Depression is REAL (part 1)

In recent weeks, I have been confronted with depression and the reality of how it can really destroy lives. The high profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain help shine a light on the worst outcomes that result from depression especially when left untreated for several years. In early June, a well known physician in West Monroe, LA (where I reside) also took his own life after dealing with depression for an extended period of time. In my role as a Christian pastor, I offer counseling and it is not uncommon for me to meet with people from all walks of life who are trying their best to manage their depression. Let me be clear, I am not in any way claiming to be an expert in diagnosing or treating depression. However, my hope is simply to bring more awareness to this subject that seems to be taboo and not given enough attention, until in many cases it is too late.
The mystery of depression is not that it exists but that it has become so prevalent in our society. So many of life’s challenges can weigh us down to the point of deep despair and hopelessness. I often say that it is okay not to be okay. We must be diligent in checking in on one another. Finding purpose and being with loved ones can sometimes mitigate depression but even that may not be enough. I do not have all of the answers but I do want to leave a few suggestions that are hopefully meaningful to those that need to read this the most.

  1. Pray. Prayer always works! But do not just stop with prayer. Allow God to lead you to people and resources that will help improve your mental health.
  2. Have open dialogue with your loved ones about how you feel. Communication is key.
  3. It’s okay to seek professional help. It’s not an indictment on your personal faith to seek Christian counseling (inside or outside of the church).
  4. Get on medication if it’s needed. Be compliant. Medication can help regulate your mood and help in other areas like alertness, appetite, and sleep habits.
  5. Physical exercise, reducing alcohol intake and avoiding substance abuse may help.
  6. If you’re a caregiver/family member/friend to someone dealing with depression, take time to research how you can help them manage their depression. In this way, you let the individual know that they are not in this alone.God bless!

Good news and Bad news

Today, my brothers and sisters, there is good news and bad news. As the eternal optimist let me offer the bad news first and then the good news. The bad news is the the devil has an assignment for your life. The enemy has a plan for your time here on earth with hopes that you will end up spending eternity in hell. John 10:10 states that “the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.” For the true follower of the faith, there are WANTED posters decorating hell with our faces on them. We are wanted by the devil- dead or alive. The good news, however, is that Jesus came that we may have life and life more abundantly. The plan of the enemy can not cancel out the plans of God. We should understand and fully embrace the fact that if we put our complete trust in God then and only then can we have the victory in this life and in the life to come.
In Luke 22, we find Jesus near the end of his earthly ministry. The Lord’s Supper is established as Jesus breaks bread with disciples for the final time. During this gathering the disciples have a dispute over the subject of which of them was to be regarded the greatest. The disciples often seemed to be jockeying for position and having debates about power and prestige. Jesus addresses them with a profound message when he states that the one who is willing to serve is the greatest.

And then, Jesus pivots and makes a shocking statement that undoubtedly would have taken the air out of the room. He addresses his best friend Simon (Peter) directly. He says “Simon, Simon the devil desires to sift you as wheat.” Let’s pay closer attention to these words. Jesus addresses Peter by his previous name. In Matthew 16, Peter makes a bold declaration by saying that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. In turn, Jesus gives him a new name signifying a new nature. Peter in the Greek is petros meaning stone or rock. Jesus calls him by his previous name twice. The repetition Simon, Simon speaks of the love and tenderness of the heart of Christ for His vacillating disciple. This is the first indication that Peter would at some future time return back to his old, worldly ways. This verse shouts to us that no matter how close we are to Jesus we are still very much susceptible to carnal thinking and worldly deeds. The “old” man has been buried in us but remains for an opportune time to show up and push us outside of God’s will for our lives. We must be careful and watchful because all of us (even the best of us) have moments of weakness and failure. In fact, Peter is bold enough to firmly believe that he can withstand any type of suffering but Jesus that by the time early morning arrives that Peter would have public ally denied Him three times (Luke 22:33-34).

Jesus warns us about satanic assaults. The devil wants to infiltrate our lives. Jesus says that Satan desires to have us so that he may sift you as wheat. Although Peter is will be singled out as one who will deny his Lord, the “you” in verse 31 (NIV) is plural2. Jesus is adamant in warning them all at the Last Supper and this text is also serving notice to every believer today that we will be faced with demonic trials and troubles.

The mental picture here is one of Satan banging on heaven’s gate in an effort to get God’s attention so that one or all of us could be offered up to him. The background for Satan’s demand is presumably Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6, where Satan tries to prosecute Job before the heavenly court (the Hebrew text has “the Satan,” literally “the adversary,”). Satan can infiltrate our lives in many different ways. He may use our family, our health or material possessions. He may use our careers or our finances. He may use our past mistakes and our present fears. The point is clearly again that Satan seeks to attract us, attack us and annihilate us. The blessing in the infiltration is that Satan can only go as far as God allows. At no point can God be overruled by Satan but the scriptures do suggest that God will at times move his providential hand of protection so that the believer can be tested by the enemy. In John 16:33, Jesus remarks to His disciples that “in this life you will have trouble.” It’s also similar to driving down the highway and seeing a warning sign up ahead. It tells you to be prepared for a lane change or construction, for example. The believer should expect some stress and turmoil in their lives. Our Christianity does not exempt us from trouble but instead it allows us to be able to face life trials with grace and peace.  The ultimate measure of the believer is how he or she reacts in times of testing. Jesus warns us and prays for us and then he encourages us to continue to press on and be the Christians that he died for us to be.


Prayer & Fasting

This is a five day period set aside for prayer and fasting based on the Daniel Fast.  **Praying specifically for unity at St Luke Church 1. Commit to prayer for 20 minutes a day (you can divide this up to fit your schedule) 2.  Water only to drink (no alcohol, coffee, tea, sodas, or juice- no additives to water) 3.  No sweets (no candy, cakes, pies, etc.) 4.  What you can eat regularly- fruit, vegetables, bread, salads, etc.- pasta, oatmeal, cheese 5.  No fried foods, no pork or red meat during this 5 day period 6.  Give up meat one meal per day between lunch and dinner (you decide this) **meat is considered chicken, fish, turkey, etc. 7.  Breakfast is in moderation at your discretion ****You may also choose to fast from TV, cell phone or social media for some period of time. What to pray for: Monday – Our children & young people everywhere (pray for their salvation/protection) Proverbs 22:6 Tuesday- Government leaders and school system including teachers (Godly influence) 1 Tim. 2:2 Wednesday- Married couples/singles (for loving, productive relationships) Ephesians 4:2-3 & 1 Cor. 7:25-40 Thursday- Sick & Shut-in (comfort & healing) James 5:15 Friday- Churches along Pastors & Preachers (wisdom) Matthew 28:19, Jeremiah 3:15, Luke 4:18 How to succeed in fasting:

Fast with friends. Matthew 18:19 Set a start date and end date. Determine you will follow through on the fast. It’s between you and GOD. Spend time with God. Psalms 16:11 Walk in expectation AFTER the fast. Jeremiah 29:11

Fasting does not work if you do not pray.


The word FRIEND in today’s culture is often thrown around haphazardly.  It seems to have lost its meaning and value.  On Facebook, I think I have over 2000 friends—and I’m not bragging about that because truth of the matter – the overwhelming majority of those folks I don’t even know.  Nowadays, you can just click a button and somebody becomes your “friend.”  With over 2000 Facebook friends, it feels more like 2000 associates. At this point in my life, I’m old enough to know to not get excited about the quantity of friends but instead focus on the quality of your friends. If you have one or two good friends (I mean really good friends) you should consider yourself blessed and blessed indeed. The bible gives some suggestions about how to pick friends.

Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. 1 Cor 15:33 Do not be deceived bad company ruins good morals.

In other words- you become what you hang around. You can’t be better if you’re not hanging around better. Your friends are your future. Choose wisely.