“It makes me feel…”

A youth ministry built on knowing Word of God, doesn’t sound sexy, or attractive but if our youth ministries are built on feelings – stories making you feel valuable, atmospheres making you feel close to God, songs making you feel loved, there will come a point when all that’s gone and our feelings betray reality.

Knowing Christ and making Him known – knowing from the Word of God, knowing you are valuable, knowing you are a sinner, knowing you are loved, knowing you are forgiven and God is faithful and close to you, then…then you have something to stand on, and in the face of the hurricane that is rejection, acceptance, failure, success, isolation, community, doubt, confidence, anxiety, security, betrayal, trust, embarrassment, celebration, guilt, forgiveness, torment, peace and many more experiences of growing up, you will have a life built on strong foundations that will endure.

I have so many conversations with young people who chase the wind in terms of experience of God. It’s a strange paradox of pain and blessing in drawing alongside them and pointing to a Life that pursues truth and righteousness not buzz and fuzz.

As was pointed out to me by good friends, feelings are important but they should be informed by truth. Iain Kennedy (Assoc. Pastor at Renfrew Baptist) said “Have the truth of the Gospel speak into every moment of life, even the feelings, be discerning: just don’t let your faith depend on the recreation of any particular feeling. The Gospel demands all of us, including our feelings.”

Kenny Rogan (Oak Hill College Student) was helpful with his suggestion to “lead to feel based on what they know is true”, or in Colin Ross'(Elder at Hillview Community Church) words “tempered and levelled out by our knowledge”.

I’m not superman, and so when I get bad news, I feel gutted, sad, angry etc… BUT when I come round to what I KNOW is good and true, then my feet are on solid ground. Thinking in the other direction, when I sing “my chains fell off my heart was free, I’m alive because of You…” And I know I’m forgiven, it should stir a greater feeling of joy and celebration than when your football team equalise in the 82min!

Truth regardless of feeling. Let’s lead our young people to feel yes, but feeling grounded in what they know.

Check out Alistair Begg nail the point exactly Knowing V Feeling from the 2009 West Coast Conference.

Dealing with Depression – Book Review

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This post originally appeared on kjsmcknight.wordpress.com on February the 21st 2013 :

This morning I finished reading ‘Dealing with Depression – Trusting God through the Dark Times‘ by Sarah Collins & Jayne Haynes (Christian Focus Publications) that I purchased at the Good Book Co Youth Work Conference.  The book was very eye opening and one that I would whole heatedly recommend to all Christians particularly full time gospel workers.

“Depression is a common complaint in the doctor’s surgery and 1 in 5 of the population that is 20% of people will have at least one major episode in their lifetime. We are reassured here that just like our physical health we can go through good and bad emotional health. But how does the Christian deal with this? It is so easy for us to be riddled with guilt but in this book the Christian is reassured that God knows and deals with us by grace, He helps us move from guilt to grace. Written from a Biblical and medical perspective.”

The book is split into 7 clear and helpful chapters as well as 3 Appendixes which are as follows:

  • 1. Depression – what is it?
  • 2. Why do people get depression?
  • 3. Medical treatments for depression and a Christian perspective on them
  • 4. Depression and the Christian
  • 5. Trusting God in the darkness – Help from the Psalmists
  • 6. Trusting God in the darkness – Using what God has provided
  • 7. Helping the depressed
  • Appendix 1: Struggles with Depression by Roger Carswell
  • Appendix 2: Coping with my wife’s depression – a husband’s perspective
  • Appendix 3: A Pastor’s experience of helping someone with depression

The book deals with the issue of depression through the lens of scripture and through the lens of up to date medical research and thought. It is important that we do not see depression as purely a spiritual problem or purely a medical issue. It is essential that help is sought from medical professionals and it is important to listen to their advice. However it is also important for those suffering from depression to not isolate themselves from the Body of Christ as fellowship is particularly important along with prayer and bible reading; even though at times it will be a great struggle indeed.  I appreciate how the book straddles the medical and spiritual as we have a tenancy to hold one above the other.

I found the 3 Appendixes particularly useful where 3 people from different vantage points share their experiences with depression, each giving useful practical advice.

Some of the most useful advice was:

Listen- Just being there is important. Don’t make the depressed person a project, just be there for them, always listening before speaking.

Prayer- Encouraging the depressed person to pray. It may be very difficult. But short, honest, angry prayers are ok. By not praying the ‘lines of communication’ are down, and the person will feel further from God.

Bible- Reading God’s word like prayer is very important, although a real struggle. Often people with depression find them self able to relate to some of the darker Psalms.

Before reading this book I knew very little at all about depression, after reading it I am just a little bit clearer about this very difficult and complex illness. So go and buy it, it’s not even a fiver!