Thursday, April 09, 2009

Can Christian suffer from depression?

Many people mistakenly think that there is only 1 type of depression which is due to sin ie spiritual depression. But in reality, depression is a complex condition. There is a condition where depression is a medical condition or a clinical condition which need treatments and managements.

Can Christian suffer from depression?

Dr David P Murray did a series of very informative and helpful videos on Depression and the Christian.

You can find useful videos on depression, .mp3 messages on depression and .pdf notes on depression on this series of messages.

(These series 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

(1) THE CRISIS

INTRODUCTION

Perhaps you clicked on the link to this video out of desperation. Perhaps, like many Christians, you are secretly suffering with a mental illness – maybe depression, or maybe panic attacks – and you have tried many remedies but are growing no better, only worse. Or perhaps someone in your family is suffering in this way and you just don’t know how to respond or help. Or, maybe, you are a pastor who feels helpless when confronted with mental illness among the sheep of his flock.

Whatever your reason for clicking, I hope you will find something in this series of addresses which will either help you in your suffering, or which will help you in ministering to the suffering.

In this introductory address we shall consider the question, “Why study depression?” In the second, we will ask “How should we study depression?” Thirdly, we will look at “What is depression?”. And, in subsequent addresses we will begin to look in detail at the different approaches to helping people with depression. We will look at what the sufferer can do, what the carers can do, and what the Church can do.

Before we go on, perhaps you are asking yourself what qualifies me to speak on this subject. That is a valid question, which I will answer in four ways.

Firstly, let me make clear that I am not a medical doctor. I have, however, checked all the contents of these addresses with an experienced medical doctor who has first-hand experience in treating many patients with mental illness.

Secondly, I have been a pastor for 11 years in the North West of Scotland, both in Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides, areas with some of the highest rates of mental illness in the world. While I do not consider myself to be an expert, I have had multiple contacts with people who suffer from mental illnesses. This also means that my motivation in making these videos, and my methodology in producing them, is not academic but is highly practical. I desperately want to help sufferers and those who minister to them.

Thirdly, I have had close and painful experience of depression, anxiety and panic attacks among friends and some of those I love most in this world.

Fourthly, I believe that God has given me a burden to speak on this subject, a burden which I cannot ignore any longer. And, I trust, with the God-given burden will come the God-given wisdom to speak in such a way that will minister to God’s suffering people.

WHY STUDY DEPRESSION?

Mental illness is a term that covers a large number of complex conditions. So, before we proceed any further, I would like to state what aspects of mental illness I am going to focus on in this series of addresses. The area I am particularly concerned with is the most common mental illness – depression. As anxiety and panic attacks are also very commonly associated with depression (so much so that doctors are increasingly using the term “depression-anxiety” when referring to depression), we will look at these distressing conditions also.

But firstly, why should we study this subject, depression? Here are eight reasons.

1. Because the Bible speaks about it

There are numerous Bible verses which refer to depression and severe anxiety – its causes, its consequences, and its cures. The Bible does not address every cause, every consequence or provide every cure. But, as we shall see in later addresses, it does have an important role to play in the treatment of Christians who are suffering from depression and anxiety.

It must be admitted that the Bible never states that “Bible Character X had mental illness,” or “Bible Character Y was depressed.” However, it does frequently describe men and women who manifested many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety. In some cases, it is not clear whether these symptoms reflect long-term mental illness or simply a temporary dip in the person’s mental health, which everyone goes through from time to time. For example, symptoms of depression/anxiety can be seen in Moses (Num.11:14), Hannah (1 Sam.1:7,16), and Jeremiah (Jer.20:14-18; Lam.3:1-6). In these cases it is difficult to say whether the symptoms reflect a depression or a dip. Martin Lloyd-Jones argues from biblical evidence that Timothy suffered from near-paralysing anxiety.[1] A more persuasive case for depressive illness can be made for Elijah (1 Kings 17:7-24), Job (Job.6:2-3, 14, 7:11), and various Psalmists (Ps.42:1-3, 9a; Ps.88).

“The Psalms treat depression more realistically than many of today's popular books on Christianity and psychology. 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.”[2]

Another significant verse is Proverbs 18:14, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” The human spirit can help people through all kinds of sickness. However, when the healing mechanism is what needs healing, then even more serious problems arise.

2. Because it is so common

1 in 5 people experience depression, and 1 in 10 experience a panic attack, at one stage in their lives. An estimated 121 million people suffer from depression. 5.8 % of men and 9.5% of women will experience a depressive episode in any given year. Suicide, often the end result of depression, is the leading cause of violent deaths worldwide, accounting for 49.1% of all violent deaths compared with 18.6% in war and 31.3% by homicide.

It is also common in Christians. Indeed, these days there would appear to be an epidemic of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks among Christians – both young and old. This is at least partly because of the depressing state of the Church and of the Nation. Every few days there is discouraging news about Church splits or problems, and Christians backsliding or falling into temptation. Then there is the secular and anti-Christian direction of the Government as it continues to dismantle the Judeo-Christian laws and standards that our civilisation was built upon, and as it attacks and undermines family life. On top of this, there is the relentless audio-visual misrepresentation and persecution of Christians through the print and broadcast media. To top it all there seems to be an unceasing diet of bad news on the international stage, with wars, terrorism, and “natural” disasters ever before us.

In these conditions, it is therefore little wonder that Christians react adversely, and get depressed and anxious about themselves, their families, their Church, and the world they live in.

3. Because it impacts our spiritual life

We might say that there are three main elements in our make-up that affect our overall well-being: our body, our soul, and our mind (our thoughts). These are not three watertight and disconnected entities. There is considerable overlap and connectivity. When our body breaks down, it affects our spiritual life and our thinking processes. When our spiritual life is in poor condition, our thoughts are affected, and often our bodily health and functions also. It is therefore no surprise that when our mental health is poor, when our thinking processes go awry, that there are detrimental physical and spiritual consequences.

The depressed believer cannot concentrate to read or pray. He doesn’t want to meet people and so may avoid church and fellowships. He often feels God has abandoned him.

Moreover, it is often the case that faith, instead of being a help, can actually cause extra problems in dealing with depression. There is, for instance, the false guilt associated with the false conclusion, “Real Christians don’t get depressed.” There is also the usually mistaken tendency to locate the cause of mental illness in our spiritual life, our relationship with God, which also increases false guilt and feelings of worthlessness.

4. Because it may be prevented or mitigated

Many people have a genetic pre-disposition to depression, perhaps traceable to their parents’ genes, which increases the likelihood of suffering it themselves. However, even in these cases, knowledge of some of the other factors which may be involved in causing depression can sometimes help prevent it, or at least mitigate and shorten it. Others, with no genetic pre-disposition to depression can also fall into it, often as a reaction to traumatic life-events. And, again, having some knowledge of mental health strategies and techniques can be especially useful in preventing or mitigating and shortening the illness.

One great benefit of having some knowledge about depression is that it will prevent the dangerous and damaging misunderstanding which often leads people, especially Christians, to view medication as a rejection of God and His grace, rather than a provision of God and His grace.

5. Because it will open doors of usefulness

Increased understanding of depression will make us more sympathetic and useful to people suffering from it. This is taught by the converse truth in Proverbs 25:20, “As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.” If we saw someone fighting for life in the midst of a freezing blizzard, the last thing we would do is take his coat away. Such an action would be cruel and heartless, and could easily lead to death. But, says the Bible, similar dangerous heartlessness is displayed by the person who tries to help their depressed friend with superficial humor and insensitive exhortations to “Cheer up!”

In later videos we shall look in more detail at what friends and carers should say and do for those suffering with depression and anxiety. However, the general rule is that those who listen most and speak least will be the most useful to sufferers.

6. Because it is so misunderstood

“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who do not understand depression is like a little taste of hell.”[3]

As we all know there is a terrible stigma attached to mental illness. This is the result of widespread misunderstanding about its causes, its symptoms, and the “cures” available. Some of the misunderstanding is understandable. Unlike cancer or heart disease or arthritis, there is no scan or test which can visibly demonstrate the existence of depression/anxiety. It is a largely “invisible” disease. We want to be able to point to something and say, “There’s the problem!” When we can’t, we often wrongly conclude, “There is no problem!” Or, if we are Christians, we may, usually wrongly, conclude, “My spiritual life is the problem!”

This misunderstanding is addressed in the excellent book, I’m not supposed to feel like this (a book written by a Christian pastor, a Christian psychiatrist, and a Christian lecturer in psychiatry). Near the beginning of the book, they summarise what they believe and what they do not believe about depression:

“What we believe: We believe that all Christians can experience worry, fear, upset and depression. We also believe that being a Christian does not prevent us or our loved ones from experiencing upsetting and challenging problems such as illness, unemployment, or relationship and other practical difficulties.

What we do not believe; Although at times we all choose to act in ways that are wrong and this can lead to bad consequences for us and for others, we do not see anxiety and depression as always being the result of sin; neither do we

believe that mental health problems are the result of a lack of faith.”[4]

It is absolutely vital for Christians to understand and accept that while mental illness usually has serious consequences for our spiritual life, mental illness is rarely caused by problems in our spiritual life.

7. Because it is a talent to be invested for God

Like all affliction in the lives of Christians, mental illness should be viewed as a “talent” (Matt.25:14ff) which can be invested in such a way that it brings benefit to us and others, as well as glory to God.

Dr James Dobson, the Christian psychologist, observed that “nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” That “nothing” includes mental illness.

Mind over Mood, while not written from a Christian perspective, illustrates the possible “benefits” of depression thus:

“An oyster creates a pearl out of a grain of sand. The grain of sand is an irritant to the oyster. In response to the discomfort, the oyster creates a smooth, protective coating that encases the sand and provides relief. The result is a beautiful pearl. For an oyster, an irritant becomes the seed for something new. Similarly, Mind Over Mood will help you develop something valuable from your current discomfort. The skills taught in this book will help you feel better and will continue to have value in your life long after your original problems are gone.”[5]

It is usually broken people that God uses most. In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot

quoted Ruth Stull of Peru:

“If my life is broken when given to Jesus it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.”[6]

8. Because we can all improve our mental health

Most Christians try to take preventative (and curative) measures to enjoy good physical health and spiritual life. However, there is less consciousness of the similar effort required to maintain or recover mental health. There is much less awareness of the biblical strategies and sound mental techniques that can be used to achieve good mental health, which obviously has beneficial consequences for our bodies and our souls.

I have never been diagnosed with any kind of mental illness. However, like most people, and especially like most ministers, I have had low points in my life. My thinking processes have gone wrong, causing times of mild depression, and anxiety.

What I now know about improving and maintaining mental health, and what I hope to communicate in later addresses, would have greatly helped me in these low periods. What I have learned is helping me on a daily basis to overcome disappointment and handle stressful situations without my mental health suffering as much as before.

As I look around me, and especially as I look around the Church, I can see many people who have not been diagnosed with depression, and who are not disabled with it, but who are experiencing long-term, low-level depression/anxiety which is having its own knock-on effect on their bodily health and the spiritual lives.

I believe that it would not be too difficult for them to learn some sound strategies and techniques which will improve mental health, and consequently their bodily and spiritual health.

In the next video we will consider the attitude and spirit in which we should study depression.

Dr. David P Murray served as the Pastor of Lochcarron Free Church of Scotland from 1995 to 2000, and then of Stornoway Free Church of Scotland (continuing) from 2000 to 2007. In August 2007 he accepted a call to be the Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

[1] M Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1965), 93ff.

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

[3] J Lockley, A Practical Workbook for the Depressed Christian (Bucks: Authentic Media, 1991), 14.

[4] C Williams, P Richards, I Whitton, I’m not supposed to feel like this, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002), 10.

[5] D Greenberger & C Padesky, Mind over Mood, (New York: Guilford, 1995), 1.

[6] E Elliot, Passion and Purity, Power Books (Old Tappan, NJ.: Revell, 1984).


All 6 articles on Depression and the Christian:

  1. The Crisis
  2. The Complexity
  3. The Condition
  4. The Causes
  5. The Cures
  6. The Carer
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
6. Coping skills for bipolar disorder

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

Friday, March 27, 2009

Coping Skills for Bipolar Disorder

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for your prayers and encouragements. Thank God for sustaining and strengthening me daily. I am still experiencing fatigue and tiredness. Looking to our Lord daily and continuing to learn to pace myself. Been doing exercise regularly and cut down on some activities.

I am not able to do active blogging but hope to post some helpful resources that can encourage and help you and my readers. I do missed all of you very much and you are in my thoughts and prayers! Thanks again for your visits and encouragements.

I found a helpful article on Coping Skills for Bipolar Disorder and thought it might be useful to you and some of my readers.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

From my personal experiences, I have found that it is important to accept the reality of my condition, to learn to understand the limitations as well as the advantages of it, to learn to manage it and live a productive life, by the grace of God, through all the resources that are available.

I am thankful to God that since my diagnosis, He has provided me with many helps and resources to many my condition and my condition is under better control. He is enabling me to live a meaningful and productive life despite various limitations of my condition. I look forward to each day that I can walk with God and serve Him, and His people.


The following article is taken from the website of Bipolar Focus:

Coping Skills for Bipolar Disorder

Step-by-Step Coping:

  1. Find a good doctor
  2. Become an expert
  3. Manage your illness
    • mood charting - what it is and why it's helpful
    • managing medications
    • a healthy lifestyle helps recovery
  4. Plan for a crisis
  5. Find a community
    • United States Support Organizations
    • Online Support Groups and Newsgroups
    • International Support Organizations
  6. Practical matters - work, school, and federal aid issues
  7. Other Resources - coping with mania, depression, and life with bipolar disorder

When we give lists of symptoms and medications for people with bipolar disorder, the entire thing can seem disarmingly simple. But anyone who has been there knows that there is nothing simple about accepting and living with a chronic illness, and it's just as important to address the emotional and practical issues of bipolar as it is to know the diagnostic criteria and treatment guidelines. Those with other chronic diseases like diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or multiple sclerosis go through a similar process of grieving, accepting, learning, and adapting - and through this, begin healing and recovery.

A helpful outline to guide a healing and recovery journey is described in the acronym TEAR:

T = to accept the reality of loss. There are things that will be different after a diagnosis of bipolar, and it's important to recognize these things rather than denying or hiding them.

E = experience the pain of the loss. You are allowed to grieve what you feel has been lost with the onset of this disease, both from your own life and the lives of others. You are allowed to mourn previous goals and aspirations that must be altered to this new reality.

A = adjust to the new environment without what was lost. Whatever was lost with your diagnosis doesn't constitute the whole of your person. The core of you is still the same, and knowing about your illness now allows you to re-adapt to this new context of life.

R = reinvest in the new reality. Explore, create, engage, and live as the person you are, managing your own life and your illness as part of that life.

Below are some articles and resources that we hope will help you in your own life.

1) Find a good doctor.

Even if you already have your diagnosis, your doctor will be your ally and partner in treatment and recovery. It's important to have a doctor you can speak openly with, who will listen to you as an equal and acknowledge your expertise on your own body, who will offer helpful suggestions and be invested in your recovery. Below are some resources on what to look for in a good psychiatrist and/or health care provider, and how to find one in your area.

2) Become an Expert.

Putting a name to what used to be a vague collection of debilitating symptoms puts you in control. Knowing your disease as intimately as you can gives you the tools to manage it effectively, rather than it managing you. It can also make your situation seem much less frightening when you can understand and recognize what is happening in your own body. Here are some resources to get you started.

3) Manage your Illness - mood charting and meds.

One of the best coping strategies, suggested by professionals and patients alike, is using a mood chart to track your own episodes and symptoms. A mood chart can be a preventative tool to help identify early warning signs for relapse, a record for physicians and family to help assess the efficacy of different medications and treatments, and a therapeutic tool to organize a person's daily routine and improve awareness of the illness.

The simplest method of mood charting is rating your mood (at the same time each day) on a scale of 1-10, with one being very depressed and ten being absolutely elated. A good place to keep a record is on a wall calendar or in a daily diary. Other methods involve more elaborate charts, and a more detailed rating scale (see the links below). Some people work better with graphs, others with numbers, others with writing lists of words or paragraphs to describe their feelings. The overall goal of the charts is to have a reliable and consistent record of how greatly your moods flucuate over a period of time, so develop the method that is easiest for you to achieve this goal.

  • Mood charting resources:
    • The Mood Diary - gives an explanation of how to use the mood chart, and has a blank and a completed example available for downloading (pdf files).
    • A Mood Chart System - a patient describes how he developed a personal system that worked for him, including examples.
    • Mood Charting for Children - the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation provides examples and resources for charting your child's moods, and eventually helping him/her to track it themselves.

Another excellent coping strategy is learning how to manage your medications effectively. The first thing to do is know about what you are taking - ask your psychiatrist what symptoms your medication is treating, how long it might take to work, how much and how often you should take it, what you should do if you miss a dose, what side effects you might have and what you can do about them, and anything else that is on your mind. Keep track of your own medication information - names, dosages, how it makes you feel, what symptoms it makes better or worse - in a journal or diary. Having this information will help both you and your doctor find the medication regimen that works the best for you, and allow you to adjust it effectively as needed.

It can be an extremely frustrating trial-and-error process to finally find a medication that works for you. Please be patient and give the medications adequate time to do their job. Most people won't feel better right away - it can take four to six weeks for a drug to get into your system and start noticeably helping. In the meantime, you can help yourself by trying some of the suggestions on this page, or finding a support group to help you through difficult times. By all means work with your psychiatrist to switch medications if you are unhappy with your current one; however, try to be realistic about what medications can and can't do, and consider the relative benefits of staying on one versus trying to adjust to a brand-new one.

Simplify your medications as much as possible by putting them in separated daily pill boxes (you can purchase pill organizers with seven separate compartments, one for each day of the week), taking them at the same time each day, or taking them with a daily vitamin pill or something else that you do religiously. If you have a lot of trouble remembering, ask family members/roommates to help, or ask your doctor about the possibility of switching to long-acting injectable medications instead of pills.

Help your medication do their job by keeping healthy habits in your daily life.

4) Plan For a Crisis

Your mood charts (see above) will help you recognize what particular symptoms or behaviors tend to precede a manic or a depressive episode. Having a plan ready for relapse situations will help you get the care you need, and make sure other practical matters are taken care of, even if you are in a place where you can't effectively make decisions. One of the most difficult aspects of bipolar to deal with is the seductiveness of mania - many people don't seek help during a manic episode because they are feeling on top of the world. However, even though they can't recognize it, they still present a danger to themselves or others via reckless acts, excessive spending, uncontrollable behavior, etc.

You can take some precautionary steps while you are stable to help get through a crisis situation as smoothly as possible. Put the following information (along with anything else that might be helpful) into a "crisis plan" folder, and distribute it to your doctor, your family members, and other trusted people who can help you.

  • Make a list of people you trust (close family members, friends in the area, etc) who know about your disease and are willing to help you. Have their names and phone numbers together on a "crisis alert list"
  • List the names and contact info of your psychiatrist, general practitioner, case worker, or any other professional that helps you manage your illness.
  • Write out the particular signs that indicate a manic or a depressive episode, to help others recognize when you need help. (See some of the early warning signs compiled by bipolarsurvivor.com to use as a guide in making your list).
  • Make another list of all your medications, what dose you take, and what side effects you experience. Note any medications you are allergic to or do not want to take under whatever circumstances.
  • Leave directions for the care of your house, your pets, your plants, etc., in case you are hospitalized.
  • Write down your insurance plan information
  • Leave the names and numbers of family members and/or employers that need to be contacted in case of an emergency or an extended hospital stay.
  • Leave any detailed instructions of what kind of care you do and do not want to recieve if you are unable to make your own decisions (the legal document for this is called a psychiatric advanced directive).

5) Find a Community

Having a supportive community is important for anyone, but particularly for someone dealing with a chronic illness. A support group of friends and peers can relate to what you go through like no one else can, offer support or a sympathetic ear, and give practical advice and solutions for difficulties as they come up. For the times when you are not feeling particularly social, an online discussion group or chatroom is a great option to keep yourself connected with others.

National U.S. support groups for people who have mood disorders:

Online Support Community:

International Support Organizations:

6) Practical Matters - work, school, and federal aid issues:

7) Other Resources - coping with mania, depression, and life with bipolar disorder:

Take care and hope you have a great weekend!




My friend took this lovely picture at Saipan. This is one of my favourite verse:

Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;
for in thee do I trust:

Psalm 143:8

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

Friday, March 13, 2009

My grace is sufficient for thee

Dear Friends,

Thanks again for all your visits, prayers and encouragements.

My condition fluctuates recently and I am still learning to look to our Lord Jesus Christ for grace and strength daily, and learning to pace myself moderately.

Thank you very much for all your kind words. They really touched my heart and assured me of God's love and presence through all of you. May God bless you abundantly!

My apology that I am not able to return to active blogging yet. But I do miss all of you very much and you are in my prayers. Will try to visit you soon!

This morning I re-read one of CH Spurgeons' devotional from his Morning and Evening on 4th March, and the Lord encouraged me to continue to trust in His all-sufficient grace.

“My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

IF none of God’s saints were poor and tried, we should not know half so well the consolations of divine grace.

When we find the wanderer who has not where to lay his head, who yet can say, “Still will I trust in the Lord;” when we see the pauper starving on bread and water, who still glories in Jesus; when we see the bereaved widow overwhelmed in affliction, and yet having faith in Christ, oh, what honor it reflects on the gospel!

God’s grace is illustrated and magnified in the poverty and trials of believers.

Saints bear up under every discouragement, believing that all things work together for their good, and that out of apparent evils a real blessing shall ultimately spring—that their God will either work a deliverance for them speedily, or most assuredly support them in the trouble, as long as He is pleased to keep them in it.

This patience of the saints proves the power of divine grace. There is a lighthouse out at sea: it is a calm night—I cannot tell whether the edifice is firm; the tempest must rage about it, and then I shall know whether it will stand.

So with the Spirit’s work: if it were not on many occasions surrounded with tempestuous waters, we should not know that it was true and strong; if the winds did not blow upon it, we should not know how firm and secure it was.

The master-works of God are those men who stand in the midst of difficulties, stedfast, unmoveable,—

“Calm 'mid the bewildering cry,
Confident of victory.”

He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many.

If, then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God.

As for His failing you, never dream of it—hate the thought.

The God who has been sufficient until now should be trusted to the end.

Taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, 4 March, Morning

Thanks again for stopping by. May God grant you a very blessed day and weekend. Take care!




















(My brother took this photo at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand)

Friday, February 27, 2009

God is our refuge and strength

Dear Friends,

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

Thank God for strengthening me. I am feeling better but still trying to pace myself moderately. I do missed all of you very much. Thanks for all your encouragements.

This morning, I was reading CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening as part of my morning devotion, and very much encouraged by it.

Thank God that He is our refuge and strength, and we may rest in Him daily no matter what we may go through in this world. He is unchangeable!

May God encourage you with this article and you may find rest in Him daily too.

Take care and have a great weekend!

“Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation.”
Psalm 91:9

THE Israelites in the wilderness were continually exposed to change.

Whenever the pillar stayed its motion, the tents were pitched; but to-morrow, ere the morning sun had risen, the trumpet sounded, the ark was in motion, and the fiery, cloudy pillar was leading the way through the narrow defiles of the mountain, up the hillside, or along the arid waste of the wilderness.

They had scarcely time to rest a little before they heard the sound of “Away! this is not your rest; you must still be onward journeying towards Canaan!” They were never long in one place. Even wells and palm trees could not detain them. Yet they had an abiding home in their God, His cloudy pillar was their roof-tree, and its flame by night their household fire.

They must go onward from place to place, continually changing, never having time to settle, and to say, “Now we are secure; in this place we shall dwell.” “Yet,” says Moses, “though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.”

The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich to-day and poor to-morrow; he may be sickly to-day and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness to-day, to-morrow he may be distressed—but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God.

If He loved me yesterday, He loves me to-day. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord.

Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is “my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort.”

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.

Taken from CH Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, 27 Feb, Morning




(My brother took this photo at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In loving memory of my beloved friend












My beloved friend and sister-in-Christ, Madam Chan, born AD 1916, returned to be with Christ Jesus her Lord on 6 February 2009, AD at the age of 93.
"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" Job 19:25-26
Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by my combined Word-Filled Wednesday and Thankful Thursday.

Thanks for your comments, prayers and encouragements.

Sorry for my long silence. Sorry that I have not been able to visit most of you.

My health has not been good in the recent weeks and I was rather overwhelmed by various commitments at home and in church. I am compelled to slow down and rest whenever I can.

I do miss blogging and many of you. Thanks for stopping by. I will try my best to catch up with you as soon as I can!

I am thankful to God for giving me grace and strength daily.

I am thankful to God that my beloved friend and sister-in-Christ, Madam Chan, is now safe in the arm of Jesus. Our dear Lord called home this precious servant of His on Friday, 6 February 2009. Now she is in the presence of the One Who loved her and gave His life for her, to worship Him and enjoy His love and fellowship for all eternity without the hindrance of sin, sickness or sufferings.

I shared about a wonderful reunion with her recently after 10 years interval. Madam Chan is 93 years old and came to know the Lord more than 10 years ago and I was then given the privilege to minister to her. Thank God that she was baptised recently on 7 December 2008.

On the day of her baptism, she said that was the happiest day of her life. She was thrilled and overjoyed to become a part of the Church of Christ. She daily began to pray for her brothers and sisters-in-Christ in the church many of whom she has never met. Being bed-ridden due to her health, she was never able to go to church. But her love for the Lord and His people remain the same.

It is a comfort to be reminded that this is not our home. We too are pilgrims here sojourning for a season and travelling towards the celestial city. One day, we shall be with our Lord Who loved us and gave His life for us, to worship and enjoy His love and fellowship without hindrance.

Meanwhile, we must press on and run the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, seeking, loving and serving our Lord until He calls us home in His time.

Thanks again for stopping by. May God grant you a very blessed week. Take care.

or more Word-Filled Wednesday participants, do visit Amy.

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Before they call, I will answer (Isaiah 65:24)


























(I took this picture near my house during a brisk-walk session)


Dear Friends,

A very blessed and joyous new year to you!

Thanks for stopping by my combined Word-Filled Wednesday and Thankful Thursday post. This post was originally posted on Monday.

♥ Thank God for seeing us through another year of walking with Him and serving Him. May God grant us a closer walk with Him and a deeper love and devotion to Him.

♥ Thank God for granting me a very refreshing and fruitful weekend and Lord's day of worship, fellowship and service. Trust you too have had a very blessed and restful weekend!

♥ Thank God for preserving and restoring the health of Madam Chan. I shared about a wonderful reunion with her recently after 10 years interval. Madam Chan is 92 years old and came to know the Lord more than 10 years ago and I was then given the privilege to minister to her. Thank God that she was baptised recently on 7 December 2008.

Madam Chan was very sick last week and I thought the Lord might take her home. Thank God for restoring her health and she is better now. She is continuing to trust in the Lord and waiting upon Him to call her home to Himself. She is full of thanfkulness to our Lord despite her bodily afflictions. She is a wonderful encouragement to me and my brethren.

♥ Thank God for providing my family, church brethren and blogging friends who continue to care and encourage me in many ways.

♥ Thank God He knows our every need and will provide for us. A friend and brother-in-Christ send me this very very encouraging story of God knowing our needs and providing for us even before we ask Him. May this encouraging story encourages our heart in this new year as we walk with our Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him, trusting in His love and mercies that He will provide for all our needs spiritually and physically.


Isaiah 65:24 "Before they call, I will answer"

This story was written by a doctor who worked in South Africa

One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator).

We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in.

Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). "And it is our last hot water bottle!" she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways.

"All right," I said, "put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm."

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died

During prayer time, one ten-year old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. "Please, God" she prayed, "send us a water bottle. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon."

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, "And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?"

As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say,"Amen". I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything, the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door.

By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children.

Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the.....could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out - yes, a brand-new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, "If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too!"

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted!

Looking up at me, she asked: "Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?"

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it "that afternoon."

"Before they call, I will answer" (Isaiah 65:24)


















(My friend, AR, took this picture at Changi Airport, Singapore)

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

For more Word-Filled Wednesday participants, do visit Amy.

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Where the will of God leads us, the grace of God will keep us












“We will be glad and rejoice in Thee. Song of Solomon 1:4”


Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by.

A very blessed and joyous New Year to you!

Thank God for seeing us through another week and another year.

♥ I thank God for His mercies and faithfulness through another year of walking with Him and serving Him.

♥ I thank God for providing for my every need through the year. It's been more than a year since I do freelance work due to my health limitations. I am thankful to testify that God has provided for my every need in His many wonderful ways. Truly, the Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want (lack) - Psalm 23:1.

♥ 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.

♥ It's been almost a year since I started blogging. I am very thankful to God for the many blessings I have received through blogging.
- I am thankful that I can share and testify of God's goodness and mercies to me through this blog
- I am thankful to God that I can share the resources I have found useful in coping with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) with my readers on this blog
- 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.


♥ Thank God for the joy of knowing Him, trusting Him and serving Him. May these words of CH Spurgeon be our hearts prayer too:

"Since, O sweet Lord Jesus, Thou art the present portion of Thy people, favor us this year with such a sense of Thy preciousness, that from its first to its last day, we may be glad and rejoice in Thee.

Let January open with joy in the Lord, and December close with gladness in Jesus."

May God continue to bless you with His love, mercies and blessings in many wonderful ways in this New Year.

May you continue to know His love and all-sufficient grace through this year.

May the assurance of God's love and mercies strengthen our heart to continue to walk with Him and serve Him despite whatever uncertainties or turmoil we see in the world today or in future. For we are assured that we are More Than Conquerors through Him Who loved us!

Where the will of God lead you, the grace of God will keep you.

"I have been young, and now am old;
yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken,
nor his seed begging bread."
Psalm 37:25

For more participants of Thankful Thursday, do visit Iris.