now let’s look at another few verses:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Now let’s read just verses 3-4 in the Message Bible:
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you.
I wrote the following in 2006, if I’m not mistaken it was after my Pastor spoke on dying to self. I am not even sure if I am the one who wrote it or if it was from my notes from the sermon. I am reminded today though that this is what needs to happen in my life if I am to be successful at getting healthy and losing weight. Quite honestly, this is what needs to happen for all of life. I apply it today to this journey of moving toward better health but death to self is really about living daily for Christ.
When you are dead to self, you no longer are drawn to the old sinful habits of your past. You will no longer respond to people who scorn you or speak evil of you, you just pray for them and love them.
When you are dead to self, nothing affects your walk with the Lord. Nothing can move you from your place in Christ Jesus.
When you are dead to self, you no longer are self-absorbed with your problems and situations instead you are ready to help others through their trials.
When you are dead to self, your focus is on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. You have a yearning to bring others to Him so they too can receive forgiveness.
When you are dead to self, you are drawn more to the things of God then to the things of the world. You would rather read your Bible than watch TV all day. You would rather minister to someone in need than sit and sulk about your own problems.
When you are dead to self, no matter how bad your day is going you still smile at your neighbors and you praise the Lord for each and every moment of your bad day.
When you are dead to self, your focus is on the Lord and how you can be used by Him to further His kingdom.
Dying to self is a daily process.
To be continued…
Genuine sanctification … is nothing less than a daily dying to self and daily conformity to the will of God. ~ Ellen G. White
This past Sunday my pastors talked about encouragement at church. My senior pastor titled his sermon “They Call Me Barney” and the funny part was he had us sing the I Love You song from Barney. I’m talking about Barney the purple dinosaur. At first I wasn’t appreciating his humor since I had heard so much Barney when my kids were growing up that I could not stand Barney. So after we sang the song I thought to myself well that was pretty cool. Then after the service I turned to a hug from a dear friend who whispered to me “Thanks for being my Barney”. Really, me?? I would see it the other way around to be honest, she is my Barney! Actually I realized that I have several Barney’s in my life. Precious friends who encourage me all the time. People that God uses to get my attention and propel me into the things that He desires for me. I started writing this blog on Sunday afternoon but never finished it and today I get a text saying “Thank you so much Barney”. I just smiled and knew that I needed to finish this blog post.
What people don’t know is that I have prayed for years for God to use me and make me usable for His Kingdom. I’ve longed to be the one that people can come to for encouragement and support. I love helping people, it helps me so much too. So many times I have allowed the enemy to come in like a flood and bring discouragement and depression into my life. I refuse to do that anymore because I can’t be an encouragement to anyone if I am discouraged and depressed. Jesus has brought so much joy and freedom into my life and when I can share that with someone else it just blesses me so much. It’s like a beautiful wave that washes over me to know someone is encouraged by something I have said or done. So now just a little while ago I had another friend blow me away and actually made me cry. She said “You help bring my faith to center stage just by being you”. I had to hang up the phone because I was weeping and praising God. Yes I am a “Barney”.
So I just realized that I never even explained what “Barney” is all about. Its about Barnabas from the book of Acts in the Bible. The first mention of Barnabas is in Acts chapter 4:
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
So Barnabas was like a nickname for this Levite named Joseph. The apostles called him Barnabas in my opinion because they obviously saw him as a man who was very encouraging. So as we move further into Acts in chapter 9 a man named Saul is persecuting the church and he is on his way to kill the Christians in Damascus. While he was his way the Lord Jesus Christ nails him and he is converted and is now preaching Christ. I think you should just open your Bible right now and read the story because its a pretty amazing story. I will wait for you.
Alright, now when we get to verse 26 we see Saul has arrived in Jerusalem and he wants to hang out and get to know the original disciples of Christ. They are all afraid because they know that this man Saul was killing the Christians and they don’t believe that he is converted. Barnabas took hold of Saul and brought him to the disciples to let them know Saul was for real and he is a disciple now who speaks boldly in the name of Jesus. Let’s read verses 26-27:
When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
See Barnabas was an encouragement and support to Saul in that moment. Those of you know your Bibles know that Saul became the Apostle Paul and wrote much of the New Testament and his mission trips with Barnabas are all through the book of Acts. But lets suppose for a moment that Barnabas wasn’t there to help bring Saul to the disciples. Who knows what could have happened! Saul could have been discouraged and walked away from preaching Christ. Praise God that didn’t happen or half the New Testament would have been very different.
I hope all of that makes sense to you and you get the idea of how Barnabas was an encourager. My pastor’s message was probably much better than my explanation here but I think I’ve pulled it together to make the point. So in thinking of Barney again and me being a Barney to others I really wanted to wear purple and sing the I love You song but I was thinking that might just cause you to stop reading my blogs so I am sharing the real Barney singing his song. If you hate Barney just listen anyway and imagine that I am singing to you with my arm around you. Be encouraged! We all need encouragement! Bless you all!