Several commented on my article last week concerning the suicide death of Robin Williams. One of our own members, who works in mental health field, wanted to write an article from his professional perspective. He does a great job of outlining the disability of depression and the option that the message of the Cross gives to those who are suffering. Thank you John!
According to 2011 information, approximately 1.1 million people will attempt to commit suicide each year. Twenty-five thousand people will complete a suicide each year (Brown et. al, 2005). Brown and his associates found that people who have attempted suicide are 38 to 40 times more likely to complete a suicide (Brown et al.). Depression is highly correlated with suicidality (Reedy, 2011). According to the World Health Organization, depression “is the leading cause of disability as measured by Years Lived with Disability” (Reddy). In the United States, four to ten percent of adults will suffer from depression any given year (Aspira Continuing Education, 2010) . Women suffer from depression 1.5 to 3 times more than men (Aspira). Mental health professionals define the symptoms for depression as follows:
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Significant weight loss or gain (DSM-IV-TR, n.d.)
The symptoms must last for more than two weeks (DSM-IV-TR). The person’s mood must fall below the person’s baseline (DSM-IV-TR). Finally, it must affect the person’s social, occupational, and/or educational functioning (DSM-IV-TR).
Aaron Beck articulated that depression comes when negative thoughts are about the self, the world, and the future (Allen, n.d.). Themes of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, un-lovability, and incompetence are constant themes of those with depression (Govender & Schlesbusch, 2012; Lau, 2012). Often, these individuals will tell themselves: “I am unlovable.” “The world is unfair.” “My situation is hopeless.” “No one can help me.” “I am so stupid.”
These internal messages are contrary to God’s Word. We have hope through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God promised us that Jesus Christ would fill our every need (Psalm 33:20; Ephesians 1:18-23). When we rely on God, we will continue to hold on, because our pain will end one day (Revelation 21:4). We will receive help in our times of despair. God will answer our cries (Psalm 18:6; 28:2,6; 31:22).
Without God, we are hurt, exposed, and lost people, like sheep without a shepherd, like individuals lost in the wilderness, and like a boat without a rudder. We have great value to God, because He sent his only son to die for our sins (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus once told a parable about a lost sheep in Luke 15. The shepherd in this parable searched until the lost sheep was found (Luke 15:4-7). We are loved and are lovable. (Romans 9:23-26). The apostle John tells us that God loved us so much that gave us His only Son (John 3:16). Jesus chose us to bear everlasting fruit so that we might receive everything we need from the Father (John 15:16).
We have obtained our competence from God (II Corinthians 3:5). At the fall, humans determined they knew more than God (Genesis 3). This action led to sin and death, but Christ brought redemption and eternal life (Romans 5:9-11).
-John R. Lakvold, MA, LMHCA
Do you remember where you were when heard that Robin Williams had died? I don’t, but I do remember how I felt. I was disheartened because of the waste of the loss. I was disgusted because another member of America’s narcissistic ideological class had decided that life wasn’t worth living and taking his own life was preferable to finding a reason to live on. I was sad because he left behind a wife and kids who were just going to have to figure this one out on their own.
Some find it difficult to understand why a man who had everything would not be able to find happiness and fulfillment, but Jesus himself said that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. I like the CEV translation of Luke 12:15 which says, “Then he said to the crowd, ‘Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.’” Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe. What a statement. I suspect it could even be dangerous. This is because materialism leads a person to think about self and stuff, instead of what is really important. What is most important are people and knowing the God who is there.
Suicideproject.org had a discussion around the phrase, “suicide is the most selfish thing a person could do.” The debate involved both sides of the issue. Some said that it is a thin statement that ignores the suffering of people. Others stated that people do care and you hurt them when you take this sort of action. I think there is a lot of truth to the phrase. When a person does this, it leaves others behind to answer unanswered questions and to pick up the pieces that will never be put back together. Something will always be missing.
That is why Jesus died. He lived our experience and felt our emotions. He knows what hopeless looks like, but He also chose to look to the Father for strength and the love a person needs. He could see the problems in human thinking and found truth in what He learned from the Father. This truth enabled Him to live strong and free.
One of the most revealing statements so far in the discussion of Robin Williams’ death was a tweet sent out by Academy of Motion Pictures. It was a simple statement, “You’re free, Genie.” It is a quote from the movie “Aladdin.” It is a clever turn of a phrase but “dangerously irresponsible.” He is not free but trapped in the endless cycle of despair that can now never be resolved. One writer commented, “Suicide isn't freedom - it's a cry for help that always comes too late.”
This reinforces to me how important the message of Christ is. Everything thing that held Robin Williams captive, the drugs, alcohol and the need for adoration was all held out to Robin when Jesus’ hands were stretched out on the cross. I wish he could have understood that sometime in his life. I pray his family finds faith during this time. I hope they seek the only peace and comfort that can bring light to this dark situation. I pray the same thing for those of our number who are struggling with difficult issues in this life. -Dennis
John 16:16 - “A little while and you will no longer see Me; again a little while and you will see Me.”
This verse teaches us about the promise of the Holy Spirit. God knows that if He remains in us and with us, we will bear much fruit. Because He is with us, there is the potential for significant fellowship, growth, relationship and connection; a real sharing of life.
When a man and a woman have a healthy connection, there is a confidence and a contentment that makes life comfortable. That is how it should be. That is also how it should be between a person and their God. Along with this confidence comes the knowledge that God will always give us what we need and knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).
This put the practice of prayer into a different light. Since the Father already knows what we need, why do we make most of the content of our prayers requests for things or things that He could do for us. Oswald Chambers writes, “The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him. If we pray only because we want answers, we will become irritated and angry with God.” This is why people sometimes feel that God is not listening, or answering prayer. If the content of the prayer is wrong, then we are going to be disappointed.
Prayers that are self-centered make God wonder if we even know Him, because if we really knew Him, we would assume that He is already at work; He already knows. We are the ones that don’t appear to know Him.
In John 16, the disciples had a lot of questions for Jesus. He was saying things that were hard to grasp and that demanded they completely trust Christ. It demanded that they have an intimacy and a closeness, that the only thing that mattered was their will to be one with God’s will. God in us is an intimacy that could not be closer. When you have that closeness with God, questions and desires will fade into background and the vital life that God gives becomes the controlling force in your life. That is what Jesus points His disciples to. At that time, “in that day, you will not ask me (Jesus) anything.” Have you reached such a level of intimacy with God, that the only thing that can explain your prayer life is that it has become one with the prayer life of Jesus Christ?
When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. That is always a trap of Satan. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason— God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, that will help you to evaluate your life and enable you to grow, so that there is no distinction between you and Jesus.
First of all; and this is a big first of all, thanks to Lindsay and Brandon for the ton of work they have done and the top cabin leadership they provided that contributed to the success of the VBS this past week. The Wilderness Escape was a fun way to learn and experience the way God guides His people on their journey. Attendance was strong all 5 nights and equally as strong was the volunteer support. The tribe leaders, teachers, craft tent leaders and other support people were committed to making the VBS a fun time of learning. I pray that our kids have been encouraged and that we will take make the most of the opportunity of visitors having been a part of this. Pray for positive connections, pray for courage and boldness, and that we might ask the right questions and be able to give good answers. Pray that fruit will result from our efforts to speak the message and share the love of Jesus.
Second; we want to encourage everyone to consider being a part of the Lakeview Church Family Encampment. This will take place this coming Labor Day Weekend out at Delano. The dates are August 29-31 (Friday through Sunday). In the past we have had great times of worship, learning, fellowship and relaxation. Those things are our goal for this year.
We will begin the registration for the Lakeview Church Family Encampment today. There are registration forms and information on the back table. The weekend will include a special day camp for kids, activities for families, times of teaching and worship. The food and the fellowship are always a highlight and time spent with Christian friends is significant.
There are a variety of housing options available at Delano. These include individual dorms, family dorms, and rooms in the lodge, waterfront cabins, RV spaces and tents. The information and registration forms have all the details and costs. We have tried to make the costs to families as reasonable as possible. Let me know (Dennis) if you have any questions.
Thanks to the several people who have agreed to lead with the different parts of the Encampment. We will have a short meeting following the Sunday evening service.
Introverts and Extroverts in the Work of the Church
A few weeks ago I heard a speech from a man who had some sort of disability. I didn’t get to meet this man. But I was impressed because he was a person of authority and influence. I hope I get to hear his story in full someday. He struck me as an extrovert who by sheer determination overcame his challenges. He was very positive and his energy drew you to him. We embrace people like that and would recruit him in a heartbeat to lead a ministry. I found my self thinking; I wish I was like him. I asked myself, “could I become like him?” And if I could, would I be content? Then I wondered, if I could be like him, who would be like me? It was a serious rabbit chase and I missed some of what the man was saying. But it got me thinking that God in His wisdom desires the church to see itself as a body made of different parts. No part is more important than any other part. Every part has a purpose and every part has a role in the work of that Body.
The American culture values the extrovert and thinks there is something wrong with the introvert. Social institutions thrive on the energy of the extrovert and goad the introvert into going along with the crowd. Most social institutions (work, schools, and places of play) design programming to cater to the extroverts and can drive the introvert away (which actually makes the introvert happy because he or she can find a quiet place to read a book).
Is the church giving that same message? It is easy to assume that when we talk about sharing the message of hope, it is the job of extroverts. The truth is, both types of people, are needed; the energetic enthusiast and the creative contemplative; and everyone in between. That is why I like the idea of the home Bible Study. It depends on the extrovert to promote, invite and practice hospitality. It also depends on the quiet introvert to prepare and present.
The church is a place of preparation, training and worship. The heart of faith is most effectively expressed in the home. May our homes be sanctuaries and places of refuge. May our homes be lighthouses and places where the grace of God rules all that is said and done.
Human Impulse or God’s Truth
I followed a discussion thread on Facebook a few days ago concerning an issue that has embedded itself into the American psyche. It has also kicked through the front doors of the church with a tenacity that makes the most committed disciple fear the judgment of a society that has already made up its mind. Those who are believers and advocate the embracing of the homosexual lifestyle have an interesting way of expressing their opinion. One of my friends wrote: "if we continue to advocate for some people being treated as 'less than' others in any way, how can we claim the Gospel as our mandate with any credibility? We’re seeing history change before our eyes with regard to same-sex rights; shall we be remembered, once again, as one of the few holdouts clinging to the social equivalent of a flat-earth mentality?" Notice the attempt to direct the conversation. Anyone who holds to biblical values is as stupid and backwards as someone who believes the earth is flat. This is the extent of the content of the viewpoint. That is what change agents do…insult the opposition.
As genuine followers of Christ, our views on every issue must start with Scripture. Those who advocate for the homosexual lifestyle as compatible with Christianity start with civil rights which are then elevated to a status higher than scripture. Even more, the statements of scripture that speak against homosexuality being compatible with Christianity are ignored or reinterpreted. This was the debate in the discussion thread; “The Bible says it’s a sin. No, the Bible doesn’t say anything about it. It is a normal human impulse. People only believe the Bible speaks against homosexuality because bigots have told us that. Really, human impulse trumps everything else. Science has proven it is normal and so anyone who believes in the old-fashioned interpretations of the Bible is an idiot.”
These views sound more like the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar, an attempt to create a different Jesus through stating that only 18% of what is attributed to Jesus is actually descriptive of the “real Jesus.” The rest is editing by the early church.
Human impulse has never been a solid standard on which to build a strong society. History is littered with the baggage of human impulse. Your life may be scarred as a consequence of human impulse. I think we need to aim higher. Peter reminds us of the folly that follows those who put impulse above self-control (2 Peter 3:1-18). He also teaches us that the things which were written in the past came to fruition, and the things written in Scripture will be the standard for God’s judgment.
Acceptance and compassion give us the ability to love others, but they are weak principles for interpreting Scripture. Let us be people who are characterized by sound judgment and love others with the love of God. May we not be guilty of redefining the words of Jesus and Scripture to placate the impulses of culture.
Last weekend was an amazing experience to watch, if a person had time to do that. The wedding of Chong and Keith Hayden was a culmination of many months of planning and years of hope. A crew of caring people was led by Russell and Bobbie Jones, who made the wedding and reception a special time. Bob and Ann Riley led another caring crew of 20 people to the Rescue Mission to serve pizza, coffee, lemonade, and hygiene items shared by the congregation. Marcellus Stanley led a group of singers which helped create an atmosphere that allowed people to forget their problems for a few minutes and focus on something greater. Saturday morning 60+ teens and 25 adults met to begin the adventure of STS. I so admire Carter Davis and the challenge he accepted in running the camp session.
On Wednesday we enjoyed the special treat of hearing the singing group from Pepperdine University. Their harmony was good and the songs, uplifting. It was an impressive example of what vocal worship can do for the soul. A lot of work went into preparing for that event and thanks to Ben Cook for arranging that for us.
All this and many other things are evidence of the grace of God in the lives of people at Lakeview. As Paul says, “this grace was not without effect” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3). His grace causes us to be transformed and gives us the ability to look out and discover what we can do. This is Christianity in action. This is people engaged in the Father’s business by loving others and living faithfully. Paul encourages us to this sort of activity when he says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). This is an exciting time when the potential is great for those who step across that line and follow Christ all the way.
Don’t forget the Faith Builders Conference that takes place during the 4th of July holiday at PLU (July 3-5, 2014). This will be a good time to learn and grow in your knowledge of God’s word and the work of the church. There are brochures available and you can get detailed information at faithbuildersnw.com. I especially look forward to the information regarding Christian Evidences. Plan to take advantage of this opportunity to fellowship with Christians from all over the NW and be filled with the things of God.
Seek a Higher Vision for Your Life
The news tells us every day the futility of a life focused on the
things of this world. History is littered with the refuse of lives and
the things people have discarded in the attempt to find meaning
outside of the Creator and His plan for humanity. Paul tells us to
focus not on the things of this world but things above (Colossians
In this passage Paul uses the theological formula of “indicative/
imperative.” Indicative is a statement of fact. There are two in this
passage. Your true life is hidden and your true life will be
revealed. These statements describe the status of your life. They
tell us a reality that has already taken place. Have you
incorporated these factual statements into your worldview? Are
they statements you claim as truth for your life? You have to, if
you are going to imply the imperative of this theological formula.
Imperative is the action that takes place because of the facts.
Because our true lives are hidden and will be revealed, we seek
the things that are above. This imperative is stated by Paul twice
for emphasis: set your hearts on things above (v. 1), and set your
minds on things above, not on earthly things (v. 2).
The imperative is what Paul urges us, or commands us to do; to
live out the kingdom ethic, the ethic of heaven, in our daily lives. It
is perhaps what Jesus meant when He taught us to pray, "Our
Father in heaven . . . your will be done on earth as it is in
heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10). Set your minds and hearts means to
give your emotional energy and your intellectual energy to God in
daily living and in service.
This morning we are celebrating the new life in song, study,
prayer, giving and Communion. All of these elements of the Christ
worship give us the opportunity to tune out the things of this world
and tune in to the things of God. If we evaluate the things we do
with earthly logic or by earthly standards, we won’t get today. But
if you are intentionally seeking things above, you will find yourself
filled with joy as you enter into the activities of today. May you be
blessed as you seek things above today!
Forming Godly Habits
Fatherhood is all about legacy. Men will either leave a positive legacy or a negative one. Legacies are built over a lifetime and godly habits are important to building a positive one. Peter instructs us to be intentional about developing specific godly habits that makes that quality of a person’s life strong and enduring (2 Peter 1:3-8). There he uses the language of addition. Our faith is the foundation and God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. If we leave it at that, our legacy will be unsatisfactory because we will be operating with simple human principles. If we are committed to the process that Peter outlines, it “will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The things we add to our faith are goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. We are to “add” to our lives all that character means. No one is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; it must be developed.
Incorporating godly habits helps us to either avoid or understand the mistakes that are commonly made by men. When we don’t value or practice the habits of godly people, the opposite of those will characterize our actions. Instead of goodness, we will be deficient; instead of self-control, we will be indulgent; instead of love we will have contempt. These negative qualities become obstacles to a positive legacy. They can also corrupt any good you might have accomplished.
Our prayer is for men to be strong in their walk with Christ and for fathers to be committed to God’s design for fatherhood. The future depends on your faithfulness and how well you build on the foundation of faith. Not only your future but the future of those you over which you have influence. Carry on godly men and thank you to those who have modeled to the rest of us what a godly father does to build a legacy.
Is Today That Day?
Jesus caused people to ask lots of questions. Many things He
said needed clarification because the things He talked about are
not part of our casual conversation. When the disciples had
questions, Jesus would not always directly answer, but He would
encourage them to have faith. One example of this is John 14:1-ff,
where Jesus urges His disciple to trust Him. In this context, He
addresses several issues that challenge them. Issues like His
departure, He and the Father being one, and sending the Holy
Spirit. All of these issues are directly linked to the future of the
disciples and Jesus is teaching them to look forward to when they
wouldn’t ask anymore questions. Not that they wouldn’t have any
questions, but that they would find themselves at a point where
peace and faith became the real attitude of their hearts. It is that
day Jesus urges us to look for, because on that day, maturity will
replace childishness and faith will replace doubt. On that day, you
will understand that God reveals things in accordance to His will
and good timing. On that day (John 16:23), you will experience a
confidence and a freedom that will allow you to move forward in
your life. Up to that point, you will have depended on your own
wisdom and ability. Human ability and wisdom is useful, but
limiting. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the changes that
take place inside, you no longer operate according to human
wisdom, but the wisdom of the Spirit. “Once your inner spiritual
nature is willing to submit to the life of Jesus, your understanding
will be perfectly clear, and you will come to the place where there
is no distance between the Father and you, His child, because the
Lord has made you one” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His
Highest). Explanations regarding the issues of life will no longer
come from your mind, but your spirit, your true inner nature.
Before that day, the inner nature is still influenced from the broken
experiences of your life and is guided by the thinking that is prone
to judgment and violence, instead of peace and understanding.
This would lead us to think “that day” is the day we become a
Christian. This could be true, but I know many people who have
made the decision to be a Christian but are still walking in the
darkness and shadows and not in the light.
Jesus concludes the question session with a warning, that we will
be tested. The old life dies hard and doesn’t go quietly. Jesus
would be killed and the disciples would be scattered. Christians
will have challenges and will have to fight. We have to know this
for when it happens we can have peace and able to persevere the
same way Jesus did. He has overcome the world. -Dennis