MIDWEEK MESSAGE #124
Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #124. Thanks for taking the time to read this. You hold in your hand (or view from your laptop, tablet, etc) a different type of MM than normal. As of Tuesday, I told Diana I was not going to do a MM this week. But as the day moved on and as I reflected on some things, I felt a need to write one. I’ll explain in a moment.
First, let me remind you to pray for Brittany Greene (Principal) and Aaron LaGrange (AP) at Spencer Elementary School. They are our educators for the week. I had reason to talk to Aaron on Tuesday and he thanked me for the note I sent and said, “It is a nice thing you guys do there and it means a lot.” It is always nice to hear some positive words, don’t you think?
Let me take a moment to remind you of a couple of upcoming events.
- My “66” class continues tonight from 6-7:00. We will be finishing I & II Samuel. Some long-winded teacher didn’t get finished last week. ☺
- The Ladies Bible Study will begin Thursday, the 29th. They have had a phenomenal response to this first Bible study in several years. I’m glad to see so many ladies hunger for both studying the Word but also just the fellowship which comes while meeting with others.
- I know this seems a bit down the road, but please mark October 30 on your calendar. OVCF will be celebrating her 18th anniversary that Sunday. More information will be shared along the way. Just mark that date please!
Upon occasion I have filled you in on my preaching schedule and “where we are going” in the upcoming months. I thought would put it here in print for you.
- This coming Sunday I am preaching on Give Peace a Chance. October 2nd Pastor Ryan will be preaching on Persecution.
- My next series will be a short four-week one entitled Wake up Sleepy Head! Since we will be celebrating our 18th anniversary in October, I thought it would be good to revisit the early church. The elders have spent considerable time retooling the Mission and Vision of the church. That will be shared on the 30th.
- November 6th Will and Teresa Reed will be here with us. They came back to the states several years ago after a traumatic time in Africa. They have added to their family (2 more children), and see God leading them back to Kenya to help other missionaries deal with the trauma/suffering missionaries often face. They want to be a face of healing for them. They will be sharing their new work with Serge with us.
- The next series will be a study of the OT feasts and how they relate to us as NT followers of Jesus, as well as serve as a good reminder of why we can be thankful.
- The month of December will focus on the names of Jesus.
- Then comes January of 2023 and a whole new experience for me: a study on Revelation. The more I study the more I go “AAAAHHHH!” ☺
Okay, so that is the future, Lord willing, for Sundays. I’d like to ask you to pray for me as I prepare. But now, I’d like to ask you to lay aside all distractions and please read what I am about to write. This past Sunday I talked in my sermon about seeing people and not walking on by them. It seems as though we are seeing more and more hurting people than ever before. Sad people. Crying people. Droopy-shouldered people. It would be easy to just pass them by, but having “Spirit eyes” (which I talked about) wipes that reaction off the map. In my 50+ years as a pastor I have seen a lot of hurting people. I’m not sure I have seen this many. Maybe it is because I am praying for those “Spirit eyes” I preached about, I don’t know. Last week I finished a book by Kayla Stoecklein called Fear Gone Wild. Kayla was a pastor’s wife who at the age of 29 found herself a widow after Andrew, her husband, took his own life. I’d like to pass along a snippet of what she wrote:
“The dark cloud of depression doesn’t just block out the light for the afflicted. It also blocks out the light for those who love them the most. For a while, life loses its color as the darkness touches everything. And our experience is not a rare occurrence. Andrew was just one out of the 17.3 million estimated cases of adult depression diagnosed each year in the United States…A common misconception in Christian culture is that depression is somehow linked to sin and spirituality, but I came to realize that it doesn’t happen because of a lack of prayer, time spent in the Bible, or faith. I now know depression is a real physical illness that needs to be treated with professional help, tender care, empathy, and compassion. One of the most painful things a follower of Jesus can do is openly criticize the faith of a person who is in the darkness of depression. Even with the best intentions, if we aren’t careful with our words, we could heap more shame and sorrow upon our friends who are mentally ill.” (Pages 38-39) (Edited for space)
Kayla’s book was a great eye-opener for me. I gained more from reading her story than in all I have read before. May I pass along to you some thoughts from Kayla on how we can walk beside those who are suffering? (Main thoughts hers; commentary mine)
- Listen without judgment. Our job is not to fix people; our job is to love them.
- Engage, don’t ignore. Battling depression often leads to isolation. The best thing we can do is to keep engaging them. Stay in contact. Don’t walk away frustrated.
- Encourage self-care. Encourage exercise, taking care of themselves, watching uplifting or funny shows, etc.
- Pray. They might not feel like praying, but we can. When we feel our hands are tied, prayer is the one thing we can do. Pray with them if allowed. Pray alone if not.
Hopefully this did not bring you down, but helped open your eyes to how you can help others. Andrew loved Jesus. He knew he was loved by Kayla and his 3 sons. His battle with depression lasted for close to 9 years. I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years. Being sensitive to the battles of others is one of them. There should be no condemnation on our lips. If you find yourself in this battle you are not alone. I am not a counselor, but I do care. Professional help is available. Always remember this though: you are loved.