Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psalm 46 - Scottish Metrical Psalm 1650



















Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thank God that He is our refuge and strength.

Thanks for all your visits, prayers and encouragements.

Thank God for preserving me daily. I have been feeling very tired in the recent weeks due to various commitments and have to limit the amount of time I spend on blogging. I do missed all of you very much and hope to return to more blogging and visitation soon.

Please continue to remember me in your prayers, if you can. Pray that God may grant me wisdom to seek and serve Him daily, to pace myself moderately and to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness.

I will continue to remember you in prayers too.

Thank God for the wonderful assurance in His Words of His love for us and His care upon us. He is our present help at all time and especially in time of trouble and need. Therefore let us go to Him always, casting all our cares upon Him for He cares for us.

May this lovely Psalm 46 from the Scottish Metrical Psalter brings encouragement to you as you remember afresh that God is our refuge and strength.

Psalm 46

Scottish Metrical Psalm 1650

To the chief Musician, for the sons of Korah,
A Song upon Alomoth.

1 God is our refuge and our strength,
in straits a present aid;
2 Therefore, although the earth remove,
we will not be afraid:

Though hills amidst the seas be cast;
3 Though waters roaring make,
And troubled be; yea, though the hills,
by swelling seas do shake.

4 A river is, whose streams do glad
the city of our God;
The holy place, wherein the Lord
most high hath his abode.

5 God in the midst of her doth dwell;
nothing shall her remove:
The Lord to her an helper will,
and that right early, prove.

6 The heathen raged tumultuously,
the kingdoms moved were:
The Lord God uttered his voice,
the earth did melt for fear.

7 The Lord of hosts upon our side
doth constantly remain:
The God of Jacob's our refuge,
us safely to maintain.

8 Come, and behold what wondrous works
have by the Lord been wrought;
Come, see what desolations
he on the earth hath brought.

9 Unto the ends of all the earth
wars into peace he turns:
The bow he breaks, the spear he cuts,
in fire the chariot burns.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
among the heathen I
Will be exalted; I on earth
will be exalted high.

11 Our God, who is the Lord of hosts,
is still upon our side;
The God of Jacob our refuge
for ever will abide.




Thank you for stopping by and all your encouragements!

May God grant you a very blessed Lord's day and week ahead.

Take care!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Depression and the Christian : Causes of Depression

Clinical depression is a complex condition and it is often caused by a combination of various factors.

Having experienced some 12 or more relapses of clinical depression which usually lasted some 3 to 6 months or longer, I know by experience how painful, confusing and difficult it can be.

The love and support of our loved ones are very crucial. After my diagnosis of proneness to Bipolar Disorder or manic-depressive illness last year, I began to read extensively about bipolar disorder and clinical depression.

My condition alternates between mania and clinical depression. Besides medical help, I actively read and use other coping strategies.

I have found that reading and equiping myself with the necessary knowledge and coping means is very crucial in getting better and maintaining wellness so that I can be functional and be a useful person in my society. It is helping me to manage my condition better. I am learning to identify early symptoms of possible relapses or early signs of worsening symptoms. I am learning what can make my condition better or worse. I am learning to do what is necessary to get better or prevent my condition from worsening.

I also share articles that I have found useful with my family and friends in order to enable them to understand my condition better and know how best to relate to me and help me in time of need. I also hope these articles will help them in their relationship with other family or friends who may suffer from similar condition.

It is only by knowing the symptoms can we know if we or our loved ones are suffering from mental illness, and so seek appropriate help. Many people suffer varying degrees of depression without knowing it, because they do not recognise the symptoms for what they are, and so go for years without getting help that is readily available and which would transform their lives.

Sadly, many who have the symptoms of depression, without identifying them as such, reason that, “If I have these thoughts and feelings, I cannot be a Christian!”

Dr David P Murray did a series of 6 very useful and informative Lectures on "Depression and the Christian".

I have found the following article on the causes of depression to be very helpful in understanding my own condition and that of others I know of. Hope you will find it useful too.


(These series of 6 messages on "Depression and the Christian" are also available on .pdf, .mp3 and video formats which can be downloaded from the website of Sermon Audio )

DEPRESSION AND THE CHRISTIAN

BY DR. DAVID P MURRAY

(4) THE CAUSES

In previous lectures we mentioned some of the causes of depression. We also noted the complexity of trying to analyse the causes of depression, and concluded that it is often a combination of various factors. In this lecture we will look in a bit more detail at the various causes of depression, and then we will consider some of the cures for depression.

Depression is often divided into two main categories – reactive or endogenous. Reactive depression is usually traced to some obvious trigger – perhaps a stressful life event or unhelpful thought patterns. Endogenous depression is the name usually given to depressions which seem to have no obvious trigger and are often traced to genetic pre-disposition. For no obvious reason, the brain chemistry becomes unbalanced and a person becomes depressed. However, this distinction between reactive and endogenous is not as clear-cut as it once was, as skilled investigation of many so-called endogenous depressions will often reveal a “trigger event”, though a genetic pre-disposition may mean that the trigger is relatively small. We will consider four triggers of depression: stress, psychology, sin, and sovereignty.

1. Stress

When you stretch a piece of elastic, you can often extend it to two or even three times its size. However, the further you stretch it, the greater the tension on the rubber, the less flexible it becomes, and the greater the danger of it eventually snapping. Like rubber bands, we are all “stretched” from time to time. We are stretched by life events, which we have little control over, and by our lifestyle which we do have considerable control of. Let’s look at each of these stretching forces.

a. Life events

Life events include marriage, moving house, exams, bereavement, illness, unemployment, birth of children, etc. Each of these events put a strain upon us, to one degree or another. When we are “stretched” in this way, our body and brain chemistry changes, and one of the results is often a dip in or lowering of our mood. This is normal. And, as the stressful events pass, our chemistry usually returns to normal along with our mood.

Sometimes, however, these stressful experiences can continue over a lengthy period, or they can occur one on top of another, or they can affect us more seriously than other people. The result is that our brain chemistry remains abnormal and so also does our mood. We just can’t “pick ourselves up”, no matter how many people urge us to. This is depression. At the very worst, like an elastic band, we can “snap”, sometimes unexpectedly. This is what some call a “nervous breakdown”.

Changes in brain chemistry greatly affect our ability to think and feel in a balanced way. Stressful events make our minds go into overdrive, exhausting and depleting the chemicals we need to think and feel in a normal and helpful way. Think of a computer with too many programmes open and working at the same time, and how this slows down all the processes until eventually the machine “crashes”.

b. Lifestyle

While we have little if any control over life events, we do have substantial control over our lifestyle – the proportion of time and energy we give to work, socialising, shopping, travelling, recreation, exercise, rest, sleep, etc. Much of the increase in depression and anxiety today is largely the result of an unbalanced lifestyle where people are on the one hand working too hard and spending too much, and on the other hand are exercising, resting, and sleeping too little. This deliberate overstretch

beyond our capacities and abilities is not glorifying God in our body and spirit (1 Cor.6:20). It is also in breach of the sixth commandment which requires us to take “all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life” (Shorter Catechism 68). The effects and result of a stressful lifestyle will often be the same as that of stressful life events – depression.

2. Psychology (the way we think)

In Lecture 3 we looked at 10 false thinking patterns which contribute to depression. It cannot be emphasised enough how vital it is to learn to recognise these unhelpful thoughts by prayerful self examination. It is also important and useful to note that some of these habits of thinking may be involuntarily absorbed or learned in early life and so may be deeply ingrained. When we feel down, or when we are stressed, these latent false thinking patterns tend to occur more frequently and tend to dominate. This can often lead to depression, worsen an existing depression, and, if persisted in, make recovery from depression so much harder. Sometimes, the Church can reinforce or add to false thinking patterns by over-emphasis on the negatives in the Bible and in people’s lives, or by setting standards of commitment which may discourage or depress those who are unable to attain them.

3. Sin

A non-Christian may be depressed because of their sin, in which case the cure is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Sadly, many depressed unbelievers are being treated with chemicals when what they need is conversion. If you are unconverted and depressed then seriously consider whether your depression is related to a guilty conscience and conviction of sin. If so, then what you need is repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. There are many Christians who will testify that this was the key to relieving their depression.

While sin may be the last thing an unconverted person may think is causing their depression, the opposite is true for Christians. When a Christian becomes depressed, there are often spiritual consequences, and so the depressed believer jumps to the conclusion that there is also a spiritual cause – usually their own sins or hypocrisy or failures of one kind or another. Skilled and experienced Christian pastors, doctors, and psychiatrists unite in affirming that depression in Christians is not usually caused by problems with their spiritual life. In Christians, depression is usually caused by stressful life events and lifestyles, or unhelpful thought patterns (see 1 and 2 above). Here are some sample quotations from various experienced Christian pastors, psychiatrists, counsellors, and doctors to prove this point:

“For Christians, depression hardly ever has a spiritual cause…In Christians, spiritual

effects follow from the depression, and seldom the other way around.”[1]

“True spiritual causes of depression are not common. Most Christians with an apparently religious content to their depression in fact have one of the mental/emotional causes rather than a true spiritual cause. I cannot emphasise enough that solely spiritual causes of depression are infrequent in Christians.[2]

David and other psalmists often found themselves deeply depressed for various reasons. They did not, however, apologize for what they were feeling, nor did they confess it as sin. It was a legitimate part of their relationship with God. They interacted with Him through the context of their depression.”[3]

“We completely agree that there are always spiritual aspects to anxiety and depression (as there are in everything in life for a Christian). However, we see these as being a secondary consequence of the emotional distress that is part of these illnesses. Strong claims that all anxiety and depression is spiritual in origin are unhelpful because they miss the point that the actual problem is anxiety and depression.”[4]

I emphasise this point again and again because blaming our depression on our sin is not only usually wrong, it is also very harmful. It is harmful because it increases false guilt and deepens feelings of failure. It also makes depressed Christians seek a spiritual solution to a problem which is actually being caused by life events, lifestyle, or unhelpful thinking patterns. However, having said all that, we must still leave open the possibility that the depression may sometimes be the result of specific sin or sins (e.g. Ps.32). The Westminster Confession of Faith says: “The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins…” (WCF 5.5).

How then does a Christian know if his depression has a spiritual cause or simply spiritual consequences. The Practical Handbook for Depressed Christians puts it like this: “For the Christian, truly spiritual causes of depression usually involve behaviour which the Christian knows to be wrong, but which he still deliberately and arrogantly persists in…I am not talking about repeated sins that the Christian wishes he could control but can’t…but a deliberate and continued rebellion against God….”[5]

4. Sovereignty

One final cause of depression in the Christian is the sovereignty of God. Hard though it may be to accept, the ultimate cause may be, “It pleased God.” This however is not some sheer arbitrary, sadistic and pointless infliction of suffering. Not at all. God has wise and loving motives and aims in all His dealings with his children. The Westminster Confession of Faith proposes another reason why God will sometimes allow his children to descend into the depths of depression. It is “to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends (5.5)".

A well known example of this is Job. A lesser known example is Hezekiah. “God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31). This does not mean that God actually left Hezekiah. God will never leave nor forsake His people. This, then, is not an objective leaving, but a subjective leaving. God withdrew Himself from Hezekiah’s spiritual feelings, so that he lost his feelings of God’s presence, protection, and favour. So, Hezekiah felt God had left him. But God had a wise and loving purpose in this. It was to test Hezekiah and to reveal to Hezekiah what was in his heart when God’s felt presence was withdrawn.

Sometimes we can take God’s presence in our lives for granted. We forget what we might be without him. And so He wisely, temporarily, and proportionately withdraws the sense of his favour and presence to remind us of our state without Him and to lead us to greater thankfulness and appreciation for Him

[1] Dr John Lockley, A Practical Workbook for the Depressed Christian (Bucks: Authentic Media, 1991), 53-54.

[2] Ibid. 58.

[3] S & R Bloem, Broken Minds (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2005), 204.

[4] C Williams, P Richards, I Whitton, I’m not supposed to feel like this, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002), 121.

[5] Dr John Lockley, A Practical Workbook for the Depressed Christian (Bucks: Authentic Media, 1991), 57



Thanks for stopping by. Take care and have a blessed week!

Related Posts:

About depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and mental illness or mood disorders:
1. About bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
2. Myths and Facts on Mental Illness
3. Treatment of bipolar disorder
4. Various pamphlets and articles on bipolar disorder for sufferer and carer
5. Recovery steps for depression and bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness

For friends and carers:
1. Helping someone with mood disorder
2. Family and Friends' Guide to Recovery from Depression and Bipolar Disorder
3. How Carers and Friends can help

Other recent related posts:

1. Trust during rough times
2. Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
3. Mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc) is an illness like any other
4. Video on "Depression - A Stubborn Darkness"

Depression and the Christian

  1. The Crisis
  2. The Complexity
  3. The Condition
  4. The Causes
  5. The Cures
  6. The Carers
  7. Spiritual depression

My Coping Strategies:

1. Looking to God

2. Accepting the diagnosis

3. Medical Helps

4. Balance lifestyle

4a. Exercise

4b. Omega-3 fish oil supplements

5. Research and readings

6. Mood tracking and Journalling

7. Learning to cope with stress and challenges

8. Leisure, hobbies and recreations

9. Support Network (family, church, friends, etc)

10. Counselling / Talk Therapy

11. Correcting faulty thoughts patterns

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Resting On God



















In this world, we have many ups and downs. It is a mercy to be able to rest in God Who is almighty and sovereign. It is a comfort to remember that He is in control.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Let us continue to cast all our cares upon our Lord Who loved us and gave His life for us. May we rest in His love, faithfulness and mercies.

The following encouraging prayer/poem is taken from "The Valley of Vision", A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, Edited by Arthur Bennett, Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997, Page 129.

Hope this prayer/poem will encourage you.
Resting on God

O GOD MOST HIGH, MOST GLORIOUS,
The thought of thine infinite serenity cheers me,
For I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed,
but thou art for ever at perfect peace.
Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment,
they stand fast as the eternal hills.
Thy power knows no bond,
thy greatness no stint.
Thou bringest order out of confusion,
and my defeats are thy victories:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
I come to thee as a sinner with cares and sorrow,
to leave every concern entirely to thee,
every sin calling for Christ's precious blood;
Revive deep spirituality in my heart;
Let me live near to the great shepherd,
hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls.
Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth,
from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.
Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities,
burning into me by experience the things I know;
Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel,
that I may bear its reproach,
vindicate it,
see Jesus as its essence,
know in it the power of the Spirit.
Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill;
unbelief mars my confidence,
sin makes me forget thee.
Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots;
Grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to thee,
that all else is trifling.
Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.
Abide in me, gracious God.
Thanks for stopping by. May God grant you a very blessed Lord's day and week ahead!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Myths and Facts about Mental Illness












Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements.

I am thankful to God for preserving me day by day. I am still learning to pace myself and finding it a great challenge.

I am thankful to God that I can continue to serve Him in this blog. One of the missions of my blog is to share with others God's goodness and mercies to me in managing bipolar disorder, and resources that I have found helpful.

I am thankful to God for many kind family and friends around me who have shown extra-ordinary love, patience, understanding, kindness and forgiveness towards me. Having Bipolar Disorder or manic-depressive illness means that I have extreme mood swings (clinical depression or mania) every now and then. I am thankful to my family and friends who are willing to learn and understand these extreme mood swings and help me to survive every episode. They are tokens of God's love for me and I praise Him for His goodness to me!

I am thankful to so many of you too for accepting me as your friend even though you know that I have bipolar disorder. You didn't reject me or despise me :-)

You have demonstrated the great love of Christ by praying and encouraging me in so many wonderful ways. I thank God for everyone of you! You too are tokens of God's love and mercies to me! Praise Him! May He bless you for your kindness to me!

I realize through this illness, the importance of having the support and prayers of my family and friends, besides professional helps from Doctors, Counsellors and Support Group. The people I love, and who love me, will see me at my best. When my symptoms reappear, they may see me at my worst.

Whenever possible, I will share with them my illness. I give them articles, pamphlets and books to read about bipolar disorder so that they will understand that my behaviour is not always under my control. It will also help them to understand why I am sometimes so different.

There's a lot of myths on mental illness that greatly affect both the sufferers and their carers or friends. Thank God for the following informative article that is available in the public domain. Hope it will help to dispels some myths and enable more people to be informed on how to love, care and relate to someone with a neurological disorder. Do free free to pass this article around!

The following is taken from the website of Mental Illness - What A Difference A Friend Makes:

Myths and Facts about Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are very common. They are also widely misunderstood. People with mental illnesses are frequently stigmatized by others who think it's an uncommon condition. The truth is, mental illness can happen to anybody.

Arm yourself with the facts, then use your knowledge to educate others and reach out to those around you with mental illness. Understanding and support are powerful, and they can make a real difference in the life of a person who needs them.

Myth: There's no hope for people with mental illnesses.
Fact: There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and more are in the works. People with mental illnesses lead active, productive lives.

Myth: I can't do anything for a person with mental illness.
Fact: You can do a lot, starting with how you act and speak. You can create an environment that builds on people's strengths and promotes understanding. For example:

  • Don't label people with words like "crazy," "wacko," or "loony" or define them by their diagnosis. Instead of saying someone is "a schizophrenic," say he or she "has schizophrenia." Don't say "a schizophrenic person," say "a person with schizophrenia." This is called "people-first" language, and it's important to make a distinction between the person and the illness.
  • Learn the facts about mental health and share them with others, especially if you hear something that isn't true.
  • Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity, just as you would anybody else.
  • Respect the rights of people with mental illnesses and don't discriminate against them when it comes to housing, employment, or education. Like other people with disabilities, people with mental health problems are protected under federal and state laws.

Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: Actually, the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are no more violent than anyone else. People with mental illnesses are much more likely to be the victims of crime. You probably know someone with a mental illness and don't even realize it.

Myth: Mental illnesses don't affect me.
Fact: Mental illnesses are surprisingly common; they affect almost every family in America. Mental illnesses do not discriminate—they can affect anyone.

Myth: Mental illness is the same as mental retardation.
Fact: These are different conditions. Mental retardation is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties with certain daily living skills. In contrast, people with mental illnesses—health conditions that cause changes in a person's thinking, mood, and behavior—have varied intellectual functioning, just like the general population.

Myth: Mental illnesses are brought on by a weakness of character.
Fact: Mental illnesses are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Social influences, like the loss of a loved one or a job, can also contribute to the development of various mental health problems.

Myth: People with mental illnesses cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
Fact: All jobs are stressful to some extent. Anybody is more productive when there's a good match between the employee's needs and the working conditions, whether or not the worker has a mental health problem.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who have recovered, tend to be second-rate workers.
Fact: Employers who have hired people with mental illnesses report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) show that there are no differences in productivity when people with mental illnesses are compared to other employees. (Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1999)

Myth: Once people develop mental illnesses, they will never recover.
Fact: Studies show that most people with mental illnesses get better, and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. For some individuals, recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. For others, recovery implies the reduction or complete remission of symptoms. Science has shown that hope plays an integral role in an individual's recovery.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?
Fact: Treatment varies depending on the individual. A lot of people work with therapists, counselors, friends, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, and social workers during the recovery process. They also use self-help strategies and community supports. Often they combine these with some of the most advanced medications available.

Myth: Children don't experience mental illnesses. Their actions are just products of bad parenting.
Fact: A report from the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health showed that in any given year five to nine percent of children experience serious emotional disturbances. Just like adult mental illnesses, these are clinically diagnosable health conditions that are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Myth: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
Fact: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavioral, or mental problems, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health services.

For more Mission 4 Monday posts, visit Peggy.

Thanks again for stopping by! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements!

May God grant you a very blessed week!

Take care.

Related Posts:

About depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and mental illness or mood disorders:
1. About bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
2. Myths and Facts on Mental Illness
3. Treatment of bipolar disorder
4. Various pamphlets and articles on bipolar disorder for sufferer and carer
5. Recovery steps for depression and bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness

For friends and carers:
1. Helping someone with mood disorder
2. Family and Friends' Guide to Recovery from Depression and Bipolar Disorder
3. How Carers and Friends can help

Misc related posts:

1. Trust during rough times
2. Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
3. Mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc) is an illness like any other
4. Video on "Depression - A Stubborn Darkness"

Recent Posts:

My Homemade Gifts

A Tribute to my Counsellor in remembrance of her

Lesson from a Storm - the voice of Jesus in the Storm

Enjoying Nature and Photography (Thankful Thursday)

Finding meaning in helping others and loving them with God's love



Saturday, November 08, 2008

All things for good and Scottish Metrical Psalms - Psalm 147

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements.

I am thankful to God for working all things for His glory and our good.

I just reread this short except and felt much encouraged to remember God's love and faithfulness in working all things for His glory and our good even when we don't understand it. Our faith is based on Truths that are revealed in the Words of God. God is unchanging and His Words stands forever.

Hope this excerpt taken from Thomas Watson’s “All Things For Good”, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, 1st Published 1663, pages 25 to 26 will encourage you too:

To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that ALL things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.

“We know.” It is not a matter wavering or doubtful. The apostle does not say, We hope, or conjecture, but it is like an article in our creed, WE KNOW that all things work for good.

Hence observe that the truths of the gospel are evident and infallible. A Christian may come not merely to a vague opinion but to a certainty of what he holds. The Spirit of God imprints heavenly truths upon the heart as with the point of a diamond.

We have arrived at a holy confidence. Let us not rest in scepticism or doubts, but labour to come to a certainty in the things of religion. It concerns us to be well grounded and confirmed in it.

So all God’s providences, being divinely tempered and sanctified, work together for the best of the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good.

The result of the text is this. ALL THE VARIOUS DEALINGS OF GOD WITH HIS CHILDREN DO BY A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE TURN TO THEIR GOOD.

“All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant” (Psalm 25:10). If every path has mercy in it, then it works for good.
May God enable us to praise Him always as we remember His love, goodness and mercies to us daily and how He is working all things for His glory and our good, and all His paths are mercy and truth.



From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD's name is to be praised. Psalm 113:3
(my friend, Sau, took this lovely picture at Saipan)

Hope you enjoy this lovely video on Psalm 147:1-11 posted on Youtube:





Psalm 147:1-11

1 Praise ye the Lord; for it is good
praise to our God to sing:
For it is pleasant, and to praise
it is a comely thing.

2 God doth build up Jerusalem;
and he it is alone
That the dispersed of Israel
doth gather into one.

3 Those that are broken in their heart,
and griev├Ęd in their minds,
He healeth, and their painful wounds
he tenderly up-binds.

4 He counts the number of the stars;
he names them ev'ry one.
5 Great is our Lord, and of great pow'r;
his wisdom search can none.

6 The Lord lifts up the meek; and casts
the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord, and give him thanks;
on harp his praises sound;

8 Who covereth the heav'n with clouds,
who for the earth below
Prepareth rain, who maketh grass
upon the mountains grow.

9 He gives the beast his food, he feeds
the ravens young that cry.
10 His pleasure not in horses' strength,
nor in man's legs, doth lie.

11 But in all those that do him fear
the Lord doth pleasure take;
In those that to his mercy do
by hope themselves betake.


Thanks for stopping by.

May God grant you a rested and refreshing weekend, and blessed Lord's day!

Take care.

Recent Posts:

My Homemade Gifts

A Tribute to my Counsellor in remembrance of her

Lesson from a Storm - the voice of Jesus in the Storm

Enjoying Nature and Photography (Thankful Thursday)

Finding meaning in helping others and loving them with God's love

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thank God for the joy of serving Him











Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements.

Thank God for seeing us through another week.

♥ I am so thankful to God for giving me the joy of enjoying nature and photography. About 1 year ago I began brisk-walking for health purposes. By God's grace, I began to enjoy flowers, plants, birds, nature, etc in many wonderful ways. I started to use a digital camera to capture some of these beauties of God's creations. They remind me of what a mighty God we serve!

♥ I am thankful to God that I can serve Him by making some Homemade Gifts for my friends as well as to sell on my Homemade Bookmarks, Cards and Gifts website:

http://homemadegifts2008.blogspot.com/

If you are interested to purchase some of these gifts for yourself, your family or friends, please do not hesitate to visit my Homemade Gifts website and email me at homemade.nk@gmail.com.

If you know of some friends who may be interested to purchase these gifts, please forward my website to them. Thanks!

Here are some samples of the Homemade Gifts that I am selling. Just click at the picture to go to the link on my website:

Cards























Bookmarks












































Calendars 2009























Homemade Bookmarks with English Bible verses:


1) Bookmarks with English Bible Verses (Flowers)

2) Bookmarks with English Bible Verses (Animals)

3) Bookmarks with English Bible Verses (Sceneries)

4) Long Bookmarks with English Bible Verses (Animals)

5) Long Bookmarks with English Bible Verses (Sceneries)


Homemade Bookmarks with Chinese Bible verses:

1) Bookmarks with Chinese Bible Verses


Homemade Bookmarks with General wordings:

2) Bookmarks with General Wordings


Buy Homemade Bookmarks:


Pricing and Ordering Details


Buy Homemade Cards with

1) English Bible Verses
2) English Bible Verses - Sets of 5 Cards each (special offer)
3) Chinese Bible Verses


Buy Homemade Calendars for 2009

1) Hanging Calendar 2009







2) Table Calendar
2009 (coming soon!)


3) Planners for 2009 (coming soon!)


Thank God that I can have the joy of serving Him in little ways like these.

♥ I am thankful to God for providing precious people in my life ie. my family, church, friends and blogging friends who love and care for me in their very wonderful ways. These are tokens of God's love for me and I treasure very much.

♥ I am thankful to God once again for all of you, my dear blogging friends and visitors. I have been so greatly blessed by all of you and I thank God upon every remembrance of you. It is wonderful to read of how God is guiding and blessing you in your walk with our Lord and it encourages me in my walk with God too. Thanks again for your prayers and encouragements.

May God continue to bless you with His love and mercies in many wonderful ways every day :)

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris.

Thank you for stopping by. Take care and may God continue to bless you through this week!

Recent Posts:

A Tribute to my Counsellor in remembrance of her

Lesson from a Storm - the voice of Jesus in the Storm

Enjoying Nature and Photography (Thankful Thursday)

Finding meaning in helping others and loving them with God's love

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A tribute to my Counsellor in remembrance of her

Dear Friends

Thanks for stopping by. Thank you for your prayers and encouragements.

Today the Lord brought to my remembrance a very dear and wonderful person whom He had used to be a great blessing to me last year.

When I first sought medical help and was diagnosed with clinical depression and Bipolar Disorder (Manic-depressive illness), I had benefitted from a group of counsellors at Counselling and Care Centre, Singapore. I am thankful to God for providing me with a team of very compassionate, kind, understanding and encouraging Christian counsellors who are trained to manage bipolar, depression, OCD and other brain condition.

For me besides prayers, medication, exercise and other helpful means, one very important element in my treatment and recovery was Counselling. Counselling may be talk therapy, psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It can be one of the very important tools for a person with bipolar or depression to get well. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form counselling with a focus on understanding how our thoughts affect our behaviours. Bipolar alternates between 2 extreme mood swings ie. mania and depression, and our thoughts and behaviours are shaped by these mania and depression episodes which can at times be very confusing. CBT helps to make sense some of these confusions, and help to pick up skills to manage these mood swings so that one can be more functional.

Through CBT, I do realized that I have quite a number of character traits and faulty thought patterns which might have contributed or aggravated my relapses. They become even predominant during a relapse of clinical depression and all my thoughts turned very negative and against me. I am now learning prayerfully to identify and to correct Faulty Thinking Patterns.

I am also somewhat a perfectionist which means my expectation of myself can be rather high, and indirectly I stressed myself up unknowingly. Besides that, I am not a very assertive person. I have problem saying “no”. So very often I unknowingly put myself through a lot of difficulties or take on more than I can handle. I used to have difficulty relaxing or taking breaks. In some sense, I am a workaholic. I am also fulfilling the role of care-givers in quite a number of context, and having little respite. All of the above or the combinations of some of these, could well have weakened my body and mind, and lead to the relapses of clinical depressions.

I know it is not easy to find a good counsellor and not every one will benefit from counselling or CBT. I am thankful to God for providing for me a very compassionate, kind and caring counsellor, Sarah. My time with my counsellor, Sarah and her team, was most meaningful and useful. Sarah and her team were helping me to trace the history of my relapses in the past 20 years which I could remember better, the possible causes of them so that I can learn to manage my illness better. During the counselling session, I was alone in a room with Sarah while her team were following our sessions in another room through a video recording. These are with my permissions.

In actual fact, Sarah was under training and supervision by her team but I didn't know that part at all. And providentially that worked out good for both of us. I have prayed and God provided Sarah. I didn't have any apprehension about her ability to counsel me and that allows her to be used by God in a very wonderful way to help me.

My time with Sarah became life-changing experiences for me! It began for me a journey of self-discovery, of knowing God, myself and others better. Each session with Sarah and her team have yielded some positive results. Accumulatively, these knowledge of self and God’s mercies in them, are changing my life in many wonderful ways. Thank God! My counselling session ended in April 2007 when Sarah who was a trainee at that Centre completed her training. I am deeply indebted to Sarah for the help that she has rendered to me. They have been invaluable to me as I journey on.

At the moment, I am not seeing any professional counsellers. I do seek my Pastor’s counsel and some other friends or family members’ counsels when necessary. I also read books and internet articles to understand my condition better and how best to manage it. Thank God that there are a lot of resources available on the internet. One such website is Bipolar and Depression Support Alliance which has very useful information on symptoms, treatment, resources, etc etc.

I have tried out some other counsellors and am, in particular, indebted to Dr Spencer Lee and Yvonne Ying of Association of Christian Counsellors of Singapore for their valuable helps for some weeks in July and August 2007. They are most compassionate and helpful.

The above counsellors are all trained in cognitive behavioural therapy, etc and they have been helping many people who suffer from depression, bipolar and other mental illnesses. The reasons why I sought their help, besides receiving pastoral counselling from my Pastor, was because I needed someone who understands mental illness and therefore able to help me to manage my illness and symptoms. I am thankful to God for providing them at such times when I needed them the most.

Now I am not seeing any of these professional counsellors but just receiving pastoral counsellings from my Pastor, elders and brethren in my church. I am learning to look to God and use other available means too ie reading God’s Words, prayers, medications, regular exercise, Omega-3 fish oil supplements, learning to manage stressful situations in my life, learn to pace myself more slowly and realistically, learn to take breaks and to relax whenever necessary, etc.

I have written 2 emails to Sarah and a tribute to her as follows:

——

Dear Sarah,

Warm greetings to you in the name of our merciful Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ!

Just a short note to thank you and your team for the help and support you are giving me as I seek the Lord’s guidance to understand and manage my condition better. I really appreciate what you are doing to help me. Your sincerity and warmth really touched my heart. Though we have met only for 3 sessions so far, I thank God that I have been helped by every one of the session. I appreciate what we have been able to discuss so far and the way you & your team are helping me to see things from a different angle. I am learning to be more thankful daily!

I thank God for His goodness and mercies in leading me to your centre and placing me under you and your team. The care and helpfulness of all of you and the other staffs at your centre really impressed me. Thank God for using all of you to help me and others who are in need of help.

May God continue to use you, your team and all the staff at Counselling and Care Centre for His glory. May all of you continue to be used in many wonderful ways to help others and especially God’s suffering people. I am praying for all of you too.

Many thanks again for your enthusiasm to help me and your prayers. It is one of the factors that gives me a lot of encouragement and motivation to come for the sessions. I thank God for you. May you continue to serve our Lord joyfully and faithfully for His glory.

Wish you and your family a blessed Chinese New Year.

With sincere thanks & prayers,
Nancie
15 February 2007

——

Sarah’s reply to me:

Dear Nancie,

Warm greetings to you too in the name of our loving and gracious Saviour, Lord Jesus!

Thank you very much for your lovely, thoughtful and heartwarming email. I am touched by your gracious gesture. It is a privilege to be used by God to extend His presence for His precious ones. And you’ve been a great joy to come alongside with. I thank God too for you and for giving me this privilege.

I am greatly encouraged to hear that you have been helped through our sessions. Your words give me impetus to continue and persevere in the work with and for others in the offering of presence and support .

Thank you for praying for us and your continual prayer support is much appreciated. Glad to hear that you have experienced the help of prayers. Indeed, our Lord is the source and the enabler of all we do. All praise and glory to Him!

I shall relay your email to my team. I am sure each one will be encouraged by your words.

Wishing you and your family a Blessed Chinese New Year too.

With grateful thanks and prayers
Sarah
21 February 2007

—–

Dear Sarah,

Thanks for your kind and encouraging reply! Glad that the email has encouraged you. Thank God.

May you and your colleagues continue to press on in the good work that you are doing for God’s glory. I know your work can be very difficult and draining at times. I am glad you work in a team and can discuss and pray with your colleagues. Do take care and may our Lord continue to bless your labours in Him. May you continue to find much joy in helping and supporting others.

Looking forward to see you again soon on Monday, 26th Feb 2007 for our next session! Trust our Lord will continue to bless our time together. Many thanks again for all your help and support.

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

With appreciation,
Nancie

A Tribute to my Counsellor, Sarah

16 April 2007 was my last session with my Counsellor, Sarah because she has ended her training attachment and will be returning to her actual work. I am grateful to God for placing me under Sarah’s care for the last 3 months (since 29 January 2007). I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratefulness to Sarah for helping me to embark on a new journey in my life which is changing my life and my relationships with God and the people in my life in many wonderful ways. Sarah, I will never never forget you. I thank God always for you. I hope you get to read this Tribute I have written especially for you. May God bless and keep you.

Dear Sarah,

Warm greetings to you in the name of our beloved Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanks once again for your prayers, listening ears, counsels and encouragements. I have learnt much from our sessions together in the last 3 months. Thank you for your willingness to help me and to go along this journey of self-discovery with me. I will forever thank and praise God for you and your team in the way our Lord is wonderfully using you to help me.

I am thankful to God for causing our paths to cross in such a wonderful way at Counselling and Care Centre during your training sessions there. Surely this is not by coincidence but by God’s providence that I should be seeking help at this particular point of time and you should be under attachment there.

I am grateful to God for hearing my prayers and provided someone like you who is very gentle, caring, sympathetic and encouraging to be my Counsellor. You always see something positive and encouraging that God is doing in all my difficult trials. You constantly seek to help me to see the many mysterious outworking of our faithful God, Who loves us dearly and gave His Son for us, in the various paths I have gone through in the past or are going through now. You have helped me to discover some faulty patterns in my thoughts and feelings which have affected my life and various relationships for so many years. Thanks for slowly helping me to recognise these faulty thought patterns, and change these faulty ways of thinking to more biblical ways, by God’s grace. These are beginning to have such tremendous effects on my life, my relationship with God and others around me. I am thankful to God for providing such a help in you and your willingness to walk through this difficult journey with me. By God’s grace, each session yields some positive outcome. Accumulatively, these new discoveries of self and God’s mercies in them, is beginning to change my life in many wonderful ways. I do look forward to each session with you because I get to know myself better each time, can see more clearer God’s love, mercies and faithfulness and am enabled to improve in my relationships with various people, and also learning to improve in managing the various challenges in my life. Thank God for His mercies and faithfulness!

I trust that when you return to your actual work environment, God will continue to use you to be a blessing to others in need just like the way you have been to me. I have no doubt at all that they will be blessed as I am in their acquaintance with you. You are a very special person who is always gentle, kind, encouraging, uplifting, full of faith and hopeful in the Lord. I will never never forget you and hopefully, by the grace of God, will never forget the precious lessons I am now learning through our sessions together too.

Thank you for sharing my joy and sorrows as I recounted my past history to you. I could sense the deep anguish and pain you feel for me in all my sorrows and trials, and also your delight and joy with me in all my joy. I felt very privilege that you cared for me in this way and I thank God for your kind friendship. It is a tremendous source of strength and support to me in this difficult trial. I know you are praying with me and I want to encourage you, as well as give praise and Glory to God, for His faithfulness and mercies by assuring you that the Lord in His faithfulness is strengthening me each day as I look to Him. Thanks for helping me to identify some of the possible causes of the relapses of my illness and discuss with me how I can better manage them. The many precious lessons we have learnt together in the past months is helping me now to cope better with my illness, with the various challenges in my life, and improve in my relationship with God, my church, my family and people around me. Praise God!

It was hard for me to say goodbye to you yesterday, being our last session together but I know it was necessary in God’s sovereign plan for us. I wish we can remain as friends and keep in touch always. But as you have explained to me that due to some professional ethics, yours and my contacts have to be restricted to this centre and as yesterday was our last session together, our contacts have to terminate there too. I hope I will get to meet you again one day, if God wills, on this earth or if not then, by His mercies, in Heaven when we both see our Lord face to face.

Please take care. I will remember you in my prayers always. May God keep you in His loving care always and bless you in all your various callings. May He continue to make you a blessing and encouragement to His suffering children.

With sincere thanks and prayers,
Nancie
17 April 2007

———————-

Contact Information for Counselling Helps

i) Counselling & Care Centre
Block 536 Upper Cross Street
#05-241 Hong Lim Complex
Singapore 050536
Tel: (65) 6536-6366
Fax: (65) 6536-6356
Email : info@counsel.org.sg
Webwsite : www.counsel.org.sg

ii) Association of Christian Counsellors of Singapore
c/o 422-A Telok Blangah Road
Singapore 098848 (Near Grace Methodist Church)
Tel: 6274-7480 Fax: 62760024
Email: info@accs.org.sg
Website: http://www.accs.org.sg/

*************************

My Coping Strategies:

1. Looking to God

2. Accepting the diagnosis

3. Medical Helps

4. Balance lifestyle

4a. Exercise

4b. Omega-3 fish oil supplements

5. Research and readings

6. Mood tracking and Journalling

7. Learning to cope with stress and challenges

8. Leisure, hobbies and recreations

9. Support Network (family, church, friends, etc)

10. Counselling / Talk Therapy

11. Correcting faulty thoughts patterns


Related Posts:

About depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and mental illness or mood disorders:
1. About bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
2. Myths and Facts on Mental Illness
3. Treatment of bipolar disorder
4. Various pamphlets and articles on bipolar disorder for sufferer and carer
5. Recovery steps for depression and bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness

For friends and carers:
1. Helping someone with mood disorder
2. Family and Friends' Guide to Recovery from Depression and Bipolar Disorder
3. How Carers and Friends can help

Other recent related posts:

1. Trust during rough times
2. Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
3. Mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc) is an illness like any other
4. Video on "Depression - A Stubborn Darkness"


Thanks again for stopping by and your encouragements. May God grant you a very blessed week!

Take care.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lessons from a storm - the voice of Jesus in the storm












Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements.

I am thankful to God that I can continue to serve Him through this blog. One of my mission is to encourage others by sharing God's goodness and blessings and also encouragements from God's Words.

Trust you have had a good weekend :-)

I am very thankful to God for blessing my worship and fellowship in church yesterday. I was greatly ministered to by the Word of God. A visiting minister from Australia, Pastor Coleborn, spoke to us on "Lessons from a Storm" (Matthew 14:22-33).

Matthew 14:22-33 is the passage on how one day the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ found themselves in the midst of a storm. They were in a ship in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves. It was surely a very frightening experience. Our Lord Jesus Christ came in their hour of need and fear and assured them of His presence with them. He said those very comforting words in verse 27 "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." Then the Lord recounted to us the well-known passage on how Peter walked on the water when he saw the Lord. But along the way when Peter saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, "Lord, save me" v30. And immediately our Lord Jesus Christ stretched forth his hand, and caught Peter, and said unto him, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" v31. The Lord then calmed the storm.

Pastor Coleborn exhorted on the following 3 encouraging points:

1. There are storms in our life.

In life we may face various challenges, difficulties and troubles. These are part and parcel of living in a fallen world.

We experience stress, disappointment, quarrels, sicknesses, deaths, etc.

We also have remaining corruptions in us and various temptations to sin which we battle with daily.

The storms in our life are real.

There will be storms in our personal life, our family, our work, our church and even when serving God faithfully. So even the disciples found themselves in a storm one day.

2. But we are not alone.

The One Who is Mighty comes among us and is able to keep us and care or us and watch over us.

He sees all that we are going through and He has never leave us even for a moment (Hebrews 13:5).

3. There is a Mighty Helping Hand with us.

Peter cried out to the Lord to help him when he was sinking (v30).

Likewise, we must learn to cry out to the Lord in our troubles. Our Lord is able to help us. He can calm any storms in our life.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has died on the cross to give us peace, good will and good cheer. He has overcome the world and death. His death is not in vain!

We need to look beyond our troubles and our difficulties to the One Who is in control and Who has the power to calm every storm.

When we forget the Lord and see only our circumstances then we will find ourselves sinking like Peter.


Thank God for this very comforting and encouraging sermon. How thankful I am that the Lord is with me in the storms of my life which are many!

I am thankful to God for the assurance that He has loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3.

He has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

He bids me to come to Him when I am weary and laden of sins and burdens in this life (Matthew 11:28-30).

He promised that His grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In His mercies, He is working all things for His glory and my good even when I don't see it or understand it that way (Romans 8:28).

I am thankful to God for the comfort of His Words and His presence with me daily. Thank God that He gives me great joy in waking up each morning, to commune with Him and to live for Him and serve Him.

Are you going through some difficulties right now? Are you facing terrible storms in your life? Fear not, the Lord is with you! Call upon Him and He is able to work His ways for you or preserve you through the storms so that you will emerged more than a conqueror through Him Who loved you and died on the cross for you.

May we continue to find God our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1) at all times and especially during the storms in our life. May we know more and more of His love, mercies and faithfulness. May He deepens our love and devotions to Him each day and enable us to live gratefully for Him and serve Him joyfully all the days of our life until He calls us home to be with Himself where there will be no more tears, sicknesses, pains, sufferings, etc.

For more Mission 4 Monday posts, visit Peggy.

Thank you once again for stopping by. Take care and may God grant you a very blessed week!


Matthew 14
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.