Encouragement

There is much in life to smile about, be warmed by and to recognize as blessing. These posts capture such moments.



Duane and Joy Miller - www.nuvoice.org

Do you believe that God does miracles in our day? I do!


Is there evidence for the miraculous in our generation? There sure is! I can vouch for that after miraculous healing of my osteo-arthritis, not to say other miracles I have seen at first hand.

Today I saw a tweet mentioning a website on which is an audio recording – one which documents the actual moment of a miracle of divine healing, when a man’s voice was restored to him.

Duane Miller (pictured here with his wife) was  in church, reading from Psalm 103 and commenting on it. For years he had been able only to whisper as a virus had wrecked his vocal cords. Doctors had said that he should have been completely mute, but somehow he managed to gruffly whisper through a microphone.

What happened next is recorded. I can only stand in awe of almighty God, as healing is poured into Wayne’s voice box. —–>> Listen to that moment here.

Mugs, each made unique.A couple of days ago I wrote about our uniqueness in the post What colour are you painted? You are unique. Today I learned that author and speaker Christine Caine feels the same!

In her blog post of today, God did not make you to be someone else, she expresses a similar view to mine. But she takes it one step further and speaks of the danger of trying to copy others, or envy them. Here is part of what Christine writes:

Comparison is an extremely destructive thing. It leads to self depreciation, self rejection and depression. If you focus on what you are not, what you do not have, who you are not, then you devalue who God actually made you to be, and what He called you to do. We are each different and have different levels of responsibility and authority, but we are all equally valuable in the sight of God. Don’t spend your life looking at others and defining yourself by what you are not, rather look to Christ and discover all that He has created you to be in Him

Do you devalue yourself? Do you think you are less than someone else because you don’t do what they do, in the way they do it? Christine picks up on the necessity of being ourselves and not comparing ourselves with other people.  One final quote from her excellent post – something I’d like to remind myself of every day of the coming year:

We are here to please God and fulfill His purpose for our lives, not to impress people.

Two homes

Two houses built together, exact mirror images of each other, and yet they are different. The owners had chosen different colours for the walls.

To me they sit well together. Even the pink is not too garish, because the white walls beside it bring balance. Would the buildings look quite so pleasing to the eye is both were white, or both were pink? Perhaps – but I like the variety.

My sister and I were often taken for twins when we were young. Up until we were 11 and 12 years old, Mum encouraged that perception by dressing us alike. But it couldn’t last. My sister grew tall and slim; I was shorter and “well-upholstered”! Her hair became long and coppery; mine was collar-length, thick and black. She was outgoing and lively; I was studious and enjoyed my own company. Plainly, we were different. Even “identical twins”, we are told, can be very individualistic, from finger-prints to emotional make-up.

I take heart in that. I don’t have to be like someone else. I can be myself. God loves me unconditionally. That doesn’t mean that I have license to behave badly because “that’s just the way I am”. It does mean that I don’t need to wear a mask – with other people or with God. Neither do I need to “paint myself the same colour” as people I admire. By that I mean, aping their gestures, wearing the same clothes as them, speaking like them, or anything else that is not natural to me, but affected or forced so that I will be like them.

The owner of the pink house above must have considered the colour carefully. God made each of us unique – with our own personality, set of experiences, skills and dreams. Let God choose the way in which you will be coloured, the manner in which you will portray Christ. Trust him to have placed you beside people of other colours (not just in ethnicity, but in personality and skill) so that together, because of your differences, you will balance and enhance each other, and show the variety and harmony that Christ wants in his church.

We are “living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” (1 Peter 2:5)
“We are carefully joined together in him” (Ephesians 2:21)

 

This modern interpretation of the old carol brings it alive for a new generation. Andy Gridley’s new-tech, layered performance intrigues me.
But through it all you can hear the cry of a sad, captive people that long for release – “O come, O come, Emmanuel! Let your Kingdom Come!”

And then, in faith, the affirmation rises: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

What a message for the world today! It is only through Emmanuel, Christ who is with us, that we can truly know freedom.

Some of life’s circumstances can overwhelm us and cause us pain during this season of festivity. 

RUSTY WRIGHT has some suggestions for positive ways to cope and he has given permission for his thoughts to be transmitted here.

Coping with Loneliness at Christmas

Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season?  You’re not alone.  Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many lonely people are crying or dying on the inside.  Maybe you’re one of them.  I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of 20 years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare.  As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio.  Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing.

No fun.

There are ways of coping with loneliness at ChristmasBlue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal.  One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.”  A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love.  Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed?  The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing.  Google will take you there.  But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues.[1] Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress.  Overspending can produce financial pressure.  Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Dr. Michael Spevack notes, “Over eating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.”  Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says. [2]

The “Empty Chair”

I am lonely this ChristmasIs your family apart this season by necessity or choice?  Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain.  Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death:  “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.” [3]

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand.  The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits.  Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems.  Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol. [4]

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness?  Some suggestions:

1. Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits.  Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.

2. Exercise regularly.   Blood pumping can help clear your mind.

3. Eat right.  Chocaholics beware.  Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.

4. Lights on!  Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible.  Brighten up your home and workplace.  Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.

5. Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget.  Prevent January bill shock.

6. Talk about your feelings.  Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion.  Need a trusted, listening friend?  Try a local church.

7. Give to others.  Volunteer.  Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society.  He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients. [5]

8. Seek counsel.  I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel.  Now I recommend it.  We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.

9. Develop spiritual roots.  I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you?  God won’t.  He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you.  You can trust Him.  He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” [6] His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins.  What a demonstration of love!  I can trust a God like that.  Then Jesus rose from the dead so He could live inside us and become our friend.

Your choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have?  Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in Him?  You can tell Him something like this:

Jesus, I need you.  Thanks for dying and rising again for me.  Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life.  Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

Did you just trust Jesus to forgive you and enter your life?  If so, ask the person or group that gave you this article how you can get to know Him better.  Even if you’re skeptical or undecided, ask them your questions.  I have a hunch they’d love to talk with you.

Endnotes

1. “Christmas Holiday Depression,” 18 December 2005; www.medicalnewstoday.com.
2. Ibid.
3. Mary Cartledgehayes, “Blue Christmas – Grieving Through The Holidays,” Christian Century, December 27, 2003;
www.findarticles.com.
4. “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” Mayo Clinic Staff, September 24, 2007;
www.mayoclinic.com.
5. Stephen Post, PhD., and Jill Neimark, Why Good Things Happen to Good People (New York: Broadway Books, 2007).
6. Romans 8:32 NLT.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. His work is distributed through Rusty Wright Communications.

Rusty Wright has been invited to participate in conferences organized by the Global Christian Internet Alliance formed by Christianity Today International to platform Christian websites internationally. Christianity.ca is the internet representative for Canada.

Originally pubished in Answer magazine 15:6, November/December 2008. Posted on Delve Into Jesus, December 2009.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca.

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SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!