Category: Blogs

Sinless or Sin Less??

 

Sinless or Sin Less?

I love reading. I always have done, from a very young age. I remember fondly reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, and reading my first Jack Higgins novel in my early teens. I don’t know if reading was an escape but I just loved to read. I guess it doesn’t matter really. My love of reading has continued to this day, although my choice of books has certainly changed. Gone are the thrillers, the fantasy books like Game of Thrones. The majority of my reading now is Christian based. I am particularly interested in Christian Apologetics, and have read many books on the subject. Lee Strobel is a favourite and I would recommend any of his books. I have also just finished a book by Jonathan Wells on the subject of Evolution and how what is taught in schools is wrong.

There are many books by prominent Christians where God has moved massively in their lives. They all seem to live absolutely fantastic lives. Jesus saved them, God spoke to them, and their lives became absolutely amazing. I have many books in my bookcase just like these and I absolutely love them. They inspire me, the fire me and they have been a source of great comfort to me. Can I identify with them? Not much. Jesus set me free from a life dogged by Heroin addiction and my life has been transformed completely. God spoke to me regarding his plans for my life, and here I am writing a blog on a Christian Clothing Website after God spoke to Myself and my beautiful wife. This is where my identification ends when I read all theses Christian books. You see I am still human. I still sin. I still struggle, and I still get things wrong on a monumental scale. I hope this article can be of some encouragement to others who struggle and keep quiet 

I enjoy hearing about peoples struggles. If I am honest I am slightly sceptical of people who have an encounter with Jesus and who’s lives are amazing after. I identify with the guy who says he has been set free from something, whose life has been transformed, but who still messes up. The guy who stands in front of you and openly says I get things wrong. I love that guy. Even Paul the Apostle got it wrong. One of my favourite passages of the bible is where he says that he still cant stop himself from doing the things that he knows he shouldn’t be doing. Now I can identify with that.

Before I went to Teen Challenge I was not a very nice person. My language was appalling and I was unable to show much affection towards my Wife and Children. Rather than tell the children that I was going to Teen Challenge to get help for my drug addiction, we made a decision to tell them I was going to get help for my swearing and smoking. So my children associate swearing with a very unhappy period in their lives. And, if I am completely honest, on a number of occasions over the last few months I have sworn. This immediately upsets the children and put them on edge. Does it make me a bad person? No, however it makes me want to grow in my faith more so that I imitate Jesus even more. Do I still battle smoking? Yes I do. This too makes me want to grow in my faith. Just because I gave my life to Christ doesn’t mean I am going to be sinless. It means I will sin less.

Life is tough. Life throws up some tough situations. And on many occasions our responses or actions may not be the right ones. But we can have hope that we are not alone. That many others go through the same struggles. Do I believe that all of these famous Christian Authors’ lives are perfect? No, however it doesn’t stop me reading their books because their content and message are very good. They know what they are talking about. They still inspire me and I will continue to read them. Now, if I ever get round to writing a book it will include my topsy turvy life as a Christian, and how I don’t beat myself up about my mistakes. I want to encourage all those who also get things wrong. Paul got things wrong. Its not the end of the world. Jesus loves us and calls us to follow him. He never said it would be easy. And anyway, easy’s boring

Mental Health – A question of Faith?

 

I was brought up in a family where any type of problem was dealt with by pulling your socks up, having a stiff upper lip and just getting on with things. So when I began to experience really low moods the first thing I did was to try and grin and bear it. The trick of just getting on with things would surely work. Unfortunately not. My Depression got so severe that I had thoughts of ending my life. I can remember lying on the bed upstairs listening to my wife and children laughing downstairs. The sound of my children laughing is possibly the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. But all I wanted to do was to die. I couldn’t go on feeling the way I did. I cried out to Abigail that I couldn’t go on like this. She encouraged me to call the Doctor. Depression was diagnosed and a course of Anti-Depressants was prescribed. A few weeks later I was feeling much better. However I still didn’t want to open up to people. I still had this feeling that it was something that I should deal with myself and that people would think less of me.

4 years later and my depression hit an all time low. I had to do something or else I thought I was going to harm myself. Thoughts of driving the car a bridge were so strong that I had to cancel a trip and drive home straight away. I was so scared. 41 years old and I could see no way out. Was this how the rest of my life was going to be? I Booked in to see a Psychiatrist who said I was suffering with severe depression. She Prescribed 2 Anti-Depressants, one at night and one in the morning. The first few weeks were tough. I felt so nauseous, I almost stopped taking them. However, a few weeks on and I am beginning to feel so much better. 

So where does Faith come into it? Over the years I have been encouraged by Christians to stop taking my medication, however I have seen first hand people taking their own lives as a result of this kind of advice. My wife, Abigail, who also suffers with a mental illness was told it was a question of faith and that if she wasn’t healed it was her faith that was weak. Suffice to say we stopped attending that church where she was told that by the lead Pastor. Now I am sure that this wasn’t an isolated incident and that all over the world fellow brothers and sisters are being told much the same thing, that if you aren’t healed then your faith is weak. According to one Pastor, of a very large church in the UK , Mental Health isn’t in the Bible so it doesn’t exist. Read that again and let it soak in.

So what do I think? Bearing in mind I am not a Pastor, and I have never been to Bible college, I do have a little experience and a small knowledge of the Bible. I believe in healing. I have seen it first hand in my son, although that is another blog entirely. Healing is a huge part of the New Testament, however from what I can see the majority of healing was used to bring people to Jesus. I believe firmly that not everyone is healed. Why? Maybe because God has a bigger purpose. Maybe, like healing, having a mental illness can also be used for good. How we handle our illness and get through it with our heads held high can give others a message that Jesus is the real deal. My faith in Jesus is as strong as the next mans, and how I walk with Jesus through my trials is a great testimony of just how awesome he is.

So what do I do? I continue to have contact with my Doctor, and I continue to take my prescribed medication. Prescribed to me by a professional who knows a lot more about my illness than anyone in the church. It makes me think about the story of the Christian man stuck on the roof of his house in a flood. His neighbour comes past in a boat and asks if he wants a lift to safety. He replies that he is ok because he has God in his life. The fire Brigade come past and ask him the same thing. His reply is that he is ok because he has God. The Coast Guard fly overhead and drop a winch down to him. He waves them away saying he is ok because he has God. Shortly after he slips of the roof and drowns. He enters Heaven and asks God why he let him die. God replies ” I sent you neighbours, firemen and the coast Guard” My point is that Doctors are there to be used. I also try to talk openly about my struggles. People in Churches struggle all over the world and remain quiet for may reasons. I want people to know about my struggles to encourage them that they are not alone. Churches don’t seem to want to talk about Mental Health and I don’t know why. But I want to try and change that. I am talking at church in a couple of weeks about David and Goliath. I am going to be open and honest about my Depression. Depression is my Goliath but I must never forget that I have Lions and Bears that God has brought me through. Depression is my Goliath and the stone in my sling is my acceptance of my illness, not being healed. I want to be real and tell people that I have many struggles, but that the Love of Jesus gives me the strength to get through them and to accept them.

I hope this has helped someone. If you are being told Mental Illness is a question of faith, then you are in the wrong church. Jesus loves you and promises eternal life. He doesn’t promise an easy life.

God bless.