Streams In The Desert: February 13th, 2016

The hill country shall be thine (Joshua 17:18, RV

There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.

Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.

Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest.
–Daily Devotional Commentary

Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say “can’t tunnel through”?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing the things they say you can’t do.
–Song of the Panama builders

Praise & worship: February 12th, 2016

1. This World-  Caedmon’s Call

2.  The Unmaking-  Nichole Nordeman

3.  Only You-  Vineyard

4.  From The Day-  I Am They

5.  The Anthem-  Planetshakers

6.  Amazing Grace-  Kristene Mueller

7.  Hello, My Name Is-  Matthew West

8.  My Heart Is Yours-  Passion/ Kristian Stanfill

9.  Beautiful God-  Sarah Kelly

10.  The Proof Of Your Love-  For King & Country

11. Amazing Grace-  Rita Springer

After Being Punished for His Suicide Attempt, a US Veteran Is Fighting for Others with PTSD

Taken from Vice News  which is found   HERE.

PTSD has affected about 20 percent of Iraq war veterans, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and its symptoms can often lead to discharges, although proper diagnosis is hardly a given. Leaving the military with anything less than an honorable discharge can preclude veterans from receiving government benefits.

“Other-than-honorable discharges are done administratively — it’s an officer filing a piece of paper, and a few weeks later a combat veteran could be out [of the Army],” Goldsmith said. “That’s the problem with these less-than-honorable discharges, they’re punitive, are so easy to issue, and they have such dramatic effects on the lives of veterans.”

The night of the attempted suicide, Goldsmith’s best friend, Steve Acheson, and a group of military police found him passed out in a field at Fort Stewart military base in Georgia, where both men were stationed.

Goldsmith had been staying with Acheson — the pair had graduated from basic training tied at the top of their class — and Acheson’s then-wife at a rented house about 5 miles off-base in Hinesville, Georgia. Goldsmith had been recovering from surgery for a deviated septum while awaiting deployment, which had been delayed for a month because of the operation.

Acheson had been sleeping after a 24-hour duty shift when he woke sometime after midnight to use the bathroom. On his way past Goldsmith’s bedroom, Acheson noticed the light was on; he poked his head in to say hi, but realized the room was empty. He then saw that Goldsmith had not packed for his deployment, which was supposed to be the next morning, and that notes and photos of Goldsmith’s family and friends were strewn on the bed. Acheson immediately called military police to tell them he thought Goldsmith might be attempting suicide, and rushed to the base wearing only flip-flops and shorts. He had a feeling that Goldsmith had headed to the parade field, where trees had been planted for every soldier in their unit who had died in combat.

“I figured, if I was going to kill myself, that’s where I’d do it,” Acheson said.

The team fanned out across the grounds, and soon one of the military police officers found Goldsmith lying unconscious on a mound of red ants.

“Kris had gone through some pretty intense things while deployed that drastically changed who he was when he returned,” Acheson said. “Did I think Kris had PTSD? At that time, I was only 22 years old, and unclear of what PTSD even was myself.”

After being brought to the psychiatric ward of Winn Army Community Hospital at Fort Stewart, Goldsmith drifted in and out of consciousness for two days. About a week later, he told doctors that his suicide attempt had been a “fluke” and managed to convince them he wasn’t depressed in order to secure a speedy release.

“I was on a psych ward with guys who were actually crazy,” he said. “The doctors on the ward told me that I’d be up there as long as they wanted me to be, which felt like a threat. [It] was more terrifying than being in Iraq. I had little to no contact with the outside world and was treated like a prisoner.”

Two weeks after doctors released Goldsmith back to the base, the Army issued him two Article-15 non-judicial punishments related to his suicide attempt. One was for “missing movement,” or failing to get on his flight to Iraq, and the other was for “malingering” — in this case, feigning a mental illness to escape duty. Goldsmith invoked his right to reject the punishments and demanded a court-martial. But he never got his trial.

Not long after his release from the hospital, Goldsmith’s parents, who live in New York, contacted their then–senator, Hillary Clinton, and asked her to intervene in their son’s case.

“Once the congressional inquiry about my situation came down to the unit, they halted the Article-15 proceedings and discharged me from the Army as quickly as they possibly could,” Goldsmith said. “Next thing I knew I was 21 and living back in my childhood bedroom, with no idea how to get care at the [VA] — or that I was even eligible for it.”

Up until his discharge in August 2007, Goldsmith had a spotless military record. He joined the army at 18, graduated from basic training at the top of his class in 2004, and by 19 was serving his first tour in Iraq. He remembers spending his 20th birthday in the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad, overlooking the city and watching car bombs explode in the distance.

“I never engaged in house-to-house fighting or any heroic stuff you see in the movies,” he said. “What my job ended up being was like the photo documentarian of my platoon, and in some cases that was just taking pictures of whatever we were doing. But frequently it was taking pictures of dead kids that were tossed on the side of the road with signs of torture on their bodies.

“At the age of 19 or 20, I didn’t possess the ability to really shake that off,” he said.

In the Army, Goldsmith was well-liked and respected by his peers and superiors, who twice recommended him for the Bronze Star. He was promoted faster than many of his fellow soldiers in his unit, attaining the rank of sergeant in two years. But after his return from Iraq, he suffered from insomnia and began drinking heavily while off duty.

“Kris was fast-tracking through the ranks quicker than any other Forward Observer at Fort Stewart,” Acheson said. “He was pretty much a straight-edge kid before we deployed — no drugs, no smoking, no drinking. After our return from deployment, I watched him turn into a destructive person, drinking every night, taking risks, becoming reckless in his personal life. His career and reputation as a sergeant remained intact… [even though] he was suffering on the inside.”

Goldsmith said that “the last straw” precipitating his suicide attempt occurred after his brigade was issued with stop loss orders. Stop-loss policy, or the involuntary extension of duty for service members, was frequently invoked in the years after 9/11 and affected an estimated 58,000 soldiers until its use was stemmed shortly after President Barack Obama took office in 2008. For Goldsmith, a stop-loss order meant another 16 months in Iraq, and the thought triggered panic attacks at work that led to his adjustment disorder diagnoses.

In the months after his suicide attempt and discharge, Goldsmith continued to drink heavily and spent all of his savings. But with prompting from his mother, Goldsmith eventually sought psychiatric help at the VA; he was diagnosed with PTSD in November 2007. Without the help of VA doctors and his family, Goldsmith says, he would have likely died. Now 30 years old and a political science student at Columbia University, Goldsmith continues pushing for the Veterans Fairness Act, which has stalled in the Senate since its introduction last June.

Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan and a Navy Reserve officer who introduced the bill, told VICE News that the bill is intended to rectify the “gross injustice of unfair dismissals.” He says there’s also a need for better training for members of the military, including commanders, in recognizing the symptoms of PTSD.

“The VA has been specifically trained and we work very hard to make sure people who have those symptoms who are suffering have been diagnosed and get the care that they deserve and need,” Peters said. “But we know there are folks who are falling through the cracks.”

An attempt to attach the bill to the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2016 failed, but Peters says it has bipartisanship support.

“Stand-alone bills don’t move as quickly as any of us like in the Senate, so we need have a vehicle that we can attach it to,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop. We’re going to continue to build support so that when we have the proper vehicle, we’ll be able to attach this language to it.”

This month, a companion bill will also be introduced to the House — likely in the last week of February, according to a spokesman for the bill’s chief sponsor, Republican Mike Coffman of Colorado. Coffman, who is a Marine Corps combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and House Veterans Affairs committees, is also introducing a bill this month that would allow the VA to conduct an initial mental health assessment, and offer counseling and other services for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges who are currently ineligible for services.

 

Goldsmith’s appeals of his less-than-honorable discharge have been rejected twice by a review board; he says the Army argued that he could not prove he acquired the disorder while serving in the military, and that he may have developed it in the three months between his discharge in August and his PTSD diagnosis in November. He is appealing again while also continuing to fight for passage of the bill.

“It’s simply asking for a more fair appeals process, so it’s shifting the burden of proof in favor of the vet if they have PTSD or TBI and that diagnosis materially contributed to the circumstances of their discharge,” he said. “That’s essentially legalese for saying, ‘People shouldn’t be punished for coming home all messed up.'”

The Church & Victims Of Depression

Taken from  Calvary Chapel.com   which is found   HERE.

The phone rang at 2am again. I knew who it was before answering. In recent weeks, Anita (not her real name) often called in the middle of the night.

She claimed to feel the fires of hell all over her body with no desire to live.

My wife or I would drive to her home and sit down and pray with her. We would speak to Anita and rally the church to pray for her. After a couple suicide attempts through overdoses, she was hospitalized for several months. We rallied around Anita as best we could. We would encourage her and read her Scripture, but it felt like talking to a wall. It was a discouraging time, but also a time when my wife and I felt utterly helpless. We were frustrated with Anita for not listening, and yet, grieved for her inability to listen. We felt defeated as if we had let Anita down.

Anita is not a unique case.

Although her depression was severe, 1 in 5 people in the UK will suffer depression. This highlights the importance of the role of the local church in helping sufferers of depression. But how do we help? Should we feel as helpless as my wife and I felt with Anita several years ago? There are many ways the church can approach depression.

In this three-part series, I would like to briefly look at three things we can do as the church by: Promoting Culture, Providing Training, and Practicing Priesthood.

PROMOTING CULTURE

A culture is the way in which groups of people live and think.

Everyone brings their culture into the church, and as the church, we have developed an Evangelical culture that is more based on moral excellence and stoicism than on the realities of our humanity. On Sundays, it is not uncommon for a family to be falling to pieces, yelling at one another in the car, and then walking into the church building with smiles, hugs, and handshakes. Typical church culture relegates life’s hardships and sufferings to behind closed doors. The emperor’s new clothes are “I’m ok, you’re ok.”

Any sufferer in that context can scream on the inside, but fear being viewed as inferior for having a quivering upper lip. In many ways we have an anti-suffering (and anti-depression) theology within the church.

The purpose of suffering is often not considered, and so when suffering strikes (and it will), many find difficulty weathering the storm. Suffering seems an obscure stranger, and our legalistic bent suggests that intense suffering comes upon those who are not trusting God. David Murray is right when he says in his book Christians Get Depressed Too that, “There is still a stigma attached to mental illness and to depression in particular.” Sometimes that stigma is not just that a person does not seem to be coping well, but that he/she fails to trust God.

In promoting a biblical culture, the local church must promote a culture of progressive sanctification. In other words, we are all in process.

We put on a sanctified show for others to see whilst ignoring the fact that we are not as together as we portray. Truly, we make sure the scaffolds of sanctification are erected on the inside of the building rather than the observable outside. This is why D.A. Carson wrote his book on suffering, How Long, O Lord? Carson begins by saying, “This is a book of preventative medicine. One of the major causes of devastating grief and confusion among Christians is that our expectations are false.” Suffering is a human problem, and depression is a form of suffering. People suffer from depression because of others (abuse, expectations, etc.), Adam (the curse, physiological factors, misery in work, death, etc.), and Satan (conspiring with the curse, spinning lies, etc.). These contributors work along the grain of our sinful hearts.

There is no single cause for depression.

Every one of us finds him/herself living amongst the same brokenness vulnerable to its effects. When Paul speaks of overcoming temptations, he points out that they are common to all (1 Cor. 10:13). Thus we must promote a new culture in the church—a culture that recognizes our likeness to one another. Truly, our struggles and temptations are more alike than different. That means that we are not a church that loves to help people with problems, but a church of people with problems.

In other words, we need a church culture that locates ourselves in the community of sufferers, rather than the community of the perfected.

Practicing such a culture would help invite openness about struggles, including depression, so that the sufferer receives care. In many cases, it may provide a preventative dynamic as the community can help hear and carry one another’s burdens before they break an individual’s spirit! This allows us to see ourselves included as sufferers; thus, we can enter into the world of the depressed without excluding them from our world.


  • Matt Kottman wrote this article. He is the senior pastor at Disciple’s Church located in Surrey, UK. Please visit his website.

Pastor Alan Hawkins: Depression Redeemed

I have never met Alan but have known him online for about 10 years and he is a friend on Facebook.  He is the founding Pastor of  New Life City in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is his story of depression. I am grateful that Alan was transparent enough to share this publicly and for his permission to share his story here.  Allan
Feb. 4 has always been a strange anniversary. I don’t always remember it and am not sure why it came to mind today. In 1990 on this date I was a pastor in Florida. It was Sunday and I had a public breakdown in the pulpit while commenting on John 14. ” God has promised to get us home safe,” I said, but “how can I preach about the love of God while my heart is so full of hate?” With those words I crumpled and began to ramble insanely. No one who was there will forget that frightening day. The background involves mental health as well and a stalker, but that is another story.
I can still feel the crisp air that hit me as bewildered men carried me from the building. I can feel the cold concrete on my back as I fell to the sidewalk. I can hear the questions and the inquiries about my pain. “I just can’t take the pain anymore,” was all I could say. I see the ambulance, taste the fear of my friends who couldn’t help me, remember my wife’s touch and voice when she arrived for the next service with the kids to witness an unfolding crisis.
It inaugurated a process that changed everything. From that day, I had to face that my depression was a mental illness that would destroy me if unaddressed. It was a catastrophic day for which I am now grateful. In 1990 depression was a public mystery. For many it was simply regarded as a sign of weakness. Today I embrace that weakness as my humanity.
The public knowledge of depression was wafer thin. Being a pastor who could not hold it together raised painful questions. If you cannot help yourself how can you help others? It seemed a fair question, but hard to face. I was falling apart and had no idea what to do. I seriously feared that I was descending into insanity. It took a major shift of thinking to consider that this problem had a solution which was not purely spiritual. How could a mental and emotional problem have a medical solution? It was a high wall to climb in my thinking.
A pastor friend introduced me to a psychiatrist named Herbert Wagemaker. He saved my life. In our first conversation, he said, “Alan, I am 90% sure I can help you.” Hope rose. His book “The Surprising Truth about Depression” can still be found. We became friends as most of our conversations were about theology and Jesus, not psychiatric treatments. He was a Young Life leader in his Episcopal Church and a fascinating man. He was God’s gift into that crisis. When I moved from Florida to Albuquerque my local doctor, Dale Gray, now retired, continued overseeing my care with wisdom and understanding. My present doctor is equally helpful. The medical profession has been my friend.
I write this to say that if you suffer depression there is hope. Depression does not define my life, but it has always been part of my story. Medication has not controlled my health, but I am an example of how proper use of meds can help through hard seasons. Too many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and too many die. On the other hand, too many people are overdosed and controlled by psychotropics. That has not been my story. Along with helpful doctors I had to learn strategies to overcome. It has been there that my faith in Christ and understanding of the scriptures has mattered. It has been there that I have at times helped others.
I also write because this condition too often ends in suicide. Many sufferers of depression want to die and contemplate that dying is better than living. There is a better way. There is a way that ends in life. I am not a mental health guru. I am a depression overcomer. Choose to get help; it can save your life. Learn strategies of overcoming not just coping. Perhaps more can be said about that later.

Streams In The Desert: February 6th, 2016

He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him (Psalms 66:6).

It is a striking assertion, “through the floods” (the place where we might have expected nothing but trembling and terror, anguish and dismay) “there,” says the Psalmist, “did we rejoice in him!”

How many there are who can endorse this as their experience: that “there,” in their very seasons of distress and sadness, they have been enabled, as they never did before, to triumph and rejoice.

How near their God in covenant is brought! How brightly shine His promises! In the day of our prosperity we cannot see the brilliancy of these. Like the sun at noon, hiding out the stars from sight, they are indiscernible; but when night overtakes, the deep, dark night of sorrow, out come these clustering stars–blessed constellations ofBible hope and promise of consolation.

Like Jacob at Jabbok, it is when our earthly sun goes down that the Divine Angel comes forth, and we wrestle with Him and prevail. It was at night, “in the evening,” Aaron lit the sanctuary lamps. It is in the night of trouble the brightest lamps of the believer are often kindled.

It was in his loneliness and exile John had the glorious vision of his Redeemer. There is many a Patmos still in the world, whose brightest remembrances are those of God’s presence and upholding grace and love in solitude and sadness.

How many pilgrims, still passing through these Red Seas and Jordans of earthly affliction, will be enabled in the retrospect of eternity to say–full of the memories of God’s great goodness–“We went through the flood on foot, there–there, in these dark experiences, with the surging waves on every side, deep calling to deep, Jordan, as when Israel crossed it, in ‘the time of the overflowing’ (flood), yet, ‘there did we rejoice in Him!'”
–Dr. Macduff

“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the door of trouble for a door of hope: and she shall sing THERE” (Hosea 2:15).


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:36 As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter.”
Romans 8:37 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Romans 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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