A Plea for Christians to Stop Mocking Sin and Sinners

Over the past 4 or 5 years I have observed a number of memes, comments, and articles posted by Christians that make fun of and sarcastically mock gay, lesbian, and transgender people. These posts both sadden and concern me. Let me share 5 reason why I believe Christians should exercise greater discernment and carefulness in what they post, particularly concerning these topics.

1. So unbelievers will see our love, integrity, dignity, patience, and gentleness, and so God may perhaps use our life to grant them repentance, knowledge of truth, sanity, and salvation. I have never heard the testimony of someone who was won to Christ through the mocking of their sin. Maybe it exists somewhere, but I don’t think it’s the norm. People are won through the preaching and sharing of the truth with confidence, authority, and love.

II Timothy 2:24-26
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Colossians 4:5
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

2. Mocking sin, can cause those inside the church who are struggling with that sin, to not openly seek the help that they need for fear of a condescending response, rather than a gracious one that points them to Christ. While you may have never met a brother or sister in Christ who struggle with their gender identity or same-sex attraction, I promise you, they exist. Always ask yourself the question, “if another believer in my church were to read what I was posting, and they were struggling with this sin, would they feel that I would be a person who would be able to speak truth into their life in a gracious, loving, informed, and intelligent way, or would they instead be terrified that I might find out their struggle?” We are to communicate the truth in love for the purpose of spiritual growth, spiritual equipping, and building the body up in unity. The end goal of our speech or posting is to minister grace, not to shame or condescend.

Ephesians 4:14-16,29
 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love…
 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 I Corinthians 13:1-7,13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…

 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love

3. Mocking these sins makes the world’s message appear that much more attractive and clouds the churches gospel message. It may be helpful to understand that there is an incredible amount of shame that many who struggle with sins of same-sex attraction and gender confusion carry, even for unbelievers who haven’t felt the conviction of the Spirit. The message of the world and culture is a tempting one for those who struggle with SSA or gender dysphoria. The world says that their shame is a product of an unhealthy societal and religious message, needing to be thrown off, and that their sexuality and felt gender should be lived out with pride and openness. The churches message is that the shame we rightly feel for our sin was taken by Christ and in Him we will not be put to shame!

We are to help these individual see and deal with their shame through the light of what Scripture says about it, but adding to this shame and fear, through mocking, is the last thing a struggling or searching person needs from the church or from your Facebook page or twitter feed. Don’t let your comment, meme, or sarcastic article be the stumbling block that keeps the struggling silent, or the thing that pushes them towards the worlds message. Instead, be the voice of love, truth, compassion, and the speakers of the gospel that says, Christ takes our shame, Christ makes us new, Christ takes us in all our brokenness and loves us even when remnants of our brokenness remain, and Christ will one day forever, completely, and gloriously fix our brokenness. This is the message of hope and love that we should be speaking, as a church and as individuals who are part of that church. Most will still choose the world’s message, but let it be because they chose one message over the other, and not because we shamed them out of our churches into the arms of the world.

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Philippians 3:18-21
18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Ephesians 5:10-14
10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Romans 9:33
33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:11-13
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

4. It is evidence of pride in the mocker and encourages pride in all others who join in the mocking.
We have nothing that we have not been graciously given by God. Our response when we see a world mad with insanity and sin should be humble gratitude driven by an understanding that the only reason we don’t think the same way the world does, is because of God’s grace. Let us with Paul humble ourselves and take on the attitude of dubbing ourselves the chiefest of sinners, understanding that we were not chosen due to any wisdom or strength or goodness in ourselves, acknowledge that we have nothing good in ourselves that we did not graciously receive from God, and make our boast and our posts more about Christ and what he has given us, and less about how the sin of others is so bad, funny, crazy, or ridiculous.

I Timothy 1:12-17
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Corinthians 1:6-31
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

I Corinthians 4:6-7
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

5. The world already sees the conservative church as being an unloving and unhealthy place in general, but especially for LGBT person’s to be in. In many cases they are wrong and much of their perception is based on lies or just the unfortunate reality that they disagree with truth even when it is spoken in love. But I would plead with you, do not give them even one shred of real evidence that they may be right. Let’s not let them be even a little tiny bit correct in their accusations.

Titus 2:7-8
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us

You may, at this point ask, “What about Elijah mocking the priests of Baal?” (I Kings 18)

There may be a time and place to mock sin. Elijah was a prophet of God; God used Elijah to speak directly for him. God is allowed to mock sin. He is God. He is allowed to do many things that we are not, because he is holy and sees all things. We are not holy; we do not see all things.

As New Testament believers, we are never commanded to have the general attitude of mocking those outside the church for any reason. I Peter 3:13-16 instructs believers to share their hope with gentleness and respect

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Given this Scripture and so many others that I have already posted about how we are to act towards unbelievers and believers, I will rest my case.

So What SHOULD I Post?

My suggestion for those who feel they need to post anything about the topics of homosexuality, SSA, gender dysphoria, transgender issues, or any other sin outside this category, is to pick up a book, or read insightful articles that help you understand these topics from a biblical and counseling perspective. Take the time to learn about the sins you feel the need to mock and start posting helpful quotes about these issues. I guarantee you, those brothers and sisters struggling in your church will see those posts and breathe out a sigh of relief that there are people with whom they worship that are safe; people who care about understanding them and maybe, people who are equipped to help them with grace and a level of understanding and skill.

What About Political Posts?

These particular sins just so happen to be in the political spotlight at the moment. I understand and I see some of the baffling and disturbing directions and agendas that the far left is pushing. I understand the implication for this next generation being told to live out their felt sexuality and make insane decisions about their gender at extremely early ages. Kids are being exposed at a very early age to all sorts of sexual information and I have no doubt that the normalizing of homosexuality and transgenderism will have its affect on this next generation. I predict that we will be seeing more and more men, women, and teens in the church who have been affected by these issues and are in need of compassionate counsel.

I get the desire to expose the insanity and speak against the political agendas of the far left. With that being said, I simply suggest that if you find yourself with a zeal to argue against gay marriage on a political level, or speak out against the transgender or gay political agendas, I would urge you to remember that there are real people, with real stories, experiences, pain, insecurities, and lives that have been touched, in some way or another by this topic. Some of these people are in your church. If you want to post politically, I would encourage you to, as I stated above, take the time and do the work to understand the problem on more than just a political level. Read books that will deepen your understanding and compassion for the faces and people behind this political problem.

Additionally, remember that as a believer you first and foremost, represent Christ, and your first priority should not be the political state of our country, but should be the testimony of love, truth, and grace to those in your local church and communities. Ask yourself this question: if a struggling believer or searching unbeliever in my church were to browse my Facebook page, would they conclude that I truly care about them as people, or would they conclude that I view them as sexual or political problems?

Excerpts From “Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness” By Edward T. Welch

Post #1
You can’t immediately say that there is one core sin that has caused your depression. Some people race toward this explanation; they hope that once they discover that sin, everything will change. Others run from this perspective; they think spiritual explanations are prehistoric and misguided. The truth is in the middle of these two poles. Sin can certainly be a cause of depression, but you must be careful about connecting the dots between the two. If you are being honest, you will always find sin in your life. Everyone does. That doesn’t mean that sin caused your depression.

No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.” There was no sin in Him, and consequently none in His deep depression.

The simple approach is to deal with your sin as it becomes apparent to you. Depression, of course, doesn’t exempt us from addressing these critical matters. Just don’t assume that your depression will vanish upon confession and knowing God’s forgiveness.

So depression does not necessarily have a spiritual cause if, by spiritual, we mean that it is caused by our own sin. But there is a broader meaning to the word “spiritual,” and, in this sense your depression is always and profoundly spiritual. Spiritual can refer to the very center of our being where our basic allegiances are worked out. Who is God? Do we trust him? Why is he allowing this to happen to me? How can I trust him when he seems so remote and unresponsive? These are spiritual questions that, in many ways, identify us as human beings”

(Ed Welch “Despression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness )

Post #2

With all the debate about the causes of depression, it is easy to miss the obvious: depression is painful. It is a form of suffering…If you are familiar with Scripture, you should sense a ray of light. Without Scripture’s insights, suffering is random and senseless. But Scripture is about suffering…You can be assured of this: God really does speak in our suffering, and we have good reason to believe that the words he says are good and powerful and enough to lighten our pain.

When depression is incorporated into the larger problem of human suffering, you will find that you already know much more about depression than you realize.

Turn Scripture’s gaze for example, to the question of what causes depression (suffering, trials). Its answers shun the simplistic and point to at least five possible causes.

-Other People: Beneath some depression you are likely to find a person who is reeling from the sins of other people.

-We, too, are a cause of suffering: Don’t be surprised if you find things within yourself–fears, anger, and selfish desires–lurking behind some depression….There are more subtle ways we can contribute to depression too…misguided beliefs…about God and ourselves…

-Our bodies: Since sin entered the world, our bodies gradually weaken and waste away. Disease, deterioration from old age, post-partum struggles, side effects of medication, and possible chemical imbalances are just a few of the physical causes relevant to depression…

-Satan is a fourth cause of human suffering: the book of Job is one of the few places in Scripture where his work is obviously on display. Satan lies to us, he can afflict us physically, and he generally seeks to persuade us that allegiances to the true God is not in our best interests…It is very difficult to discern Satan’s contributions to depression…Any prolonged suffering can become an occasion to question the goodness of God. As soon as that question comes, Satan sits down next to us and tries to confirm our suspicions.

-Finally God himself is a cause of suffering. “God sometimes puts his children to bed in the dark,” is the way an old preacher put it. WE say that God “allows” suffering and sometimes Scripture uses that language. But biblical authors were absolutely persuaded that God was the one, true, sovereign, Creator God. They could not imagine a world in which God was not enthroned. Nothing happens apart from his sovereign oversight, including our suffering.

“The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts” (I Samuel 2:6-7)

“I [the Lord] form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)

God is over all things, and nothing happens apart from his knowledge and will. By the time suffering or depression comes to our doorstep, God did it. To believe anything else is to opt for a universe that is random and out of control, without a guiding hand bringing all things to a purposeful and awe-inspiring conclusion.”

(Ed Welch “Despression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness )

Post #3

“Although Scripture reveals that there are multiple causes of suffering (others, ourselves, our bodies, Satan, and God) and that multiple causes can be at work at any one time, it is less forthcoming about diagnosing the precise causes of particular hardships…

The reason Scripture doesn’t give clear guidelines for assigning responsibility is that it is not essential for us to know precise causes. This is good news: you don’t have to know the exact cause of suffering in order to find hope and comfort. Job once again, is the model. Although we know that Satan caused Job’s suffering, Job did not have this insight. Even after his fortunes were restored he never knew why he suffered. Although he asked for an audience with God to plead his innocence, the only thing God revealed was that God is God and Job was not. Yet this more than satisfied all of Job’s “why” questions…

All suffering is intended to train us to fix our eyes on the true God. Therefore, depression, regardless of the causes, is a time to answer the deepest and most important of all questions: Whom will I trust? Whom will I worship?”

Ed Welch (Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness)

Post #4
Chapter about God
At its very root, life is about God. Whether you shake your fist at him, consider him so distant that his existence is irrelevant, or tremble before him because you feel that you are under his judgement, the reality is this: the basic questions of life and the fundamental issues of the human heart are about God. Life is about knowing him or avoiding him. It is about spiritual allegiances. Whom will you trust in the midst of pain? Whom will you worship?

Job’s intense suffering and great loss drove him immediately to a basic spiritual question. Now that suffering was a resident in his home, would he still trust and worship God?

His answer was unambiguous. When he lost all his children, “he fell to the ground in worship,” and made a shocking declaration: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21)…

As you consider God, expect to find fallacies in your thinking about yourself and God. In other words, although you may think that you know all you need to know about God–or all you want to know–you don’t. When in doubt, let humility be the order of the day. If you resist an offer to know God better, you are probably angry with God, in which case it is all the more reason to consider who he is. He invites angry people to come and be surprised…

Surprise #1 Jesus Shared In Our Sufferings

If you think God is far away and indifferent, here is the surprising revelation. From the foundation of the world, God knew your sufferings and declared that he himself would take human form and participate in them (which means that we, too, could share in his). This is not a distant, indifferent God.

In an African hospital, a pastor who had just witnessed another death was approached by a poor, elderly woman.

“You know,” she said, taking my [the pastor’s] arm, “through many losses of family and friends and through much sorrow, the Lord has taught me one thing. Jesus Christ did not come to take away our pain and suffering, but to share in it.”…

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)…

The cross says that life will not be easy. If Jesus serves, we will serve. If Jesus suffers, we, too, will experience hardships. No servant is greater than the master. Yet things are not always the way they appear. Suffering is part of the path that leads to glory and beauty. “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (ps. 126:6). Suffering has a purpose. It is changing us so that we look more and more like Jesus himself. “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” But that death is not the end of the story.

Ed Welch (Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness)

Post #5

Surprise #2: God is Good and Gracious

“It is hard to argue when we are reminded that Jesus shared in our sufferings and has compassion for those who suffer. It is easier to protest, however, when we hear the proposition that God is both good and generous. At this moment in your life, it would seem that goodness and generosity, especially from the all-powerful God, could only be demonstrated by a removal of the depression. If he takes it away, you are persuaded. If not, you remain a doubter.

But remember…“He who did not spare his own Son, but graciously gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) The cross is the only evidence that can fully persuade you that God is, at all times, good and generous. There is no arguing with someone who is willing to make this ultimate sacrifice. If someone gives his only child for you, you can’t doubt that person’s love…

This is not a religious attempt to drum up some good feelings. It is harder to be surprised by the goodness and generosity of God when you feel so miserable. Of the Puritan Williams Cowper it was said,

“It is possible to be a child of God, without consciousness of the blessings, and to have a title to a crown, and yet feel to be immured in the depths of a dungeon.”

The goal is simply to remind you of the truth. Your job is simply to believe (John 6:29)”

(Ed Welch “Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness”)

Post #6
On crying out to the Lord

“If you are depressed, aspire to be a liturgical worshiper, If you wait until you feel motivated to worship, you might be waiting a long time…

Everything turns inward in depression. A beautiful flower momentarily catches your attention, but within seconds the focus bends back into your own misery. You see loved ones who are celebrating a recent blessing, but before you can synchronize your feelings with theirs, you have doubled back to your own personal emptiness. Like a boomerang that always returns, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get away from yourself.
Pain is like that. If any part of your body is injured, you can’t get away from the pain. You may have brief distractions, but then the throbbing breaks through your consciousness and dominates again…

Your decision is between calling out to the Lord or not. This is the choice that has confronted those in misery throughout history…“They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds” (Hosea 7:14). You can sit in silence or cry to the Lord. You can cry on your bed, or cry to the Lord. These are the two choices.
Now you can see why liturgical prayers might be very useful…The Psalms are God’s liturgy, prepared for you in advance.

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Ps. 13:1)

I am a worm and not a man. (Ps. 22:6)

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly far away and be at rest–I would flee far away and stay in the desert. (Ps. 55:4-7)

I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. (Ps. 69:2-3)

My soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave…You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths….But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? (Ps. 88:3,6,13-14)

Begin a search. Start with words and phrases that reflect your experience. If that seems too much, ask someone to read selected Psalms to you…

What these psalms do is straighten the trajectory of our lives. Using the words he gives us, God gently turns our hearts toward him. Instead of everything bending back into ourselves, we are able to look straight, outside of ourselves, and fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
Keep this pattern in mind. It is the path of hope. The fact that all your thoughts turn back on yourself is oppressive. The self cannot carry the load. The way we were intended to function was to be able to look outward, toward God and other people…

Hope as your will find, is a skill that takes practice. There is no verse, pill, or possession that will make it magically appear. Reciting psalms that you have claimed as your own is part of that practice…

Say your liturgy at set times during the day. Get others to pray with you and for you.”


(Ed Welch “Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness”)

Post #7

During times of suffering and difficulty, spiritual warfare is virtually guaranteed…

Think about the nature of depression. Life turned inward. You already have a sense that, for all practical purposes, God us not present. Add to that your relentless condemnation and pervasive self-criticism, which have persuaded you that God doesn’t love you. You couldn’t be a more obvious spiritual target if you painted a bull’s-eye on your chest…

Satan’s Strategies:

Lies: Progression of Believing Lies and Satan’s Attacks.

You are spiritually vulnerable —–>your emotions are so powerful that they skew your interpretations—–>Satan Attacks——>you swear allegiance to your most pessimistic interpretations no matter what others say.
There are no incantations, spinning heads, strange voices, or obvious satanic rituals here. It all seems very natural. But this is knock-down, drag-out spiritual warfare.

Lies about us: Satan’s lies are calculated and strategic. They are directed at the spiritual jugular–most important issues of life.
Do you believe that some things you have done are to bad to be forgiven?….Do you believe that it is impossible for the Holy Ghost to love you and even delight in you?…Do you believe that you have no reason to live?…Do you believe that these questions are unimportant?…
Waver on these questions and you will be experiencing the battle.

Lies don’t just impose themselves on our hearts. Instead, Satan’s lies come to us after the seeds already exist. He is the counselor who endorses the lies we already suspect are true. He is the false witness who is quick to confirm our false interpretation. This is why spiritual warfare seems so natural. We are not being taken against our wills. Rather than fight us where we have strong faith and certainty and lies will seem silly and obvious, Satan looks for faith that is weak in the hopes that we will meekly surrender. It begins when we harbor doubts. Satan, ever the opportunist, sees vulnerability and simply says, “Yes, what you believe is true.”

(Ed Welch, “Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness.)

Post #8
Warfare (cont.)

Lies about God:
If you look carefully at the lies you believe, you will notice that you are caught in a cross-fire. Yes, you are an intended casualty and the lies are self-condemning, but you are not the primary target of those lies. Instead, the volleys are aimed especially at the character of God. Their goal is to raise questions about God. Specifically, they question God’s love and power…

For example, “I am worthless” could be reinterpreted as, “God has not given me the success I desires; therefore, I don’t believe that he is good…

“I can’t go on” becomes “I don’t believe that God hears or is powerful enough to work through human weakness.”

Can you see it? Our suffering may come from many different places, but regardless of its origins, Satan ultimately is a player.

Lies that focus on temporal, not spiritual realities:
This popular deception is underway even before suffering begins. During the better times, Satan happily encourages us to see the goodness of God all around us.
“You have a strong marriage? Isn’t God good!”
“Your health is fine? Isn’t God good!”
“Your bills are paid, and there is some money in the bank? Isn’t God good!”
“Train your eye on these earthly blessings, and gauge God’s goodness by what you see because life will not always be an accumulation of good things. Then, when the hardships come, you will look out and have no evidence of God’s goodness.”

This is what Satan tried, albeit unsuccessfully, with Job. Job had all the best things in life, and Satan assumed that once they were gone, Job would turn his back on God. But Job trusted in God throughout, causing Satan to flee.

(Ed Welch “Depressions: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness”)

Post #9
Warfare: Our Counterattack

“Remember you have an enemy:
Follow the lead of wise people who begin each day by actually saying, “Today, I must be alert that I have an enemy.”…Assume that warfare rages:
We don’t know if Satan has a hand in your depression itself, but we do know that he will use the chronic nature of your pain as a venue to employ well-worn strategies….Remember that Satan will always attack the character of God….

Don’t think that your case is unique
This popular lie questions God’s care: all sufferers are tempted to believe that their suffering is unique. This lie immediately renders all counsel irrelevant because no one understands and no advice applies. The result is that the aloneness you already experience is now an established fact, and you are given ever more permission to despair…

Know Christ:
Satan’s energies zero in on one point: the truth about Jesus. If you are growing in an accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ, you are winning the battle…The knowledge of Christ is revealed most fully at the cross…The cross is evidence that Christ’s love is much more than good intentions or compassion without action, It shows us that Christ’s love was a holy love that surpasses our understanding. If we are angry that God allows depression in our lives, we should be reminded that his love is much more sophisticated than we know. Our anger shows that we are small children who think we know what is best…
Another reason it is so important to know Jesus is that one of the grand purposes of human existence is to look more and more like him…Jesus learned obedience through suffering, we will too…
The challenge for us is to think as God thinks. In other words, our present thinking must be turned upside-down. We once thought that suffering was to be avoided at all costs; now we must understand that the path to becoming more like Jesus goes through hardships, and it is much better than the path of brief and superficial comfort without Jesus. When we understand this grand purpose, we discover that suffering does not oppose love; it is a result of it (Heb. 12:8). We are under the mistaken impression that divine love cannot coexist without human pain. Such thinking is one of Satan’s most effective strategies. it must be attacked with the gospel of grace.

Humble yourself before the Lord:
When you are depressed, you feel like you can’t get any lower. But an appropriate and strengthening response to the love of Christ is humility. Humility is different from feeling low. It is lowering ourselves before God and accepting his sovereign will.
Humility says, “God owes me nothing.” “He is not my servant;I am his.” “God is God, and he has the right to do anything he wants.”…

When you have a growing knowledge of God, your natural response is humility. In the face of such a powerful spiritual response to the knowledge of Christ, Satan is powerless.”

(Ed Welch (Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness)

Post #10

“Scripture beseeches us to remember…For some people, repetition becomes a been-there-done-that, and they check out until there is something new. For the wise, however, remembering is essential to the human soul. It is part of that forsaken art of meditating. It is critical to the process of change and a prominent means of doing spiritual battle.

Here is a Psalm that can guide your remembering.

‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. (Ps. 130)

Psalm 130 begin with sufferings that have pulled the psalmist into the vortex of death itself…

While teetering on the edge of the abyss, the psalmist has a choice: he can mourn his fretful condition, or he can cry out to the Lord. Of course, as both our voice and our guide, he leads us in crying out…

Deliverance comes, but…at first glance it seems like a lame rescue attempt. The Psalmist is given what appears to be a flimsy lifeline: His God is the one who forgives sins.

This one takes some reflection. We don’t have evidence that the psalmist’s sin caused his suffering. How is he going to take hope in the fact that he is forgiven?…

To appreciate the Psalm’s guidance on this, we have to believe that sin is a problem in our lives. In fact, to really be led by the psalm, we must realize that sin is our deepest problem, even deeper than our depression. Robert Fleming, a persecuted Scottish minister who lives from 1630-94, said, “In the worst of times, there is still more cause to complain of an evil heart than of an evil world.” In a culture where sin is not part of our normal public discourse, to adopt such a perspective will take some work.”

(Ed Welch, “Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness”)

Post # 11
Continued Discourse on Psalm 130

Do you believe that seeing sin in yourself is a good thing?…
When we see sin, it is evidence that God is close. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals sin (John 16:8). We don’t have the acumen for it. If you see it, have hope—the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. It is tangible evidence of God’s love.

Do you believe that sin is against God?…
…biblical law-breaking is much more personal. It is more like adultery than speeding…Only when the Holy Spirit shines his light on our hearts do we realize that sin is personal.

Do you believe that sin is found in imaginations, motives, thoughts, and deeds?…
It is there, at the level of the human heart, that you will find selfishness, pride…anger and lack of forgiveness, jealousy, complaining, grumbling, and thanklessness to the God who forgives…

Can you pinpoint, right now, a handful of sins?…
If you fail on this one, then psalm (130) is meaningless.
The psalmist knew that his sin problem was deeper and more critical than his suffering…He also knew…his God…did not keep a record of wrongs for all those who turned to him, Therefore, the psalmist stood in awe. He could not comprehend such love, but he was thankful for it…

Love produces hope. If we, in our misery, are absolutely persuaded of God’s love, we will be confident that he will deliver us. Therefore, we hope in him. We can wait as long as it takes because we are sure that he hears us and loves us. He will come. HE will deliver…God’s love inspires both an eagerness to be with him and a confidence that he is true to his word…It is these two—eagerness and confidence—that combine to form hope…

The reality is that we are the watchmen on the last watch of the night. It is 4:30 am. We have seen the sunrise many times, and we are eager for it and confident it will come. What is the sunrise we are waiting for? In Psalm 130, the morning sun is a person. In that person are many benefits such as healing, deliverance, and love, but, make no mistake, it is a person. We wait for him more than for is gifts…

Be careful at this point that you aren’t discouraged by the psalmist. His enthusiasm is inspiring but difficult to match. If it isn’t quite contagious, don’t despair. To move from the depths to a confident hope takes practice. Consider this psalm a condensed version of a long learning process.

God has determined that many good things come through perseverance…So don’t expect hope to happen immediately. It would be like insisting that you play Mozart before your second piano lesson. Hope is both a gift from God and a skill he enables us to attain.

(Ed Welch, “Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness”)

Post #12
“Too often we live on little scraps of meaning…a three percent raise, a new pair of shoes, a one-night-stand, an Internet relationship. We manage to eke out meaning and purpose from fumes. That is, of course until you submerge into depression. Then you notice that there is no larger story, and the stage collapses…

What seemed meaningful and real a few years ago has turned out to be a façade…

‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
(Eccles. 1:2-3)…

The Teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes tries to save us time in our search for meaning and purpose. He tells us that he tried to make life about himself and it didn’t work. He tried learning, laughter, great projects, unbridled sexual pleasure, money, music, and children. None of them, when they were elevated to his life’s purpose, led to anything but despair. He could not find his purpose in the created world.

After briefly envying an ordinary life of honest toil, good friends, food, moderate drink, and doing right, he comes to his answer—his purpose.

‘Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Eccles. 12:13)…

Fearing God and keeping his commandments brings a certain simplicity to life. He is the Creator; we are the creatures. We belong to him. When he directs us, we follow. We come before him and say, “And how do you want me to live today?”…

We can easily remember the summary of God’s law: Love one another. What does that have to do with purpose and meaning? Every command is Scripture is a purpose statement. We are servants of the exalted king. When he speaks to us and tells us what to do, that becomes our purpose. Our purpose is to live for his purpose…

A wise older counselor, who had experienced depression himself, challenged other depressed people this way: “Fight the spiritual battles that accompany depression so that you can love other people.”

If you are familiar with Scripture, you will find the summary of Ecclesiastes in a number of different forms.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Mic. 6:8)

Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39)

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal 5:6)

The language varies: fear the Lord, trust him, love him, walk humbly with him, or believe in him. Then we express this commitment to the Lord by obeying his commandments, the summary of which is love. This is the true foundation for human life. Apart from it, life is meaningless.

(Ed Welch: Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness.)

Post #13

“In Scripture, the word “surrender” links you directly to “persevere, be patient in trials.”…

As with so many commands of Scripture, “persevere” is more than something God says; it is something he does. It is one of the many aspects of his character. The reason it is of great worth is that it is one of the chief ways God has revealed himself to us. Scripture consistently points to God’s perseverance and forbearance with his people.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(2 Pet. 3:9)

For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. (Ps. 69:7)

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. (2 Thess. 3:5)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)…

How can I give you up? How can I hand you over? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger. For I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. When the Lord roars like a lion, his children will return. (Hosea 11:8-10)

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:16)

All teaching on perseverance, patience, and endurance find its source in the character of God. Just as we love because he is love, and he loved us before we knew him, so we persevere because he is perseverance and he has persevered with us throughout history…

Given this connection to the character of God, perseverance is not ordinary but glorious, Think about it for a moment. Let’s say you just heard a testimony from someone who said she had been depressed until God completely delivered her. She is, of course ecstatic. But could it be that she was putting her trust in being healed rather than in the God who loves, forgives, perseveres, and heals?

Now consider another woman who has experienced deep depression. Her testimony is that she believes God is good, whether depression leaves or returns. She has learned to persevere in troubles and find contentment in God in the midst of them. That is a glorious testimony.

Perseverance isn’t flashy. It doesn’t call attention to itself. It looks like putting one foot in front of another. But beneath the surface, where few can see the glory, is something very profound (Rev. 2:2,19). You are becoming more like God. God sees it, and he is pleased by it.

Perseverance is more than just making it through life until you die from natural causes. It is perseverance in faith and obedience. It is perseverance in our God-given purpose, even when life is very hard. Perseverance asks the question, “Today, how will I represent God? How will I trust him and follow him in obedience?” Then it asks for help from others, cried out to the Lord, and looks for an opportunity to love. It may seem feeble, but our confidence is in the God who is strong. The essence of persevering is trusting or obeying because of Jesus.”

(Ed Welch: Depression: Looking Up From the Stubborn Darkness.)

Is My Husband Leading Me Spiritually?

When I first got married, I had a very particular idea of what spiritual leadership in a marriage looked like. I envisioned my husband and I having our separate personal quiet times each morning, frequent prayer times together, family devotions every night, and serving together in the youth group or some official ministry of the church. Soon after getting married I realized that my expectations of spiritual leadership were not going to be met. However, the truth is, my husband was and is a great spiritual leader and I have grown in Christ in significant ways as a result of his patient and humble leadership. Needless to say my perspective and beliefs on what spiritual leadership looks like in the home has shifted significantly and I would simply like to share some thoughts that have come out of my journey with this particular issue.

What’s wrong with the traditional picture of spiritual leadership?

What, you may ask, is wrong with the expectations of spiritual leadership that I had in my head at the beginning of my marriage? All of the things I mentioned are good things, not to be scorned, and they are legitimately a part of many husband’s spiritual leadership. However, I came to the realization that what was wrong with my conception of spiritual leadership was that those activities, as good as they may be, were not the heart of what spiritual leadership is. I realized that it is possible to not do many of the traditional spiritual leadership activities with ones family and still be leading them towards Christ and faith; which is spiritual life. Conversely, I realized that a husband can be doing all the traditionally “right” things a spiritual leader is supposed to do but still be spiritually dead and leading his family towards spiritual death. In the end I concluded that spiritual leadership is much more an attitude, an atmosphere, and a direction that one presses towards, rather than a set list of activities. There is a heart to spiritual leadership that fills the many different outward forms that spiritual leadership can take, but without the heart the forms themselves, are empty. (Matthew 23:25-28)

Four Marks

Having come to the above conclusions I started looking more at Michael’s heart than his specific actions, and as the years went by, I began to notice and develop an appreciation for how Michael was indeed leading me spiritually. Even though it didn’t take the forms I had originally expected I began to see more clearly Michael’s heart for Christ, faith, and the church and that those were the overall directions he was taking me.

These are 4 ways that Michael has led me over the years that I had at first overlooked but am now so very grateful for. I offer these as merely my thoughts and experience, but I am hopeful that as you read you can identify ways that your husband is leading you spiritually, that you may have overlooked in the past due to your own expectations of what spiritual leadership should look like.

  1. Pursuing Christ and Faith in His Spiritual Walk.

This is the foundation upon which the rest of spiritual leadership rests and therefore is a main part of what spiritual leadership looks like. If the general direction of your husband’s life is one of pursuit of Christ by faith, then be encouraged! He is heading in a direction that you and your children can and should follow him in. (I Cor. 3:10-15; Eph. 2:19-22; Eph. 5:22-33)

Before moving on I want to encourage you to not jump to the conclusion that your husband does not personally pursue God because he doesn’t have a daily morning quiet time as you do. This was the conclusion I almost came to, but then realized that what seeking Christ practically looked like in my life, was not what it looked like in my husband’s life. You might have long morning quiet times, he might have shorter more frequent times of reading Scripture that you may not always get to observe. You might have a long organized prayer list and a set time for prayer, he might pray on his way to work for whatever is on his heart and mind. You may write out application and meditation thoughts in a journal while his meditation on Scripture does not include journaling.

The Lord knocked me off this high horse of mine during a certain period in my life when my personal devotions and what they looked like changed drastically for me. During that time, I still pursued Christ and I still desired him and God was faithful to keep me close to himself, but what my practical devotional life looked like was much different than I ever would have thought it could look; my old self would have looked at me and judged. My point is, be humble and gracious, and allow for personal differences in this area.

  1. Leading in an attitude of humility through confession of areas of spiritual sin and weakness that the Spirit has brought conviction in.

Spiritual humility and open confession of sin is a cornerstone of Christian growth. If your husband shows an attitude of humility through being open with you, and when appropriate with your kids about his weaknesses and sin then he is leading you spiritually. In essence, when your husband does this, he is leading your family into a humility that leads to repentance. Follow him there. (II Cor. 7:9-11; James 5:16; I John 1:7-10)

  1. Showing interest in your spiritual walk and developing an atmosphere in your home of spiritual openness and regular genuine discussion about the things of God:

For my husband, this interest in my walk with God was expressed through conversations that were both planned and spontaneous and consisted of questions about what I was learning, how my devotions had been, how I may be discouraged spiritually etc. He regularly talks about the sermon’s we hear at church and shares with me how the Lord has been working in him, new things he is learning, questions or doubts he has and the spiritual discouragements he is experiencing. These conversations were not necessarily daily, but they were regular and common.

The point or goal of these conversations is not to have a huge spiritual break through every time. Many times, these conversations were simple and short and did not really lead anywhere particular, but I have come to see that in having these regular conversations he is working to develop an atmosphere of spiritual openness and comfortableness in speak about spiritual things, both positively and negatively. Another way of putting it would be that he is working to develop a way of life where speaking about our spiritual things is common and comfortable, even when what is being said consist of spiritual struggle, disappointment, disillusionment, doubt etc. and not just the positive spiritual growth or experiences we are having (since growth almost always grows out of spiritual struggle).

Working to develop this attitude and atmosphere in a home, I believe, will also naturally create a place where our children can feel free to speak about spiritual things as well; an atmosphere in which our children know and feel that their parents really care about their own personal walks with God and are often speaking openly and engagingly about those things. This is much more than just a household filled with right rules or set times for family devotions, or requirements to have a daily personal devotions, but a household in which the things of God and his work in our lives is often and naturally spoken of. (Deut. 6:4-9; I Thess. 5:14;Phil. 2:1-7)

For some husbands, having a regular family devotions serves as a springboard for developing this overall atmosphere. For others like Michael, they do this better in a more spontaneous conversational way. It took me some time to discern this but I am grateful I did not miss it altogether!

  1. Leading through being careful to bring his family to a church that is theologically sound and is faithful to teach the meat of God’s Word.

 Your husband might not be a natural theologian and teacher but if he has shown that he cares about leading his family to a theologically sound church that teaches the meat of God’s Word, then he is leading you spiritually in a very important way. Your husband cannot feed or lead your family all by himself and he was never meant too; thus the importance of finding a church that teaches the Bible. This might not feel like spiritual leadership to you because it feels like such a “given” but do not overlook or diminish this part of your husband’s leadership if he is indeed leading you in this way. (Hebrews 10:24-25; Titus 2:2-8; II Tim. 4:1-5)

Two Things to Consider:

I don’t know about you but I tend to be a naturally proud person especially when I find myself disappointed in another person’s behaviors towards me. It’s very easy to begin to think that somehow you are just naturally better than they are and that if you were they, you would act much more impressively. Knowing this tendency in myself, I want to encourage you before I begin this next section, to take a second or two to humble yourself before the Lord. I want to remind you that any level of spiritual maturity you may have is all due to God’s work in your life and not due to your natural spiritual awesomeness. God, for reasons based purely on his divine sovereignty and grace, chose to work in your life in ways he may not have chosen to work in many other lives around you. You did nothing to deserve this or earn this. Any obedience or steps towards God that you have taken was God’s initiation and work in your life without which; you would have rebelled and run from God. Don’t ever forget this glorious humbling truth. (Eph. 2:1-10; Eph. 1:4-6;Phil. 2:12-13; II Tim. 2:24-26; John 6:28-29, 43-44; John 15:16;19). This realization should lead you to get off any high horse you may be riding as you consider these next two possibilities.

Only God can take the heart of your husband and turn it towards himself. For this reason I want to encourage you to not put pressure on your husbands to perform any particular spiritual leadership activity, whatever those activities are to you. I think there is a place and time to share with your husband any particular desires you have for him and his spiritual leadership of you, but before you decide to speak to him about spiritual leadership in your marriage, take time to pray about and consider these two possibilities.

First, maybe your husband is leading spiritually, just not in the traditional way you think of spiritual leadership. Be willing to step outside your normal way of thinking, to consider something different. Look to the heart of your husband, and consider where he, as an individual, is heading. If his general direction is one that is towards Christ and the things of God, then there is something to follow and chances are, there are other ways he is leading you that you have not even noticed.

If this is the conclusion you come to then I am glad for you! Humbly thank God for the husband he has given you and for the ways he is succeeding in leading you spiritually and do not take this for granted. Thank your husband for the ways he is leading you, build him up in these areas, and let him know that he is doing a good job. If after doing these things you still feel that there are spiritual areas you would like to work on, or practical things that you desire to do with him, then I would encourage you to speak with him about those things. Be careful not to speak with a critical, why-haven’t-you-led-me-in-this-way tone, but rather in a conversational I-would-enjoy-this-what-do-you-think-about-trying-this-together? tone, and hold whatever it is you want with an open hand. I cannot tell you for sure how this conversation will go. If you feel your husband get defensive or discouraged in this conversation or if he expresses that those are things he is uncomfortable doing be willing to let it go and simply reiterate the ways in which he is doing well.

The second thing you must consider is the possibility that your husband is not at a place spiritually where acting out any amount of spiritual leadership “activities” will amount to the spiritual leadership you so deeply desire, leaving both you and your husband in an unhealthy place. If you get your husband to act these leadership activities out, without the heart of real spiritual leadership, it will simply be a hollow, legalistic, outward expression of his attempts to either please you, impress his spiritual leaders and fellow church mates, or deceive his own heart into thinking that he is spiritually mature and good with God because he is doing the things he is supposed to be doing.

If you find yourself coming to the conclusion that your husband is not in a spiritual place to lead your family at this time, then your desire for your husband to lead spiritually should be expressed primarily to God in the form of praying for your husband’s spiritual growth and not to your husband. Your husband cannot lead you to a place he is not going and you cannot make him go there. Rather in this case I would encourage you, dear sister, to

  • Cling by faith to God’s sovereignty and goodness
  • Accept where your husband is or is not spiritually
  • Humbly, and in an un-flaunting quiet manner, lead your children towards faith in Christ.
  • Pray that God would work in your husband’s life
  • Find for yourself a church with teaching that will lead you weekly to Christ and the things of God, with a leadership you can follow, and
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment on when to speak up to encourage your husband towards Christ and when to keep your peace.

The difficulty of being in this situation is not lost on me and I want you to know that God’s purposes are being worked out in your life and the glory waiting for you is beyond comprehension (Rom 8). Recall this to mind and be filled with hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him

to the soul who seeks him. (Lam 3:21-26)

God is near and he knows your frame, he remembers that you are dust.  (Psalm 103:13-14) “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and he knows them that trust in him” (Nahum 1:7) Keep your eyes on the glorious things above, on Christ, on his glory and his supremacy in all things (Col 1 and 3), and be encouraged; be strengthened.

Well, those are my thoughts. I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and how God has worked in your life in these areas of marriage. Feel free to comment in the comments below or on my facebook post!