How To Tip the Scale of Depression

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The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. – Proverbs 4:19 ESV

The recent spate of suicides by celebrities rendered me pensive that the world is getting darker, and darker… Many must had been in great emotional and mental turmoil that they could not overcome the lurking darkness that had gnawed relentlessly at their soul perpetually. How great must be that darkness! Indeed, even the bible warns that anxiety weighs down the heart (Proverbs 12:25) and hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). 

It is not unknown that the bible even recorded godly men have their fallen times and overtaken by darkness, one example can be found in Genesis 15:12, which reads, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.”

I can empathise to a certain extent since I once wrestled with the onset of mild depression. Given a pessimistic nature as a result of an unhealthy upbringing during childhood, I could anticipate gloom and doom whenever my soul was down-casted. 

“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! – Matthew 6:23

With no one at home to turn to nor able to share my struggles with whenever I needed help, I found it hard to trust people around me as I was taught that no one in the world was trustworthy. I was a loner, growing up with a belief system that if-no-one-can-help-me-only-I-can-help-myself. It was a sheer misery growing up that life in itself was meaningless. I painfully questioned my existence as I was lost in my own darkness and not knowing where I was heading… I could not recount the number of times I did contemplate (in my mind) to just end my miserable life, and that indelibly etched encounter with a speeding car which stopped on time at inches away from me, did jolt me up. It took me decades to surrender myself – I just need someone, whoever and whatever it was, to save me out of crises on all fronts- I was at the end of my tether then.

Thanks be to God, He drew me out of my deep water.

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, – Colossians 1:13

Can you imagine that I used to be a super anti-Chirst, who cursed the God who gave me a rotten life (at that time). Such was a cynical and critical soul I was that I blatantly refuted the bible indisputably. Yet lo and behold, just because I took the first step in surrendering myself, on my humble knees desperately crying that I needed help. And miracles happened- my life was never the same since. I must say my conversion was very dramatic.

I had to expose the deeds of darkness so that I would not be held captive by them:

(a) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; – Ephesians 5:11 NASB

(b) But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. – Ephesians 5:13 NASB

And because I had exposed them, I let Jesus into my life:

(a) The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. – John 1:5 NASB

(b) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

(c) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5

It is definitely no easy feat to come to the end of oneself to the point of total surrender. We can all be deceived or misled into thinking we are doing alright. The bible warns in 1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”Luke 11:35 also reads, “Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness.”

Fears can also keep us from moving forward:

(a) Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. – John 3:20

(b) And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? – Matthew 16:26 NLT

(c) For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:21 NASB

The critical step is to first acknowledge we have a problem and need help, and want to be helped. God will then take care of the rest if we are willing. Let God has the driver’s seat, He is far much better in steering our course and in control than us. Here I am, very thankful to God that I did not lose any ounce of my sanity. All I did was to stop being stiff-necked to wallow in my own self-pities parties any longer. There is no way I can stop wrestling with darkness until I let a glimmer of light in. 

P.S. In addition, I actually could not find answers to the vicissitudes of life in other religion at that time until I picked up the bible where I found Hope, Love, assurance, comfort, strength, wisdom and direction. Thereupon, it lays the foundation of living in Freedom, Truth and Light.

Under Siege

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Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

I ever wondered, since God has given us His divine authority over everything with His keys of the kingdom of Heaven, that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loose in Heaven, reinforced with all His promises of providence, deliverance and victory, why do we still struggle or wrestle with defeat from time to time, or we have yet to experience a breakthrough?

I observed that there are four areas which we may be under siege:

  1. We fell prey to the Devil’s schemes. 

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. – John 10:10A NLT

Satan is a master strategist, having live thousands of years, he has been honing his skills- he has the dexterity to steal our peace and joy; kills our hope and destroy our faith in God. Before we know it, we have been ensnared by his deceit. We can never outsmart him with our finite wisdom, we will need the living power of God’s Truths to combat his lies and send his demons helter-skelter. If we are not well-guarded in our heart and mind, we will fall prey easily to the devil’s schemes.

  1. We get entangled in our own sins that we are immobilised

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. – Colossians 2:13A MSG

When we are caught up in our sins, our spiritual antenna is not sensitive, which result in a loss of spiritual discernment, where we can no longer discern the Voice of God. Our mind will also be darkened and our understanding about God will be dimmed, we will then be easily susceptible to distortion of truth and deception from the devil. And once we give the devil a foothold in any area of our lives, we will be incapacitated under his yoke of slavery.

  1. We have not been training for war.

May the Lord, my rock, be praised, who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for warfare. – Psalm 144:1

All athletes competing in any race have to undergo strict training almost daily. We will lag behind if we rest on our laurels any time. The devil is always hungry, ready to pounce on his victims and devour them (1 Peter 5:8) without mercy. So without training, we will be feeble;  and without regular training, we will not be as effective.

  1. We have not been putting on the full Armour of God properly for 24/7, 365 days.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12

The Armour of God (read Ephesians 6:10-20 to understand what consists in the full suit) is actually indestructible, but we can be susceptible to attacks if we do not arm ourselves properly. As read in Ephesians 6:11, we are exhorted to put on the full suit of the Armour of God where each part protects us in different aspect. In other word, we cannot pick and choose which we would like to put on, since if any part of the Armour is missing, then we will be guaranteed to attacks easily. Consider that when an army goes to war, the soldiers cannot afford to be flippant about putting on the full set of proper gears, for we do not know how the enemy strategises to attack. The soldiers even sleep with their gears on 24/7. How much more the battle with Satan and his demons which require spiritual weapons to fight against them, any time any day.

We can be sure that Satan knows our weaknesses, and what cause us to crumble easily, in the area which we have exposed to him. Therefore, we need to take a proactive stand, having done our part, and standing firm on our faith, we can then command Satan to get lost, and the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20A)

Courtesy photo (P1040340: Stone Garden) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Junk Food Of The Soul: You Will Hunger For The Things You Feed On

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Watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. – Genesis 4:7B

Although I am not a fast food lover as I am conscious of calories intake, I must say the SG50’s Nasi Lemak burger, by MacDonald, is yummlicious! No wonder there is a mad queue for this local gastronomic delight. The burger somehow has a “knack” in tantalising tastebud, it has been on my mind since my last bite… While vacillating if to satisfy my craving, I suddenly felt a zap in my spirit, “Hey, it’s JUNK FOOD!” I went “Whoops!”

Indeed, we will hunger for the things we feed on. Junk food for the physical body can be easier to control than the junk food for the soul which is harder to deal with. Both have its own power of addiction even in our sub-consciousness.

Some of us turn to food whenever we are stressed or depressed; while some of us turn to retail therapy; in so doing, we seemed to be programmed psychologically that “I need to eat / shop! I can’t help it.” Actually, the underlying root cause has to do with what we feed on- the more you feed on something, the more you will hunger for it.

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. – Proverbs 4:23 NCV

In other words,

Watch your thoughts, for they become actions;

Watch your actions, for they become habits;

Watch your habits, for they become addiction;

Watch your addiction, for they become obsession;

Watch your obsession, for they become stronghold.

So it all starts with what gets into your mind to plant a thought that serve as catalyst to identity, health, mental and financial issues, as well as sexual immorality. Such junk food can be in any form: covetousness, envy, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, rejection, insecurity, immorality, anxieties and many more.

But the good news is, we can be re-programmed when we cut off the bad root, stay away from evils, be renewed in our mind and attitude, and master over our weaknesses.

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:22-23 NLT). Stay away from every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT), give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).

P.S. It is a lot easier said than done, especially when it has become stronghold. That is why we need deep house-cleaning through deliverance when required.

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger–someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house (Mark 3:27 NLT). Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

Offenses. Cold Love.

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For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (Matthew 12:34B) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and evil of every kind. (James 3:16)

We all have people in our lives who hurt us, and we hurt others too, consciously or unconsciously. And when we are offended, we are inclined to react or retaliate unchristlike. The fact is, hurting people hurt people- the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

So what is truly residing in our heart? Imagine Jesus, who know our innermost thoughts, probed, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4)

Sometimes, people are most critical in the area of their deepest emotional need- It may be their indirect way of needing affirmation, seeking love and requesting for help. As Dr. Gary Chapman puts it, we all have our love language- when we understand this, we can respond more positively. So whenever we hear criticism or get an unwarranted retort, James 1:19 reminds us, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” That means it is time to listen- as he or she may be inviting you to respond to their need in order to make them feel loved.

On the other hand, we have to be mindful that if our heart is full of malice, envy, and contention, we are easily liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. And the root of such evils stemmed from unresolved issue of pride, anger or bitterness from injustice or unforgiveness, and rejection. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul. And the danger is, Jesus had warned that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith.

“Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” – Matthew 24:10-12

Many will be offended; the love of many will grow cold, if we allow any offense to remain in our hearts. The above verse has warned that for an offended soul, betrayal, cold love, and hatred go hand-in-hand. Instead of dealing with the offense, people carry them until the weight disables their walk with God and incapacitated of overcoming their own. People do not usually stumble over boulders, but over stones– the relatively small things— which the  accumulation of all small little things can be injurious to the soul, which will demand you to retaliate in the flesh.

It is time to take a honest inventory of our heart. Let God perform a “surgery” on your heart (and yes you may need to have the “surgery” daily), “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

Each day we are faced with occasions for taking offenses- we are either given the opportunity to be offended by something, or to exercise overlooking offenses. Proverbs 19:11 says, A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy of being Christlike be demonstrated in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abound in our lives.

The Green-Eyed Monster

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A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30) It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else. (Ecclesiastes 6:9b GNT)

Many years ago, I used to love this perfume, Envy, by Gucci. I simply love its scent, and the green colour was soothing to the eyes too. It was the only perfume as a self-confessed brand loyalist, that I would stick to for years. The second generation after the popular Envy series was, Envy Me. I was contemplating then to try it out, until a remark from a close friend in the church,, “Are you sure it is a good idea to fall head over heel in love with Envy? Are you not aware that Envy is a green-eyed monster?” (My friend was trying to raise her concern without malicious intent on the product, for she knew I struggled with envy……)

Envy reared its ugly head in the early stage of my life because of my own imperfections that I seek perfection elsewhere in order to compensate for the gap: Where I should be in my career; What I should possess in life; And how I should appear to others. I was always on the pursuit of “bigger and better things”, failing which, I was green with envy whenever someone had what I could not have. I once held a conviction that I needed to have certain things to be happy, and envy bred a competitive spirit in me, “Look what they are getting? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have! So I am going to get more and have it better!” to a point that I secretly wished they would fail, because it made me feel better that they could not have what I could not have.

Envy was eating into me every time I compared myself to others- it didn’t make me feel superior but rather painfully lousy. And my heart could not be at peace because I was obsessed with covetousness. And contentment was never found in my dictionary.

It took me years to learn that making comparison is the root of all envy. And the very key to overcoming envy is to stop comparing yourself to others. I have to recognise that the Bible says, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need.” (1 Corinthians 4:7-8 The Message) For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man. (Mark 7:21-23)

Instead of focusing so much on the-never-haves and the-never-happens, I should be grateful for what I do have, since life itself is a blessing, and what I have been given not others can have. There isn’t anybody like me, for God made me to do which others can’t. So there isn’t really any basis for comparison. When I knew the truth, the truth sets me free indeed.

The Bible also tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. We can pick a leaf from the Apostle Paul who said, “I have learned to be content.” So being content is a learning process that we have to exercise continually- when we are content, there is no room for envy.

It Is Time To Let Go

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A teacher took a pouch of gems and asked, “Class, how heavy do you think this pouch of gems is”? The class was clueless to guess its weight. After a while, the teacher broke the silence, “It actually depends on how long you are holding it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, it is bearable.”

“If I hold it for an hour, I will start to feel the trembling of my arm.”

“If I still hold it for another day, my arm will break!”

“It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

We love to carry “baggage” don’t we? As the days passed, the longer we piggyback this “baggage”, irrespective whether we pick up any thing along the way, the heavier it gets, till we are bent over from carrying it. With feeble arms and wobbling knees lugging this “baggage”, we will reach a point when we can barely move. Yet, we do not want to let go……

Wouldn’t you be doing yourself a disfavour to be incapacitated by such a “baggage”? Your “baggage” can be unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt, memories of the past, anger, even past relationship, and the-whatnots.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

“Why not try giving away your “baggage” to Someone who can help you unload and deal with your “baggage”?” Look for Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

…… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1B-3

It is time to let go, and let God. It is more liberating in doing so.