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Question: I’m Lonely & Struggling. What Can I Do?

Question: I am really struggling (perhaps involving depression). [Reader describes personal circumstances here; removed for privacy sake] I am not involved with any group (church or whatever) as I don’t have any desire to get out like that. I am a strong/devoted Christian and that is what keeps my head above water. I worry what will become of me when I am living here alone, my greatest worry. I am so lonely. Are there web sites, blogs of folks who are where I am?
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It’s hard to know how to advise you when you’ve dismissed the idea of “getting out” because that IS THE ANSWER, the only answer to your situation.

Invest your time and life in others. That is THE CURE for loneliness and depression caused by too much time sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.

How are you a “strong Christian” if you are not out involved in a good Christian gathering (church)? That is why the Bible commands us not to “forsake assembling” ourselves (Heb 10:25). You cannot be a strong Christian in isolation. God knows what is best for us and that why He told us to regularly MEET for worship, fellowship and service together.

You are only alone because of your refusal (based on feelings or desire) to find other local Christians to be your “family”. You DO NOT need to find other people who “are where you are at”…. continuing in self pity and sitting around lamenting life with others who feel just like you is like a person who has a drug problem hanging out with drug addicts to discuss how bad they have it.

I know my advice here is rather blunt, and may even seem insensitive. But trust me, it’s not. Like the Doctor who needs to cut you open or stick with a needle to help you heal, my advice is given with the best intention of shaking you loose from the depressing direction you are headed and “heal” your situation.

Your feelings don’t matter PRIMARILY. Feelings are a byproduct of our CHOICES. Who cares if  you “don’t have the desire” to get out and become involved. You may not have the “desire” to have your chest cracked open for open heart surgery either, but you would do it IF YOU NEEDED TO. Same thing here… You may not have the “desire” to get out of bed and go to work, but you CHOOSE to do it because it’s what NEEDS to be done.

Get up. Right now. This minute. Don’t wait. Get up, get out. Get involved in investing your life in other people. Help at nursing homes. Help with needy kids. Minister at Church. Serve and help others. Find, and get involved, with people who are DOING SOMETHING WITH THEIR LIFE (as opposed to finding other people “in your situation” where you can engage in a group pity party).

I’ll state this confidently:
the number one cure for
run-of-the-mill “blues” (depression) is to quit
focusing on yourself and focus on serving others.

Every day you sit alone, purposely isolating yourself and feeling sorry for your struggle, is another day YOU CHOOSE “depression”, YOU CHOOSE loneliness, YOU CHOOSE isolation. Yes, you can go find MILLIONS of people who will tell you depression is a sickness you cannot help, and it’s not your fault. HORSE PATOOEY!

The typical bout of depression is caused by self focus, self pity and discontent. All of those are CHOICES that people make then blame the resulting FEELINGS on “illness”. That is humanist hogwash (and the usual disclaimer: I’m not talking about physical depression caused by genuine physical trauma or sickness. I’m talking about the common “I don’t feel good about life ‘blues'”).

FEELINGS FOLLOW CHOICE. Make the CHOICE to get out, serve, invest your life in others, become active with other “strong Christians” and very soon (probably immediately) you’ll find that your FEELINGS and DESIRES will “magically” change.

You are only alone if you CHOOSE to be alone. Email me (brent@brentriggs.com) and tell me where you live, and how to contact you. By the end of the week, a train load of fellow Christians will contact you and invite you to “not be alone” anymore.

Knock off the pity party. Self pity is the most pitiable and pitiful of all human emotions. You’re a blessing. Get up, get out, and become a blessing to others and there you’ll find THE CURE to your loneliness and depression.

Email and blogs are “cold”, lacking body language and facial expression. So you’ll just have to CHOOSE to believe this advice is given with a big hug and a huge dose of love.


Hate Forum, Criticizers and the Lies About Us

A few of you have let us know about a couple of blogs and forums that are trashing us.

As usual, I’m getting called a bigot and racist, someone who “obviously doesn’t read his Bible”, just a man pretending to be a conservative so I can be popular. I’m a blowhard full of self-important blathering… a self-righteous know-it-all jerk who thinks I’m never wrong. I’ve heard it all, been called it all.

Let me tell you folks, if I wanted to be POPULAR, I would become an ear-tickling, feel good motivational story teller like many of our current “successful” Christian personalities and wildly popular “pastors”. You don’t get popular taking stands on issues, presenting confident opinion that flies in the face of popular culture, and being unashamedly Christian. To the contrary, that is a sure fire way to assure yourself of a very limited and small readership (which I resigned myself to a long time ago; I will not trade my integrity or my Christian mission for money or popularity, ever).

If I wanted to be popular I’d waste my writing skills putting out fluffy, New Agey, pop culture, “make you feel good” drivel. There are bloggers out there with MILLIONS of loyal, adoring readers who produce the worthless (and eternally dangerous) content which does nothing but stroke the ego and feed fleshly desire. I could be 100 times more popular (and wealthy) by delivering that kind of entertaining but useless garbage on my blogs.

As well, the haters are saying we are exploiting our adopted children for popularity, using Abby to beg for money, blah, blah, blah. They are spouting all the usual verbal vomit about how we “use” our kids, and only adopt because we want to make money off them (any of you people out there who have adopted and MADE MONEY off the whole thing, please email me and let me in on your secret). Apparently, we constantly beg for money, manipulate people, exploit children and kill small puppies for personal gain.

I appreciate our wonderful blog readers letting us know when someone is trashing us, but to be honest, we could CARE LESS… unless there is some legitimate criticism (which is defined as a solid argument showing that something we teach, practice or write is not Biblical).

We could be handing out thousand dollar bills and there will always be someone out there who will criticize, call names and label us. The blog-vampires will always be there. If you have a blog, get used to that fact. It’s not IF you get “hated” on, it’s WHEN. And that’s really the only reason I’m even taking time to write this. I want to let you know that you can EXPECT to be the target of haters if you have a blog, and especially if you are a Christian or conservative blogger.

Strike one is just having a blog. There are people out there who LIVE to leave nasty comments and criticize.

If you are truly conservative, freedom loving, patriotic and family oriented, that’s strike two. You get a whole new crowd of name callers and blog trolls.

Finally, strike 3, 4, 5 and 6… if you dare proclaim your Christian faith publicly AND ACTUALLY BELIEVE AND PRACTICE THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD, then you just hit the gold standard trifecta of stereotypes, rejection and hate. All Christians who actually take their faith seriously are automatically bigoted, racist, greedy, homophobic and uncompassionate hypocrites who deserves nothing less than the ire and hatred of all those who are enlightened and free of the myth of God.

Christians stand for everything that the world and pop culture hates. We KNOW people are going to hate us, leave nasty comments, fire up forums full of lies and distortions, spread rumors and do anything they can to get people to reject us.

John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

As soon as you present this Bible verse, everyone starts howling about you being a “conspiracy nut”. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just a fact of being a Christian in a world that hates Christ, and hates God’s authority over His creation. ALL Christians will face the hate of this world. Any Christian choosing to have a PUBLIC presence invites a quadruple dose of that hate. We understand that.

We always appreciate our wonderful blog friends who look out for us. We don’t want you to be upset when you read nasty things about us. Just ignore it. We hope people come straight to us for answers when the time comes that they hear a rumor about us. The lies never end, and never will until this old creation is made new.

We are always transparent on our blogs about who we are and what we are doing. If you ever hear something and wonder if it’s true, just email us and ask. We have nothing to hide. We have a decade of Internet presence that speaks to the consistency and authenticity of our life and mission.

We won’t spend one second responding to the blog trolls and haters (unless it serves a purpose to help our readers), but we’ll always have time to respond to someone with an honest question or concern about anything we do.

Teaching Moment

Are you facing any persecution or criticism? A sure fire way to avoid it is to NEVER take a stand for God or good. Criticism and naysayers are a good measure of whether or not we are making a difference. The more we go against the rapidly disintegrating standards of this world and make a stand for Godliness, the more people are going to criticize, persecute and lie about us.

The Bible doesn’t say we MIGHT be persecuted for being Christians and standing up for “right”… it says we WILL be persecuted.

I often have people evaluate their life to see whether they are facing any criticism or persecution. If not, is it because they are not doing anything that will draw criticism or persecution? It only takes the slightest public proclamation of a love for Christ or a modest stand for “good and right” to put a target on your back.  So if you are not, or have never, faced any persecution, perhaps it’s because you aren’t doing anything that lets the world know that Jesus is Lord.

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Thanks for letting us know about the hate forums who are trashing us, but really, don’t worry about it. We can’t do anything about them, nor would we even try.

We want to spend our time ministering, serving and helping people. We don’t expect everyone to agree with us about everything, not at all. Lot’s of our friends and readers disagree on occasion with things we teach or write. That’s fine. We aren’t all the same. God didn’t make us all as robots.  We don’t claim a monopoly on knowing everything but we have no reason not to be confident in what we do believe is right and true (neither do you).

Ironically, the haters and trolls are wasting their time and helping us. We don’t care what they write, and all they do is cause good and decent people to come to our defense. If someone believes the lies they read on hater forums without coming directly to us and asking, then 1) we can’t help that, and 2) they aren’t really people that would be open to our message anyway. Either way, it doesn’t end up mattering.

God is our defense and the only thing we have to be concerned about is answering to Him… not to a bunch of people hiding behind keyboards tearing down people they don’t even know.


Question: How Involved Should We Be In Political, Civic and Social Efforts?

politicsQuestion from a reader:

I don’t know where to draw the line between fighting the fight for our Constitution, getting involved in politics, being a dutiful patriot and being a spirit-led Christian seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness first.

Often, I find myself wanting to learn and study the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as, retaining a desire to read current political books in an effort to educate myself on the country’s issues at-hand especially concerning health care reform.

I don’t know as a Christian where to draw the line.  I’m wondering if I should only pray about things and not become so involved with trying to “fight the good fight” against those I think are hurting our country. Do you have any words of wisdom for me, scriptures that I’m overlooking that I should be paying attention too, etc.?

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It’s all a matter of balance and priorities. Some people are called/gifted to be involved in various political, social and civic efforts. As Christians, we ask God for wisdom to know the balance of our personal involvement.

As a general principle, we don’t see Jesus or the Apostles primarily concerned with social ills, political efforts or civic activity.  They are primarily concerned with sharing the Gospel, studying God’s Word and serving others.

Cooperation with others to achieve political and social goals
should NEVER include compromising our faith
.

Now, we are not Apostles, or Jesus, but the PRIORITY they display should be our priority GENERALLY SPEAKING. Nothing should be more important than sharing God’s love, serving others and witnessing for Christ.  If any of our passions for politics or social good* takes precedent over those priorities, then our life will be out of balance (*Note: many churches and big name Christian leaders have raised social work to the highest priority, clearly abandoning the example given to us by Jesus and the Apostles. To validate my point, you see many high profile “social evangelists” compromising, and at times completely eliminating, the goal of sharing the Gospel to all involved and preaching Christ alone. The exclusivity of Christ is seen as divisive, and “inter-faith” cooperation to solve the world’s social ills is seen as the highest good).

I think it is telling that Jesus gave little interest in fighting or correcting the political situation or social ills of his time. Why? Because He knew that the only change that actually effects the world’s problems IS A HEART CHANGE.  Real change, unlike our current President’s slogan, only comes from a supernatural rebirth of the evil human heart. The heart is changed, the person is changed, the family is changed, the community is changed, the city is changed, the culture is changed, the world is changed.

Politics and social activism seeks to change the OUTSIDE, not the inside. While there are certainly a few temporary benefits, it is always short-lived and mostly spiritually empty.

I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t be involved in politics or social efforts. We should, as God leads us. Getting leaders elected that hold our values, feeding the poor and promoting freedom is important. We should be part of it but with the right mindset.

Some Principles to Consider

As we get involved in politics or social efforts, we should keep several principles in mind:

Romans 13:1-7 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (NKJV)

God determines who is in authority and Christians most of all are expected to obey the law, be good citizens, respect authority and do their part to bring Godliness to politics.  God calls some people to be totally involved in this effort, and others to pray and vote.  As good citizens we should make an effort to be basically educated about “government”.

There is no Biblical mandate to avoid politics OR become consumed with every political issue/ill. This is hard for Christians when they see their country being over run by those who hate or deny God… or, at best, elevate MAN over all. We tend to embrace one extreme or the other: get exasperated and say “there’s no use”, or become obsessed with the headlines, books and talk radio.

God gives us the liberty to choose our own level of involvement in politics or social issues like poverty or abortion. We must do so without getting our priorities out of whack or compromising the Truth.

Matthew 22:21 – They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (NKJV)

Jesus recognized our civic duty. The Lord’s mission on earth was not to change the political situation which was BAD. He wasn’t called to “feed the world” or “end social injustice”.  This is a principle we can learn from: what “mission” is God giving you? For some, that WILL be politics, it WILL be feeding the world, it WILL be fighting abortion. But not all of us can have the same “mission”.

Note: no matter how passionate we are about something, we cannot mistake our passion for the idea that EVERYONE should feel the way we feel. I often meet people who think EVERY Christian should fight abortion… EVERY Christian should be working to get a Christian candidate elected. That’s just not realistic. We should be passionate, but we have to allow that God does not call us all to be feet, or all to hands, or all to be eyes (though apparently He’s called a great majority of people to be “mouths” 🙂  ).

Our external circumstances don’t change our spiritual state. While all of us would like to move our country towards Godly leadership and more (genuine) freedom, we have to remember that NO SOCIAL CIRCUMSTANCE should dictate our spiritual health. Whether in Communist China, Muslim Pakistan or “free” America, our faith and trust in God, and our way to salvation is unaffected.

For Americans who lament the disintegrating state of our freedom and previously Christian-orientated nation (our current President has assured the world we are NOT a “Christian” nation), we need to remember that the harvest is GROWING. The government thinks they can solve everything but in truth, they only increase hopelessness and a feeling of being lost. This creates a greater spiritual opening for sharing with people the only True Hope.  For Americans, the disintegrating state of our Republic represents a fertile and growing harvest of lost souls in need of a Savior.

A Matter of Liberty

God gives us the liberty to choose our involvement so enjoy that liberty and remember to keep your priorities straight. Don’t ever let ANYTHING become more important than the Gospel, and your own private spiritual life.

  • If you love politics, get involved, be passionate, but don’t let it be more important that your Christian life.
  • If you love to be part of social efforts, then feed people and share the Gospel; clothe people and share the Gospel. Never let “doing good” become your “religion”.
  • Never let politics, social work or any good deed cause you to “hide your light under a bushel”; don’t compromise the Truth, don’t hide the Truth, don’t agree to “cooperate” with other “faiths” to the point where you are not allowed to share the whole Truth about Jesus Christ

Like many things in the Christian life, this whole question falls into the realm of liberty. We are free to choose our involvement in politics or civic efforts as long as our priorities remain intact, and as long as we NEVER compromise the Truth of God either in content or how/when we can communicate it.

Summary

If you feel passionate or led toward being involved in politics or social efforts, then do it with all your heart. Make a difference. Don’t allow it to become a higher priority than your faith. Don’t compromise sharing the Truth, either in frequency or fullness. Keep in mind that God ordains all rulers, even the bad ones… they serve His purpose.  Social ills will NEVER disappear until this sin-cursed world is recreated.  We can and SHOULD help feed, clothe and heal people but even that must NEVER cause us to compromise our faith and duty to proclaim Christ, even slightly. We should educate ourselves politically and be good citizens, but a bad political situation should not affect our faith or become an obsession.


A Hurting Man Seeks Comfort in Yet Another Relationship

sad man

Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue. (NKJV)

Full of heartache, a friend wrote me and asked for my advice. It was a long letter, and my intent here is not to make his situation public, but simply to use the very common points of his distress to present some general Christian advice for all. Here are the lowlights:

  • After a long, troubled and unhappy marriage, the wife filed for divorce, marriage over
    • Note: I don’t know why they divorced, and so I’m not going to address divorce and remarriage in this answer. This particular post is not about that, or about issues of any children involved or legal matters.
  • The husband has become fixated on a new relationship that has many difficulties
  • He admits at the end of his note that he is not involved in any Christian fellowship or activity

My general response:

My friend, you “know” me well enough to know I will give you the answer the Lord leads me to give, whether or not it feels good or is what YOU want. I assume that it why you wrote me.

About half way through your letter, the question kept running through my mind over and over, “Does he have a Christian family?” By family I mean a steady group of other Christians with whom you regularly fellowship, pray, study and serve. This kept flashing through my mind like a lighthouse beacon.

When I got the end of your note, that thought was confirmed when you wrote “I have not been in fellowship with other Christians”. I believe this was the Lord leading me to the most important part of my advice.

Another Relationship Is Not the Answer

Decades of painful history with a woman (your ex-wife) is not going to be “fixed” by another quick relationship, especially an extremely difficult one. You feel you “need” someone to love and love you back. The idea of rescuing  this new woman by caring for her many needs appeals to your sense of wanting a purpose in life, for someone to love you back for what you do and who you are.

Helping someone in desperate need is a good desire under the right circumstances but this is not it. Right now another relationship has the appeal of making all your pain go away and “fixing” all the brokenness. It will not. It will be like a shot of emotional morphine but soon it will wear off and the pain will return because you are not healing the original source of it.

What you need most is to find a group (friends, church) of committed, Bible practicing, serious Christians to belong to, fellowship with and befriend.

  • 1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; (NKJV)
  • Hebrews 13:1 – Let brotherly love continue. (NKJV)
  • John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (NKJV)
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9 – But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; (NKJV)
  • Romans 12:10 – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; (NKJV)

I give you those verses to show you that the kind of love and acceptance you long for can be found in the relationships you have with other Christians, not hopping from marriage to marriage hoping to get it right. You need to diligently begin to build relationships with other Christians.

Not only that, you need to actively seek out ways to SERVE them and invest in their lives. By serving, you build love and relationship which is what your heart longs for, and thinks this other relationship will fulfill.

Given what you have told me, you need to commit to a time (a year? 2?) of not pursuing, seeking or looking out for a romantic relationship with a woman. You need healthy friendship-based relationships of love, caring and service that are developed through investing time and sacrificially serving others.

Help some widows. Volunteer to help kids.  Get involved at church. Find some neighbors who could use your help. Visit the nursing home. Look for needs to fulfill. Let your new Christian friends know what you have been through and that you need some fellowship and activities to start filling up your life rather than spending hours on end thinking about how nice a “new woman” would feel.

Joel 2:25 & 27 (NKJV) “So I will restore to you the years… …I am the Lord your God And there is no other….”

The Lord can, and will, restore the broken years. I’m living proof but you must let go of your effort to get love and acceptance through trying to rescue this other woman or pursuing a replacement for your painful broken first marrage hoping you will feel loved, appreciated and needed in return.

You need to find these things in healthy relationships with Christian friends and fellowship before seeking marriage.