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The Haunting Presence Of Depression (via Mike Cosper)

Mike Cosper attempts to write a sensitive and nuanced reflection on depression and suicide, prompted by the death of chef and food/travel documentary make Anthony Bourdain.

This is what’s monstrous about depression. It is not simply a bad day or even a bad few months. It is a haunting presence, a grayness that covers all of life. It insulates you from joy under even the best of circumstances, and it makes you feel as though joy has left forever.
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In times like these, I want simplistic narratives. If only he’d asked for help. If only he’d acknowledged his pain. If only he’d found a friend. If only he’d found the hope of the gospel. There may be some truth in each of these, but reality is always more complex and harsh.
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There may be any number of physical, biological, or neurological reasons that people find themselves trapped in a metaphorical burning building, and we’d be wise not to speak too glibly or simplistically to them or about them. Instead, we might offer them what God offers: a safe place to come and rest. A warm meal. The company of our presence. We might point them to the care of doctors and therapists, and we might work in our communities to remove the stigma that comes with the label “depression” so that we see it in the same way we see chicken pox or the flu. These things can happen to anyone. And they can kill you.
Of course, we can and should also point them to a Savior who is a “man of sorrows” and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). The world simply is not what it is meant to be, and its brokenness takes a toll on everyone. Some of us might just be more sensitive to it than others.
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I wish everyone who felt the plague of depression could feel seen and known, comforted by the fact that they aren’t alone. For those who know and love depressed persons, this is a holy calling, and a difficult one.
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I pray the promise of Christ’s redemptive, acquainted-with-sorrow presence would spread throughout our depressed and depressing culture. I pray Christians could work to be faithfully present to those around them. And today, as I should do every day, I pray that those who feel lost in a gray cloud or trapped in a burning building would know that there are people longing to help them and a God whose grace is real.
“Come to me,” Jesus said, “all who are weary and heavy burdened . . . and I will give you rest for your soul.”

The whole post is at the Gospel Coalition.


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Thirteen Signs Of High Emotional Intelligence (via Justin Baruso at Inc.com)

Emotional Intelligence can seem a difficult concept to define.
This article describes how thirteen facets of emotional intelligence function in the real world.
There are explanations for each of the thirteen at the article.
Here’s a sample:

1. You think about feelings.
2. You pause.
9. You apologize.
12. You help others.

Read the whole post here.


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Learning To Endure (via David Powlison)

David Powlison on the fact that learning some spiritual disciplines can only happen by going through a protracted painful pathway.
A couple of quotes:

There’s no way you’re ever going to learn endurance without having to keep on going through something hard that doesn’t go away. There’s no way you’re ever going to learn forbearance without having to face something that you really wish you didn’t have to, and you need to somehow come to grips with it.
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It is actually the way that we learn the most profound and the best lessons that we could ever learn. It’s where faith, love, and joy are most profoundly formed.

read the whole transcript (or watch the video) here.


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Tumbling Sky – Matt Searles’ Album Of Psalms For Weary Souls Free For A Limited Time

To mark the release of his book Tumbling Sky: Psalm Devotions for Weary Souls Matt Searles is making the album which inspired the book available for free download.
The album is a wonderful addition to Searles’ two earlier productions.
The Psalms are chosen this time to reflect the ministry that they offer to those in times of lament or suffering.
I don’t know how long the offer will last.

Go here for information about the devotional book.

Go here for the free music.


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Encourage One Another (via Dane Ortlund)

Those who have received the Word of Life speak words of life to others.
From Dane Ortlund:

After all, when Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,” what is the “therefore” referring to? What is fueling such encouragement? One of the greatest exultations in all the New Testament about the hope of the gospel:
God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (1 Thess. 5:9–10).
Having been shown life through the word of the gospel, we give life through the words we use.

Read the rest of the encouraging post here.


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J.I. Packer On Old Age And Infirmity

J.I. Packer is a well known theologian whose books have been appreciated by Christians for decades.
At the age of 89 the effects of macular generation have ended his reading and writing capacities, and, as a result, the conclusion of his writing ministry.
There are reports on the Crossway Blog and Gospel Coalition.
The interview at the Gospel Coalition is a remarkable insight in Packer’s faith.
An excerpt:

Has this been a hard trial emotionally?
Emotionally, it doesn’t make an impact on me because after all I’m nearly 90, and I would have had to stop those things soon anyway because my strength would not have continued. God has been very good to us [he includes his wife, Kit], and none of us has been struck as so many people of our age by any form of dementia. We’re both blessedly free of that in a way that other folks of our age known to us are not. When you’re preserved from something other people actually have to work their way through you recognize that this is a mercy and are thankful.

Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible you have especially treasured and have gleaned much wisdom from over the years. You’ve said Ecclesiastes cured you of youthful cynicism. On this side of life what has the old sage taught you? Does the final chapter of Ecclesiastes—chapter 12—hold more resonance at this stage than, say, 40 years ago?
The author of Ecclesiastes has taught me that it is folly to suppose that you can plan life and master it, and you will get hurt if you try. You must acknowledge the sovereignty of God and leave the wisdom to him.
It tells me now what it told me 40 years ago, namely, that we wear out, physically we come apart. You get old, and getting old means the loss of faculties and powers you had when you were younger. And that is the way God prepares us to leave this world for a better world to which he’s taking us. The message of Ecclesiastes 12 is “Get right with God as early in life as you can; ‘remember the creator in your days of youth’ (Eccl. 12:1). Don’t leave it until some time in the future when you’re not likely to be able to handle it well at all.”

What role does calling play in these latter days of life for you?
All that I can say is that as one’s powers of mind and body diminish so one’s understanding to what one can do—should do—in fulfillment of one’s calling has to be adjusted in terms of, “I can’t do that anymore.” And Christian realism kicks in at that point. God doesn’t call us to do what is no longer within our power to do.

Read the whole post here.


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23 Things That Love Is (via Paul Tripp)

This was featured as one of Paul Tripp’s most popular posts from last year.
I don’t think I linked to it then.
Here’s the first eight:
LOVE IS… being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
LOVE IS… actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
LOVE IS… being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
LOVE IS… being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
LOVE IS… a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
LOVE IS… being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
Read the others here.